My students often ask me this question “how to pass PMP in first try?“. As a professional trainer, I can give umpteen tips and suggestions. But, I feel, the best tips invariably come from someone who has recently cleared the certification exam. In this post, I have shared Christi’s experience and lessons learned in her own words. She became PMP credential holder after passing the PMP exam in her first try.
Christi came across my blog and contacted me through LinkedIn just before the exam. I cannot say that I have helped her in any way. But she generously accepted my request for sharing her study experience. She was also very kind to offer her help to the PMP aspirants. If you want to pass certification exam in your first try and lloking for exam tips, you can contact her through her LinkedIn profile.
Christi’s Experience – How To Pass PMP In First Try?
I was very fortunate that my company provided me the resources I needed to study, but these can be obtained by anyone.
There are plenty of “boot camps” out there (online or in each metro area), but I chose the self-paced study route. For the 35 hour training requirement, I watched videos on Pluralsight.com over the Christmas holidays when I had some downtime at work. You record the courses you take in the PMI.org application (each is about 3 or 4 hours long and covers a knowledge area). Lynda.com is another option we had, but I prefer Pluralsight, personally.
Next, you have to read the PMBOK guide, maybe more than once, but that’s not enough. The test is 200 questions that are mostly situational in nature and are not always found in the book. There are choices that test you not against what you would personally do, but what is the BEST thing to do as a seasoned PMP. For example, you run into a problem that impacts a baseline, what do you do? (Hint, you don’t just hire people or go to your project sponsor for help. You revert to your risk response plan, because the assumption is you’d already planned contingencies for it. Or, some questions may test if you know the difference between crashing or fast tracking your schedule, for example).
The questions can trip you up if you aren’t careful and read EVERY WORD. I found often just one word can eliminate an answer entirely that would otherwise seem like the reasonable choice. You can right click on the choices you want to eliminate, and pick one of two remaining that are the better answer. Even if it isn’t really the very best thing to do in reality, it may be the best out of the choices given. So, the process of elimination will be your best friend on exam day.
Also, don’t overthink the answers. Most of the time, your gut is right. Go with it.
I was surprised there weren’t very many math questions, but maybe that’s just the version of the test I was taking. You do need to know, at the very minimum, how to calculate BAC, CPI, SPI and the critical path. If you don’t have time to memorize all the formulas you can still pass. You need to understand what they mean and how they are used.
You do need to understand (and to some degree memorize) the order of activities for planning. For example, what should you have done before you get to your finished schedule or WBS? As for studying, the best thing after you read the study guide and PMBOK is to do LOTS of practice questions…. I mean, HUNDREDS of them. Reread the sections and explanations for the ones you miss so you can close any knowledge gaps. And, believe me, if you have any knowledge gaps, the test will find them! There are exam simulation sites, but I mostly did the questions at the end of each study module on Pluralsight.com.
I also read Rita-PMP® Exam Prep 8th Edition – Rita Mulcahy, which was very helpful. It has a lot of tips, tricks of the trade, practice questions with explanations, and “PMI-isms” to look out for. Make sure you know about the updated exam and PMBOK version coming out this March. They’re adding more chapters I believe, and updating the vocabulary of terms.
On the day of the exam, pace yourself. Wear comfortable clothes, get a full night’s rest and come on a full stomach and an empty bladder. It seems like common sense, but you have to remember that. You can’t bring anything in the room except your ID. They give you scrap paper and a calculator. They even have a metal detector and make you pull up your sleeves (yes, seriously). It is 4 hours long, and you get a minute and 12 seconds per question. You may get tired about half way through, but they let you take a break to the bathroom only.
Mark the questions you aren’t sure about and come back to them if you have time at the end, which you will. I finished about 50 minutes early and spent about 20 minutes going back over my marked questions.
That’s my advice to pass on the first try. If you put in the hard work studying and preparing, the test is more long and tedious than it is hard. But, on the bright side, once you pass, you never have to take it again, so long as you keep up with your certification!
Study Material Used
Over To You
How are you preparing for the exam? Which training program have you taken? Are you feeling confident about passing the exam in first attempt?
Please leave a comment.