If you are studying for or plan to study for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam you have likely heard you need to read A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) at least three times. But, did you know that reading the PMBOK® Guide is not enough to pass the PMP® Exam? One popular misconception concerning the PMP Exam is that it is based solely on the PMBOK® Guide. It is a great study tool but there is material on the PMP Exam that is not covered in the PMBOK® Guide so you need to locate and select quality supplemental resources to cover this additional material. The PMP Exam covers a variety of questions to include those that are based on the PMBOK® Guide, situational type questions and those that cover other project management concepts not necessarily included in the PMBOK® Guide. Here we will look at some additional resources you can use to help ensure you are as prepared as possible for the PMP Exam.
Why Should Supplemental Resources Be Used?
The PMBOK® Guide is a wonderful study tool that contains the majority of the content you need to learn for the PMP Exam. However, it does not cover all of the content you will encounter while taking the exam. One place to start is to read the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, which is published by the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. It provides detailed information pertaining to what the PMP Exam covers but also includes skills, knowledge and tasks that are not covered within the PMBOK® Guide. Let’s take a look at an example of question that could appear on the PMP Exam that would not be covered by the PMBOK® Guide:
The team members do what the project manager tells them because she has the authority to provide negative feedback in their appraisals. Which of the following types of power describes this situation?
Correct answer is D
If you knew the answer to the sample question above, that’s great! If you didn’t there is no need to panic. Just follow good testing techniques by first reading the question and available choices then making your best educated guess. Don’t spend too much time on a single question. Mark it if you need too, then return to it once you finish the rest of the exam.
What Are Supplemental Resources?
What types of supplemental resources are available that cover additional skills, knowledge and tasks? There are several options available to you. One option is a PMP Exam study guide, also called PMP Exam prep books. These cover much of the same content as what is in the PMBOK® Guide but are worded and explained in a manner some find much more relatable and easier to understand.
Other possibilities include PMP® Exam simulators and free practice questions. Not only do they provide for an opportunity to practice answering questions but they also help you identify the knowledge areas where you are strong and those in which you are weak. This is a good way to help you determine where you need to spend your valuable time studying. Just make sure you use a simulator or questions professionally produced or one from a PMI® Registered Education Provider.
Then there are the more portable options such as flashcards, mobile apps and podcasts. PMP Flashcards are an easy study tool that can be used just about anywhere or anytime; they are small and can be used to test your knowledge in your spare time; and there are even electronic flashcards that can be accessed on your phone. PMP® Apps are also becoming increasingly popular and there are many to choose from, some of which are games and others that use alternative methods to teach concepts. PMP Podcasts are also a great portable PMP Exam training option that allow you to listen to or watch PMP-related lessons wherever you are and whenever you have a few spare moments.
Finally, if you are looking for a more traditional face-to-face type of resource, check out your local PMI chapter. There you can find motivation to study for the PMP exam, possibly a study group, or even formal PMP® Exam prep classes. Many students also find that formal PMP Exam training or PMP Exam coaching is often an effective method of receiving this supplemental information.
Where Can I Find a PMBOK® Guide Free Download?
If you were to order a hard copy of the PMBOK® Guide from Amazon you could expect to pay over $50.00 U.S. plus shipping. If you are, or become, a member of PMI you can access a free electronic PDF version of the PMBOK® Guide. This can be downloaded to your computer and opened using your PMI password. In case you were wondering, yes you should read the PMBOK® Guide multiple times. That is a given because it is the basis for a large portion of the PMP Exam content. You should also look at other resources that cover those concepts not discussed within the PMBOK® Guide but mentioned in PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content publication.
As you can probably see, supplemental resources can come in a various formats, so select the format that is most convenient for you and your study plan. The body of PM knowledge is vast and it is impossible to predict exactly what will be covered on the PMP Exam. However, you can increase your probability of success by being completely prepared for the exam. Don’t stress or go overboard when studying these additional concepts; but keep in mind, it is often that while studying these additional concepts that the PMBOK® Guide topics become more clear or more easily understood. Also, as you are studying these concepts, remember that they not only help you pass the PMP Exam, but will also help you be a better project manager.
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:
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:
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:
Read this Forum Post