An 8 Point Plan for Passing the PMP or CAPM Exam

February 15, 2009

John Reiling

Any good Project Manager knows the importance of having a good plan. So, if you are preparing for the PMP or CAPM exam, wouldn’t it be a great idea to build a plan? As in life, many procrastinate, can’t find the time, and myriad other excuses, and do not get where they want to go – to pass the exam. Be a planner, and practice good project management in the process. 

Here is a start of a plan of action for passing the PMP or CAPM exam using online training. Of course this can be adapted for any type of training and preparation, or adapted to your own style. 

1. Go through the training in no more than 2-4 months at the most. Set a schedule, and stick to it. Review for familiarity the appropriate section of the PMBOK after you cover topic in the training. 

2. The material will be reinforced while taking each course. If you are on a tough topic, print out the study aids that are part of the particular online training module. 

3. Within a week or so after completing the course, do some questions on the topic within an exam simulation. 

4. Take one complete PMP or CAPM exam simulation right up front. See how you do, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. This will make you a little sharper and alert for information as you continue the online training. 

5. Take another full PMP or CAPM exam simulation every 2-4 weeks, even if you have not finished the courses. Adjust your study plan based on results. 

6. In the last month leading to the exam, focus work with the simulations on your trouble areas by using the flash cards and topic specific study mode. 

7. Shoot for 80-90% scores on the tests as you get close to the test. This will give you confidence that you are ready to pass, and if the scores are lower, will give you more impetus to work harder. 

8. If you need to, read books, online materials, free templates, podcasts, and any other materials that you fit your learning style to see things from different angles and approaches. 

Here are a few extra bonus tips. 

a. Joint the PMI right away, since the discount for paying to take the exam more than offsets the cost of the membership. 

b. Carry the PMBOK with you all the time, and read short pieces from it when you get a few moments during a busy day. 

c. After you join the PMI, attend some of your local chapter meetings for some additional support, insight, networking, and possibly to review training. 

d. Become familiar with the various PM web sites out there, and take advantage of their free resources, especially as relates to PMP prep. 

e. As you do practice questions, pay attention to the details. Look for words that reflect absolutes like ‘must’ or ‘always’. Try answering some questions without looking at the choices. Try as a habit to distinguish the essence of the questions from the extraneous. 

The key really is to practice good project management, use what you are learning, and to have a plan – and to follow it! You can and will succeed. Increase your chances of project management and exam success with a plan.

About the Author:
John Reiling has worked in mining, manufacturing, metal fabricating, and environmental services, and later information technology as a Lotus Notes developer, then project manager. Today he consults mainly in IT Project Management and runs several web sites, including, and

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