Need Help! - Failed my PMP exam 1st attempt

I am IT professional with over 10 years of project experience. Based upon my initial discussion with my friends who said PMP is not very difficult, I worked hard over 3 months using Rita Mulcachy - 8th edition book - scored 76%C in practice tests. I skimmed through the PMBOK couple of times and gave few practice tests and scored above 75% in each so assumed I am well prepared for the exam.

On Aug 23rd, I was so surprised to find the exam very tough. I was able to finish the test just in time hoping will pass since I had read each question atleast twice before answering it.

My results are as follows

Initiating - Below P
Planning - Below P
Executing - Below P
M&C - Moderately P
Closing - Proficient

I am very depressed and confused, Not sure if my below strategy will help me pass in next attempt. Since I find PMBOK very high level and not helpful in answering the situational questions on exam.

Going over PMBOK again and then giving a few practice tests.

pmcoe's picture

Well, thx for posting anyway.
It is not a shame to fail once or even twice in the exam. It is definitive not easy and may be you had some bad luck and just picked a lot of really hard questions.
You should try to figure out what the reasons could be. May be you where very nervous or whatever.
Reading every question twice, well is not an achievement. Yes, you should read any question carefully and may be sometimes twice or even a third time (epacially the long and hard ones) but there must also be at least a couple of question where you read the question and instantly know the answer even without looking on the answering options, right? Stick too your feeling! Most times your first gut feeling is the right one. Don't waste time with simple questions.
What kind of sample exams/questions have you done?
Did you spend some money for professionell high quality ones? Sometimes you have to be carefully with all that free stuff, espacially that which you don't know where it comes from!
My recommondation would be, get some additional ressource like another prep book. Head First or Andy Crow for instance (additional to Rita's!).
Read the rpcess in the PMBoK and then the correspondending chapter in your prep books and try to UNDERSTAND (not only reading and memorizing).
And than do some high quality and may be little more difficult prep exams.
THe questions by Oliver Lehmann for example has the reputation to be a bit more difficult.

I would also recommend the exam simulator by Cornelius Fichtner (using it by myself), you may have a look here:
And if you can effort some more bucks think about investing in the PrepCast as an additional ressource of high class infomration and preparation:

I wish you all the best for your second try and please don't give up!



Thanks Markus for the inputs.

Before the exam, I had tried Oliver Lehman - 75/175 questions and scored 70%. But I think will have to try again.
The exam simulator by Cornelius Fichtner is not free. Correct?

Have you heard of the Skillport website PMP Exam simulators my company provides them.

People in this Forum have told me Abhishek's Rajesh Nair material- is very helpful material. It will help if you could email me.


saketbansal's picture

Looking at your preparation i would say its kind of not common to fail in exam, but yes now we need to look forward.

I suggest, do participate in forum like these and discuss all your concept related questions and also participate in questions where other are asking the question.

You may like to join our channel for PMP videos

pmcoe's picture


you are wellcome.
No, i do not know about the skillport site and there tests. May be you could provide a link?
And yes, the Simulator by Cornelius is not free but it is worth the money at all. If you decide to do more practice tests and you need some fresh material (you should not repeat mock tests/sample exam you had already done, at least not for the purpose to figure out if you are ready for exam or not, cause you need a constant result of 75% or higher in completely NEW test which you do for the first time therfore) than you should definitly think about it.
May be you can get some discount via PMZilla or just contact me and i will try to do my best for you.
Best of luck anyway.

The Skillport stuff is good but will take A LOT of time to complete all the training (60+ hours). It also tends to be very boring and they read all questions (too slow). It took me almost a year to get through it all--I did take notes too.

The good thing about Skillport is it covers just about everything you'll need to know and provides instant feedback. After doing all the material I took the practice test 4 months later (after other studying) and got a 59% first attempt then 67% attempt the second time. I'd say, out of all the material and tests I took SKILLPORT was the toughest, right next to Oliver Lehmann. If you can do well on Skillport you can pass the exam.

Also, keep in mind the exam will be different every time you take it so maybe you just got a tougher set of questions for you and next time you'll get a few more right and pass.

I failed my first attempt too and I recommend to check following forum.

There are tons of resource available online.

Thanks for the inputs! I am looking for Abhishek version of Rajesh Nair's notes also. If you have and can email me that will be great.. Thanks again

you can find the notes here...

And all the best for exam!!!

Attend a classroom boot camp if self study didn't work for you. This will help you master the concepts, interact with the trainer and other aspirants and discuss how they are preparing for the exam and sources they are using to study. Take some online practice tests - free or paid and test your knowledge. offers a bunch of free and paid practice tests along with free videos on concepts. Visit for more information. Check their classroom offerings and benefits offered with classroom training.

I passed the CAPM in February after attending a bootcamp and studying for about 4 weeks. Another PMP bootcamp was offered this month so I attending thinking I was primed since I already had my CAPM, no such thing. The exam was very difficult for me. My 3 below proficient were in Planning, M&C, and Closing. I studied hard but apparently did not study properly. My PMP exam had a ton of free and total float questions and there were some EV questions I could not answer. Need help in re-strategizing on what to study this next time around. Looking at retaking in November. I have Rita's book, and have attended 2 bootcamps. Any advice? I really need help on the equations.

I have created a new website that may help you. I passed the PMP in June this year. I think it helps to have a good mental map and overview. Maybe see if the website can help you. I agree the key is memorizing the processes and ITTO first.

Your post is really disturbing for me as I am almost having same scores as you have mentioned. However, I have RITA tests but haven't given them yet. My date is 15-sep.

PMPAspirant2014 & PMPHelp50,

PMPBOY willing to help you so please drop a line at

PMPBOY who earned his PMP in July 2011

Don't go into the exam doubting yourself and your abilities! Having a fear of failure only makes things worse. Having a respectful understanding that 40% of people don't pass the PMP Exam their first try should help motivate you to study harder but also help you recognize that you're not alone in the journey.  Hopefully you have a good PMP course to give you the self-confidence boost you need to do your best! Good luck!

Sorry to hear that your test was not successful. The truth is that with so many potential questions in the pool to choose from, we're all going to get unique tests. It sounds like you have done the right things and are testing well - that is great! You are testing just around where I was! I agree, the situational questions can be very challenging.

For me, a 4 day boot camp right before my PMP exam was perfect. I felt very confident in what I knew...but could also learn a lot of the small details I had missed and had some of my big questions clarified. I took a bootcamp last Mon-Thr, took Friday off from work, and passed on Saturday. If you are struggling, you deserve to have an instructor help guide you to the finish.

Best of luck and let us know how you do!

Sorry to hear you did not pass in your first attempt. I cleared it a week ago and I, too, was really surprised at the level of difficulty of the test, as well as the high percentage of math questions. Since in your question, you said you were thrown by the math questions, I would suggest purchasing a used copy of McGraw Hill's PMP Certification Math book.And, sign up for a boot camp so you know which math ones you are likely to see. The boot camp I attended pretty much narrowed it down. And, they were on target. Then during the first 15 minutes, do a brain dump on all of the relevant questions. So, go to boot camp first, then, work through problems in book mentioned above. It is a very difficult test. Dust yourself off, get back on "the horse." It's worth it.

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

You should start with determining what was the reason for not getting through. You must determine the root cause. I have written a post titled 15 Reasons Why People Failed the PMP Exam You should read this post. Give yourself some time and then write down what reasons are applicable to you. Next, you should revise your preparation strategy and work on your weak areas.

All the best.

michaelwarne's picture

That's so sad but don't worry. and try next attempt.
Project Management Professional (PMP) is not an easy exam to attempt. Lasting for 4 hours, it has 200 multiple choice questions, of which one has to answer at least 106 correctly to qualify. The exam is designed to be extremely difficult so that only the best candidates can get the certification. This is the reason why PMP holds immense value and its certificate holders get paid handsomely.
If you could not pass the PMP exam then don't worry about it. You must try 2nd time with more preparation and I would like to recommend the best institute for PMP certification: Koenig Solutions will help you a lot to prepare exams in a good way. 
Good Luck for your next attempt.

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

It is important 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. 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.