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PMP exam prep: Are you ready to take the exam?

Before signing up to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam, use this guide to ensure that you fulfill all requirements, including educational and professional experience.

This excerpt from All-in-One CAPM/PMP Project Management Certification Exam Guide Fourth Edition, written by Joseph Phillips, provides a look at what professionals need to know before they attempt to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam.

How to qualify for the PMP exam

Not everyone can take the PMP exam -- you have to qualify first. I think this is great. We, and soon you, don't need the market flooded with the 'paper certifications' that other industries have experienced. This certification is special -- it proves that the certified professional has documented project management experience and education and has passed a tough, rigorous exam. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

All about the PMP exam

To become a PMP, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • A bachelor's degree or the global equivalent, and 36 non-overlapping months of project management experience totaling 4,500 hours of project management activities within the last eight years.

Or

  • A high school diploma, associate's degree, or the global equivalent, and 60 non-overlapping months of project management experience totaling 7,500 hours of project management tasks within the last eight years.
  • Regardless of your degree, you will need 35 contact hours of project management education. Here are the PMI (Project Management Institute)-approved methods for accruing the project management education contact hours:
  • University or college project management courses
  • Courses offered by PMI Registered Education Providers (such as instructing.com)
  • Courses offered through your organization
  • Distance learning education companies if they offer an end-of-course assessment
  • Courses offered by training companies
  • No, the PMI chapter meetings and self-study don't count
  • An extensive review of your application. Every application will pass through a review period. If your application needs an audit, you'll be notified via e-mail.
  • An audit! Not every application is audited, but if your application is selected for an audit, you'll have to provide documentation of your experience and education, and verification of the projects you've worked on. The PMI can even audit you after you've 'earned' your certification.
  • Applicants must provide contact information on all projects listed on their PMP exam application. In the past, applicants did not have to provide project contact information unless their application was audited. Now each applicant has to provide project contact information as part of the exam process.
  • Once the application has been approved, candidates have one year to pass the exam. If you procrastinate and wait a year before taking the exam, you'll have to start the process over.
  • Be good. You will also agree to abide by the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. You can get your very own copy through the PMI's web site: www.pmi.org.
  • The PMI doesn't reveal what the actual passing score is for the PMP exam -- you'll receive only a pass or fail score for the entire exam and a breakdown of your proficiency in each exam domain. The exam has 200 questions, 25 of which don't actually count toward your passing score. These 25 'seeded' questions are scattered throughout your exam and are used to collect stats on candidates' responses to see if these questions should be incorporated into future examinations. You won't know if you're answering a seeded question or a live question, so you have to answer all the exam questions with the same degree of focus and attention.
Preparing for the PMP and CAPM certification exam

Read the full chapter for preparation tips to help you ace the exam.

Download Now

The PMP exam will test you on your experience and knowledge in five different areas, as the table below shows. You'll have to provide specifics on tasks completed in each knowledge area on your PMP examination application. The following domain requirements and their related exam percentages are correct as of this writing.

Exam Domain Domain Tasks Percentage of Exam
Initiating the Project Complete a project assessment
Define the high-level scope
Identify stakeholders and perform stakeholder analysis Identify and document high-level risks, assumptions, and constraints
Develop the project charter
Obtain project charter approval
13 percent
Planning the Project Define and record detailed requirements, constraints, and assumptions
Create the work breakdown structure (WBS)
Create a budget plan
Develop the project schedule and timeline
Create the resource management plan
Create the communications plan
Develop the project's procurement management plan Establish the project's quality management plan Define the change management plan
Create the project risk management plan Present the project management plan to the key stakeholders
Host the project kickoff meeting
24 percent
Executing the Project Obtain and manage project resources for project execution
Execute the project tasks while distributing information and managing stakeholder expectations
Enforce the quality management plan
Implement approved changes as directed by the change management plan
Execute the risk management plan to manage and respond to risk events
Develop the project team through mentoring, coaching, and motivation
30 percent
Monitoring and Controlling the Project Measure project performance
Verify and manage changes to the project
Ensure project deliverables conform to quality standards Monitor all risks and update the risk register
Review corrective actions and assess issues
Manage project communications to ensure stakeholder engagement
25 percent
Closing the Project Obtain final acceptance for the project
Perform an operational transfer of the project deliverables Ensure financial, legal, and administrative project closure Create and distribute the final project report
Document lessons learned
Archive and retain project records
Measure customer satisfaction
8 percent
TOTAL 100 percent

Cost of the PMP exam

These exams aren't free, and you don't want to waste your hard-earned cash by failing the exam. Focus on passing the exam on your first shot. But just in case some of your colleagues ask, I've included the retake fees.

  • Join the PMI: $119 (join the PMI first because it lowers your exam fee by a few bucks; if you join your local PMI chapter, as you should, there will be an additional chapter fee, usually around $25)
  • PMP exam for a PMI member: $405
  • PMP exam for a non-PMI member: $555
  • PMP re-exam for a PMI member: $275
  • PMP re-exam for a non-PMI member: $375

Now you know all of the requirements for taking the PMP exam. Before scheduling an exam, test your knowledge of project management with the practice quiz from All-in-One CAPM/PMP Project Management Certification Exam Guide Fourth Edition.

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