According to popular guesstimates, 30-40% people fail the PMP exam on their first attempt. If you thought people fail the PMP exam because it is too difficult, then you would be wrong. Most people that I surveyed through an online poll don’t think so. More than 500 of you responded to the poll. The verdict is out now. I’m sure you are anxious to know the result. So, let’s run a countdown of the top 5 reasons people fail the PMP exam, starting from no. 5.
Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid for the PMP Exam
5. They don’t read the PMBOK Guide properly - 11%
I expected this option to get more votes. This is surely among my top 3 reasons why people fail the PMP exam. In my personal opinion, no matter which study material you refer to or which training you attend, reading the PMBOK Guide, cover to cover, at least 2 times, in a must. I realized this when I was taking my exam. This is also a common theme in most lessons learned posted by successful candidates.
4. They don’t use the right study material - 13%
Actually this option got only 7% votes, but I also added up the votes from option “They don’t attempt enough good quality sample exams”, because both are kind of related. This should be no surprise to anyone. If you don’t have access to the best study material, your chances of success on the exam are slim.
3. They don’t have real project management experience - 17%
I thought this would be no. 1 or 2. PMP certification is achieving a cult status specially among IT programmers in different parts of the world. I would probably do a separate post on this topic and avoid delving into it right now, as it is potentially controversial.
2. Their real-world Project Management is different from the PMI-way - 21%
We are not living in a “perfect world” and our projects are not managed in the perfect way. The trick to passing the PMP exam is to bridge the gap between real-world and PMI-world. The sooner you bridge this gap, the better your chances of success (on PMP exam) are.
And the winner is (drums roll) …
1. They don’t prepare well enough - 28%
This was the biggest surprise for me in this survey. I admit that not preparing “well enough” is sort of vague. I’m inclined to think that to most people who voted, it means that people do not put in adequate effort, or tend to underestimate the PMP exam. But how do you know that you are “ready” for the PMP exam? There are no benchmarks to measure your preparedness for the exam. Most people tend to go by their scores on sample exam and try to compare them with those from their peers. I’ll do a separate post on this topic to share my thoughts.
If you add up the votes from the 5 options above, 90% of the readers think that people fail the PMP exam because of one or more of these 5 reasons. So, don’t blame it on your luck, don’t say that the exam is too difficult, and don’t try to think that you are not smart enough to pass. To review complete survey results, click on the image below:
Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid for the PMP Exam
Now that we know the reasons why most people fail the PMP exam, what are the lessons that we can learn from this information to better equip ourselves to pass the PMP exam?
- Do not underestimate the exam. If the exam is not difficult, it's not easy either. According to another survey that I did, most full-time employed professionals said that they took around three months to prepare for the PMP exam. If we consider 2 hours of study time per day for 25 days a month, it amounts to about 150 hrs of total preparation time (your mileage may vary) over a span of 3 months. So, be prepared to spend this much effort.
- For the sake of passing the PMP exam, assume that projects are managed the PMI-way. PMBOK Guide is always right.
- PMP exam is not a stepping stone into Project Management. If you want a foundation in Project Management, consider CAPM certification first. After that try to position yourself into a Project Manager role and gain adequate experience to take the PMP exam. For more information, review PMP or CAPM: Which Certification is Right for Me?.
- Invest in a good training program and best study material for the PMP exam. By the way, good training and good course material doesn't necessarily have to be expensive. I have some recommendations here on Directory of *Best* PMP Exam Resources on the Web.
- Read the PMBOK Guide thoroughly. It's not optional. You can get many more questions correct just by reading the PMBOK Guide.
I hope that by avoiding these common pitfalls, you’ll improve your chances of success on the PMP exam. I wish you all the best.
Please share your own lessons learned in the comments section below.
Image credit: Flickr / wwworks