Why Project Management Experience Is Bad For PMP Exam Result?

Did you know that many experienced project managers feel extremely confident about their PMP exam result?

Alas their confidence is usually unfounded.

The result of the PMP certification exam is neither a function of your project management (PM) experience nor your educational qualifications.

The passing or failure rate in the credential test depends solely on your preparation and studies. It depends on how well you have learned the PMBOK Guide concepts.

Why PMP Exam Result Does Not Depend On Your PM Experience?

Goal Of PMP Certification Exam

PMI requires 4500 hours (bachelor’s degree) or 7500 hours (high school diploma) of experience as a prerequisite to apply for the PMP exam.

PMI’s goal is to restrict the exam to only those people who can understand and appreciate the PMBOK Guide concepts. They want PM practitioners to use these concepts in their projects. Their endeavor is to standardize project management practices.

​Managing projects is more difficult tha​n passing the PMP exam.

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PM Experience & PMP Questions

I have noticed that many PMP aspirants, especially during their early days of preparation, use their PM experience to answer the PMP questions. This often leads to unexpected results.

Consider the following situation.

You have just completed a sample PMP test. You were pretty sure that, you have done well in the test. But after looking at the answers & explanations, you found out that you have answered many questions incorrectly.

Have you experienced such a situation?

If you have, then you too might be using your PM experience to answer the PMP questions.

But there is still some time. You can discontinue using your PM experience to answer the PMP questions. It could be very detrimental for your exam. In fact, this is one of the top reasons for failing the PMP Exam.

​​Don't use your project management experience to answer the PMP questions.

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Let’s understand a bit more about the PMBOK Guide.

PM Experience And PMBOK Guide’s Concepts

As per the PMI requirement, you should have a certain minimum hours of project management experience before you can apply for the PMP Exam. This experience should be in leading & directing the projects and not any experience.

You should definitely use your PM experience while studying for the exam. It will help you in understanding the PMBOK Guide’s concepts & terminologies.

But, you should not use your experience for answering the PMP questions.

PMBOK Guide is considered as a difficult book to read. It contains very few examples (for a reason) and it does not clearly tell you “how to do project management?”.

It is up to you to interpret it correctly. This is where your project management experience comes in handy. The Guide becomes easier to read, if you have the relevant experience.

I would strongly advise you to use your practical experience to understand the PMBOK Guide’s concepts like Network Diagrams and Earned Value Management. However, you should not use your experience while answering the exam questions.

In fact, you should ignore your experience once you have understood the concepts – Reliance on experience is good but over-reliance on experience is a bad strategy for the exam.

​Over ​reliance on ​project ​management ​experience is ​bad for the ​PMP ​exam results.

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Why PM Experience Can Hamper Your PMP Result?

Let us look at the following points to understand why over-reliance on practical experience is a bad strategy for the exam.

  1. Every organization has an approach (formal or informal) for doing their Projects. The approach may vary from organization to organization. So, answering a question based on your organization’s approach can lead to incorrect results.
  2. PMP questions are generic project management questions. They are not related to a particular industry, a domain, or an area of work. So, the answer should also be generic and not something that is considered as a norm in your industry or domain.
  3. It is possible that you have been using some methodology or process, which has consistently worked well in your projects. But it does not mean that the same methodology or process is the right answer to the question. It may not work in most of the situations, which is what PMI wants.
  4. It is possible that, as a project manager, you have not experienced the situation written in the question, but it does not mean that situation can never arise in some project. If such a questions comes, your experience will not be useful.
  5. It is possible that, in your organization, the role of a project manager is limited. Some critical tasks are done by the senior managers like a Sponsor. However, PMI has provided a good definition of the role and associated responsibilities of a project manager. While answering the questions, you have to understand the PMI’s role definition and ignore what you have been accustomed to.

Final Words

Remember that PMI is looking for an answer that will work in most of the situations and most of the time. They are looking for the best choice among the 4 options provided. PMI is not looking for how you do your projects, which is different for different people.

You should ​use your ​PM experience to understand PMBOK Guide's concepts ​& terminologies but ​ignore it while answering the PMP questions.

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All the best.

Over to You

What is your opinion about PMP exam results? Should you use your experience to answer the questions?

Please leave a comment.

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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Dr_PDG Reply

Praveen and colleagues,
If this alone doesn’t tell you that the PMP is little more than a SCAM then nothing will……..

Everyone needs to answer the question: “GIVEN that PMI has been around for 45 years and GIVEN that the PMP has been around for 32 years doesn’t it seem reasonable that IF what PMI was advocating worked that by now we should be seeing MEASURABLE IMPROVEMENT in project “SUCCESS” rates?

Which is why PMI has totally revamped their PMBOK Guide 2016 to reflect a model which was developed by “big oil” back in the 1950’s and to attest to how well it works it is still in use today by all the major international and most national oil companies.

BR,
Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia
http://www.build-project-management-competency.com

    Praveen Malik, PMP Reply

    Dr PDG,

    Thanks for your comment. My knowledge of history of PM literature is limited and I would not like to comment on that. My article does not talk about PM history or PMBOK Guide concepts (good or bad). It just says that PMP exam (to a large extent) is based on PM concepts as written in the Guide.

    The concepts, as written in the Guide, are not pertinent to an industrial domain or methodology. My article clearly states that PMP exam tests the conceptual knowledge. So one should not use her/his experience while answering Q.

    To conclude, PMP exam does not test a particular methodology or knowledge on an industrial domain. To infer that PMP exam is scam based on my article is unfair.

    BR
    Praveen.

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