Passed PMP on Second Try.... Lessons Learned (The Real Truth)

Passed PMP on Second Try.... Lessons Learned (The Real Truth)

Ok.  Here goes.  I am typically not the guy that would post on a forum and not a person that likes to discuss what I do very much etc etc but after sitting for the exam once and failing miserably and thereby killing my self esteem I decided that I had to try everything I found to pass.  So Im going to tell you everything I tried and after seeing the test twice I will also tell you what works and most importantly what "Does Not" work. 

First try (Failed Attempt):

15 years of PM experience  -  (useless)

Knowledge Academy online training (Jan 2013)  - (useless)

Simplilearn online training (Feb 2013)  - (useless)

April 2013 (failed)

Second Try (Passed)  - What I read and online tests I took

Knowledge Academy in person course (useless)

Simplilearn online practice tests (works) 

Knowledge Academy online practice tests (works)   Although these questions are easy they dont test your skill these questions help you to think the way the PMP examiners want you to think.  After years of not thinking the way they (PMI) want you to this will help.

PMStudy (works!!!!!)  Look you better do this... and you better pay for all of the questions they have.  I saw as others have stated some of the exact questions on the test... Although not enough to just make you easily pass but these questions look most like the exam.

PMBok (works)  Reading it?? no... studying it.. yes. 

Head First Practice Test (works)

Head First Book (works)

"How to Pass PMP on First Try"  (Useless, Useless Useless) 

PMP Certification for dummies (works.. wish I would have bought it sooner) but you must use this as a supplement to the PMBok

PMP Certification mathematics (Must have)

Paid 1000 bucks for a course (useless) except for the information he gave about taking the test in 3 passes...

Pass one:Answer only the easy questions you know then take a quick 5 min break

Pass two: Answer only the questions that are hard with no calculations 5 min break

Pass three: Answer the remainder


What I did daily that works

I did not do like everyone else on here due to the risks of someone else causing me a failure... so No I did not take a 200 question test... "EVER"   I thought this would be useless... I just couldnt sit that long for a dang test everyday.. I felt it was hard enough to sit for the PMP for 4 da*n hours! 

I took test from Simplilearn to see the areas I was weak these questions were pretty hard and I would only do about 100 questions at a time.  I did this because the questions flip through each process areas so its easy to know where  you are having problems. 

Then I would go through all of the questions that I got wrong only and read through all explanations on why I got it wrong (very important)

Then I would go to PMStudy and pick one of the areas (and there were many) of the Simplilearn test that I was not doing well in and use PMStudy Knowledge Area test and select a test of about 20 to 50 questions in that knowledge area.  Then I would go through these questions... and after failing them (of course) I would go through all of the explanations of the questions on that test as to why I got them wrong.  I would use these questions to help guid me back to the PMBok (using the page numbers given on the PMStudy exam) and go deeply into understanding that page of the PMBok.  This works!!!!!!

Then I would go back to the Simplilearn tests (I bought all 3) and retest and I would see my score gradually go up. I continued this process until I could see that I was doing much better and retaining most of the information.


did not buy the questions but I did live on the forum looking for tips and tricks and exam info.. this was a must...

About the test

My second test attempt the exam was quite different than the first so dont expect the same exam after you fail. 

Make sure you know page 43 of the PMBok in and out up and down and sideways...

Earned Value - You "MUST" know this... some people dont get many questions in that area (so they say) but on both test earned value was a beast!! An ugly hairy angry beast. 

For example:

They will give you a loooooooong scenario about whatever... then they give you the AC (but of course they dont tell you its the AC,  they also give you the PV but they also dont tell you its the PV (you have to figure this out)  then after you have decide that its maybe the AC or the PV or the ABC DEF or whatever then you will be given furthur information like: You were working on the project for 4 months and you have to months of work completed but its the third month.  So you now have to figure the percent complete then figure the value of that to come up with the EV then and only then can you put it into the memorized Earned Value equations that we all memorize for the exam.    Also whoever said you dont need the formula for Present value, Future value is a fool (well not really) there was only one question but you better know the formula. 

So for all of the rest of you thugs that want people to study like you studied and those that want to make the test out to be unsurmountable as to feel you are elite... consider yourself outted LOL!!!!  The test is very doable.. but you must prepare and test your preparation...

First: Read our Bible (PMBOK)

1.  Take a simplilearn or whoever test   (This is your Baseline)

2.  review the wrong answers (explanations) and why

3. Begin testing on PMStudy in the areas that you got wrong (1 Knowledge Area at a time)

4. The PMStudy Knowledge Area test will give you the answer after you answer the question and the explanation (which is better for memory).  Better to know you got it wrong when you got it wrong and use that moment to review why and also go to the PMBOK on the page PMStudy quotes for that question.

5. After you have done this for a while.. Go back to the same simplilearn test or whichever company you chose and test again against your baseline.. The questions in the Knowledge area you got wrong you will now get more right.  Wash, Rinse and Repeat!


About the Tools and Techniques inputs and outputs

Not knowing this is risky but to pass the exam you definitely need to know the inputs and outputs for the items on page 43 of the PMBok.  Know your tools and techniques for all.


Good Night

The Secret Sauce is a secret no more!   :)

 Congrats on passing the exam and good LL!! Enjoy!

I would say only one thing different from what you wrote above....I would advice to give 4 hrs mock exam on PMstudy as it helped me to build patience and get prepared for a 4 hour exam...and when to take breaks, etc....but that's just me!!


admin's picture

 Good tips and congratulations !