PMP Certification Preparation Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 31, 2021 | Published February 22, 2021

Updated March 31, 2021

Published February 22, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An effective way to advance your career as a project manager is by pursuing certifications. The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification can lead to a higher salary and greater responsibility and can make you a more competitive candidate when applying for jobs. The PMP certification process can also help you gain knowledge, develop skills and practice your strengths so you can maximize your potential as a project manager. In this article, we discuss what a PMP certification is, how to get one and additional PMP certification tips to help you prepare.

Benefits of earning a PMP certification

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most prestigious designation that project management professionals can earn. To qualify for the certification, managers must have a specified amount of project-related hours and educational experience. They also have to pass a 180-question multiple-choice exam that requires a significant amount of preparation in advance.

Earning a PMP certification is beneficial in many ways, including:

  • Including your PMP certification on your resume shows employers you're extremely knowledgeable and qualified. This can put you at a competitive advantage from the start of the application review process.

  • The PMP certification maintains its value across all industries. If your previous work experience doesn't relate to project management, a PMP certification still shows employers you're qualified.

  • The preparation process gives you the opportunity to learn and practice new skills.

  • It can increase the chance of a pay raise in the future because your qualifications allow you to assume more responsibility at work.

Read more: Defining the PMP Certification and How to Achieve It

How to prepare for a PMP certification

Acquiring a PMP certification takes time, self-discipline and focus. Project managers can benefit from the preparation process by gaining knowledge and strengthening their skills. Here are several ways to prepare for your PMP certification:

1. Review application requirements

Familiarize yourself with the PMP certification application process before getting started so you can effectively prepare. You can find detailed information about application requirements on the Project Management Institute (PMI) website.

2. Make sure you're eligible

Before getting started on your PMP certification application, make sure you're eligible. Here's what you'll need to have accomplished before applying:

  • High school diploma, associate degree or equivalent

  • 7,500 hours of project management leadership

  • 35 hours of education in project management


  • Four-year degree

  • 4,500 hours of project management leadership

  • 35 hours of education in project management

3. Fill out your application

Once eligible, gather evidence and resources that support your work history and experience. The PMP certification application is divided into several categories. You'll need to include:

  • Personal contact information

  • Educational background

  • Domain experience (project details, portfolios, programs, employment dates, references, experience summary, etc.)

  • Domain education (specific details about project management courses, workshops and any other related educational experience)

Read more: All About the PMP Certification: Definition, Requirements and Tips

4. Meet application deadlines

Submit your PMP application within 90 days of starting it. Consider writing down your start date and setting completion goals to ensure you turn in your application on time. After you submit, you'll receive application approval from PMI and pay the application fee ($405-$555).

5. Schedule your exam

After you receive notification of application approval, schedule the PMP certification exam at your local testing center. You must take the exam within one year of being accepted and make plans to prepare for several weeks in advance.

6. Review PMP exam content outline

To understand exam requirements and expectations, review the exam content outline on the PMI website. This outline consists of possible exam questions and explanations as well as required skills, tasks and knowledge.

7. Prepare a study plan

After reviewing exam requirements, create a study plan to help you stay focused and on-track. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Study regularly: Studying regularly can help you retain information more efficiently. Try to study daily or weekly to establish consistency and maximize your potential for success.

  • Make a timeline: Make a timeline to hold yourself accountable and remain consistent throughout the preparation process. Think about using a planner or virtual calendar to outline what you'll study and when to study it.

  • Divide content into sections: As you create your study plan, divide exam content up into sections so it's more manageable. Study one section at a time so you can focus on retaining and understanding information rather than worrying about exam results.

  • Create a schedule: Create a schedule to guide your studies and keep track of your progress. For example, you could try to study every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Making a schedule can reduce stress levels and help you feel secure as you prepare for the exam.

8. Read the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide

A large portion of the PMP exam is based on content from the PMBOK Guide. Use this resource for reference as you study and make sure you are extremely familiar with the content before your exam date. You can also use the PMBOK Guide to create your study schedule and gauge your level of preparedness.

9. Try exam preparation workshops

There are a variety of exam preparation workshops available online and in-person to help you practice and prepare effectively. Think about researching PMP exam workshop opportunities in your area so you can ask questions and learn more about the exam's structure and content. Attending workshops can also help you feel more comfortable and confident in your abilities before taking the exam.

10. Take a practice exam

Taking PMP practice exams online can help you understand the format, categories and structures of questions. Becoming familiar with these structural details can ease stress and anxiety on exam days so you can perform to the best of your abilities.

Related: How to Get a PMP Certification

PMP certification preparation exam tips

Receiving a PMP certification can show initiative and commitment to your industry. It can also lead to additional credibility, higher pay and can help you when competing for opportunities. Here are a few additional PMP certification preparation tips to help you as you study:

  • Set goals: Set study goals to maintain a regular schedule and ensure you're prepared come exam day.

  • Form a routine: As you study, think about forming routines so you can incorporate PMP exam preparation into your daily life. For example, you might study for your exam at your favorite local coffee shop every Friday afternoon. This can help you stay focused, productive and can lead to healthy study habits in the future.

  • Seek outside support: To engage with PMP exam content even further, seek outside support for your studies. You could ask a friend to help you memorize vocabulary words using flashcards, for example.

  • Self-care: PMP exam preparation can be time-consuming. Think about taking care of yourself during times of stress so you can perform to your fullest potential on exam day. Use your free time to take a walk around the park, watch a funny movie or do yoga so you're more focused and productive when it's time to study.

  • Research different study materials: Everyone learns in different ways. Consider researching different types of study materials to see what works best for you. For example, if you're creative, you might benefit from color-coding your flashcards or drawing diagrams to help you retain information.

Explore more articles