How should I study for the PMP exam and how long should that take?

After “What certification should I get after the PMP?“, the next most common certification-related question I see on LinkedIn and discussion groups is asking how to get ready to write the PMP exam and how much elapsed time should be allowed for this effort.

This question reminds me very much of the fun exercise which I ask learners in my foundational project management course to complete: “How long does it take to catch a fish?“. I ask them to think about all the possible variables which could affect their answer (e.g. type of fish, location, time of day, type of bait) as well as whether they consider this to be a fixed duration activity or a fixed effort activity.

In terms of studying for the exam, there are many different methods available including:

  • Reading PMI’s reference books listed on the PMP certification page
  • Using a reputable self-study guide
  • Taking one or more quality practice exams
  • Attending an on demand PMP preparatory course
  • Attending a live (in person or virtual) PMP preparatory course
  • Watching a number of PMP prep videos
  • Using a PMP exam prep smartphone app

It is usually advisable that a candidate seriously consider using a combination of these as the exam retake cost is high enough that the goal should be to pass on the first attempt.

The candidate will also need to assess how ready they are before implementing one or more of these methods and how much available time they have to commit to preparing. For the former, it is a good idea to take a single quality practice exam (hint: if its free, it probably is not good quality) and use the score on that exam as a baseline. Ideally this practice exam will provide the candidate with their score across the exam domains and tasks so that they know which topics will need greater studying focus.

To answer the second question, once the candidate has completed a readiness assessment and determined how much free time they will have, they can then put together a work-forward schedule to come up with a realistic exam date. As part of this exercise, if they intend to take a preparatory course, they should ensure the course is taken close to when they intend to write the exam, but they should leave themselves a week or two at least after the course to bridge any knowledge gaps they identified by taking the course.

All this to say, the only valid answer to both questions is it depends!

(If you liked this article, why not pick up my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on and on as well as a number of other online book stores)

Categories: Project Management | Tags: | 1 Comment

Just a pause (I’m not “Quiet Quitting”)!

For those who might be wondering where my usual weekly article is, I’m taking a brief writing hiatus over the next few weeks to focus on my election campaign for Welland Ward 4 city councilor.

Along with pounding the pavement and knocking on doors, I will be writing a few brief articles in support of my platform as part of my marketing campaign. This will consume my (limited) creative capabilities till the election is over.

Categories: Project Management | Leave a comment

Are your project team members “quiet quitting”?

While the phrase “quiet quitting” might have been popularized recently, the behavior has been with us for a long time. For those of us who are Seinfeld fans, you’ll remember the many creative ways in which George Costanza would do either no work or the absolute bare minimum to avoid getting fired.

When we are considering operational work, quiet quitting is putting in the least effort to perform the standard responsibilities of one’s role such that required performance measurements are met.

But what does this look like for team members working on projects? While there are many ways in which this dysfunction could be expressed, common ones are:

  • Refusing to take on any responsibilities outside of our role description
  • Reluctance to help other team members when they need our assistance
  • Participating in mandatory team events but not in social or discretionary ones
  • Being unwilling to take on any activities which could result in the need to work overtime

A recent article in Harvard Business Review asserts what we’d expect. Such behavior is usually not a case of someone being a “slacker” but rather an outcome of poor management.

So what are someone of the things you might be doing which are encouraging your team members to quiet quit? Assuming you aren’t acting like a boss from Hell, here are some other things to watch out for:

  • Are you recognizing your team members? This recognition doesn’t need to be monetary or formal, but without doing it authentically and regularly, their motivation might be ebbing.
  • Is their workload manageable? Assuming they are not fully dedicated to your project, have they taken on more work than can be done reasonably? If so, you might want to meet with their functional managers to see if that can be addressed.
  • Are they stuck with boring work? Being perpetually assigned the same responsibilities project after project could be a good reason for someone to check out, so you might want to ask them if they are feeling sufficiently challenged with the activities or whether there is something else on the project which they’d be interested in taking on.
  • Do they feel safe? If there is a lower level of psychological safety within the team, team members are more likely to stick to just their assigned or selected work and avoid stretching beyond that.

It is also possible that the behavior might be the result of organizational issues or challenges with their functional manager. For example, if they feel that their work is worth more than they are being paid for and they lack the confidence or don’t have the ability to seek something different, that could result in disengagement and quiet quitting.

While it would be easy to pass the buck with such concerns, if you are able to get the team member to open up and share what’s bothering them, you can decide whether it is worth advocating on their behalf to get the issues resolved. Even if you are unsuccessful in doing so, the fact that you went to bat for them might be enough to get the team member to want to do a better job on your project.

Finally, if you perceive quiet quitting as a silent cry for help, you might discover what is causing the behavior and be able to prevent the team member from escalating to joining the Great Resignation.

(If you liked this article, why not pick up my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on and on as well as a number of other online book stores)

Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Project Management | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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