How to Avoid Five PMI-RMP® Exam Prep Mistakes

    Personal Development

  •  Minute Read

Preparing for the PMI-RMP® exam requires a significant investment of time and money. How can one remove obstacles for a clear, smooth passage? Let’s look at five tragic exam prep mistakes. And here's the good news – you don't have to make the same ones.

picture of a PMP Exam study group

5 Top PMI-RMP® Exam Prep Mistakes

Mistake #1 – No PMI-RMP® Study Plan

It amazes me how often project managers approach the PMI-RMP® exam with no study plan. I mean, we are the guys who should know best how to plan, right? But, many individuals approach the exam loosely. Where’s the commitment and discipline?

Instead, Do This – Develop and commit to a study plan. The study plan answers questions such as:

  • When will you take the exam? Begin with the end in mind.
  • What study materials will you use?
  • When will you study (i.e., days and times of the week)?
  • Where will you study?
  • Will you study on your own, with a friend, or join a study group?
  • When will you apply for the exam?

👉 Grab your copy of the PMI-RMP Study Plan Guide.


Mistake #2 – Taking Too Long to Prepare

There are two key problems when studying for the PMI-RMP® Exam. First, there is a large volume of material to consume. Second, you may forget what you learned early when you take too long to prepare. 

Imagine two individuals studying for the exam. Don has studied one hour per day, three days per week. Some weeks, he failed to study at all. He’s finally finished reading his study materials after five months.

Comparatively, Sue has studied one to two hours per day, five days per week. She’s completed her studies in seven weeks.

Who is most likely to remember the earlier study topics? The first scenario may lead to memory retention problems. 

Instead, Do This – Compress your study time. While I’m not a fan of cramming for an exam, I recommend that you select a time when you can make the strongest commitment possible in your studies. What time of the year is most relaxed for you? Will there be a season of fewer projects in the future?

Another helpful strategy is to review what you’ve studied periodically to reinforce the material. Repetition helps to move the information from our short term memory to our long term memory.

Pomodoro Study Technique

Looking for a way to maximize your study time? Consider the Pomodoro Technique. This simple technique uses a timer/app to break down your study time into intervals, usually 25 minutes in length. Take a short break after each interval (i.e., pomodora).

picture of a stop watch

  1. Determine what you will study.
  2. Set your timer/app (25 minutes).
  3. Study.
  4. Stop when the timer rings.
  5. Take a short break (3-5 minutes). Go to step 2.
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 minutes). Go to step 1.

The breaks aid in assimilation and reduces the monotony of studying.

Interesting note – this technique is closely related to iterative and incremental development used in software development.

Mistake #3 – Ineffective Study Group

Not all study groups are the same. Some are led by effective, experienced project managers. However, others are more of a distraction than a help.

Instead, Do This – If you wish to participate in a study group, pick one with an experienced facilitator. Make sure the group is committed to a well-defined study plan. Otherwise, simply study on your own or with a friend.

Mistake #4 – Failure to Modify Your Current Schedule

Here's another PMI-RMP® exam prep mistake – people don't make room in their schedules. To put it another way, some people tack the preparation onto their existing schedule. Typically, this is a formula for disaster.

Instead, Do This – Review your standard weekly schedule and eliminate non-essential activities. Yes, no more Netflix movies while you’re preparing for the exam. Next, schedule your study time. As Michael Hyatt says, “What gets scheduled gets done.”

“What gets scheduled gets done.”

- Michael Hyatt

Mistake #5 – A Noisy Study Location

Keep the main thing the main thing – your studies. When we are trying to read, comprehend, and retain new material, noise is our enemy. 

Instead, Do This – Study in a quiet location where you will not be distracted. 

Have children? Arrange with your spouse, friend, or sitter to watch the kids. Perhaps study at a library. 

Got social media? Turn it off while you study. 

What about music? Studies have indicated listening to classical music in the background can be helpful. It improves your mood and can raise your dopamine levels. 

Furthermore, one study showed that students who listened to a one-hour lecture with classical music playing in the background retained more of the information than a group who heard with no music.

All classical music does not work for me. I personally like Joseph Haydn. It’s not Led Zepplin or the Allman Brothers Band that I grew up listening too. Nevertheless, it’s helpful while studying.

What's on the PMI-RMP® Exam?

So, you want to know what's on the exam? Most people think the exam is based on the PMBOK® Guide. However, it's actually based on the PMI-RMP® Exam Content Outline

The Exam Content Outline includes the domains, tasks, and enablers for the PMI-RMP® Exam. For instance, the Risk Strategy & Planning Domain includes:

  • Perform a preliminary document analysis
  • Assess project environment
  • Confirm risk thresholds based on risk appetites
  • Establish risk management strategy
  • Document the risk management plan

Therefore, one could expect exam questions related to risk thresholds, document analysis, and risk management plans.

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