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13 Must-Have Study Aids to Pass the PMP Exam

12 of the 13 training aids are free!

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I often get asked, “Nate, what study material do you recommend I use in order to pass the PMP® or CAPM® exam on the first attempt?” After answering this question so many times, I thought maybe I should just create a post about PMP study training aids so anyone who has taken my boot camp or someone else’s boot camp can benefit from the material and videos that I personally used to pass the exam.

The below list of of training materials is in no way a replacement for a good local in-class or online PMP or CAPM prep boot camp. The below recommendations are only for pre-course and post-course study.

Also Read  Six Reasons to Choose a Local PMP Boot Camp Provider and “What Type of PMP Training is Best for Passing the PMP”

I have placed a slight note of caution where the video or information may have been derived from a previous version of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK®. But don’t worry, PMCertDC would not lead you down the wrong path. Even if the information is gleaned from a previous edition of the PMBOK, it has been checked for overall accuracy. Additionally, you will see a lot of bold writing. This is to easily see key concepts being explained. So let’s dig into the training links now.

Phil Akinwale of Praizion
Phil Akinwale, PMP of Praizion

For free YouTube study materials, no one has better videos than Phill Akinwale at Praizion Media. He has an uncanny talent of taken certain concepts and distilling them, by video, in an easy to understand concept. I highly recommend any of his videos for study purposes.

I’ll tell you, I took my PMP training from one of the leading training company’s in the industry and was woefully unprepared to take the PMP exam. What that company and so many others failed to do was provide that grand overview of the point of a project being completed in the way the PMBOK suggests (PMBOK is not a methodology, but a foundation to build a methodology on if desired). Luckily I found Phil and all of his videos.

While many of the training aids are from Phil at Praizion, there are several other must watch/ must read training aids from various other companies and authors. Those are listed below as well.

Also read “Frequently Asked Questions: Project Management and Certifications”

Processes Overview

Training Aid #1: The PMBOK processes overview.

The grand overview of the processes in project management is very important in order to wrap your mind around what project management is in order to pass the exam. In this video, you will see the 49 processes explained in a very high level overview.

Training Aid #2: The PMBOK 6th Ed. processes.

The PMBOK process map can be found in chart form if you were wise enough to purchase the PMBOK 6th Ed. (Free download if you are a PMI member) or the excellent book “PMP Exam Master Prep” by Scott Payne. See training aid #3 below for more on this book and a discount coupon code.

But, for those who did not purchase those materials, you can find a very printable version of the PMBOK process map at Deep Fried Brain Project here. After the new PMBOK 6th Ed. came out with their 49 processes, it has been hard to find a great printable version. Deep Fried Brain Project solved this complexity with an excellent printable version. Click the image below to be taken directly to the PDF of their great Process Map.

Capture of Deep Fried Brain Project PMBOK Process Map

Training Aid #3: PMP Study Guide.

While there are many books on the market to distill the PMBOK 6th Ed. into a fun readable text, no one does it better than Scott Payne at PM Master Prep. His book “PMP Exam Master Prep: Learn Faster. Retain More. Pass the PMP.” is a great book adopted by PMCertDC as their official text book for our own students.

PM Master Prep BookIn this book, author Scott Payne takes the PMBOK 6th Ed., and teaches the entire PMBOK processes in a story form. The book takes a fictitious new project manager named “John” and follows his project from beginning to end using 25 case studies. This allows students studying for the PMP or CAPM exam a way to remember all of these processes by remembering John’s struggles and triumphs.

Since PMCertDC licenses this product, feel free to use coupon code PMCERTDC at checkout and save money on this vital resource. Click the book picture to be taken to the website. Again, make sure you use coupon code PMCERTDC for a discount.

Also Read “What is the Best PMP and CAPM Exam Simulator on the Market“.

Network Diagramming and Critical Path

Training Aid #4: The dreaded network precedence diagramming.

While a more dry video than those from Phil, it is still short and sweet and full of useful training on mastering the basics of network diagramming. This comes to us from a small company called “Project Management Fundamentals“. In this first video, the narrator goes over the basics of the network diagramming and a useful tip on how to create the “nodes” in order to later perform backwards and forward passes. These passes are crucial in order to find the “Critical Path” (see next two video suggestions) of a project.

The below video was also built on an earlier version of the PMBOK. But rest assured that the content remains the same in the newest edition of the PMBOK.

Training Aid #5: Forward and Backward Pass and Critical Path Method.

Building on the video above, we get to our third video suggestion which is a continuation of the video above! In this video, the same author takes you through the “Forward Pass” and “Backwards Pass” identifying early start, early finish, late start, late finish, the critical path, and “float” (also called “slack“).

Like the first video, the below video was also built on an earlier version of the PMBOK. But rest assured that the content remains the same in the newest edition of the PMBOK.

Training Aid #6: Fantastic 17 minute overview of the network precedence diagramming method, forward and backward pass, float/ slack, critical path etc.

This video is a more exciting feature of the above two videos brought to us by Projex Academy. Also built on a previous version of the PMBOK, the material is still relevant in the latest version.

HINT- Do not skip any of the three videos on network diagramming as you will get a good grasp of the material after watching ALL three. While the below video sums up the above two, they are from two different companies providing two similar, yet different perspectives on this vital portion of the PMP or CAPM examination.

Training Aid #7: This is not a video, but a great exercise sheet on critical path method.

Created by PMTraining.com this sheet will test you on the above concepts in PMP exam complexity and format. In other words, the three questions posed (with answer sheets), will show you very real exam type questions on what these videos covered.

Why is this important? The videos above are using very easy examples to teach the concepts of critical chain and network diagramming. But in reality, the exam will give you a list of tasks and you will have to create the diagram yourself. Not only will you have to create the diagram yourself,  but you will have to find the critical path using forward and backwards pass. Find this sheet HERE

Earned Value Management (EVM)

Training Aid #8: The most dreaded portion of the exam for many students is the mathematical calculations; specifically earned value management.

And who can blame them?

In this video by Phil at Praizion (as I said, I highly respect his study materials), Phil teaches you a very easy formula to learn four key EVM calculations. There is really nothing more to say but to watch Phil in action. Just remember, EV is King!

Training Aid #9: Estimate at completion (EAC).

Only in an attempt to outdo himself, Phil brings us another video that teaches the estimate at completion formulas and ways to remember them. He also teaches the reason to use each formula and when it is optimal to choose one formula over the others.

And of course, Phil incorporates illustrations to drill each formula into your memory bank. This video naturally build on the video above. Combine this with the methodology in PMP Master Prep in training aid #3, you are sure to pass this portion of the exam.

Decision Tree Analysis

Training Aid #10: Expected Monetary Value (EMV).

Tired of hearing about Phil? Well then  you better stop reading now. The next three training aids are all from this training guru. Truth be told, Phil does not know me, but he is my PMP homie.

In the next video, Phil does a pretty solid job teaching you how to do a proper decision tree analysis. This is vital as it more than likely will pop up on the PMP exam.

A decision tree analysis allows you to weigh probability in deciding on a key decision and gives a project manager an objective way to decide on two or more courses of actions. On the PMP exam, you will need to know how to draw the branches and decide on which course of action to take on a given scenario.

Phil teaches this with a colorful demonstration using a PMP level complex question.

Deliverables– The Big Picture of Project Management

The next two training aids are videos that if you master, Phil claims will save you tens of hours of study time. I agree!

Like all the videos above, the next two are based on an older version of the PMBOK. But the premise remains the same. They are not so different that they no longer apply to the PMBOK 6th Ed.

Training Aid #11: The “mainline” through a project.

The end result of a project or phase of a project is to get a deliverable to the stages of “verified deliverable“, “accepted deliverable“, and ultimately to “close project or phase“.

In this video, Nathan walks you through that process. This is a video you will want to watch and re-watch. This video shows what traditional project management is all about! And the PMP still relies heavily in part on traditional or “Waterfall” project management.

Also Read “With the Growth of Agile, is Waterfall Dead?”

I guarantee you that if you get very familiar with this video, you will still increase your odds of passing the newer PMP or CAPM examination!

Training Aid #12: Project management change control.

In order to understand getting to the deliverable(s) mentioned above, you have to understand the perform integrated change control process and what it entails. Phil walks you through this process in the video below. This is a great complimentary video to the video above.

Why? When attempting to get to a verified or accepted deliverable, if the deliverable is rejected internally by control quality or externally by the sponsor or key stakeholders in validate scope, then the deliverable has to go through the change control process as something went wrong in the executing process. This will more than likely increase costs or delay your schedule!

Training Aid #13: Types of contracts in procurement management.

One huge confusion for aspiring certified project managers deals with the various types of contracts and when they are used. This blog post/ training aid does a great job of distilling the contracts into a reader friendly form. Bottom line, there are three types of contracts each with their own sub-types. Fixed price contracts, cost-reimbursable contracts, and the hybrid of the two called time and materials contracts. Find this blog post here titled “PMP Contract Types and Examples” by Tyler Marinelli of Magoosh PMP Blog.

Final Thoughts

Conclusion: As stated up top, these training aids will not replace a PMP or CAPM boot camp. What they will do is help you pre-study before the boot camp and study after the boot camp in order to pass these very tough examinations on the first attempt. They are tough on purpose. If they were easy, every project manager would have the PMP and it would not mean much to employers!

So make sure you choose a great PMP training company and use these aids to pass the PMP the first time. If you have already failed the test and are looking to attempt it again, these training aids may be the difference maker this time around!
Also Read “8 Red Flags to Watch For When Choosing a PMP or CAPM Boot Camp

Nathan J. Kerr, MS, PMP is the co-owner and founder of PMCertDC – Washington D.C.’s metro area premier project management boot camp provider. With our primary location in Tysons, VA, we hold classes throughout the Washington D.C. metro area and anywhere online.

We are a proud Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business with a huge impact on the project management world. Visit us at https://pmcertdc.com

Read why PMCertDC is awesome here!

PMCertDC PMP Instruction in Action
Nathan J. Kerr, MS, PMP teaching PMP to students.


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