Certification Insider

Cornelius Fichtner help you with your PMP Exam Prep (https://www.project-management-prepcast.com) as well as earn free PDUs (www.pm-podcast.com/pdu). 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

How to Upgrade Yourself to The PMBOK Guide 6th Edition

Episode 411: The Future of Project Management

Episode 410: How NASA Manages its Annual Plan and Portfolio

Episode 409: CCRS and PDUs

Episode 408: How to Write Excellent User Stories

The 40 Flashcards a Day PMP® Exam Study Habit

The 40 Flashcards a Day PMP® Exam Study HabitStudying for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam may feel like a long and daunting process. There are many study aids available for use that can help make the studying process feel a little less overwhelming. One such study aid is a Flashcard. A Flashcard is defined by macmillandictionary.com as “a small card printed with words, pictures, or numbers that helps someone learn something.” In this article, we discuss how Flashcards can make your PMP® Exam studying a lot easier, along with how developing a 40 flashcards a cards a day habit can help you pass the PMP Exam.

The use of flashcards is a form of distributed practice. Distributed practice means spreading study sessions and self-testing out over time. Distributed practice is a proven method for enhancing student performance, so use flashcards to actively test yourself on concepts one at a time. Flashcards can be used to spread your studying out over time when you are in the process of studying for the PMP Exam. You can use then use your stack of Flashcards to quiz yourself again on the PMP material closer to your PMP Exam date. Flashcards are light, portable, and typically small enough so they can be used to study anywhere and anytime. If you are not interested in carrying around hard copy flashcards, there are even electronic versions you can download for your phone or tablet.

Make it a habit to use Flashcards

Spreading out studying for the PMP Exam is a great way to ensure you learn, not just memorize the PMP related concepts, but as with many things in life, you need to find the right balance between too little and too many flashcards in one day. For example, PMP Flashcards provides you with a ready-made set of 1500 flashcards. If you plan to take the PMP Exam in 90 days you might feel you can review 17 flashcards a day (1500/90 = 17) but you should review at least 40 a day to allow you to review each card at least once and to review again any flashcards that you could not answer correctly. There is no need to review all 40 in one sitting, break it up into two, three, or even four sessions. Remember you can review flashcards just about anywhere since they are portable. Setting a goal of reviewing 40 flashcards a day allows you to take a break in between flashcards to allow for the concepts to “sink in” and to avoid “cramming”.

Making a habit of using flashcards as part of your study process can help ensure your success with passing the PMP Exam. A habit is defined by macmillandictionary.com as “something that you often do without intending to or without realizing that you are doing it”. The first step in creating a 40 flashcard a day habit is to create a study planner. The study planner will help you distribute your learning of the PMP concepts and avoid cramming. Before you know it, picking up a flashcard to review when you have a few free moments to spare will be something you do without thinking about it. It will become a habit.

Flashcards help you pass your PMP Exam

Aiming for 40 flashcards per day is simply a guideline. You may want to review more flashcards early in your PMP Exam process, so you can gauge how much you know at that point, then figure out how quickly you want to pace yourself prior to your exam date. You may find that 30 or 50 a day fits your schedule and life a little better. Many students keep a separate pile of those flashcards which they found difficult to answer or answered incorrectly. You may want to schedule a day or two a week to go into greater depth and research topics from this pile of cards. Also, don’t forget to schedule a day every once in a while to take some time off for unrelated activities to allow for the concepts to “sink” in. The key is to set a daily goal (to develop a habit), track your progress, and determine if you should aim to review more, or maybe even fewer, flashcards a day depending on how you are doing.

Using flashcards is an example of distributed practice where learning is spread out over time in order to truly learn PMP concepts as opposed to simply memorizing words. You can use flashcards to review or self-test. Developing a 40 flashcard a day habit is an excellent way spread out learning of the PMP concepts. It is also an excellent way for you identify what topics you need to spend more time on. And once those concepts are truly sinking in, then don’t forget to immediately begin applying them on your own projects at work. There is no better way to learn than to apply what you studied. So you can see that flashcards can not only help you stay on track in order to pass the PMP Exam but also help improve your project management skills.

Posted on: July 11, 2017 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

No More Brain Dumps During Exam Tutorial

Effective immediately, Project Management Institute (PMI)® and Prometric have made the following change to the examination format of all PMI® certifications: You are no longer allowed to take any notes during the 15 minute time of the tutorial.

Here is what this means for you.

PMI Brain Dump Policy

Here is PMI’s policy on this matter and what will be enforced at Prometric testing centers:

  • Testing candidates can start to utilize their scratch paper/note boards once the exam has officially started
  • Doing a “brain dump” during the 15 minute tutorial period or prior is not allowed
  • All scratch paper/note boards will be collected at the end of the testing session

Are Brain Dumps Now Forbidden?

No. The policy states that you are still allowed to use a brain dump, but you are simply not allowed to write it down during the 15 minute tutorial. You have to wait until the exam has officially started. And once the exam clock is ticking, then -- and only then -- are you allowed to write down your brain dump.

Writing down your brain dump after the exam countdown has begun will of course "eat up" exam time that you could spend answering questions. So if you are concerned about not having enough time to answer all questions, then spending time to write down your brain dump may not be for you. However, spending a moment of your actual exam time in the act of getting everything you memorized onto paper will additionally give you confidence in your exam knowledge, and you now have a physical reference to go back to during the heat of the exam.

PMI Still Allows Brain Dumps

To clarify the policy, Gregg Shaffer (Manager, Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) Program) posted the following comment on LinkedIn:

"To be clear, PMI still allows “brain dumps.” However, because of the importance of the tutorial, PMI simply states that the practice of “brain dumps,” in alignment with industry best practices and standards, not be allowed until after the tutorial is completed. We ask all to please respect and follow this direction."

We Recommend: When in Doubt... Ask!

At this time it is still early days and the exact implementation of this new policy may vary from one testing center to another. We therefore advise our students to ask the following questions before walking into the testing room:

  • When am I allowed to start making notes on the scratch paper / note board?
  • What am I allowed/not allowed to write onto the scratch paper / note board?
  • What else should I be aware of in regards of using the scratch paper / note board?

Student Experience

Here is what one of our students reported back regarding this new policy:

When I did my exam last week, I went in knowing I couldn't do a brain dump. So I spent 5 minutes going through the tutorial, started my exam, and did the brain dump as soon as I started the exam. If you go into the exam treating it as a 3 hour and 50 minute exam instead of a 4 hour exam, then you can take the time to do your dump, and just pace yourself slightly faster to complete the rest of it.

"I was given my paper when I was seated, and told that I wouldn't be able to write anything until I clicked the "start" button. Although in my case, I just had a bunch of EVM formulas, and in the end, there only a handful of questions that required EVM formulas..." Matt Mcdonnell

A Brain Dump is NOT = Exam Success!

Lastly, don't forget that a brain dump will not 'make or break" your exam. It is nothing more than a security blanket. The real factors that will bring you success on the exam are your experience as a project manager, your understanding of the material, and the hours and hours of preparation and taking sample exams that you put in.

Having Your Personal Brain Dumps is STILL Valuable

Are you wondering if you should still develop your own, personalize brain dump, what to put on it and what the "secret" of a brain dump is? Read this article:

The Secret Of Creating Your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Brain Dump

Read this Forum Post

For additional details please visit our website forum where we have an ongoing discussion on this topic.

Posted on: January 12, 2017 10:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Episode 364: Benefits of PMP Certification Explained

Categories: PMP Certification

(Click to download MP3...)

Niraj Kumar, PMP

Is PMP certification worth it? According to Niraj Kumar (www.leadproje.com -- http://www.linkedin.com/in/thenirajkumar) the answer is an emphatic yes!

He not only says that the PMP salary you can expect is greater on average, but he also found many other PMP certification benefits. Having a shared vocabulary and enjoying a completely different and often steep career path are just two of them.

So if you are either already PMP certified or thinking about your own PMP Exam Prep and and wondering about the value of PMP certification, then this interview is definitely for you. Niraj and I explore the benefits of being or becoming a PMP from various aspects.

(This interview was originally published on The Project Management Podcast.)

Posted on: August 08, 2016 01:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Episode 351: How to Get Your PMP Certification with Mark Chropufka

Categories: PMP Certification

(Click to download MP3...)

Shyamsundar Ramanathan

This is another episode in which I am proudly introducing you to one of my successful students who was able to pass the PMP. Hi name is Mark Chropufka (https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-chropufka-pmp-mba-a3a8196) and he is a student of my PMP PrepCast.

I love doing these kinds of interviews because of the in-depth knowledge that I can take from someone like Mark who has passed their PMP exam and bring it to those who are still studying for their exam. And of course, I also feel very satisfied that it was my exam preparation course that showed Mark how to prepare for PMP.

In this PMP lessons learned interview you are going to hear him talk about his journey to becoming PMP certified from start to finish.

(This interview was originally published on The Project Management Podcast.)

Posted on: March 29, 2016 09:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

The PMP Exam Changes After 11 January 2016. Here’s What This Means For You.

Every five to seven years, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® performs a “Role Delineation Study (RDS)”. This is basically a big survey among project managers like you and me from around the world with the goal to identify what it is that we do on our projects. As a result of the most recent RDS, PMI now has a pretty accurate picture of the tasks that we project managers perform, as well as the knowledge and skills required for our job.

PMI has used this information to update the PMP Examination Content Outline. This document is the basis for the PMP Exam. And because this document changed, the PMP exam also has to be updated.

The update to the PMP exam is scheduled for 11 January 2016.

Let’s first look at why this change is happening and then we will examine what this means for you. You’ll be surprised at how little is actually changing.

Why is The PMP Exam Changing?

PMI wants to ensure that the PMP Exam is an accurate reflection of the tasks, knowledge and skills project management professionals actually perform and need on a daily basis. If PMI didn’t regularly add new methods and remove outdated ones, then PMP aspirants like yourself would still be tested on obsolete tools and techniques that were used 30 years ago when the PMP exam first came into being.

The PMBOK® Guide Isn’t Changing

This is important: The PMP Exam is based on the PMP Examination Content Outline and NOT on the PMBOK® Guide. Yes, there are many overlaps, but they are not 100% the same and the exam content outline even has some unique sections not covered by the PMBOK® Guide. The PMBOK® Guide itself, however, is not changing.

The PMP Exam Structure Isn’t Changing

The PMP Exam is a computer-based exam. You have to answer 200 multiple-choice questions in four hours. There is no change in this aspect of the PMP Exam.

The Domains and Score Report Aren’t Changing (Much)

When taking the PMP Exam, you will be tested in the five domains of Initiating (13%), Planning (24%), Executing (31%), Monitoring & Controlling (25%) as well as Closing (7%). At the end of the exam you will receive a score report that tells you how you did in each domain and whether you passed or failed the exam.

There is just one minor change here: Executing went up from 30% to 31%, while Closing went down from 8% to 7%. This is negligible and should not affect how you prepare for the PMP exam.

The PMP Exam Eligibility Requirements Aren’t Changing

The PMP Exam eligibility requirements remain the same. You still need to show the same amount of education and experience as before. You can find the details on page six of the PMP Credential Handbook. No change.

The Exam Changes on 11 January 2016. No Ifs, Ands or Buts About It.

The change was originally scheduled to take place on 1 November 2015. This was not enough time for everyone involved to get ready, so PMI changed the date to 11 January 2016.

The current exam will remain active until 11 January 2016. After 11 January 2016, only the new version of the PMP exam will be administered. In other words:

•    If you are taking the exam on or before 11 January 2016 you will take the current exam.
•    If you are taking the exam after 11 January 2016 you will take the new exam.

Your Study Materials Will Change

The new PMP Exam Content outline, includes some modifications to existing tasks, removal of a few tasks and the addition of eight new tasks. Some of the main drivers for the exam changes include:

•    Emphasis on business strategy and benefits realization
•    Values of lessons learned
•    Project charter responsibility
•    Enhancing stakeholder relationship.

PMI states that about 25% content change is based on new topics from the 8 new tasks, which were previously not tested. Note that in addition there are other changes to overall exam questions, which will be updated that are not tied to these 8 new tasks.

One of the reasons why PMI has moved the exam changeover date to 11 January 2016 is to give Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s) more time to include all the new concepts into their training materials. It is their responsibility to ensure that their training materials are up to date. And so, as a student, this should not concern you too much. You should simply be able to expect that your provider ensures that your training materials are current. That’s what you are paying for.

My Recommendations For PMP Students

1.) Take Your PMP Exam before 11 January 2016
Plan your PMP exam studies in such a way that you can take the exam before 11 December 2015, which is one full month before the changeover. In this way, you avoid the last minute rush in January when everyone wants to take the old exam before it changes. This timeframe also gives you an extra four weeks to recover and retake the exam, if worst comes to worst and you don’t pass on your first try.

2.) Study the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition
You must study the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition no matter if you are planning to take your exam before, on or after 11 January 2016. It is still the primary source to learn about exam concepts.

3.) Use Study Materials From PMI Registered Education Providers
We and other PMI R.E.Ps are working fast to update our study materials to cover the new concepts that are being introduced. And because of this, you and all other PMP students don’t have to worry about the changes at all. Instead, before you buy study materials from a PMI R.E.P., ask them to confirm that the materials are current first.

4.) Read The PMI FAQ:
Read the PMI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page if you want to delve into all the details.


My final recommendation to you as a PMP student is this: Don’t worry about the coming change too much!

We have done an extensive comparison between the old and new examination content outline and I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing “big” coming. Yes, there are a number of exciting concepts like lean principles, regulatory impact, or emotional intelligence listed in the new outline. But most likely you have already heard of these new tasks, knowledge and skills, or you may even be practicing them at present.

Also remember that PMI is continuously updating the PMP exam. For example, some time back questions about “delegation” started appearing on the exam. PMI didn’t officially announce this and so nobody made a fuss about it. But now that PMI is officially announcing an update everyone gets anxious.

So instead of agonizing about this change, a more positive approach for you as a PMP candidate is to simply purchase and use the right study materials that cover all the concepts you need for your exam. Focus your energy on your studies and don’t worry about the update.

About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He has helped over 35,000 students prepare for the PMP Exam with The Project Management PrepCast at http://www.pm-prepcast.com/pmprepcast and The PMP Exam Simulator at http://www.pm-prepcast.com/simulator.

This article originally appeared on The PM PrepCast and is reprinted by permission of the author.

Posted on: October 01, 2015 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

"Chaos is a friend of mine."

- Bob Dylan