The steps I think would be best are:
- Apply to PMI and start the application process. This provides you with a tool to track your hours, much like the spreadsheet I have, which should be considered a good starting point. I mailed this to each person that might end up being questioned on it so that it would minimize the chance of problems.
- When you think you have your hours, take a class. PSU has great PMP prep classes. I took a set of online courses from a reseller. The big thing to look for is the sample tests. I think they are critical and the I bought had two sets of test. They other offerings too.
- From the PMBOK and the classes I made flash cards to help me memorize certain material. I did them by hand, since I learn better that way, but you can probably find them for sale somewhere.
- After you get your 35 contact hours, then determine how long it will take you to nail the tests and apply for a test with enough time to study the sample tests. I would lot a few weeks for that.
- Watch the timing. The PMBOK's Fifth Edition in in progress and I am not sure when it will kick in. Do not study the fourth edition and find out you need the fifth. It is best to check with PMI on the timing.
I, also, borrowed the textbook Project Management: A system approach to planning, scheduling and controlling, by Harold Kerzner, and found it very good. I am thinking about getting it for my library. It is not something you need for the PMP, it is a good PM reference textbook.
The total cost for the PMP in 2009 was $997.00. Now it is about $50 more.