How To Prepare For PMP Exam If Your Application Is Rejected?

how to preprare for pmp exam

What will happen if your PMP application is Rejected?

What should you keep in mind to pass the PMI audit?

How should you prepare for PMP exam based on PMBOK Guide 6th edition if you have taken a PMBOK Guide 5th edition course?

Let us answer these questions and a few more by looking at the experience notes of Elizabeth Kepner. She had posted a message on Reddit about her PMP certification journey. I asked her if I can publish them on my blog. She happily agreed and gave me refined version of of the notes. So here goes.

How To Prepare For PMP Exam – A Journey From Beginning To The End

My background: Former tech writer, now work in Proposals (junior PM for proposals pretty much) at a defense contractor. BA in English, MS in Project Management.

PMP Application Rejected

The application: This was difficult for me. I didn’t research properly how to fill out the application and my experience write-ups were written more like a narrative than going by the five processes. I immediately got notice that I was being audited. I called PMI and they said they’d look over my application and let me know if my write up was okay. It wasn’t. They closed my application and told me to reapply, noting that I would be audited again.

How Did I Pass The PMP Application Audit?

In anticipation of the audit, I rewrote my experience and ran it by all of the POCs who I wanted to sign off on it. That’s where I ran into issues. One of my POCs would not agree to sign off. At that point I was ready to give up; it was a huge project that accounted for a good 1/3 of my experience hours. I talked to a few people, including a former supervisor who I worked for and was involved on the same project I was using. Without my asking, she agreed to sign off on my experience.

I submitted, got my audit papers, got my education papers, and sent them off last Friday overnight mail. Got notified a day or two later that my application was approved and on Monday, I scheduled myself to test that Friday.

PMP Exam Preparation: PMBOK Guide 5th To 6th Edition

Preparation: As I noted above, I have a master’s in Project Management. I should know this information inside and out, right? Wrong. First, my degree was 5th edition based. Second, it was two years ago that I finished. Lastly, the entire program was online and open book, including tests/quizzes, and the numerous papers I wrote.

I took two classes provided by company about Project Management through a well-qualified instructor (he actually is a PMBOK reviewer! His name is listed in the back. He’s FABULOUS!).

Finally, I took a PMP prep boot camp last week with him and about 10 colleagues. He provided a PMBOK, a workbook, posters, and practice tests. He covered everything that he said would be on the test. He had a 100% pass rate for students of his on the 6th edition. Unfortunately, a majority of my colleagues did not pass the test.

This terrified me, so for the week after the course, I did the following:

  • PMTraining tests. Well worth the $68. I just did them nonstop whenever I had time, reviewing my answers. Slowly over the week, my scores went up from the 60s to the 80s. I felt like the difficulty of the questions was on par with the actual test itself.
  • Oliver Lehmann practice test. I thought it was harder than the actual test.
  • PM Prepcast test and other random free tests.
  • The Ricardo Vargas video is very, very helpful. I highly recommend watching at least once and then rewatching the night before.

I’ll be honest: I purchased Head First and Rita’s books, but did not even use them. I didn’t use the PMBOK outside of the course either.

I memorized basic formulas. CV/SV/CPI/SPI, PERT, and I think that was about all I used. There was one on EAC that I was able to get close to with just reading closely and get correct.

The Exam Day

The Test: I did not sleep well the night before. Got about six hours of sleep. Ate a good breakfast, had a large iced coffee, brought a snack with me, dressed comfortably, and left early (which was good since I ran into traffic).

I won’t bore you with the test center, but I got in there, said a quick prayer, did the tutorial, and when question 1 came up, I wrote down the formulas I could remember. Then I dove in.

Key tip for the test: TAKE YOUR TIME. I am a fast tester, I regularly finished 50 question tests in 20 minutes. I FORCED myself to slow down, read EVERY WORD, highlight ones that stood out to me as potential clues, and if the question wasn’t clear or no one or two answers jumped out at me immediately, I marked it for review. I knew I’d have time to go back and review.

After that, I just slowly and methodically went through the questions, pleased to see that I felt like I knew the absolute correct answer on every 3/5. I’d say that I marked about 50 questions to review, including ones I THOUGHT I knew but had a doubt or two about the answer.

I took a break after about 100 questions, which was an hour in for me. I used the bathroom, drank some water, ate my snack, stretched, and went back to it.

Once I got to 200, I reviewed every single marked question. If the correct answer wasn’t clear to me (most of the time it was, this was where the break REALLY helped), I left it marked and went back again.

Finally I said to myself that this was as good as it was going to get, and hit submit, and closed my eyes. I saw CONGRATULATIONS and did a silent happy dance in my chair.

Tips To Pass the Exam

Moral of the story: Practice tests like until you are solidly in the 80s

Think of what the concept wants you to do, not necessarily what your experience was like in similar situations

Read the questions CLOSELY. Highlight clues. If you aren’t getting at least somewhat of an idea on what the answer is, just mark it and go back later.

TAKE A BREAK. Seriously, it really helped to step away and reset.

Study Material Used

PMTraining Tests

Oliver Lehmann Practice Tests

PM Prepcast Tests

PMBOK Guide

Ricardo Vargas Videos

Over To You

It is very seldom that a PMP application is rejected and then audited. It was a double whammy for Elizabeth. What has been your experince? Have you seen anyone whose application was rejected?

Have you also attended a PMBOK Guide 5th edition training? How are you studying for 6th edition exam?

Please leave a comment.

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Praveen Malik, PMP

​Praveen Malik ​is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with a rich 23+ years of experience. He is a leading Project Management Instructor, Coach and ​Advisor. He ​has successfully trained thousands of aspirants for the PM certification exams.

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