We frequently get requests from our students to provide a recommended study plan for PMP® certification. People learn in different ways and at different pace. It’s hard for us to prescribe a method that works for everyone. However, to assist our students who are starting out with their preparation, we are providing some general guidance in this article. This plan should help you prepare for PMP in about 8-12 weeks (your mileage may vary). You need to tailor the plan according to your situation, needs and learning style. This plan can also be used for CAPM® certification.

PMP Introduction

Before you even get started, go through our PMP Introduction page. It will provide you with all the important information that you need to know for the exam.

In order to pass the new PMP exam, you would need the PMBOK® Guide, 6th Ed and the Agile Practice Guide. If you need to get familiar with the general project management concepts, we recommend using a good PMP exam prep guide like Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep (disclosure: we are not affiliated with the publisher). You can also take some of the popular FREE PMP sample tests available online. Here’s the list of resources.

  1. BrainBOK PMP Pro (for PMP Study Guide and PMP Exam Prep App)
  2. PMBOK® Guide, 6th Ed
  3. Agile Practice Guide
  4. The Scrum Guide (free)
  5. Free PMP sample exams
  6. PMP Study Guide (optional)

Five-step Study Plan

The five-step study plan is detailed below.

Step 1 - Quick overview (1-2 weeks)

Before you start using the BrainBOK program, it’s important that you get a quick overview of the structure and content of the PMBOK® Guide.

Do a quick pass of the PMBOK® Guide first just to get familiar with the structure. You should be able to recognize the 5 Process Groups, 10 Knowledge Areas, and the 49 Project Management processes. You should also be able to understand that each process has inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs (ITTOs) and that processes often overlap. You do not need to understand each ITTO at this point.

Step 2 - Deep Dive (3-4 weeks)

Read our online PM Study Guide from beginning to end. You may skip the Agile section at this point as it will be covered in the next step. Use BrainBOK App’s ITTO Explorer, Quizzes and Flashcards to reinforce your concepts as you go along. After each Knowledge Area, attempt the Quizzes and Flashcards for that Knowledge Area.

A general guide on using the ITTO Explorer tool is available here (6-step process to master ITTOs):

Do I Need to Memorize the ITTOs for PMP and CAPM?

Repeat the above process until you are thoroughly familiar with the material. Make notes as you go along. Refer back to your study guide as needed.

Step 3 - Understand Agile Concepts (1-2 week)

Go through the Agile Practice Guide (collaboratively developed by PMI and Agile Alliance). It’s about 190 pages, and is a light read.

The PMP Exam 2021 may use Scrum terminology such as ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Sprint, etc. Therefore, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the Scrum Framework. Fortunately, you can learn the basics of Scrum in less than 2 hours. Go through The Scrum Guide which is a free resource. It provides a concise and good summary of the Scrum framework.

Go through the Agile section of our online study guide at this point for learning additional agile concepts that you need to know for the exam.

Step 4 - Test yourself (2-3 weeks)

Now would be the time to validate your knowledge. Take Mastering PMBOK Guide 1 and 2 exams to assess your knowledge. Review all the questions, particularly those that you got wrong, to identify the gaps. Again use the guides and tools to address those gaps.

Repeat for other practice exams.

We recommend taking the exams in this order:

  1. Mastering PMBOK Exam 1
  2. Mastering PMBOK Exam 2
  3. PMP Practice Exam 1
  4. PMP Formula Challenge Exam
  5. PMP Practice Exam 2
  6. PMP Practice Exam 3


Again make notes as you go along. While you can retake the exams as many times as you want within your subscription period, the first attempt score is the real indicator of your exam readiness. We recommend that you take the exams when you feel relatively comfortable with the material in the PMBOK® Guide. If you take them too soon, your results may be skewed. Also note that our practice exams are slightly more difficult than the real PMP exam.

Step 5 - Put everything together (1-2 weeks)

Revise your notes, participate in discussion forums and try other free exams available online.

We hope that this article gives you some idea about how to get started. Good luck for your certification exam and happy learning!

If you need any support, feel free to write to us.

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