How to pass the PMP Exam

How to pass the PMP exam? This is the million dollar question. Specially when it is a job requirement that you “must” have it, and it stinks. 

You’d think that if your job requires it, that your employer will cough up the $ and pay the $555 (non PMI member) fee and for a PMP prep class to get you ready to take the exam and pass. Well, that is not always the case. Your employer may tell you to pay for whatever you need up front, and when and if you pass, to expense it so you can get reimbursed. You see the words “when and if you pass”? And, what if you fail it the first time and have to take it again? Well, that will be another $400 +/- (non PMI member) you will have to pay. So if your employer isn’t paying for it, and you’re on a budget, and most importantly you want to pass it the first time around, I highly recommend you do what I did. It worked! I’m proof of it.

  1. Read the PMBOK Guide 4th edition: You can buy it new for $60, or used for about $30, or you can even rent it at Barnes and Noble, rental is about $21 for 60 days. I only read this once. This is the one book that cured my insomnia for 8 weeks. I just couldn’t get passed a chapter without falling asleep.
  2. Buy Rita Mulcahy’s PMP exam simulation software: This is $300, but you can test knowledge areas, process groups and the actual PMP and a super PMP exam simulation. Take all the tests in this simulation until you start scoring 80% and above. This will help you get prepared for the actual exam, in terms of  how long it takes you to read and understand the real question. Remember, you have to answer 200 questions within 4hrs, and time flies when you take the test. Additionally, you will find that many questions in this simulation will be very similar to those of the real exam. I took this advice from a friend, and it worked.
  3. Create a puzzle of page 43 of the PMBOK guide, to learn the inputs/outputs for each phase. Now, let me just say that if you’ve ever taken the Cheetah PMP prep training, and you have their 2 page memory map, then you know you already have 1/2 what you need to pass your exam, so long as you memorize it.
  4. Learn your formulas, write them all down and make a song to memorize them. Trust me, this works. I took this advice from a friend and it totally helped me.
  5. Practice your network diagrams. They know, many if not most PMs do not use network diagrams (come on… you know you don’t), and these will be on the test. But once you learn how to do them, it will be a piece of cake.

All tests are different, you may know many PMPs but chances are that none of them had the same exam version. You really have to prepare yourself if you want to pass it on the first try, but it is not hard, all you need is dedication. The entire process can take you up to three months if you are serious about it.

What is the timeline to prepare for the PMP exam? Here’s how I did it:

  1. Gather all your projects documentation = 1 week
  2. Contact your professional references to get their OK to put them as a contact for your projects = 1 week
  3. Complete & Submit PMIs application = 1 week
  4. Schedule your exam = 1 week
  5. Read PMBOK Guide = 1 week
  6. Take the practice exams (Rita Mulcahy’s simulation) = 7 weeks

 Last, rumor has it there will be an update coming up on or around 8/31/2011. So if you don’t want to have to buy new books, software or take additional training, then plan to take it soon.



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