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Lovely Rita PMP meter maid

I've ranted about the Project Management Institute's PMP (Project Management Professional) certification a couple of times so far. One of my main points is that it has become a cash cow for PMI and for a consulting ecosystem which provides PMP training, books, test prep etc. often at what I'd consider a fairly high price.

One of the most well known of these consultants is Rita Mulcahy. She has built a small empire of trainers and provides training classes, books and software specifically geared at helping you to pass the exam. Her company, RMC Project Management, has 5 principal trainers and seems to be offering exam prep classes about 15 times a month all around the country.

The sad thing about this all is the way that they go about it. In one place her website claims:

The PMPĀ® designation following your name demonstrates to current and potential employers that you possess a solid foundation of experience and education in project management that can have a positive impact on bottom-line results. The certification exam is so important that many of RMC's students are required by their companies to become certified in order to retain their positions. Some have received 15% raises and $15,000 bonuses.

This is fine, if not a little scary (a tactic which RMC seem to be using to promote current sales before the "new" PMP examination comes out in September. I'll discuss the new exam requirements later if I get a chance). But how does it tie in with what RMC is actually offering? Let's take a look at the course contents and find out. The Classroom PMP Prep exam promises to cover:
  • How to study and create a study plan
  • Tricks for memorizing formulas
  • Tricks to help you understand how the PMP® questions are written
  • Tricks for shortening your study time
  • Tricks for taking the exam
  • Tricks for finding holes in your project management knowledge
  • Reasons people fail the exam and how to make sure you do not do the same
  • Exercises to help you understand, memorize and conceptualize the information you need to know, right in class, including those dreaded formulas

    My problem is that tricks are fine and dandy for some things. If Rita can turn tricks into a lucrative business then fine, but knowing "tricks" to pass the test does not seem to be the equivalent of having "a solid foundation of education and experience in Project Management". Indeed it is quite the opposite and Rita's site advocates AGAINST too much further study stating:

    RMC recommends that you study for no more than 40 additional hours after taking our 2-day class prior to taking the exam. RMC also recommends that you wait no longer than two (2) months after class to take the exam, as your memory of the techniques you learned in class will begin to fade.

    I wonder. Are those who passed this cram course really the sort of experienced and qualified Project Management Professionals that the PMP certification makes them out to be? Do not take this as a slam against Rita. She is just trying to build and run a successful business and by all indications has done so. It is not wrong to collect the tolls at the roadblocks that others have set up. She is certainly following the rules (and if you read the "Website Terms of Use" at her site she expects everyone else to follow them as well - the legal warnings are amazing) No, the guilty party here is the PMI.


    Comments (4)


    I totally agree. I took one of Rita's classes a couple of years ago. Tips and Tricks were so helpful, I have forgotten what they were. I guess I cannot slight a person for making a living--but, for pete's sake, at least have a project on your resume you personally managed in the last 10 years.


    Great post, and it rings so true. A PMP mentor of mine recommended Rita's book, so I purchased it and the online course in an effort to learn a "solid foundation".

    After 6 months I ended up more confused than ever, and absolutely fed up with the condescending tone the RMC crew takes in their writings. (Phrases like, "Have you realized yet that..." and "Aren't you glad you purchased this system?" and "If you got this wrong, realize that BAD project managers often...")

    I wish they'd spend a little less time being pious and pompous and a little more time thoughtfully explaining things without being snide. Can't stand Rita.

    I completely agree. I also agree with Cathy. Rita is so full of herself in her book and she irritates to no end with phrases like "you absolutely need", "you will score badly because", etc.

    Also, I am surprised how PMI.org is even letting Rita carry on with her business of making a mockery of a learning process. PMI's course material for the exam is excellent but I think PMI should change the exam pattern to make it more indepth.



    I wrote and passed the PMP yesterday. Passed on the first go.

    As much as I would like to slam RMC, I can't. I bought her book (only the book; I don't think I could tolerate listening to her voice) in order to help pass the test.

    I learned the hard way during the '90's with Microsoft's certifications that if you want to pass these tests, you have to know the dirty tricks they are going to throw at you as well as the content and material.

    I have been doing project management for about 10 years and have had good mentors and worked in lots of different environments. Plus, I took an excellent PM course from the local technology school to formalize my training (they train PM's. They don't focus on passing the test). So, I know what I am doing.

    I used Rita's book the way she mentions in the book. 1. Take the chapter tests. 2. Determine where you are weak from a PMBOK POV. 3. Focus on those chapters. 4. Re-write chapter tests until comfortable.

    The first time I took the chapter tests, I would have passed if it was the real exam (made me feel good). Then I read the 3 chapters where my scores were weakest and all the dirty tricks sections in the other chapters. When I took the chapter tests again (only the weak ones), I saw my scores go up by about 25%. Satisfied, I took the test and passed on the first go with less than 15 hours of study.

    So, Rita helped me by informing me of the dirty tricks the PMP test uses, and giving me the POV I needed, on material I already knew, to pass the course.

    For that, I am thankful. When PM's that have years of practical experience tell me it took them 60+ hours to study and they took a week off of work to do it, I have to wonder what the hell they are doing at work and while studying. I am only an average test taker so it is not like I have an advantage.

    Yes, the tone of the book was condescending and sometimes childish, but it did tick me off enough to hold my interest.

    My biggest beef with the PMP cert is that PMI insists that a " * Demonstrated the appropriate education and/or professional experience" is required before someone sits for the exam. Baloney. We all know people that have displayed their lack of experience and yet have a PMP.

    Has PMI ever revoked someone's certification?

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