Before I share the view on how to avoid failing in PMP ® exam, I would like to acknowledge people who are brave enough to give the PMP® exam many of us keep delaying the PMP® exam in fear of failing. In my view failing in PMP® exam is far better than delaying or never giving the exam at all.
In recent time I had many video conversations around this topic, and in this blog, i am addressing the finding where professionals prepared well for PMP exam but could not make it pass in the first attempt. When one does not prepare well and fail, he knows the reason, but when one prepares well and still fail it confuses more. In this blog, I share my observation on failing PMP® exam and how to avoid it. Like any other Exam, PMP® exam also needs preparation and right technique to ensure success.
Seven mistakes which can lead to failing in PMP® exam.
- Reading PMBOK® as exam preparation book
The Internet is full of PMP® exam preparation advice, and you may see people recommending reading PMBOK® n number of times to clear PMP® the exam. Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) ® is standard, it gives you the structure to explore your project management knowledge but does not provides you with the detailed context of the situation where this knowledge needs to be applied. Say PMBOK® will tell what project charter is and what involves in preparing it, but will not elaborate how the content of Project Charter varies with the type of procurement contract between vendor and customer. In in-house projects, we may have very light weight and informal project charter, and in external fix price project, we may have very formal project charter. The PMP® exam is going to ask how project charter solves project management problem in different contexts and if you limit your knowledge and exploration to what is written in PMBOK® about project charter you may miss the context.
Action, start learning Project Management with the help of PMBOK® and other reading materials, focus on learning Project Management and explore how this knowledge is applied in the project you are working on. Our Online exam prep program gives you context for each element of PMBOK® it helps in knowing how PMBOK® knowledge is used in real life.
- Focus on covering Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs
PMBOK® is a collection of processes, and each process has Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs, many PMP® aspirants refer this as ITTO. Invariably most of the PMP aspirants try to memorize the ITTO of all PMBOK® processes and take it like a way to pass the exam. The problem is first remembering ITTO is difficult and second, you do not get questions which can be answered just based on memorization of the ITTO. The ITTO is PMBOK® are meant to make you understand how various area of project management work and when you work in one area what all information you may need and make you aware of tools and techniques that generate some results (outputs) in this field. The PMP® exam validates can you refine and improve your capacity to handle project management situations by knowing ITTO.
Action, Study the PMBOK® processes as the way of building capability to handle project management issues, not as exam preparation tool.
- Taking Practice Tests as way to predict real PMP® exam
I have seen many test takers starts giving too much importance to PMP® exam simulator. Test takers start hoping some of the questions from PMP® exam simulator will appear in real exam and scoring well in simulator becomes the focus area. In this process, they end up taking the given simulation exams multiple time and starts scoring well in it, but end up failing in the real exam.
Action, The simulators are the way to uncover your weak areas in Project Management, once you find these poor areas, you need to work on those areas, the real PMP® exam is going to be different from the simulators. Uncovering your preparation gaps are critical for PMP® exam preparation and you should use simulators for this purpose
- Spending time in reading and practicing areas which are not asked in PMP® Exam
When you prepare for PMP® exam, one has to ensure to focus their study on to the areas which are asked in PMP® exam rather than what is available on the internet. The Internet is full of PMP® material, and many of these materials are not updated for more than a decade, the PMI’s role definition study keeps happening every 3-4 years and based on changes in the environment PMI changes things in PMP® exam and PMBOK®. PMBOK® is not a superset of all knowledge which is needed for managing projects well it is a subset, but for PMP® exam you need to limit your study to the areas which are referend in this subset. One may argue that PMP exam may contain areas which are not covered in PMBOK®, I agree it may, but that will be in very few questions. If you try to cover the areas which are relevant for Project Management but not referred in PMBOK® you may end up preparing too many things for your PMP® exam.
Action, find the quality source for your PMP® exam preparation, find the provider whom you can reach to and clarify things, to get PMP® certified your first job should be to identify what is the minimum material you should master to get certified. Remember doing less is the smart thing.
- Not developing endurance to sit for 4 hours in one stretch and poor time management
When you take PMP® exam, you need to give the complete 200 questions long exam in four hours. I keep finding professionals who suffered because of not able to focus after first 2 hours, they started feeling tired and irritated and wanted to get out of the room, this makes their performance goes down and resulting in not getting certified. The second associated problem is when you do not practice well with full-length exams you also suffer managing time during the final exam, many professionals end up rushing through exam during the end, and I have seen people unable to attempt on average 50 questions from 200 because of lack of time management.
Action, Develop endurance of sitting for 4 hours and time management by doing at least four full-length tests before appearing for the PMP® exam, when you take full-length practice tests target to finish the test in 3 hours, so you keep the buffer for long questions in real exam. Learn to pick right answer in limited time.
- Poor reading comprehension
I find many test takers who could not make the exam in the first attempt are suffering from poor reading comprehension.
Many test takers end up reading the question and options multiple times before they can make sense of it. Poor reading comprehension results in a bad time management. English reading speed and reading comprehension may take time to improve, but I have seen people get significant improvement in reading speed reading comprehension for PMP® exam when they have more and more familiarity with Project Management lexicons.
Action, Make good use of PMBOK® Glossary, ensure you can relate the glossary definition with a term and vice versa, doing this will improve your reading speed and comprehension during PMP® exam.
- Get stressed during the exam
You need to keep calm during the PMP® exam since it’s a long duration exam and exam focuses on situations which make your mind tired. As you get tired, you start picking wrong choices. Calmness and presence of mind during the exam can help you in passing the PMP® exam.
Action, do proper rest before the exam, do take necessary food and water, so you remain focused during the session. Take the PMP® exam as a way to explore project management rather than taking it as self-evaluation.
If I summarized the 7 Steps to ensure success in PMP® exam is:
- Do not take PMBOK® literally, read it in a context of project management and add context to it.
- Do not focus on memorizing ITTO rather apply meaning and use ITTO to understand the way project management is done.
- Take practice tests to validate your readiness and fix the issues which you uncover by taking practice tests
- Limit your preparation to the areas which are relevant for PMP® exam, do not go beyond the scope of PMBOK®
- Develop endurance of 4 hours long exam with better time management
- Improve reading speed by mastering PMBOK Glossary
- Stay calm during the PMP exam preparation and exam.
Here I include the playlist of video calls which I did in recent time with PMP® aspirants. Each call was unique, and we have lots of learning to take away. Do let me know if you wish to have the similar call with me; we will try our best to schedule it for you.