10 Reasons Flashcards Can Help You in PMP Exam Preparation

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Studying for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) Exam can be a long undertaking that at times may seem overwhelming. One known effective method for studying for the PMP Exam is using flashcards.

Flashcards are compact, quick and easy to use study aids that typically cover one question, formula, or tidbit of information per card. Flashcards can be used just about anywhere; waiting in line, on the bus or train, or even when you just have a few moments between meetings.

In this article, we are going to discuss 10 reasons flashcards should be part of your PMP Exam preparation toolkit.

You should consider using flashcards because as a study method, it does the following:

1. Allows You to Study Almost Any Time and Anywhere
  • Flashcards are portable and flexibly. They can go anywhere with you and can be used when you have some free time such as waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or the cable repair technician.
  • You can print flashcards and take them with you, or if you prefer PM Flashcards are also available to be viewed on mobile devices.
2. Provides an Active Method for Learning PMP Concepts
  • When you use flashcards as part of learning a concept, you are not just passively reading information; you are asking yourself questions and actively answering them.
  • When you pick up a flashcard that reads “What does WBS stand for?” you have to think about what the question is asking and recall details related to the question. Apart from asking what WBS stands for, you might then ask yourself what does it mean? What was the context in which I learned about WBS? What is the significance of a WBS?
  • You are more fully engaged in learning, which helps make the information “stick”.
3. Allows You to Think About How Much You Do or Do Not Understand a Concept
  • Flashcards can be used to reflect on what you are learning, which is also known as metacognition, i.e. “Thinking about thinking”.
  • If you pick up a flashcard that reads “How do you calculate SPI?” you may remember what SPI stands for and that it involves earned value and planned value, but cannot recall the formula.
  • If you don’t have clear understanding of a flashcard question, then you know you may have to read more about it or review what you have learned about the concept. So this may mean looking up the SPI formula, study and work through an example to ensure that you know that you calculate SPI by dividing earned value by planned value.
4. Breaks Studying Down Into Small Chunks
  • One flashcard covers a single topic so flashcards overall break studying down into small single concept chunks.
  • For each chunk, you can determine which ones you understand and those that you know you need to review more.
  • In other words, flashcards allow for you to focus on one question at a time. When you pick up a flashcard that asks “What does WBS stand for?” and you think to yourself “I have no idea” then you know you need to set that card aside, so you can spend more time on specifically on the topic of the WBS.
5. Provides Repetition
  • Flashcards ask questions about concepts in a variety of different ways and are intended to be used over and over.
  • Knowing how to answer questions about a concept that is presented in a variety of ways ensures you learn, not simply memorise, the concept. In this way, you will find it easier to recall the information.
  • If you answer a flashcard question correctly, don’t just set it aside. It is useful to not only see the cards you have not mastered more than once, but also it is good to review cards you got right the first time. Answering correctly a few times ensures you have learned the concept
6. Allows for Distributed Learning
  • Distributed learning is the practice of spreading out your studying over time and quizzing yourself on the concepts over time; in other words…not cramming.
  • Take a break between study sessions to learn other concepts or do other non-study related activities to allow for the information time to “sink in”.
  • Spreading out studying for the PMP Exam is a much better method than cramming all of the information “en masse”.
7. Provides Immediate Feedback on Progress
  • With flashcards you know immediately if you are on the right track with a specific PMP concept, either you can answer the question correctly or not.
  • There is a growing sense of accomplishment with a growing pile of mastered flashcards.
  • There is no waiting time. You can immediately reprioritise your studies to learn more about topics on flashcard questions that you got wrong.
8. Allows You to Control Your Learning
  • You can order the flashcards randomly, by subject areas, by how much you have mastered a topic, or in any order you would like.
  • You can learn at your own pace; set your own personal goals such as to review 5, 40 or 100 flashcards a day.
  • You can easily sort the cards in to groups of what you do know and what you need to spend more time studying.
9. Uses Both Visual and Auditory Senses
  • Memory improves when you use more than one sense to learn information, which can be done using flashcards.
  • It is useful to have cards where you can draw an image or graph on (visual) that you associate with the concept on the flashcard. For example if the concept is Maslow’s hierarchy, don’t just rely on the text to learn the concept – draw it out.
  • It can also be good to have someone else read the questions to you (auditory).
10. Works Well in a Group Format
  • You can make a game out of using flashcards and create a contest or casual competition within the study group, so you can introduce some fun while learning, discussing, and debating questions and answers.
  • Hearing and discussing the questions in a group format can help you to reinforce PMP Exam concepts.
Flashcards are an excellent study aid that can provide a huge boost to you PMP Exam preparation toolkit.

They are broken down into a single concept at one per card, can be used just about anywhere when you have free time, can be sorted in any order you wish, and can be used alone or as part of a group study session.

Of course you can create your own flashcards as you study, but there are excellent inexpensive flashcards available such as the PMP eFlashcards that can give you a head start.
Until Next Time,
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP
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I found Flashcards one of the most useful resources when studying for the PMP. I used them to good effect for my PMP.

When I studied for PRINCE2, I made my own Flashcards and used them as a way to revise on the train to work. It was easier than getting books out of my bag on a packed commuter train.

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