Failed PMP Exam Experience

 Well what to say, I just failed PMP for the second time.   The first time I didn't take it seriously and thought I could wing it but failed miserably.   Really prepared this time and was passing the PMStudy, Oliver Lehmann exams at about 73% to 75%.  These exams didn't even come close to what I experienced today.  Lots and lots of calculations questions and critical path questions, not the easy stuff you see in Rita FasTrack or PMStudy but old style questions with twists in them AOA type questions.  This burned up so much time it was difficult to recover. Every time I got a run of these I thought that must be it but then after a few wordy questions it was back to a bunch of calculation questions.  I knew the formulas and didn't even have to look at my brain dump on the scratch paper but just the amount of these ate my time and I failed because I had to 15 minutes left with 40 questions to go and had to randomly scan and click.....PMP suicide basically.  I passed 3 full 4 hour long mock exams in the last 10 days.    

Mock test providers out there are doing a bad job ...your level of questions are easier than the real exam ...please don't mislead people and lull them into a false sense of readiness.


Not happy :(

I am weak in maths and that really sounds bad news.

What I had heard was that there are few mathematical questions and lots of scenario based questions and thats what been communicated in most of the Learned lessons as well.

This as well comes a shock to me, as I have been told through these forums, books and other mock tests that the question will be based on simple calculation.

Also AOA is deleted in PMP 4th edition, so its really surprising that you got questions from that topic.

My personal view  is I think u can take it up with PMI why they ask such questions which are deleted from 4th edition.

Anyways just to know more could you explain what type of questions are asked:

i) Is probability and statistics Q's asked in the exam?

ii) Does PDM question contain only Finish - Start Relationship or also S-S, S-F and F-F?

iii) Were there any Decision Tree Analysis questions, easy type or of diificult type?

iv) How about Critical Path, normal easy questions or very diffciult?

v) How about PTA (point of total assumption)

vi) What do you suggest, what type of mathematical questions we should focus on.


 Hi, Thanks for your questions.

This was a real surprise to me too as I didn't expect those type of questions.  

I didn't get any probabliltiy questions and only one question on Pert  3-poinit estimate. No SD questions.

Loads of questions on EV and EAC and not straight forward but there were a few easier ones.

No questions on Comms formula n*(n-1)/2

Mostly FS relationship but I did get one SF.

No decision tree questions

Critical path were varied from easy to hard.

No PTA Questions.

Know the Buy or Lease questions.


If my test was anything to go on I would say know know Critical path really well, find some real tough quesitons and make sure you can do them. Including Leads and Lags knowledge.

Also know EV, EAC, BAC, ETC, area of calculations so that you can do these without effort.


I get the impression the exam is a bit the luck of the draw if you know what I mean.   

Besides calculations areas to focus on are Risk, Quality, especially the Execute area.

I got quite a lot of quesitons on Close project and procurements and for some reason at least 5 questions onthe Risk responses i.e. Mitigate, Transfer, Avoid etc.

Recall quite a few questions about Team development and management.

My LL from this exam is not to waste too much time on tougher questions, if necessary park them (not too many) and come back to them later.  Watch the clock and stay within your 50 questions per hour. 4 hours seems like a long time but it goes very fast. I would suggest taking a measure of where you are every 15 to 20 minutes and if you're on a question more than 5 minutes park it.

Hope this helps a little and good luck!



 what is an AOA type question ?

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Check this post, it will help you What to do if you Fail PMP Exam in first attempt

I like the tip you have given, which is to park tough questions for round 2 .

Same thing happened to me when I went for my second attempt last saturday.  I was supprised at the number of calculation questions and critical path questions.  My first attempt had very few calculations and perhaps 1 or 2 critical path questions.  I studied for 3 months after I failed my first attempt, read the Rita book cover to cover, reviewed the PMBOK, used Rita's simulation tests and actually did worse on my 2nd attempt.  I also ran out of time (which shocked me, I did not think this was going to be an issue) due to the type of questions, and as a result was unable to answer the last 25 questions.   I am not sure what to do at this point and am attempting to regroup and figure out my strategy for my 3rd attempt, which I have scheduled in July.

I agree, the mock test providers to not include enough critical path and calculation practice questions.

Not happy either.

 I agree with the latest posts. I took it and didn't pass. I put too much pressure on myself and it took 30 minutes to regroup. I put down my brain dump but found I rarely needed it for most of the questions. It's good to have just in case but most questions revolved around 'what would you do in this situation' and the choices seemed to be all correct. I spent hours studying, listening to various podcasts going through the chapters, taking several practice tests (about 2000 questions in total), but those tests were more based on process and I could eliminate half the answers.  The PMP didn't give me that.  The emv questions required more calculations that required backing into several calcs that took more time than I could afford. Don't just memorize formulas. Know how to calculate missing values to then use to fill in other missing values to then finally answer the question. Honestly, I don't know how I would have studied for many of the questions that were asked.  It feels frustrating since I have been an IT professional and managed successful projects for 15 years!  Oh well. I'll try again but will have to start from scratch since it's now the 5th edition and even more complex.

I too Failed the PMP on 30 July 2013.

This Post is a very good motivator! and very encouraging I will continue to use it as i attempt again for PMP. I almost feel like I have to start all over with a new book PMBOK 5.  Taking a break from studying to get my mind together to start again.

Question or a luck of the draw b/c I was amazed at the number of calcualtions and network diagrams

 There were about  20-25 calculations if not not more.  which seem like they came after ever 10-15 situational question. It threw me off affter the second time. It was unbelievable. But I tried not to get to discouraged during the exam , but I guess it is human nature.About 10-12 network diagrams, including lead, lag, RAM, RACI AON etc. Motivation theories(1-2). about  (5) direct ITTO

 I too knew the formulas really well (I thought), but it took some time to do the calculations, I took the advice from this post and parked the hard ones to entertainthem later.  I had 1-Pert which was easy just apply the formula and no communication. no PTA  The calculations apperared to be centered around EAC, SPI,CPI,CV,SV,PV,AC, EV but they were not basic, it appeared they gave you the hardest calculation to figure out the  other.  Each calculation required you to do another one to get the missing piece. i.e If SPI is .7 what is CPI and you would have to read the question and figure out the EV and PV. 

You (MUST) understand each process fully and most if not all tools and techniques. 

The exam was not  basic or easy  as some will have you believe, I found it difficult. The test was about 85% situational. You have to be able to decipher(breakdown) what the question is asking  to get the right response.  The formulas: you must understand those really well to figure how to calculate them. It appears that they threw in miscellaneous numbers to confuse you and this appeared to be for all calculation. If you don't get the calculations then Monitoring & Control will be hard to past.

I felt the exam was heaviest in Quality, Risk, Procurement, Time, Cost and 5-6  questions sprinkled from the other chapters. I thought there were a few questions on Project Charter/ Stakeholder (8-9). Which I thought I did well but my scores reflected differently(lol)

My Preparation: 2.5 Months about 3-5 hours a day depending on time the last week I did mostly mock test and reference the PMBOK for clarification since most from this post says the questions are derived from PMBOK. I found it to be true, for my exam, the mock test is not nearly as complicated as some of the questions I experienced during the  exam but helped with the time. I finished the test  3 hours 40 mins which left 20 mins for review of questions.  I took one 5 minute break which gave me 15 mins for review of the calculations not enough time. 

Study Material: PMBOK, Rita, Andy Crow and a lot of Mock test(Free) 


Maybe PMBOK 5 will reset itself and not ask a ton of calcs and CP questions but cover more theory since there will be additional processes to study. 

There is no way to spot questions during exam , just prepare well i.e. if you are weak in calculation , make sure you practice practice & practice , no short cut.

Scoring well in mock exams doesnt mean you'll do well in exam , mock exams is just to prepare you in terms of time management & to sharpen your understanding/learning. Actual exam requires your full understanding of the PM processes. Memorizing facts without understanding why each processes interlate to each others, is like learning to fly up without learning how to land the plane.

 what is an AOA type question ?

As the original poster commented the mock PMP exam sites (specifically Head First Labs) questions are MUCH easier than the actual PMP exam.

I blame myself for not doing more research and find out if the mock exams were close to the real PMP exam.  I got a tremendous sense of false security when I was consistently scoring in the mid 80s on mock exams.

A note to anyone prepping for the PMP exam, do not rely on Head First labs questions alone.

 I gave the exam on july 30th and I PASSED it. I would like to sugesst you that don't loose your courage/confidence. As exam was going to change so I had to atleast give a try so I planned as follow.

-- I work 8 hours so I never did any reading in day time. I studied from 6 pm to 9 pm in library till july 29th everyday. I got up at 4 am in morning and studied for 2 hours then to job. In day time I couldn't t study at home beacuse I have 2 kids. 

Here ss my sugesstion

1. On July 2nd I started reading Head first book.

Read once or twice. Don't worry too much about Cost management formulas at this time just copy the chapter and keep it with you. 

2. On July 10 I started reading Rita 7th edition. First time I read I didn't understand anything. Second time I read i started understand 40%. Then I read 3rd time this time I understand  70% what I was reading and then I started doing the q&A all back of all chapters while I was reading.

3. Now while I was reading 3rd time I did also started dong rita fast track which is really hard and guess what I failed everytime the fast track test. I took the book and started reading and this time I only read what I didn't understand. Then I started the exam again and here we go I was doing great. I build my confidence

4. In office I use to do Examcentral and they were like piece of cake for me now. Once i got confidence in rita fast track everything else was like easy.

5. I bought PMP formula from prepcast and I used the Cost management chapter from Head first and Learned all formulas. 

6. I kept PMBOK guide just for reference. Didn't even read fully once.

Now it was july 26th by the time I complete all the above.

7. Now I started reading the notes fro PMP Comprehensive Notes - Chowdary. 

8. On July 28th I just did rita fast Track and july 29th just read the notes from Chowdary.

9. July 30th I gave exam and passed with flying colors.

This is my journey.

Reading too many books or notes doesn't pass you the exam. It is how you understand the concept. Once you get that exam will be very easy for you.



This sounds like what I had in terms of content.  I read slow but I didn't run out of time.   In fact, it didn't seem like I was there four hours. 

I had a bunch of questions involving formulas where you had to calculate, but some you had to solve backward.  I thought it was a waste of effort because they take time. 

Two questions with a critical path.  

One buy or lease question towards the end showed up.  Terribly worded with some crazy conditioanl scenario I don't even know if I got right. 

Three with the communication channels on a team.  (Yes THREE!  I was thinking give me more of these silly things.  

One I swear could not be resolved given the only value.  You couldnt even look at the 4 answers and choose the different one.  Two were favorable numbers (with a decimal point different) and two were not decimal point different). 

I took one class. It was a four day thing.  I will say the instructor was very nice, but his curriculum followed Rita's book so closely you would have thought it was the same thing at times.   I had already shredded her earlier edition so it wasn't really new.  I asked him when was the last time he took the exam.  It was like 8 years ago!  I was telling him the questions were nothing like what he was "teaching".  There is a "gap" (no pun intended) between these classes and what actually shows up on the exam.  It's not how you apply it or the understanding - there are some things that are just not covered.   Anyone in my class who took the exam wouldn't have been prepared for the math that showed up.  

...then again, the quesitons everyone gripes about could be these control questions that don't count against you. 





 Well I sat for the PMP today and failed. I did a project management pmp prep course back in dec 12 and it took me about 5mths to accrue the 35hours in order to qualify for the PMP exam. I started preparing for the pmp exam about 7 weeks ago using Rita Mulcahy Exam Prep Eigth Edition and PM Fast Track with the Flashcards as well. I failed the first mock exam - scored 54.3% then studied all my weak areas mainly critical path and the CV EAC SV EV PV formulas and thought I was confident enough to sit for the exam and pass. Don't get me wrong I was not feeling good about the critical path and all the cost formulas but I thought they wouldn't be harder than the mock exams. Well let me tell you - The pmp exam questions are Tough! Tough! Tough! I mean I understood situational questions would be asked and I could get my head around it but the questions relating to EAC and Critical Path just through me out of whack. i only had 10 mins left to spare to review my questions that I didn't answer or thought I needed to go back to. I felt really dumb and really quite pathetic in the fact that I failed miserably. I am scared to take the exam again. But I know that I will. I wish I could find somebody to help me with the mathematical eqations and critical path questions since these seem to boggle my mind. I am scared to do another pmp prep course ( was thinking of doing Ritas 3 day course ) but feel like it won't help me in working out my weak areas :( I don't know what to do. Its like when I was reading the questions in the pmp exam - it was like reading a foreign language and not even close to the topics that I studied in Rita's exam prep. It almost felt as though i was sitting for an exam other than PMP.  I must admit i skimmed through pmbok guide and maybe I should have spent more time on referring to the guide as suggested by Rita and maybe I crammed for the exam way to hard only to meet my deadline for wanting to sit the exam before october 13. I feel scared and can't bare the thought of sitting through this again and failing. My real life job is nothing like the project management pmbok way at all. My title is a project manager but it's more like order monitoring and controlling. I don't have to do project charters or budget crap or network diagrams because it's already done I just roll it out - and that is a part of my lack of knowledge. The exam prep ( Rita Mulcahy ) is only good for one thing - the mock exams that come with it. Yes I am peeved off and yes i am going to blame the exam prep system because it does not prepare you for PMP exam.

The same exact thing happened to me. Is there a website that has a list of ev questions and Critical Path that would help strengthen someone who is weak in those areas? If anyone knows of any please share/ Thanks.

I failed too on my 2nd attempt on this October 2013. Same thing happened to me, with 30 minutes remaining I still had 50 questions to answer. This obviously made me fail. Mathematical questions took me a lot of time. After the exam I was very frustrated, I spent a lot of time studying and dedicating to finally fail. But if you don't fail, you don't learn. 

I still studying hard and trying for my 3rd attempt. Its now or never. So I am making everything possible, studying extra, practicing more, looking for more resources, trying to clear all my gaps to pass this time. 

Im sharing this 101 questions focused only on math excercises, they are medium-hard level mathematical questions:

Hope works for everyone! 

 Dear Friend,

           Kindly make sure you take mock tests of PMSTUDY and Rita Fast track, IITTOS, KEYwords.

All the best. This time you shall definetly clear. Good Luck.







Thanks for this tip and I will share it with friend who is now under PMP training at "ExcelR Solutions".

That is unfortunate but don't worry. You will have better luck next time.

It is important is to find the root cause of failing. You exam prep & ultimate success depends on it. You should read 15 Reasons Why People Failed the PMP Exam. This will help you in determining the root cause of failing the exam.

After reading the post, give yourself some time and and think about each point. If required, you should change your study approach or take another training or study different books.

You can also download free guide on "How to Get PMP Certification?". It will give you a detailed approach and study scheduleto pass the PMP exam.

Secondly, simply doing mock tests without a definite strategy is not good enough. You should be ready before you sit for the exam again. You should read Best Way to Determine PMP Exam Passing Score. This will tell you an approach for checking exam readiness. As per the approach suggested in the article, you should do sample Q only from a popular simulalator. Only a popular simulator can give you statistically significant test results.

Lastly, you should invest in a good PMP Exam Simulator before sitting in the exam.

Good Luck.