PMP exam preparation: Study resources you need

Infosec Institute
February 9, 2024 by
Infosec Institute

Studying is vital before any exam. Knowing which study resources you need for your Project Management Professional (PMP) exam helps you avoid irrelevant material and focus on what matters. Successful PMP test-takers benefit from multiple study aids, including self-study, study groups and courses. 

There are several excellent study materials for preparing and taking the PMP certification exam. Consistently studying the suitable material can be the difference between passing and failing and can earn you the best possible results quickly. 

Project management is the effective coordination of resources (human and capital) to achieve the project's goal. This makes it an essential skill for all disciplines, especially IT and cybersecurity. When designing and implementing IT and cybersecurity projects, the ability to align roles, actions and objectives can make the difference between a stable, productive system and one riddled with inefficiencies or even vulnerabilities. 

Earn your PMP, guaranteed!

Earn your PMP, guaranteed!

Enroll in a PMP Boot Camp and earn one of the industry’s most respected certifications — guaranteed.

A certified Project Management Professional (PMP) understands the responsibility and possesses managerial and leadership skills to make beneficial decisions. This is why a PMP certification is the most popular cert for project management, with over 1 million active certification holders. With a PMP, you can open the door to various career roles by demonstrating you have the expertise to deliver successful projects systematically. 

Understanding the PMP exam 

The PMP exam offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) covers a range of topics on the three primary approaches to project management: Predictive (also known as Waterfall), Agile, and Hybrid. 

These concepts are essential in IT because different teams use one or more of these methodologies when designing applications, network solutions, or structuring their cyber defense systems. 

The exam material is divided into the following domains: 

  1. People 

  1. Process 

  1. Business environment 

You have 230 minutes to finish the exam, which has 180 questions. 

Essential study resources for PMP exam preparation 

Using the following resources, you can prepare for the exam and strengthen your knowledge about project management principles and approaches. 

PMI PMP resources 

  • PMBOK Guide 7th Edition. "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge," or just the "PMBOK Guide," is one of the essential publications of the PMI. The book covers the processes, terminologies, practices, and guidelines standardly accepted in project management. 

  • PMI's practice exams and study materials. Practice PMP exam questions simulate what you'll see on the test and cover various exam topics. Similarly, the study materials teach you about the project management practices and concepts the exam focuses on. 

PMP online courses and workshops 

You can choose between on-demand and live training courses and workshops. With the on-demand courses, you get materials you can review at your own pace. Live sessions are more traditional, where you get the guidance of a natural person in a workshop or virtual classroom setting. 

For example, with the Infosec boot camp, the Infosec PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)  Boot Camp, you get everything you need to pass the exam. Unlike any other PMP class, you can take the exam on the fifth day of class, when you can best remember what you've learned. You can choose in-person, live online, or onsite training for your team. You need 35 hours of formal project management education (called "contact hours) before you sit for the PMP exam. Infosecs meet this hourly requirement, checking off an essential box in your exam prep program. 

Infosec also has an on-demand option for those who can't attend a live boot camp. 

Even though you can learn independently, with live, group and interactive learning, the dialog and exchanges you have with others help cement the concepts into your memory. If you choose to study independently, it's a good idea to check out communities like Reddit and others so you can engage with others around your learning. 

PMP books and study guides 

Here are some of the top study guides and books to help you get ready for the PMP exam: 

Free online resources are also available. For example, the Infosec PMP certification hub lets you explore exam objectives, compare similar certs, see PMP salaries and get career help.  

The above resources empower you with the knowledge you need to navigate topics you’ll encounter on the test and in your cybersecurity career comfortably. While PMP isn’t cyber-specific, the exam topics, from compliance (think HIPPA, PCI-DDS, GDPR) to conflict management (developer deadlines vs security needs) are integral to cybersecurity. 

Exam simulators and practice tests 

Simulators are an excellent resource because they expose you to real-world cybersecurity project scenarios. In this way, you gain hands-on, interactive experience with thinking through security challenges instead of merely choosing correct answers from memory. 

With the Infosec boot camps and on-demand training mentioned above, you gain access to more than 130 practice questions. Each of these simulations exercises your knowledge in multiple areas, strengthening your problem-solving abilities. 

The books referred to above also have plenty of practice questions you can use to build your PMP thinking processes. 

Another helpful resource is YouTube and other online communities where you can find advice on approaching different parts of the exam or gaining access to sample PMP exam questions. For instance, you can use a playlist of PMP exam tips or glean advice from someone who has performed well on the test. 

PMP study strategies and tips 

Here are some action steps you can take right now to start getting ready for the PMP exam: 

  • Customize your study goals based on your needs. This begins with reviewing the test topics and identifying your strong and weak points. 

  • Decide when to take the exam and schedule regular prep sessions based on that target date. For instance, if you want to sit for the exam in two months, you may want to commit to three sessions a week, two hours each, and start with your weakest topics. 

  • Focus on gaining a deep understanding of each topic instead of memorizing facts. For example, you want to understand how Agile and Waterfall compare when used to accomplish similar objectives. This underscores their differences as well as their strengths. 

  • Devote a session or two solely to understanding the structure of the exam. With this knowledge on the top of your mind, the exam's layout and question types won't throw you for a loop when test time comes around. 

Most importantly, you have to strike a balance between being flexible and consistent. It would be best if you were flexible in that you can pivot whenever you recognize a weakness in your knowledge base. However, it would be best if you were consistent when committing to your prep schedule. 

For many, this is one of the primary benefits of paid training. You get an instructor and a system that provides a consistent structure to your exam prep. On top of that, you get a teacher who has helped hundreds or thousands of students get certified. They know precisely which tips work and how to help you avoid some traps that have tripped up others. 

For those with a busy cybersecurity career, here are some tips for balancing your PMP prep with your daily demands: 

  • Identify non-essential daily activities and replace them with exam prep sessions. These may include scrolling through social media, watching TV, or playing video games. 

  • Set a weekly schedule using study topics as your framework. In other words, in week 1, you may want to dedicate 8 hours to learning and applying Agile principles. This gives study sessions purpose and focus. 

  • Set up an area in your home where you're free from distractions. Have a family meeting with your kids, significant other, and roommate(s) to let them know where and when it needs to be quiet. 

  • Consider using a shared workspace, such as a paid work area or a library, to reduce the risk of distractions. 

  • Keep a running record of the topics you struggle with the most. If you hit a comprehension roadblock, move on to something else. Then, reevaluate later to reinforce your weak areas. With a busy schedule, you can't afford to have stagnant study sessions. 

Earn your PMP, guaranteed!

Earn your PMP, guaranteed!

Enroll in a PMP Boot Camp and earn one of the industry’s most respected certifications — guaranteed.

Preparing for the PMP exam day 

Before exam day, you need to have established and documented your 35 contact hours. You must also apply to take the exam online and book your test with PearsonVUE. 

On the exam day, you check in online and then take the test. You'll have 180 questions that test your ability to decide and choose the best methodologies according to project management frameworks. 

It's essential to keep moving through the questions during the exam, not getting hung up on any one question or section. With 230 minutes, you have less than a minute and a half to answer each question, including reading and understanding what's being asked. 

If you've taken the necessary prep courses or boot camps, you can confidently enter the exam. Your instructor knows the ins and outs of the test and understands what sets those who pass apart from those who fall short. Using the knowledge they impart, you have a high chance of succeeding. 

This is a segment of an interview with  Jackie Olshack, a project management professional, about the role of project management in cybersecurity. Watch the full video on the Infosec YouTube channel 

After the PMP exam: Next steps 

You can expect your test results within about five days after the exam. Once you get your results, you qualify for certification. 

Leveraging your certification to advance your career starts with highlighting it on your resume and including it as you negotiate higher pay or a position with more responsibility. Managers often recognize and respect PMP certification. 

You also want to continue to put what you learned and practiced to the test, reinforcing your learning by applying PMP principles constantly. It would be best to document successes so you can showcase them in your following interview. 

You also have to maintain your cert to keep it active. Of the 35 hours of continuing education you need, the Project Management Institute (PMI) requires you to get at least eight from each of the three categories: 

  • Ways of Working refers to using project management strategies, such as Agile or Waterfall, in your daily practices. 

  • Power Skills include the interpersonal and soft skills you need to guide teams. 

  • Business Acumen, which refers to the knowledge you acquire about your industry and how your organization fits within the bigger picture 

In the context of the 2024 business ecosystem, PMP certification is particularly powerful. With more and more online applicants, hiring managers have their pick of potential candidates. One of the best ways to stand out from the hundreds of applicants is to get your PMP certification. After seeing this, decision-makers may feel more comfortable putting you on their shortlist of finalists. 


FAQ Summary: PMP exam prep 

What is the best way to prepare for the PMP exam? 

The best way to prepare for the PMP exam is to use a prep course or boot camp. With a structured course, you get instruction from a professional who knows the ins and outs of the test. 

Is the PMP exam hard to pass? 

Some find the PMP exam challenging. However, if you understand what's on the test and prepare accordingly, you stand a strong chance of passing. 

Earn your PMP, guaranteed!

Earn your PMP, guaranteed!

Enroll in a PMP Boot Camp and earn one of the industry’s most respected certifications — guaranteed.

How long do you need to study for the PMP exam? 

Generally, you should commit to two to three months of test prep. The amount of time that works best for you depends on how you budget your prep time and which topics you need to understand better. 

Can I study for PMP on my own? 

Yes, it's possible to study for your PMP certification alone. When doing so, however, you may still want to find online communities or in-person partners you can use to bounce ideas off and ask questions. 

Infosec Institute
Infosec Institute

Infosec’s mission is to put people at the center of cybersecurity. We help IT and security professionals advance their careers with skills development and certifications while empowering all employees with security awareness and phishing training to stay cyber safe at work and home. More than 70% of the Fortune 500 have relied on Infosec Skills to develop their security talent, and more than 5 million learners worldwide are more cyber-resilient from Infosec IQ’s security awareness training.