The PMP Study Material I Used to Pass all Five Sections “Above Target”

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In the months since I passed the PMP exam, many people asked me what I used for PMP study material and for my advice on passing the exam. After writing up and sharing the same info several times, I figured it would be quite handy to have it written up and shareable here along with our existing project management articles.

Acquiring PMP certification was on my long-term goal list for at least 15 years, but I never prioritized it until 2020. One of the reasons I didn’t pursue my PMP certification years earlier was that it seemed so daunting. In hindsight, I wish I had bit the bullet and gone for it years earlier.

If obtaining a PMP is of interest to you, I encourage you to make it a focus and go for it! 

A few things to note before we dive in: 

There may be better study prep materials out there. This is exactly what I did, and I passed the PMP exam with an Above Target score in all five process groups. 

If you don’t have the required experience for the PMP yet, and/or are looking for more foundational project management training, I highly recommend Google’s Project Management Certificate on Coursera. It’s an incredibly practical, hands-on training course with a ton of incredibly valuable resources. I’m currently taking it myself as both a refresher and for PDUs.

What I used to pass the PMP exam

Study materials

What it cost to take and pass the PMP exam: 

= $525 to study for and pass the PMP exam

*Technically, I probably wouldn’t categorize this as a PMP cost. I already had the subscription for personal reading, and happened to use it for a bunch of available PMP resources. However, if you don’t already have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, there’s enough there that for the price, it seems worth paying for just for PMP study prep for a month. 

FAQs on PMP study material I used and my approach

Important note: I passed the PMP exam when it was based on the 6th edition PMBOK guide. As of January 1, 2021, the exam has changed to a new version. The 7th edition of the PMBOK guide is scheduled to release in August 2021. Most of the study materials I mention have been updated to reflect the new version, but make sure you’re double checking versions when you find study materials. 

How much time did it take to study for the PMP exam? 

I began the Joseph Phillips course in August of 2020, but was pretty sporadic through the fall. In early November, I realized that the end of the year was fast approaching and I buckled down and studied hard for about 6 weeks. 

I recommend either taking a few hours a week consistently for 3-6 months, or plan for a really intense 6-8 weeks. The last week in particular, I pretty much abandoned everything except my day job and survival things. Huge thank you to my husband and boys for being so understanding and holding down the fort while I disappeared! 

How many PMP practice exams should I take? 

I recommend taking at least four practice exams, more if you have time. There are two practice exams included in the Joseph Phillips course. I took three more from a PMP exam questions Kindle book. To better simulate the computer-based exam, I used the “read Kindle in a browser” function, and entered my answers in a Google Sheet. 

Do you need a PMP to succeed as a project manager?

No, but it’s certainly helpful. I had many 🤦🏻‍♀️ moments where I wished I had known the info ahead of time. The PMP itself requires at least three years of project management experience, by which point the training and certification is incredibly helpful and relevant. 

Do I really need the PMOBK as part of my PMP study material?

Yes, it’s LONG. But there’s gold there. I don’t recommend reading the entire thing cover to cover – that would take an age! But skimming is very helpful, along with reading in areas that you know you need a little more focus on. 

It’s the perfect reference manual to have on your shelf (physical or digital). Don’t forget that you get a free digital copy as a PMI member. 

The PMP application

The application for the PMP is itself a bit daunting. Through a long rabbit hole of online research, the most common reasons I found for applications being rejected or audited was not following PMBOK language in describing the projects you managed.

The audit is stated to be random, but it seems as though there is a thought that not clearly using PMP language in your project descriptions may be an audit flag or trigger. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I did use clear PMP descriptors in my projects, and I was not audited. My application was accepted upon first submission. Make sure you read the instructions, and use PMBOK language when describing your project management work experience. 

With that, best of luck in your PMP study endeavors! Let me know if you have questions or additional recommendations to add based on your own experience.

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