Before signing up for a PMP or other certification exam prep course, we have provided you with a list of questions to ask them.
Here’s the thing – exam prep courses cost a lot of money and trust me, this is one investment you only want to make once. If you are going to be spending 4 days in a classroom listening to a not-always entertaining topic, choose wisely!
So take a few minutes and ask your training provider these questions BEFORE registering for a class:
1. What is your BBB rating?
We cannot underscore the importance of Better Business Bureau reviews and ratings. These are much more significant and honest than any social network/review board, etc. If the company is accredited by the BBB it means that they have paid an annual fee to hold accreditation. Always verify their BBB file and grade. We were shocked that two of the top-“ranked” PMP Prep Provider companies both had scores of “F”.
2. Has the instructor for my class already been assigned?
Many larger training companies wait until the class enrollment has met their minimum before contracting with an instructor. While this is understandable from a business perspective it does pose a problem at times, especially for the students. We have witnessed multiple occasions where on the Thursday or Friday before a PMP class, the company is scrambling to find an instructor. Needless to say, the best instructors are already booked, so you are left with… (you get the point). The instructor should be assigned as soon as the class is published on the calendar. Which leads to the next question to ask:
3. Can I contact my instructor prior to class?
The answer should always be “yes”. Having access to your instructor means that a) they can begin working with you on the course expectations and any questions you may have and b) there is actually an instructor assigned to the class!
4. Will you assist me with my PMI credential application?
A good exam prep program will recognize that exam prep is not just about learning the PMI concepts. There is also a very important, and quite cumbersome, application process. This application process should be started prior to the class, not during the class. And there should be resources to assist you with completing the application the appropriate way, reflecting your TRUE project management experience.
5. Do you offer any pre-course learning to procide the 35 hours of education before the class itself?
While this isn’t a requirement (as you should be getting 35 hours for the actual class you will be taking), it is a nice option. We recommend that students have their applications submitted to PMI and approved prior to class. For those students that don’t have the required hours, an online module can provide that. (Although, honestly, be a little concerned with the ethics of the company if they offer you a “35-hour” training module that will only take you “a few hours” to complete).
6. Describe your student course materials
You’re not looking for words like “robust” or “comprehensive” here. Specifically ask them if they will be providing you with a course book with exercises, practice questions, etc., how many pages is the course book, who authored it, when was it last updated, etc. Many of the course materials we’ve seen are actually print-outs of the PowerPoint slides, photocopied, and spiral-bound. PowerPoint does not a course book make.
7. What are the details of your course “Guarantee”?
If the guarantee isn’t described, in detail, on the company’s website, ask for it in writing – including any type of forms (with small print) that you will need to sign. Keep in mind that no company can guarantee you will pass the exam. However, they can offer you a guarantee that if you do not pass, they will pay your re-examination fees and/or refund course costs. Just read the fine print! (We found one provider that made the student pay for the exam guarantee. Umm…. so they were collecting money from the student that was equal to the amount of money they were going to give back to the student if they needed to re-take the exam. Sound fishy?)
8. Are meals included in the cost of the course?
A small item, but one to be considered. Many of the boot camps offer breakfast and lunch included in their course fees. Be sure the training provider specifies if meals are truly included or if there will be an “extra fee”.
9. What are the (verifiable) names of some past students in your course? Including some that failed the exam?
Every company has students that do not pass the exam and the best way to know the truth about the company is to talk to some of those students. Find out how the training provider handled the “guarantee”, why they believe they failed, etc. For any references they give you of students who passed the exam, verify that they did indeed pass. Check the PMI Credential Registry and look for their profile on LinkedIn.
10. Will you give me personal recommendations on my readiness for the exam?
Many companies feel their role starts when the class starts and ends on the last day. We do not consider our job done until you pass the exam. This includes, and should include for any training provider, a customized personal readiness assessment and honest feedback as to your readiness for the actual exam.
10 little questions that can make a BIG difference in your success on the exam!