5 Key Resources I used to prepare for the PMP Exam

Today I wanted to go more in depth as an add on to my article post PMP Exam Prep My Strategy and Study Plan (if you haven’t read it click here)In that article, I briefly touched on resources and provided background about my journey, but never gave too much insight on the resources I used and whether or not, in hindsight, I’d use them again.

Since most PMP forums are blasted with questions about resources, and what worked, I figured now was the time to do my post mortem.  

Quick note – These items are not in order of my recommendations.

PMP Resources - Here we go

1) Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep Book (8th edition)*

The Exam Prep book by Rita is a real gem if you ask me. One thing I enjoyed was the tone of realism it was written in. This really helped me to mentally begin to separate “real world project management” vs “PMBOK project management.”

Although, according to PMI, there shouldn’t be a difference. Any practitioner knows that their sentiment can be far from the truth. 

Rita’s concept of “gaps” is one of the most important concepts she covers. The idea is that you follow one of her talked about ways to use the book to study and then, as you make your way through the book, you test your knowledge and identify the “gaps” you have.  At that point, you go back to the material to find out “why” you have those gaps in your understanding and work to fill them.

This process is repeated you reach a point where you’re scoring at least a 75% consistently. Whether you choose to use Rita, or another study resource, it’s a great technique to use during PMP prep. 

Rita's PMP Book
*The 8th Edition was the version when I studied.  The current version is the 9th Edition, which I have shown here.
When it comes to the exercises, they weren't my favorite.

Not to say they weren’t good, but I often felt like I was forcing myself to just get them done. Depending on your study style, I think others could find a ton of value in them. The process game was immensely helpful though! 

The book has a ton of content – rounding out to just under 700 pages. During my first pass through the book, I felt like I needed to learn everything I read.  That’s just unrealistic. While I recommend reading the book all the way through a few times (at least twice), and skimming to address gaps the other times, it is important to understand 2 things:

  • Which concepts PMI outlines as exam content
  • What other information is just helpful and good to know

A relevant note I’d like to add

I checked out my local PM Chapter study group and they use Rita’s book (as well as the PMBOK) during their sessions. If they swear by these resources, there is probably a good reason. 

2) PMP® Exam Prep – 3 Days (RMC Learning solutions)

I was about 7 months in to my 8 months of studying when I wasn’t feeling very confident. At this point, I imagined my knowledge and ability to retain the material would have been much better. It wasn’t.

So…I decided to take the 3-day prep course through RMC (Rita’s company – more info here).

Was it good? Yes.  Was it necessary at this point in my studying?  No.  However, it wasn’t all for naught.  I did take away a few really good tips to learn certain key areas efficiently, and more importantly, it boosted my confidence.  This, in turn, made me realize that I had known a lot more than I thought I did. 

It's not cheap.

The course is a steep $1,000-ish. If you are in a rush and have the money, I think it could be a really good option. It is important to note that you can’t just take the 3-day prep course and be ready to sit for the PMP exam. It is still recommended to do quite a bit of self-study following the course. 

My favorite trick they covered was when it came to cost management. I’m not great at math.  Or formulas.  If there’s a way to make this part easier for me, by all means, take my money!

Cost Management Tricks on how to Solve Problems: 

  • If you see the word “Variance – subtract!
  • If you see the word “Index – divide!
PMP Take My Money

I’m sure there were more.  But for me, this solved such an enormous pain-point that it’s what I remember most.

Overall, while the course was great for instilling more confidence, I think there are enough options out there to avoid spending as much money.

NOTE:  These next two resources were included with the RMC course, but I’ve included them separately since they can be purchased individually from RMC.
3) RMC's Timed and scored practice exam simulator

I loved this tool!  Aside from her book, this is the other resource I would HIGHLY recommend.

When it came to assessing where I stood in the different knowledge areas and process groups, this simulator told me exactly that. It then led me back to the book to polish my knowledge in those areas, and as Rita says, “fill the gaps.” Each time I did this, my scores increased. I saw great progress, and it felt great knowing that I was inching closer to being exam ready. 

4) RMC's Hot Topic Flashcards

I started using the flashcards later in my study process. The amount of questions was completely overwhelming, so I stopped using them. In retrospect, if I would have studied a chapter in Rita’s book, and then quizzed myself with JUST the correlating question section with the flashcards, I think I would have been better off.  

From what I recall, the flashcards require an answer and do not have multiple choice options.  This made it super challenging from my perspective. 

5) The PMBOK (5th Edition)

The PMBOK.  Oh….the PMBOK.  Everyone’s favorite book to hate!

I have to be honest – when I studied Project Management during my academic career, I read this book, and it’s just as dry as everyone says it is.

When it came time to study for the PMP, I referenced a few key pages that demonstrated patterns and concepts that I learned about during the PMP® Exam Prep – 3 Days (RMC Learning solutions). Other than that, I didn’t use it, and did just fine.

My notes of the exact pages are long gone, but I found the perfect figures to reference in the PMBOK, or from the snapshots below to illustrate my main use of the material. 

  • Trick #1 – If you created a management plan as an input, it will be an output of that process
    • Example: Figure 4-4. Develop Project Management Plan: Inputs, Tools, Techniques and Outputs 
  • Trick #2 – Tools and Techniques are often repeated from one process to another

    • Figure 6-1. Project Management Schedule Overview 

Question for you:

Have you used any of these resources?  If so – what are your thoughts? 

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