5 Tips for Exam Success
Whether you are preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam, or one of the other many project management certifications you can do, good prep helps you succeed.
The infographic below shows five tips for preparing for your project management exam. These aren’t the only examples of good practice for exam prep, but they are the things I try to live by when I take exams – although it has been a while since my last classroom experience!
Remember why you are doing this: professional certification exams are hard. In one of mine, I had to write essays – it’s not often your work exposes you to situations where you have to handwrite for so long. You’re putting yourself through it because it’s worth it, for your professional development.
Write down your study plan: having a plan only works if it is visual and you can see it. We’re project managers, this part should be easy!
Take enough breaks: I feel guilty when I’m not studying when I know I have an exam coming up, but you need to be balanced and take time off too.
Sleep well: I have trouble doing this at the best of times! But do try to make an effort to get an early night the evening before your exam.
Treat yourself afterwards: You’ve put a lot of effort into getting to the exam itself. In the PMP® exam, you’ll know instantly if you have passed or not. Other exams require you to wait until the paper has been marked and you are notified afterwards. That can be quite a nerve-wracking time! Plan something else to do to take your mind off waiting, or to celebrate and wind down immediately afterwards. You’ve earned it!
Thinking about doing some project management training this year? Here are some things to consider to help you choose the right vendor for you.
What should you take into account before you make the investment in project management training? Here's a quick video on the 5 things you consider.
You can get more detail on the points raised in this video in this article.
In this video I talk about the option of PM knowledge repositories that can support your training efforts as a PMO. And they are cost-effective if you have a lot of people to upskill or support at a time.
PMI have launched a new credential recently: the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)SM. The pilot finished in February and at the moment you can’t sit the exam while they review the feedback from that, but you can still apply and it won’t be long before exam dates can be booked.
Credentials in general are a good way to advance your career. This one demonstrates your experience in managing organizational portfolios and could enhance your chances of getting a pay rise. Anything that means your bosses recognise that you are doing a good job and are professional in the way you go about it improves your standing at work (or if your company doesn’t value that sort of thing, help you find a company that will). PMI’s literature claims it helps make you more marketable so you may find employers starting to ask about this credential if you are going for PMO and strategic level jobs.
So, as this month is all about Portfolio Management on projectmanagement.com, I thought I’d explore the PfMP a bit more.
Is it for you?
It won’t be for the majority of people. It’s aimed at people who are responsible for portfolio management in their companies. PMI define a portfolio as:
“a collection of programs, projects and/or operations managed as a group. The components of a portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent or even related—but they are managed together as a group to achieve strategic objectives.”
You can see that this will only relate to a few people in your business, or one particular team. It’s a strategic, high level job rather than a hands-on project management job, although you don’t have to have the job title of Portfolio Manager to be eligible to apply.
What are the pre-requisites?
As with the other PMI credentials, you’ll need to meet certain criteria before you can apply. You’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent with at least 7 years of portfolio management experience in the last 15 years. Or 4 years’ experience if you have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
Then you’ll need to demonstrate 8 years of professional business experience. As PMI say that one of the roles of the Portfolio Manager is to establish and guide the selection, prioritization, balancing, and termination processes for portfolio components to ensure alignment with organizational strategy you’ll have to show that you’ve been working at a senior level in your firm.
What’s involved in the application process?
Your application will be reviewed by a panel of expert volunteers who are also portfolio managers. This bit takes around 4 weeks. Then there’s the exam. You’ll have to take the exam within a year of passing the panel review. It’s a multiple choice computer-based exam, so if you have taken any other PMI credentials you will be familiar with the format.
Will it help my career?
Who can say? Only you can answer that question.
On one hand, it’s a new credential so until there is a critical mass of portfolio managers holding it employers may struggle to recognise its worth.
On the other hand, getting it in the early days will set you apart from the rest of the field when you apply for new jobs.
As with any credential, having it shows that you have demonstrable skills and experience and the commitment to the profession to study for and sit an exam. I think it’s too early to tell if candidates with the PfMP credential will earn more than others in the same role but from past experience and the salary surveys from PMI it’s probably likely that they will in time.
Credentials and certificates are an investment, and it is always worth talking to your manager about whether he or she will fund your application and exam fees, or even give you time off work as study leave. They may say that they won’t fund it but you might be pleasantly surprised! I’m looking forward to watching this credential as it evolves and more people take it: as PMI are positioning themselves and project management as a strategic thing this fits well with their current focus (or at least that is how it looks from the outside).
Has anyone got any experience of PfMP credential process or the pilot? Let us know your thoughts on it in the comments.