« Project 2010 to be released May 12, 2010 | Main | Plum Blossoms in Winter »

Taking and Passing the PMP Exam Part 16 How I passed the PMP Exam

I'm getting a bit out of order here because I just passed the exam without finishing my series on how to pass, but I'd like to jot down a few impressions of the exam while it is fresh in my mind.

First. You can pass (or fail) a large number of questions by knowing (or not knowing) the positive from negative in Earned Value calculations. SV = EV - PV, CV = EV - AC, SPI = EV/PV, CPI = EV/AC so for variances a negative number is BAD and for indexes a number less than 1 is also BAD. We all know that bad means you are spending more or taking longer than planned. Frankly I was shocked by the number of questions on this simple topic.

Second. This experience validated my thesis that it is possible to pass the exam solely using the Guide to the PMBOK as your reference material. There may be a few minor questions which are outside the PMBOX but if you follow up on the references in the appendix then you likely have things covered.

Third. Read the questions. I've worked on a couple of certification exams and believe me that writing the questions is as hard as answering them. There are often many acceptable answers so the person writing the question will have to put limiting words or scenarios into the question so that there is one right or best answer. Look for those words as they will help you choose the answer.

Fourth. Read the answers. Just as writing the questions requires limitations, writing the answers also requires putting something in to make an answer false. There were certainly some answers which were "half-right" but were negated by addition of something irrelevant or incorrect. This and the last point are probably sufficient to pass a quarter of the questions even if you have no idea what the correct answer really is.

Fifth. Cramming apparently works. Psychrometrically the test is supposed to determine if you are a real project management professional, but I think if you have a good memory you can pass this test.

Sixth. Some people advocate a brain-dump technique to write down all the formulas etc. before you start the test. I think this creates unnecessary stress. There were few formulas needed in the test, and if you can remember them long enough to get to the test center, you can certainly hold on to them for another hour or so. In my opinion this is just superstition. That said, the act of writing things down does cement items into your memory, so take notes while studying, but there is no need to worry about carrying all the stuff around with you and barfing it out on paper just before the test.

I hope to continue my series on preparing sometime soon...

Until then, good luck!

  • PMP Certification Exam Experience Requirements Spreadsheet
  • Taking the PMP Exam - Part 14 - The Examination Specification
  • Taking the PMP Exam - Part 12 - The PMP Examination Specification
  • Taking the PMP Exam - Part 2 - Joining PMI
  • Taking the PMP Exam - Part 1 - Getting Started
  • Taking and Passing the PMP Exam - Part 15 - PMBOK version 4
  • Personal PMP test takers
  • Taking the PMP Exam - Appendix B - Contract Types
  • Taking the PMP Exam - Part 13 - How the PMP Exam is constructed
  • Taking the PMP Exam - Part 11 - PMO's Programs and Portfolios

  • Comments (4)



    I take issue with one of your statements: "Psychrometrically the test is supposed to determine if you are a real project management professional, ..." No. The check to see if you are a real PM professional is in the "Experience Verification" form. The test is to see ... as you so clearly state at the beginning of your entry ... "This experience validated my thesis that it is possible to pass the exam solely using the Guide to the PMBOK as your reference material." In other words, did you read and understand the PMBOK.

    While you might have been surprised that many questions -- and easy ones at that -- related to Earned Value, the fact still remains: there's still a high percentage of failures on the exam. Perhaps you should recognize this for what it is: you are a -- clearly -- knowledgeable, experienced, very capable PM. As such, the surprise isn't that you found the exam easy, the surprise would have been if you had found the exam difficult.

    I agree, everyone seems to get very worked up about the PMP exam. A good chunk of the questions are just common sense for an experiences project manager. You do need to understand the philosophy behind the PMBOK, but learning it by heart is impossible. Much better to understand the overall structure then work from there.

    I think I don't agree. Many of the questions are not common sense. I think they are designed to test your understanding of the definitions and process taxonomy laid out in the PMBOK. My thesis with this set of articles is that it is definitely possible to pass the PMP certification exam with just the PMBOK as your reference material. The exam I passed using just the PMBOK as study material serves as material evidence. -Jack


    I passed the exam last week. I feel the point of the exam is an understaning of the PMI version of Project Management and all the processes, tools and techniques therin. Few organizations will floow all the the processes exactly like Page 43 of the PMBOK, but at lease the standards are clear and provide a common reference point. The biggest problem I see within the organizations I've worked in is the lack of consistancy and lack of a standards to follow.


    Hi again Jack,

    I appreciate how you've documented your progress of getting your PMP Certification. I intend to read through each part but couldn't help but feel compelled to jump straight to the end to read the "success story".

    I've read some comments here that some of the theory in the test is common sense. I agree with your responses where you state that it's not entirely true, as the PMI is specifically testing the theoretical basis of the knowledge you may inherently understand as a project manager.

    Having done the test now, has your perspective of the the PMI or the test itself changed in any way?

    Post a comment

    (Comments are moderated to fight SPAM and will be published after I have a chance to approve them. Thanks for waiting.)


    The previous article is Project 2010 to be released May 12, 2010.

    The next article is Plum Blossoms in Winter.

    Current articles are in the main index page and you can find a complete list of articles in the archives.

    Creative Commons License
    This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
    Powered by
    Movable Type 3.34