Project Management

Certification Insider

Cornelius Fichtner help you with your PMP Exam Prep ( as well as earn free PDUs ( Passing the PMP Exam is tough, but keeping your PMP Certification alive is just as challenging. Preparing for the exam requires an in-depth study of the PMBOK Guide and dedicated study discipline. And once you are PMP certified, then you are required to earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every 3 years to keep your certification alive. Let me help you make this journey easier with tips and tricks on how to prepare for and pass the exam as well as efficiently earning your PDUs once you are certified.

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Recent Posts

Episode 465: Projects as Profit Centers - Part 1

Episode 462: Project Performance: Agile, Waterfall and Beyond #PMOT (Free)

Episode 460: Boost Your PMP Score #PMOT (Free)

Episode 459: Managing Multiple Projects #PMOT (Free)

Episode 458: Earn 60 Free PMP PDU #PMOT (Free)

Featured PMP Exam Lessons Learned from Chris Mielke, PMP

This week's featured lessons learned comes to us courtesy of Chris Mielke.

In this lesson learned Chris Mielke read the following books that helped him passed the PMP exam:

  •   A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK(R) Guide
  •   Head First PMP: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Passing the Project Management Professional Exam
  •   PMP Exam Prep, Eighth Edition: Rita's Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam

To read about more of his complete experience, please follow this link:

Posted on: October 17, 2013 08:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How To Prepare for and Pass Your PMP Exam

It took Kevin Reilly nearly 3 times longer than he expected to study for his Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. “I estimated 120 hours and it took me 320,” he said, in an interview with Cornelius Fichtner, host of The Project Management Podcast at “I’m a pretty detail-oriented guy so I don’t think it would take everyone 320 hours to study. But of course, everyone’s an individual so you have to determine that for yourself.”

Kevin created a project plan for his PMP exam prep study, but was a bit aggressive with his estimates. About a quarter of the way through his studies he realized that he would have to alter his plan and his expectations. “It took about 5 months for me to actually do it,” he said. “I was working full time when I first started studying.” But Kevin unfortunately lost his job and was then able to focus full-time on his studies for the last 6 weeks of his preparation plan.

After being in IT project management for about 10 years Kevin realized that he wanted to know more about the framework and techniques behind what he was doing. “I joined my local PMI Chapter and went to a couple of meetings,” he said, “I decided pretty quickly that the PMP certification was for me. Once I started my studies, my bootcamp instructor indicated something very interesting. The PMP certification is not just a certification. It’s actually an accreditation similar to CPA. So it’s not like a one-day seminar where they hand you a certificate. It holds a lot more value and is globally recognized as the standard for project management.”

Kevin treated his application for the exam like a job interview. He spoke to every person that he worked for or with who was connected to the projects on his application and sent them the information to verify in advance. This also gave him the opportunity to check the contact information for those people, in case his application was audited.

Luckily, Kevin didn’t get audited, but he advises applicants to be prepared in case it happens to them. Once the application was submitted, he could concentrate on the bulk of the exam preparation. “I went through a 3-day PMP exam prep bootcamp and I used Andy Crowe’s Velociteach materials,” he said. He also read A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) twice.

“The first time through, I actually read it. I did not study it,” he said. “Basically, I highlighted the sections that were not familiar to me. Then I went back and I studied the highlighted sections and I also made some manual flash cards of each of the terms in the glossary that I did not understand.”

Kevin’s exam date came round and he attended the testing center. Like many testing centers, it had a locker to store his personal items as he could not take them into the exam room. He was given paper and pencils and taken to a cubicle in order to start the exam.

Kevin chose to start his exam as soon as he sat down, using the 15-minute computer-based test (CBT) as a countdown timer in which to prepare his brain dump sheet and notes. “It was familiar territory for me,” he said. “I had already been through the process every time I took a practice exam. So I knew exactly what to do when I went in there.”

After he had prepared his notes he ended the CBT and the real exam began. This is an unusual strategy – most candidates choose to write out their notes before starting the 15-minute CBT. “Psychologically, I knew I had that 15 minutes,” he explained. “I did not want to think about anything else except for dumping that stuff in my brain.”

The approach paid off, and Kevin only needed just over 3 hours to complete and verify his exam. “The first thing I did was to go through all 200 questions,” he said. “Anything that had a formula or more than 2 sentences, I marked for review. That took about an hour.” He then took a break and went back to the computer for his second pass. He reviewed all the questions he couldn’t answer the first time round. “I gave myself a limit of about 2 minutes each,” he said. “If I couldn’t get past it in 2 minutes then I used my best guess at that point. If I had no idea what the right answer was, I just marked it for review again.”

He took a further break and then went through the entire exam, making sure that every question had an answer. This is important because there are no points for a blank answer, and making an educated guess at least gets you a 25% chance of being right – sometimes more if you can eliminate obviously incorrect answers.

Today, Kevin has a new job working in PMP exam instruction. He’s also achieved his Certified Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Product Owner certifications, and he’s working towards the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®. “I guess I wanted to cram all these 4 certifications into 12 months!” he said. “I don’t know why but that’s just the way it worked out.”

Perhaps a year ago Kevin wouldn’t have gone for so many exams and so much new knowledge in such a short time. “When I first got serious and started studying for my PMP exam, I was scared, nervous, excited, worried, overwhelmed and a plethora of other emotions both positive and negative,” he said. “But one thing I found all around me at all times throughout my journey to becoming a PMP were helpful, friendly people. These are people who had been through the exact same thing that I was going through. Most importantly, all these people were willing to share their knowledge which is really the key to my success in becoming a PMP. Thank you!”

Posted on: October 03, 2013 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

New eBook: The TenSecrets To Becoming a PMP


Deciding to get your Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential is a big step in your career, and it can be a time-consuming and difficult journey.

Simplify yours and read my new, free eBook "The 10 Secrets to Becoming a PMP".

These 10 Secrets are the result from teaching almost 25,000 students in preparation for their PMP Exam with The Project Management PrepCast. They are action items, which, if you follow them, will make your exam preparation easier and less expensive.

It is, however, important to realize that the 10 Secrets will not make studying any easier or simplify passing the PMP exam. You are still going to have to study hard and stay focused. But the 10 Secrets are your step-by-step approach to preparing for and passing your PMP Exam.

Click here and download your free PDF copy of the eBook now...

Posted on: June 06, 2013 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

PMP Exam Day: Scheduling the Exam and Preparing for the Big Day

Once you begin to contemplate actually taking the Project Management Professional (PMP)© exam, there are several things you will need to consider besides just studying and preparing for the exam. You need to schedule the exam and secure your place at the testing center, and you’ll need to make sure you’re in the proper frame of mind to take the exam once the exam day arrives. Here are some tips for scheduling your exam and for ensuring you’re ready for the test.

Scheduling Your PMP Exam

Sooner or later, you have to set a date, draw a line in the sand, jump in feet first, and commit yourself to the Big Day. For many would-be PMP candidates, perhaps the hardest part is simply committing to an actual exam date, so pick a date and move forward!  Remember, though, that you can’t schedule your exam until you’ve submitted your PMP application and the Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI) has received and approved your credential fee. Make sure you keep the eligibility number you receive from PMI in your confirmation email—you’ll need it to register!

Prometric is PMI’s scheduling administration partner; it is through Prometric, rather than PMI, that you will actually arrange your exam. There are two ways to schedule your exam:

  • Online. Go to the Prometric web site ( You will be prompted to complete the following steps:

o    Select your state/province and country
o    Select “Schedule an Appointment”
o    Read and agree to the Policies and Data Privacy notice
o    Enter your Eligibility ID (from your confirmation email from PMI)
o    Select a test site in your area
o    Choose your examination date and time

  • By telephone. An Interactive Voice Response System allows you to schedule, confirm, or change your exam. In North America, call 1-800-268-2802 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST and follow the prompts. Note that when you schedule over the phone, you will still need to print your confirmation information from the Prometric web site.

Special accommodations are also available; should you require such, you should contact Prometric directly. Remember to save all correspondence you receive from Prometric.

For more specific information about scheduling your PMP exam, refer to pages 22-23 of the PMP Credential Handbook.

Once your credential fee has been received and approved, you have a one-year period during which you are eligible to take the exam. Make sure you schedule your exam at least three months before your eligibility period expires… just in case! You can take the PMP exam up to three times over the course of the year should you not pass the exam. The re-take option is there, but try to be optimistic and pass that exam on the first try!

Preparing Yourself for Exam Day

In addition to studying for the actual exam, there are several things you’ll need to do to make sure you’re ready for the big day. It’s easy to get caught up in the “studying” and “prepping” and to forget that you actually have to take a test!

One month before the exam, schedule two vacation days from work—the day before the exam and the day of the actual exam. Your focus needs to be on taking the exam; you don’t need any distractions from your job.

One week prior to the exam, take a road trip to the actual testing site. Schedule your trip at approximately the same time you’ll need to drive to the actual exam. Go into the testing center and find the actual testing site. Ask the staff to explain the PMP© exam testing procedures to you, as well as verify what documents and identification you’ll need to bring. Also confirm what you can or cannot bring into the exam, and, if possible, ask the staff if you can peek inside the testing room. Having a mental picture of the testing room prior to the exam may help relieve some test anxiety.

On the day before your exam, take your final four-hour sample exam and review your test taking strategy. Lay out any items you’ll be taking to the exam and go to bed early. You’ll need a good night’s sleep!

Finally, the big day is here. Dress in layers so that you’re ready for anything in the testing center and can adapt as needed if the temperature changes. Make sure you eat a light, nourishing breakfast, and plan to arrive at the testing center at least half an hour early. Don’t forget to bring the following:

  • The PMI® exam eligibility letter / email
  • Your test appointment confirmation
  • Two forms of ID (at least one must be a government issued photo ID)
  • Sweater or light jacket
  • Snacks and water

Take 30 minutes to review your notes, and then jump in! Definitely take the five-minute guided tour to learn about the exam interface. Spending time on the guided tour will help you relax and become familiar with the exam interface, and the tour does not count toward your exam time. Once you begin your exam, the clock starts and the four hours begin counting down. Remember that the clock keeps ticking even when you take a break; even so, be sure and give yourself a 5-10 minute break about half way through.

Studying and preparing for the PMP exam requires a lot of time, effort, and focus; however, taking the actual exam should not be forgotten. You’ve spent months—maybe even years—preparing for this day. Make sure you have a plan on how you’ll approach the exam itself.  When the timer goes off at the end of those last four hours…that’s when you can throw your cap in the air and finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Posted on: March 22, 2013 11:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

My Top 10 Recommended Web Sites for Free PMP Exam Sample Questions

After eight years as a project management trainer, I have helped more than 20,000 students prepare for their Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. In my experience along the way, I’ve found one thing that unites them all: They all want to practice with free PMP Exam sample questions.

In an effort to help, I have identified 10 web sites that offer free PMP Exam sample questions. I recommend each of them for the quality of their questions.

  1. Hands down, this web site has the toughest questions around. If you are able to answer more than 50% correctly, then hats off to you. Lehmann provides sample questions in a variety of formats. From the site, you can take a free 75-question simulated, timed (90 minute) exam. He also includes a link to over 3,000 free sample questions (4,000 for PMI members) as well as a download option (PDF) for an additional 175 sample questions, which is also available in German. What’s more, smartphone owners can access another 30 free questions for their iPhone/iPad and/or Android in the iTunes Store and Android Market, respectively.
  2. This site offers two different free “mock exams”—the first has 70 questions; the second has 28 questions, and the answers to the questions are included at the end of each exam. What I like most about this site, however, is that you can filter the sample questions by the various knowledge areas covered in the exam (i.e., questions on Risk Management, or Quality Management, or Ethics, etc.), so you can focus your studies on the areas where you think you need the most help. The site also includes a link to a free, timed 200-question PMP practice exam (although you do have to register on the site).
  3. This PMP Exam study site includes a huge,sample-question test bank—over 1,000 free practice exam questions. Once you register on the site, you’ll be able to access the vast test bank, as well as an unlimited number of full-length mock exams, customizable PMP flashcards, and a PMP dictionary. Two nice features of note on this site: first, once you take a practice exam, you can re-open it for review; second, the practice exam provides you with visual, analytical progress reporting, so you know exactly where you stand during your mock exam.
  4. If you’re looking for something short and sweet, this excerpt from Whizlabs’ PMP Exam Simulator gives you 20 free PMP sample questions to test your readiness. There are five questions per page, and the answers--as well as explanations for each question--are available at the bottom of each page. In addition, the site provides suggested reading, related articles and resources for each question, giving you additional support in areas where you may need more help.
  5. Offering 200 objective sample questions (and their answers) on each of two mock exams, this site will give you a good idea of what you’ll see on the actual exam. Unique to this site, you’ll be able to see a pattern or progression of exam questions based on the PMBOK areas of knowledge.
  6. Why not turn your PMP exam studying into a game? PMPHub publishes a new (free) Question of the Day every day, as well as the Answer and Explanation to yesterday’s Question of the Day. Return to the site tomorrow to see the answer to today’s question. A distinguishing feature of the site is the “Source of Answer” section after each question, which shows you exactly where to look in the PMBOK for help or more direction. Also unique, PMHub offers a bilingual (English/Chinese) test bank!
  7. The free, sample exam on the PMP Question World site is rather like the old Choose Your Own Adventure books; you decide how many questions you’d like to answer in your mock exam. Possible questions come from all nine PMBOK knowledge areas, and you can take the mock exam as many times as you like. The sample exam does not display correct answers; however, practice questions -- with their answers--are also available on the site. You can also “share” questions with your fellow PMP exam-takers.
  8. Hoping to provide training that will “rock your face off,” the Passionate Project Management site offers you three free, timed practice exams -- a 15-question/18-minute option, a 50-question/60-minute option, and a 100-question/120-minute option. Once you take the practice exam, you’ll see your score (%) as it relates to the passing score for that mock exam. You can then Review the Quiz, going back over both your correct and incorrect answers.
  9. How would you like to have free PMP sample questions delivered right to your Inbox? A simple registration gets you just that -- a series of free sample questions, as well as a Weekly PMP Exam Tips newsletterdelivered right to you. You’ll continue to receive fresh content, as new questions are always being created and added. Sit back and let the sample questions come to you. (Disclaimer: This is my own sample questions web…but I think it’s good; otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it -- or produce it :-).
  10. The PM Exam Simulator gives you the opportunity to practice taking the PMP Exam in a way that mimics the actual exam. The Simulator feeds you questions of the same style and difficulty that you’ll see on the exam and proportionately as far as the correct process group (i.e., Initiation=11%, Planning =23%, etc.). You’ll experience various types of questions, from formula-based questions to interpretational questions. Another plus for this site is that you can take the practice exam in three modes: Real Exam Mode (just like the real PMP exam experience); Timed Mode (receive hints and answers, but still adhere to a limited time); or Learning Mode (receive hints and answers with no time limit). Try the Exam Simulator for three days -- free! (Disclaimer: This is my own simulator.)

Obviously, exam simulators and sample questions are often a very good indicator of your readiness to take the exam. Generally speaking, if you are able to correctly answer at least 85% or more of the sample or practice questions on your first try, you’re probably ready to take your PMP certification exam. Note that answering a question correctly on your second try doesn’t count, since you will only have one chance in the real exam. So, for example, a simulator with 1,800 questions gives you 1,800 “first tries.” This is plenty to build your confidence and gauge when you are ready to take the exam. Of course, the 85% rule is just a rule of thumb, but if you want to know how you are doing it is a useful benchmark against which to assess your abilities.

Sample questions are extremely helpful in preparing for the exam; however, remember that free questions aren't everything. I recommend you also subscribe to a commercial exam simulator so that you can practice in a "real" environment using realistic exam questions. After questions are free and may only take you so far.

Posted on: December 28, 2012 01:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

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