PMP examination is just a Multiple-Choice Question exam. It should not be that hard. Project Management is not rocket science. Anyone who has worked in a project should be able to ace the exam. Right?
Then, why do aspirants fail the PMP exam? Why some candidates have to retake the exam again and again?
Are we missing something? Have we overlooked something?
Obviously, YES. We will see the 6 most common reasons leading to failure in the PMP exam.
Reason #1: Underestimating the PMP exam
As I have written in the first few lines, candidates tend to take the exam very lightly. Particularly, candidates with abundant experience in handling projects feel that they know everything about project management. You should understand that not all successful project managers can easily clear the PMP exam. It needs consistent, regular and focused study.
Reason #2: Failure to understand the PMI way of thinking
PMI does not want to check how you are handling the project, rather they are interested in how you should be handling the project. So, it is very important to understand the way PMI thinks. This is where several experienced project managers fail. They think their own way, not the PMIs way. It is in this aspect, sometimes, beginners or less experienced project team members outperform their senior project team members.
I would suggest you to read books like PMP Exam Prep: Eighth Edition – Updated by Rita Mulcahy that could come in handy to understand the so called PMIisms.
Some online training programmes also touch on this topic. I have seen the online training programme by GreyCampus has listed some important tips for guiding you to think the way PMI does. (Note: If you are enrolling for the training programme by GreyCampus, don’t forget to apply the coupon code ONLINE50 or PROF50 to get 50% discount on the course fee).
Reason #3: Lack of project management experience
Questions in PMP exam are mostly scenario-based. So, if someone does not have adequate experience in project management, he/ she will feel difficult to understand the given scenario. PMP certification is meant for experienced project management practitioners; so, the questions are framed with experienced project team members in mind.
Reason #4: Inadequate preparation
It is important to attend a class-room training programme or an online training programme and take it seriously. I have seen candidates missing classes and hope that they can catch up at a later stage. It may not be an easy task as some candidates think. Attending the training programme, reading PMBOK and going through couple of good reference books will help you adequately prepare for the PMP exam. When you don’t do this, you will be exposed in the exam.
Reason #5: Lack of hands-on experience with exam type questions
I have seen candidates who read PMBOK cover to cover and still failed the PMP exam. PMP is not an exam where you read the book thoroughly and you could pass the exam easily. The exam requires you to understand the given scenario in a project and choose your best course of action. Attempting hundreds of similar scenario-based questions will help you to devise a strategy to handle such scenario-based questions. Adequate practice helps you to quickly discard the most obvious wrong answers. This improves your chances of getting the answers right.
I am of the strong opinion that PMP not only stands for Project Management Professional, but also for Practice Makes Perfect. So, unless you jump in and get your hands dirty, you will not understand the difficulties. You should try as many questions as possible and review the answers to understand why your choice is wrong or even why your choice is right.
Reason #6: Inadequate Time to complete the exam
A very small proportion of candidates fail the exam citing inadequate time as the reason. I would say that they have not tried any full-length timed mock exams. The exam is four hours long and it could be draining, particularly if you are away from study desk for many years. So, it is better to put yourself into this drill before you face the actual exam.
Summary: How to avoid failure in the PMP Exam?
Here are some tips:
- Don’t underestimate the PMP Exam
- Understand the way PMI wants you to handle the projects
- Pursue PMP exam only if you have adequate experience in handling projects
- Take the training programme seriously, read the PMBOK guide and at least one good reference book like Rita Mulcahy
- Keep solving PMP exam type questions, at least a few every day until your exam date. Review your choices against the answer key and understand why your choice is right or wrong. Go back to PMBOK guide or your reference book where you feel there is a knowledge gap
- Try to complete two or three timed full-length mock exams to get a feel of the real exam.
Please note that the one who sweats more in the training, bleeds less in the war.
What is your opinion? Do you face any other problems? Do you foresee any obstacles that could lead to failure in the PMP exam?
Certified Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®
An enthusiastic project management practitioner and trainer.