Practice test

prep for the PfMP exam using the portfolio management skills you already have mastered


By Teresa (Terri) Knudson, PMP, PgMP, PfMP

I'm sure many of you have been wondering … and I'm thrilled to say that I passed! I earned my PMI Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)® certification.

In preparing for the exam, I learned just how applicable and versatile my skills as a portfolio manager can be. Here are some ways you can leverage your portfolio expertise to prepare for the big exam:

To begin with, you need to strategize how you are going to approach your exam preparation and determine what objectives you are wanting to accomplish. Originally, I had prioritized studying rather low compared to all my other activities. There's always more fun things to do, and besides, I had a whole year. But just like your project portfolio, you need to perform regular reviews to assess your priorities, resource allocation and value of the outcome. Once I did this, I significantly increased the priority of this project within my personal portfolio.

Just as you do for your portfolio, you should develop targets for your studies.


Governance is an important part of every portfolio management plan. Incorporating that same idea of accountability can be helpful in preparing for your PfMP® exam.

It always helps to identify others who will oversee your efforts and make sure you are meeting your targets. My governance ended up coming from multiple sources—the main ones being my family and co-workers, who regularly requested status updates.


Just as you do for your portfolio, you should develop targets for your studies. Tapping into this skill will help you monitor your progress and whether you will meet the intended goals.

Performance metrics might include measuring how long it takes you to re-create the PMI portfolio management process groups and knowledge areas—without peeking. One metric I also found useful was tracking the results of the practice exams that I took. This can be a definite motivator to focus your efforts.


Communicating your status and progress ties directly to your governance model and performance metrics. For me, this involved providing communication to my “oversight groups”—including regular updates to my mom.


Portfolio managers are well-equipped to analyze risks. When it comes to prepping for the test, a few key risks to consider are work conflicts, family obligations and your own health and wellness. It's best to find ways to mitigate these risks by developing a plan that balances them with your preparation efforts. My approach was to fast-track preparation into a six-week period that worked around critical work and family events. By doing this, I was then able to more fully focus on studying and make that the top priority.

Obviously, each of us has different approaches to studying. But your project and portfolio management skills can provide value to your personal portfolio, so use them to ensure your push for certification is successful. PM

img Teresa (Terri) Knudson, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, is the director of the enterprise portfolio management office at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA. She can be reached at [email protected].




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