The PMP Study Plan From 8 Certified Project Managers

Studying with a PMP exam simulator is a good way to test your knowledge and feel confident that you can approach your Project Management Professional (PMP)(R) exam with a good chance of success.

The PM Exam Simulator is a lot more than just a simple Q&A machine. It’s a rich, powerful tool that will help you build an exam strategy as well as testing your domain knowledge. The exam simulator features include being able to track your progress, gauge your performance, assess your results against other candidates and give you helpful feedback about what topics you need to revise in order to see ‘Above Target’ in your exam scores on the PMI CCRS system. And more!

How does it do all this? Well, as we said, the PM Exam Simulator is far more than a list of PMP exam questions and answers! In this article, we’ll show you the behind-the-scenes working of the software and all the hidden features that are specifically designed to help you ace the examination. Here’s how to maximize your use of this amazing learning tool.

3 Major PM Exam Simulator Features

Let’s refresh the basics first. These are features that commonly get asked about, so it’s worth a quick recap.

1. How many questions does the PMP Exam Simulator have?

The PM Exam Simulator has 1,200 questions in the quiz pool and 930 questions in the exam pool. That’s a huge amount of questions to work through so you can test yourself on all the knowledge areas and domains. By contrast, our popular PMP questions book only has 50 (although they are the hardest questions and the ones that students get wrong time and time again!).

How to use this feature: There are lots of ways to use the questions within a PMP practice exam simulator, from simple quizzes to taking full, timed examinations.

2. Explanations and answers

The simulator has in-depth explanations for each answer, including the answers that are incorrect. These detailed explanations help you see why an answer choice was not the right selection, and they guide you towards understanding why the correct answer was correct.

Each explanation also includes a reference to one or more places where you can read more about this topic if you want to take your learning further or get an even more detailed understanding of the concepts behind the question.

How to use this feature: Take note of the explanations and references provided for each question, especially the questions you did not get correct.

3. Email course

When you sign up for the PMP exam simulator, you will also automatically get a mini training course delivered by email straight into your inbox. This course helps you put your new PMP exam study materials into practice. Start your studies off in the best possible way by gaining the best study tips and proven examination practice techniques from successful students.

The email course is an extra bonus for students using the PM Exam Simulator.

How to use this feature: Simply wait for each installment to arrive in your inbox and then follow the instructions in the email to streamline your study plan.

13 Hidden Features of the Exam Simulator

Now let’s look at the less commonly-known features of the PMP practice exam simulator. There are 13 features to highlight:

  1. Build a study strategy
  2. Tutorials
  3. Quizzes
  4. Hints
  5. Show answers
  6. Mark for review
  7. Grid and grid filter
  8. Strikeout
  9. Recent results
  10. Time on questions
  11. Results by Knowledge Area
  12. Filter results
  13. Compare your results to other students’

Where shall we start with so many brilliant features to review? Let’s start at the beginning of your PMP exam prep, with your study strategy.

1. Build a study strategy

Yes, you can build a complete study strategy with the PM Exam Simulator! Here’s how.

Start with quizzes. Build up your test taking practice by taking short timed and learning quizzes - more on those in a minute.

When you have reviewed a decent portion of your study materials, add full exams to your study strategy. As a guide, take your full practice test after you’ve studied the first four or five major topics.

Finally, review your statistics within the PM Exam Simulator so you can track your progress. Next, look for where you didn’t do so well, where you answered incorrectly. It’s also worth reviewing the questions where you know you just guessed at the answer so you can confirm the theory and concepts behind your lucky guess! From here, you can continue to take quizzes to deepen your understanding of each topic, especially those where your results were not as good as you were expecting.

Tip: Take the same amount of time reviewing your results as you do taking the quiz questions.

How to use this feature: Build the PM Exam Simulator into your study plan and allocate time to using it during your revision.

“This tool helped me a lot for my final preparation and I regretted that I purchased it at the end of my preparation after I passed all materials because I realized that it could have helped me a lot while I was still in the learning process with all its learning options.”
~ Neda Klenska, PMP

2. Tutorials

Wondering where to start with the PM Exam Simulator? The tutorials are a complete guide to how to use the tool and will help you make the most out of the product.

How to use this feature: If there’s something you are stuck on, try the tutorials to help you.

3. Quizzes

The PM Exam Simulator allows you to study in a range of ways to help support you at all stages of your learning. Quizzes are a powerful way to test your knowledge.

There are two different types: timed and learning. As you’d expect from the name, timed quizzes run for a set amount of time and you answer questions within that window while the clock runs down. Learning quizzes do not have a time limit and you work through the questions at your own pace.

For both types, you can set the number of questions you wish to answer, so you can control how long you’ll be doing the test for. Then choose the topics to be covered in the quiz from the Knowledge Areas or domains. For example, you can choose only to answer questions from Project Integration, or the People domain, which is especially helpful if you have recently been studying those topics.

Finally, you can filter questions to include only questions you have not seen before, questions you answered incorrectly in the past or all questions. Those selections will help vary your learning and make sure you are answering all the questions in the pool.

How to use this feature: When you are ready, click to start a quiz and make your selections!

4. Hints

Did you know that hints are one of the exam simulator features? When you’re working through questions and come to one that you feel like you should know but just need a tiny prod in the right direction, the hint feature is there for you.

Hints are question-specific and only available in learning quizzes. Obviously hints are available on your real PMP test and the full examinations in the simulator reflect that by not offering the hint button. However, during your practice tests and learning time, make the most of hints!

How to use this feature: Simply click the ‘Show hint’ button during a learning quiz and you’ll get a sentence or two displayed on the screen that will help you work out what the answer might be.

5. Show answers

In a learning quiz there is no pressure, you can even show the answer! This is a good feature for a low-stress way of learning in a fun, question-driven setting. You can check your progress instantly as you go by showing the answer to each question as you work through the quiz. This is great if you are short of time and want to review your work as you go, and you don’t have time for a full practice exam.

How to use this feature: Simply click the ‘Show answer’ button during a learning quiz to see the answer explanation.

6. Mark for review

The best PMP exam simulator will make you feel like you’re really in the test environment, and the ‘mark for review’ feature is one of the ways we achieve that.

Let’s say you are working through a timed quiz or a full examination and you come across a question that you are not certain about. You guess at the answer and think that if you have time later, you’ll come back to it and check your work. But how will you know which one it is? With so many questions passing across the screen in such a short time, the likelihood of you remembering the question number is slim! That’s where the ‘mark for review’ feature comes in.

If you reach a question you want to review again later, assuming you have time left at the end of the test, mark it for review. Then you can come back to it later to check your answer.

How to use this feature: Click the ‘Mark’ button to highlight a question and mark it for review. Then you can come back to it later using the Grid and Grid filtering options, which we’ll discuss next.

7. Grid and grid filter

Here’s the next one of our key features: The Grid. This is a way to visualize all the questions in your current quiz or exam and what status they are at. Hit the ‘Show Grid’ button and it will show you a list of all the questions (you won’t see the question text, just the question number and status). From here, you can see the questions that have been answered and also those that have been marked for review. Consider this your quick navigation solution to jump around your digital test paper to make sure you don’t throw away easy points by missing out questions.

The Grid filter gives you options to show the answered, unanswered or marked questions. Click the question number to directly go quickly to that question. For example, click to show the questions you marked for review and navigate to those. Then the ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ buttons will navigate you through the filtered subset of questions so you can review your answers without wasting any time trying to find the right question.

How to use this feature: Click the ‘Show Grid’ button to bring up the Grid and use the filtering options at the bottom right of the screen to navigate through the relevant selections.

“In the beginning, I have to say that CRUCIAL IS TO PRACTICE WITH PM EXAM SIMULATOR. I did 4 full exam tests with a detailed review of incorrect answers and careful reading of all explanations. I work in an agile environment, so I was glad to see plenty of agile questions. Just practice with [the] PM Exam Simulator, understand the way of testing. and the success should come. Many thanks to the whole PM PrepCast team to build such a great tool!”
~ Peter Sopko, PMP, PMP

8. Get the right materials for you

You might have to try a different PMP examination study guide or look at a range of reference materials before you find one that works for you. That was certainly the case for Samantha.

“The first time I took the PMP exam, I used materials from the company I work for,” she said. They paid for her to attend a course and she also took some practice tests from the course material, and read a bit of the PMBOK® Guide.

“I studied for months, but I failed the first time around,” she says. “I realized that the questions I used to practice were nothing like the exam questions and there was some material/concepts I didn't even know about!”

As she prepared for her second attempt, she found materials that suited her learning style better: a different prep book, videos from YouTube recommended by a colleague and sample questions.

“I found the PrepCast simulated exams and I took A LOT of practice quizzes and exams,” she says. “I can't stress enough how important it is to take practice tests, and the ones on the Simulator were VERY close to the real questions. I wish I had known that the first go around. By changing up my study method and materials, I studied about 3 more months to take the second exam. I passed with flying colors, getting Above Average on all process areas.”

As you are going through your materials, consider if they are working for you. Do you truly understand them? Do you like the voice, tone and style of the tutor? If you are finding it hard to relate, it might be time to find a different set of study materials. Selecting your PMP simulator is also a big step, so take the time to research the market and choose an appropriate tool.

9. Don’t go it alone

It’s tempting to think that you don’t need to spend much time with study materials, especially if you are an experienced project manager.

Nevine Amer, PMP, says, “I believe I underestimated the exam and overestimated the impact of my experience! I studied hard but thought I could do it solely by myself. The truth is I needed more support and more exam practice.”

Nevine failed the exam the first time, and then came up with a plan to make the second time a success. She subscribed to The PM PrepCast and curated some other resources to support her studies. She also joined a social media group to make the most of the support that offered.

“All in all, I studied about 3 hours every day after my full time job and dedicated most weekends to studying as well,” she says. “I did take days off when I felt the need for it, every 2 or 3 weeks. I am proud of what I have accomplished and couldn't have done it alone!”

Think about what support you need to help you get through your studies. Perhaps that’s a friendly social media group, a study buddy, or simply a certified colleague at work with whom you can check your thinking.

10. Make the most of your time

Use your study plan to make the most of your available time. Molnar decided to apply for the Project Management Professional exam during maternity leave, so she balanced her studies with caring for a newborn. Her colleagues suggested that she allocate 200 hours to preparation, so that’s where she started from.

As a busy parent, she used her study plan to make sure she adequately prepared all topics, taking advantage of any time she had. “Always know what the next step is in your study plan so you know exactly what to read/listen next when you have 10-15 min in your busy schedule,” she suggests. “Find even 10-15 minutes to listen to the PrepCast, for example, in the queue in the post office, while walking etc.” She also recommends becoming a PMI member to get a free pdf copy of the PMBOK® Guide so you can take it with you and read anywhere, when you have a moment.

Think about the pockets of ‘free’ time you have in a day and where you can squeeze in some study. Write these on your plan.

11. Schedule your exam!

Keith Lasken, PMP, applied for his exam a year before he got round to taking it. We see this happen often: life gets in the way and students find themselves procrastinating.

“My advice: schedule the exam!” Keith says. “Don't schedule too far out where you procrastinate then forget. Schedule it 2-3 months out so you get in focus/survival mode to be motivated to study HARD.”

Sometimes, the best motivation to complete your study plan is to have a fixed deadline: your exam date. If you think that would work for you, go ahead and book your test with Pearson Vue!

Next Steps

You’ve now got loads of tips for building your PMP study plan and making the most of the time before the exam. Create your plan, factor in time for the important activities like mock exams and reviewing practice questions, stick to it, and book your test date so you have a goal.

After that, it’s up to you! Follow the plan to PMP exam success!

Training for Project Management Professional (PMP)®, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®, and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

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