When preparing for the PMP certification exam, many candidates create PMP study groups. Depending on the members and atmosphere, study groups can either help you grow or pull you down. Before you go and create (or join) a PMP study group, remember that all groups are not created equal. Choose your companions carefully, or study by yourself. To guarantee a successful experience, keep these key pointers in mind when sourcing a group to join, or starting up your own group.
1. Determine Your Expectations
It is best if you have a game plan before you venture too far into the process. Figure out what do you want to get out of the study group? What are your expectations? Calculate how much time do you have to devote to meeting each week? How often? Once you have determined what you want, then you can proceed with finding potential candidates.
2. Do Your Research
It is important to understand who you are interacting with before committing yourself to a group. Talk to your fellow classmate before or after class, and observe them in class. Find out their motivation level, study habits, personality and schedules. Are they bossy? Do they work full time, attend classes regularly and participate actively? Do you think you will get along with them? If you don’t match up, then you are probably going to clash and encounter problems.
3. Establish Group Size, Location and Times
Group sizes of 4 or 5 members tend to work best. Larger groups than that tend to be too big to manage and be effective. As for good locations, a meeting place should be selected that is neutral to everyone, convenient, available, quiet, and free of distractions. Libraries, empty classrooms, or boardrooms work well. Having a set, regular meeting time is always beneficial as well. It is easy to remember and becomes routine.
4. Establish Ground Rules
Once a group is formed, a clear set of rules should be outlined and enforced so that everyone understands what is expected, reducing the chance of misunderstandings and time wasting. Establishing goals and how the material for each session will be covered will help keep everyone organized and prepared. A great way to handle this is follow an agenda and to elect a leader, either the same person for each session or on a rotating basis, allowing each member a chance.
5. Avoid Socializing Instead of Studying
The study group sessions should be focused on studying, not socializing. Keep the socializing and non-PMP material chatter to before or after your sessions. It is important to also show respect for each other and work together collaboratively. Discussions should have a positive tone. Avoid negativity. Any criticisms or differences in opinion should be constructive and stay focused on the material being covered.
6. Plan Ahead
Before the completion of each session, an agenda or game plan should be stated for the next meeting so everyone knows what will be covered and who’s responsible for what. This will help keep everyone on the same page and come prepared for the next session.
Good luck in your search for a PMP study group, and on your PMP studies!