PMP® Exam: tips and useful resources

Passing the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam by the Project Management Institute is a significant achievement for a project manager, and the whole preparation process is definitely a high-value experience.

In this article, I will share some resources, tools, and tips that, in turn, I collected from colleagues who successfully passed the exam, old and new friends who supported me in preparing and passing the PMP® Exam.

The certification process at a glance

The certification process involves three main steps:

  • Submission of the admission request: the first step is to fill in an online form, accessible from the PMI website, in which the qualification, professional experience and specific training will be declared.
  • Evaluation: within five days from the submission, a PMI expert group will review the application and determine eligibility, assessing whether it meets the requirements. Payment of the exam fee will therefore be required and you will then receive an "Eligibility Letter", containing the booking code to be used to book the exam, within one year from the date of admission.
  • Exam: the exam, lasting four hours, includes 180 multiple choice questions on the contents of A Guide to the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and on real situations.

The Evaluation phase of the request may be extended in the event of an Audit: the PMI randomly submits some of the admission requests to the verification of the veracity of the information declared. In this case, the candidate will have 90 days to submit the requested material. For more information, you can consult the FAQs on the PMI's official website.

Suggested Route

  • PMI Membership
  • Prep course
  • Application Form
  • Simulations
  • Exam scheduling

PMI Membership

Becoming a member of the Project Management Institute allows you to be part of the largest PM community in the world, to have access to tools and models resulting from best practices, together with many continuing training courses, necessary to accrue the annual training credits required for maintenance. certifications.

Why you should buy it immediately

The membership costs 129 $ annually and allows you to:

  • download a free digital copy of the PMBOK® Guide, the primary reference for the exam, worth approximately $ 80;
  • pay an exam fee of $ 405 instead of $ 555.

Hence, with the membership, you would have a total cost of $ 534 and many benefits beyond the exam; vice-versa, you would pay about $ 635 only for the exam fee and the book.

Prep course

There are 35 hours ("contact hours") of training in project management among the requirements for access to the exam. If you have already accrued these hours over the years, even if in different and multiple contexts (degree courses, seminars, or training courses), you could meet the requirement without additional training. To learn more, visit the "Contact Hours of Project Management Education" section on page 7 of the PMI's PMP Handbook .

However, my suggestion is to participate in a course that prepares for certification and recognizes 35 hours: there are many opportunities offered by accredited training institutions, both online and in the classroom, at reasonable prices, some more and some less.

I attended's PMP Exam Prep Seminar and, still today, I thank the colleagues who suggested it to me. Instructing is a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.), accredited by the PMI. It offered me a fantastic experience: for the program's completeness and the friendliness and clarity of the teacher, Joseph Phillips, author of more than 35 volumes, trainer and management consultant, with over 15 years of experience. The course includes a total of 292 learning contents, including video lessons, coaching, quizzes, and guided exercises, divided into 22 sections of approximately 1-2 hours each. Upon passing a final exam, it issues a certificate of completion to be attached to the PMP exam application form.

This Prep Seminar, updated to the new exam, simplifies the vast majority of the PMBOK Guide's contents in a clear, comprehensive, and comprehensive way. I progressively accompanied Phillips' lessons with the Guide's relative sections, but I think you could also postpone studying the volume at the end of the course.

How much does it cost?

The course is worth $ 129.99 but, during the pandemic, Instructing activated a promotion on Udemy: today, it costs only € 13.99.

At this link you can find the page dedicated to the PMP Exam Prep Seminar on Udemy: take a look at the preview. It's worth it.

Application Form

Generating the exam application early in the preparation period can be an excellent way to avoid the threat of procrastination. In his Prep Seminar, Phillips dedicates an assignment to this action: collect all the information and start filling the form as soon as possible, and then refine it immediately after the preparation course, attaching the certification of the 35 contact hours.

From the moment your application is approved, you will have one year to choose the date as soon as you feel ready.

During the pandemic, the Project Management Institute activated the possibility of taking the PMP certification exam online. This opportunity was previously reserved for the CAPM exam (Certified Associate in Project Management), while PMP candidates could only take the exam in accredited centers. Therefore, it is possible to have a broader set of dates and times to choose from to take the exam.


I recommend doing many simulation tests: they help a lot to clarify what to expect from the exam, to understand the type of questions, and to face them as requested during the exam. There are many online resources, including specific websites and apps, free or paid. In the next section, you will find the platforms I used and appreciated the most.

In regards to the frequency of the simulations, after my Prep seminar:

  • during the first month, I took a 25-question test a day, alternating sets of random questions with distinct questions by knowledge area, with a single 50-question test over the weekend;
  • during the second month, I scheduled, every week, two simulation tests of 50 questions and a complete 200-question exam over the weekend.

At the end of each test, I reviewed the topics I had hesitations or negative results on, and I progressively wrote down my lessons learned.

Exam scheduling

Taking the suggestion of many, I only scheduled my exam after correctly answering at least 80% of the questions in three consecutive full mock tests (200 questions).

The exam's exact passing score is not known, as the minimum varies according to the difficulty of the exam itself. However, several PM online communities and blogs, based on case studies and analysis of successful experiences, identify that candidates who have obtained at least 80% in the most common mock tests have, in most cases, passed the exam.

Exam Simulators

PMP® Exam Self-Assessment TestWeb
A free 100-question mock test to complete in 120 minutes. This test is considered the most difficult currently on the Internet. On the website, you can find links to additional free sources.
PMP® Practice ExamWeb
This website offers four free mock tests of 50 questions each. It provides explanations immediately after the answers, therefore facilitating the review of the topics.
OpenPM offers numerous free tests and quizzes, including two 200-question exam simulations. New questions are added every week by project managers from around the world.
PMP Certification ExamApp
This app is undoubtedly one of the most complete I have tested in preparation. I started with the free version, which gives access to a limited number of questions, and then purchased the subscription (€ 2.50 / week) to access about 1,600 questions.
PMP Exam SimulatorWeb
The OLS International Simulator is definitely the most authoritative and complete. The interface, questions, and operations are designed very similarly to the real test. I regretted buying it just a week before the exam - it has over 1,600 questions, eight comprehensive exams, thorough explanations, and result tracking systems. It costs $ 139 for 90-day access.

Additional resources

The Exam Mentor by Byte AppStudio is a useful app for reviewing exam topics. Features more than a thousand flashcards to practice memorizing important content and terms, formula review cards, and daily tips to prepare for the exam.

There are also mock questions, but I haven't tested them myself.

This website offers numerous suggestions, clarifications for doubts and problems, more and less common, related to the PMP certification process. The Lessons learned that the host, Edward Chang, PMP® and PMI-ACP®, collected in every knowledge area are precious: Chang has collected frequent errors and solutions from exercises and exams made by PMP candidates worldwide. The best and most complete source I have ever met.

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