How to pass PMP

September 17, 2022 | Article

By Awal Hosen

I believe sharing is caring. The best way to contribute to the community is by giving back what worked for me and what did not, it might work for you. This is a One Place Guide for passing PMP.

Why I am Writing it:
I passed my PMP examination in Oct. 2020. It’s not all AT (Above Target). My results are AT.T.T.AT.BT. But I learned a lot throughout the process. Before the exam, I tried to look at the available information on the Web for self-help. There is a lot of Information available on the web. No Aggregated information was found. There is a full load of YouTube Videos, Forums. I was frustrated not to find cumulative information. Besides that, the Web could be a tricky place, it can kill your valuable time. So, I decided to give full PMP journey information here. I hope I made it easy for you.

Key Take ways:

  1. Clarity of passing PMP Examination and Original Secrets
  2. How to meet Requirements without hassle
  3. Solutions of overcoming Applications Hurdle with Template
  4. Study and Passing Planning & Strategy
  5. Best Sources including Books, Test Simulator and Most valuable online Resources information
  6. Exam Day Secrets with Key terms
  7. Re-examination Strategy Notes

PMP is one of the best certificates to have. Every year, a lot of people pursue this popular exam, there are 958,593 (2019) PMI Credential holders worldwide. Why do so many people want to be certified as a PMP professional? because Career in project management is lucrative than ever. Personally, I think for a supply chain professional, it is a must have a credential. It’s not an easy exam at least in my experience. To pass the PMP exam in short time, you need to have a certain process. Otherwise, this heavy Exam might cost you a bit more in-terms of time and money. The understanding of the process through visualization is very much important to grasp the key areas. After the exam, I have shared some of the secrets in Reddit forum, but it was incomplete due to my busyness. I realized the gap and I decided to write in detail here so that you can prepare yourself in a more structured way.

FYI: Among all countries surveyed, the median salary for project professionals with a PMP is 25% higher than those without PMP certification.

@Project Management Institute
Okay, enough introduction, let me guide through concrete process:

One: Goal & Objective
Let me begin with why goal and objective are important for passing PMP. There are two ways you can show your expertise to the people. One is the outcome of the work you do with the people. The other one is to show your credentials. But if you do not have a chance with others, Then the best way to prove your expertise to others is to have a certificate. I had experience doing the real project for 3 years, proved the results but I did not have credentials. My goal was to get the credentials in short time, because I was busy with the work. The objective was to grasp detailed knowledge of Project Management from the PMBOK Guide from the PMI. If I have experience & knowledge together, it would be far more effective to bring the outcome of a Project. Thus, a clear Goal and objective is important to start your PMP exam Journey.

Two: Meet the Requirements
Those who are first time applicants for the PMP exam, the starting point is to check whether you are eligible to apply for it. Those who have experience more than 3 year along with a university degree and 35 hours of project management education/training, you can start application immediately. For others, please check for detailed information on the PMI website here.

My Case for your Reference: I had Undergraduate degree with 3 Year Project Experience in 2 companies, projects did overlap each other. Attended Project Management course in Temple University Japan Campus for 35-hour Education. My instructor Dan Clapper was really nice to explain the core concepts with a lot of humor. It was a very much interactive course. He led us to use Trello Board which was very effective to work out our Project experience in storytelling style. You buy a good learning experience by investing a good amount of money. Course fee certainly provided my ROE. There are cheap courses available, and I am not sure If you would have similar experience buying Udemy Course. But I would recommend you try Joseph Phillips course.

@Dan Clapper
Three: Overcoming Application Hurdle
One of the most difficult parts of the PMP application is to get through Application approval. For some, this part is easy, for some this is tricky. And for me it was tricky, I was experiencing student syndrome in other words Procrastination. Because the previous requirements of recording project experience were very much troubling. Especially the lack of proper format. But my instructor and the other expert in the Application process said to think it as part of passing the PMP exam. Still the Wisdom did not work for me, I was delaying the Application because of it. However, surprisingly PMI simplified the application procedure of recording project experience. It cannot be simpler than anything. It opened an easy window for me. Please note that PMI might choose you for the Audit. Sometimes they need proof. So, reach out to contacts regarding potential audits.

My Case for your Reference: I went through the new guideline. Apparently, it seems you can try any format. I made a simple format myself utilizing the following YouTube Video. Just use the simple format from here I created. One of the Best Videos Explaining the New Application process.

Four: Book Your Exam
“Set the Bar high”

If you are here, I assume you already know you need to accomplish it by two months. So set the Bar high by booking your exam immediately after application approval. This is one of the psychological weapons to push yourself and commit to the study. It works for some people, for some it might be hard. For me, it worked. I was experiencing student syndrome and was not disciplined enough to proceed with study. Hence, I signed-up for examinations once my application was approved. Push yourself by signing-up for the exam.

How long did it take for Application Approval?

Well, my application was approved after 10 days, usually it takes 5–7 days. I applied on Friday. My assumption is that this was the reason it took three more days.

Five: Set the Study Planning & Strategy
“Without structured approach you set yourself into an unknown Goal”

Planning for 1st Month:
First check the PMP content manual, understand the domains. Though a lot of things changed in-terms of the domain from the last year, but study strategy should be the same. Check the content manual, confirm which one you have understanding from the experience, which is not, go through the similar process until you come up with the full list of Known Task & Unknown Task. Put them in an Excel Sheet according to the domain Area, Budget the time for each topic. The new PMP Exam Content Outline (ECO)includes two changes that have significantly impacted the PMP Exam. First, the ECO shows that half the questions represent predictive project management approaches and the other half represent agile or hybrid approaches. Second, the domains and their related tasks have changed. This what was changed from the previous one:

Second, as you set a time budget, now it’s time to know your own available time to assign yourself. For the first 30 days, allocate at least 2 productive hours in a day, that is 60 Hours in a Month. That should be enough to grasp the core domain task knowledge.

My Learning Techniques for your Reference: I used Visualization, Space Repetition, Chunking and Contextualize techniques to understand the process. I also used an Anki Card from here. Most effective was my white board listing which I set next to my Study table.

Planning for 2nd Month:
Second month is for only to test your knowledge by taking Mock tests. It means testing the context to verify your knowledge for effective learning. I found Context techniques from a book called A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra). In my opinion it is the best book on learning techniques. You can spend 2 hours in a day, 60 hours for a month. What you need to do? Your Job is to know what kind of questions will be on the Exam, the other objective of this process is to find out weak areas and review the resources. So, what are resources you need to use? That is going to take to the next Process.

Six: Get the Good Resources (Books, Test Simulator, Online Communities)
“Good Resources are the bloodline of an Exam”

Best Books:
What are the Good Books for PMP exam preparation? You can find a lot of books on PMP. If you are new to the Project Management Guidebook, first buy A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) from PMI. Get yourself to the concepts. You can get it free from the PMI if you become a PMI member. PMI membership cost you $139 annually. The textbook a bit complicated to understand. I will highly recommend to buy Head First PMP: A Learner’s Companion to Passing the Project Management. One of the best books for concept learning. I also used PMP Exam Prep, Eighth Edition — Updated: Rita’s Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam. This book is good for practicing Questions. There is one more popular candidate is the The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try: 6th Edition + Agile (Test Prep series). This Three books are enough to diversify your knowledge and maximize your chance to pass it at first try. Also, Agile Guide at the end of PMBOK — Read it twice to understand agile methodology and hybrid scenarios. Please complete questions at the End of each Chapter. Once you finish reading books, it’s time to test yourself before the exam.

Best Test Simulator:
If you go through the online communities, you will be notified that the best test Simulator is the PM Exam Simulator. This helped to understand the reasoning why an answer is incorrect. Read incorrect answers. If you take all the tests in there, and review all the incorrect answers thoroughly, almost half of the exam is done here. It costs you $149. Please don’t buy any other simulator, it is best in the market. Because indeed I used another Simulator where questions were too broad and large, completely unrelated for the exam. I still remember that there were a lot of questions on the exam from this simulator. The founder himself might be involved with the PMI committee! My guess.

My Advice on Test Simulator practice, please first practice questions according to the Domain Areas in learning Quiz mode. Just Confirm you clear that Domains well. Then, review incorrected questions. If you do clear all the domain areas, score 80% then you are good to go. In the End, take at least 4–5 complete test, you need to have enough patience because exam last for almost 4 hour (230 Min) which is traumatizing. So, be familiar with the exhaustion, simulator strengthen your psychology.

Online Communities:
The following online communities and online channel help me to pass PMP.

Reddit PMP Channel:
One of the Best community Channel for getting latest exam info and feedback from those who passed. I hope I don’t it need to explain more about what can do with Reddit.

PM Precast Forum:
This another useful forum where you will find term explanation, difficult questions et.

Recardo Vargas:
He is one the most popular PMP Personality in the YouTube. He is a good explainer of ITTO based learning. But what You can find lot resources in his websites as well free resources that will help to understand difficult process in simpler form.

Edward Chung:
He is another guy who does pretty much good job writing down all latest techniques in his websites. You must check his site.

Praizion Media:
Prizion is also popular among the online communities. He also distributes videos on key concepts.

Aileen Ellis YouTube Channel:

Good YouTube Channel where Allen Explains All tricky terms in visual way. Please try this channel on the day before exam. Allen video really helped me a lot eliminate to wrong answers

I guess you must be ready with all the above preparation for the Exam Day. Let me guide through the last process.

Seven: The Examination Day
“Don’t panic, take one by one”

You might register to take an exam from Home or go to Pearson VUE Testing Center. You can choose your own environment. In my case, I took a test at the Test Center in the early morning. Whatever the options you take, On the day of Examination you will be tested on knowledge in the General & difficult questions category. My understanding from the Exam is that understanding the deep of particular concepts is key. Some of the new successful PMP holders said there are the takeaways agile/hybrid/Predictive (Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming, and Lean Six Sigma). You must have a greater understanding of certain documents & tools to make the final choice to answer. It makes a difference for passing the exam. Please don’t spend too much time on Math problems (I had 5 problems in the exam) if you are not comfortable. There will be 180 questions, 175 will be scored. Questions format will be a combination of multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot and limited fill-in-the-blank. I’d say PMP questions were somewhat more ambiguous. Often narrowing it down to two options was easy, but then it felt like a guessing game between the two. You better spend 80–90 seconds for each question to manage your time. One additional break for a total of two 10-minute breaks for computer-based tests (proctored) or those taken at a Testing Center. Please check PMI Exam Handbook for more details. Take enough rest on the day before exam, Sleep is one most important element for a fresh brain (Infuse Focus & Defuse Mode). You will need both the Left & Right brain to ace the exam. Those who are taking tests from home, check the all rules with PMI and interruption-less internet. Bad internet connection might cost your exam fee!

Key Areas on the Exam:
Conflict management, risks/issues, agile/hybrid/Predictive (Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming, and Lean Six Sigma), meetings, reviews (demo), retrospectives, planning meetings, PMI code of ethics, Understand the team behavior, dealing with vendors, logs (risk/change/issue), hybrid scenarios, predictive organization implementing agile practices and vice versa, structure in matrix organization or functional organization, business case, closing procedures, Burnout/burnup charts, GANTT chart, Ishikawa diagram, sensitivity analysis, cost benefit analysis, Kanban board, CPI, SPI, float, crashing, compression, fast tracking, resource levelling/smoothing.

If you Fail:
If you fail the exam, don’t be frustrated. You will get your results immediately. Conduct postpartum, know your area of weakness, focus on it, talk to the people, post on Forums, Review the Books. Go for a break somewhere to refresh yourself with your friends or family members. Re-plan, Re-Strategist and Reschedule your exam when you feel you are ready, you will have three chances to take your exam. Failure is part of an Examination. You gain more from the failure than the passing it once. As they say “Failure is the pillar of success”

Use this Re-examination Notes here.

Long Read! I have to sum it up. You can pass the PMP examination even in One Week-Two Week-Month, it depends on your ability. I have seen such posts in Reddit forum. If you feel you are confident enough, go for it. As for me, two month was very much realistic. I needed to understand the concepts well to convey it to the other. I also like reading. Anyway, I am not guaranteeing anything here. My objective was to write on the process which could lead you near to the passing PMP. I am pretty optimistic if you follow the above procedures, you will be successful. PMBOK Guide teaches the process, similar Mantra applies here for acing the Exam. Without a structured approach you set yourself into an unknown Goal. It’s like riding in a car without headlights. It is always better to have a good plan to achieve something. Therefore, a right plan and strategy will give you a better chance to pass it. That’s all I can give back.

Ending Notes: I am not a professional writer, If you find any mistakes or error, let me know. If you like it, share it and make comments. Should you have any questions, pm me.