PMP Certification Preparation – A Reader’s Question

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Recently, I got an email enquiry about the PMP Certification Examination and how to prepare for the PMP Exam. As the answers would be useful to other PMP aspirants, the Q&A are published below with a view to helping other people aiming to get PMP certified with the same queries. The reader tries to prepare for the PMP Certification anew after failing three times (for the PMBOK® Guide 4th Edition syllabus).

How to Prepare for the PMP Exam After Failing 3 Times Before

Below is the first email I got asking about PMP exam preparation:

Have gotten your blog when perform the google search this morning.

I have taken the PMP exam on 2012 Aug, December 2012, and 2013 April for 4th edition. however it was not success. attended 2 classrom training in Singapore on July 2012 and Feb 2014.

Now, I have just completed my MBA on 9th Nov 2014. Would like to get this completed with passed.

I have just entered all my project experience 2 hours ago, and the application is in progress.

I have 90 days for taking the exam. After going through your blog and guide. I need 160 hours of study and practice on exam to get it passed.

I understand however when come to exam I take long to read the question and answered with panic mode. so i need your guidance now to pass it.

Your suggestion is to purchase the PM Prep cast with USD 179. I will take 8 hours for study in 20 days. so is it a great plan?

Please advice.

As the reader understands that her weakness is the long situational questions that’s typical of the PMP Exam questions, I offered the following suggestion. Basically, it is to practice more PMP mock exams and practice questions.

Thanks a lot for your email.

Sorry to hear that you did not pass last time. From your description, it seems that the major reason for failing the PMP exam is the “long questions”. To solve that, I would advise you to spend more time doing practice questions.

If you haven’t done any study on the 5th edition PMBOK® Guide, the PM PrepCast™ and the PM Exam Simulator bundle is a great choice as there are over 1800 questions included:

But if you have already done your exam preparation, just purchase the PM Exam Simulator and try more PMP practice questions as listed here (some are free, but just leave these sets of questions to the later part of your exam preparation):

Try to imagine yourself taking the real PMP exam when doing these questions and try to get around 80% correct when you are attempting these question sets. There is no need to sit continuously for 4 hours attempting 200 questions every time, but you should schedule at least four 4-hour sessions before taking the real PMP exam. Always review questions you have gotten wrong or guessed (even correctly). Write notes about why you have answered incorrectly.

There are also tonnes more questions available for free to members on the PMI website:

Once you can keep getting over 75%-80% for the 1st attempt the PMP question sets, you are almost guaranteed a pass. That’s my personal story.

Hope the above can help you! Thanks!

Wish you PMP success!

The reader replied with the following message about her PMP Certification preparation strategy:

Thank you for your email.

I was using PMBOK® Guide guide 4th Edition book previously.  Your suggestion are :-

  1. Must to go through PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition?
  2. Read through the PMP Exam Prep book?
  3. Understand the ITTO ?
  4. Memorize the 46 Processes?
  5. (Practice) question simulators for 1800 questions?
  6. Exam simulator till the later part of the preparation?

Sure pass? I am so worried seriously.

PMI application has been entered and in the process of approving.  I need to start study on next Thursday because planned to attend ITIL® certification on Mon, Tues and Wed.

When will be the most suitable exam date ?

The reader was on the right track to PMP success. I elaborated a bit on my PMP Exam strategy:

From my own experience, it is beneficial to go through the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition at least once and purchase another exam reference book (the one by Andy Crowe is probably the most exam oriented one and thus the easiest read). The PM PrepCast™ will help you to understand and guide you through the PMBOK® Guide in a visual way. But you will need to write your own notes while watching or you can make use of my notes (

When you are going through the PMBOK® Guide and the reference book, you should be able to learn some important ITTOs, there is no need to memorize every ITTO.

For the processes, you should be able to write down all the process vs the process groups as a chart. It is recommended to write down this chart as a brain dump during the exam tutorial.

My advice is to do as many questions as possible. You may try the exam simulator first and try the other questions listed in the post later ( so that you can get exposed to different writing styles from different exam question authors.

I would recommend you to schedule a time that is comfortable to you, e.g. two months or more from today so that you can have plenty of time to finish your study before the exam.

If you purchase through the link below, I will get some money at NO extra cost to you to sustain my website running costs: (for US$229.99, 18% off the retail price of 279.98)

I did make use of the PM PrepCast™ to help me pass the PMP Exam, hope it can also help you!

Thanks a lot in advance.

Later, I found out that the reader was also aiming at the ITIL® 4 Foundation Certification from the following reply email:

Thank you for your quick and helpful response.

How much is the PMBOK® Guide 5 Edition and Andy Crowe books?

Another question is do you advice me to attend the ITIL® foundation course + exam schedule next weeks ?  or complete the PMP then only pick up the ITIL® study and exam ?

Obviously, if I were aiming to achieve both the PMP Certification and ITIL® 4 Foundation Certification, I would try my utmost to get the PMP first as the preparation for the ITIL® Foundation can be counted towards PDUs for PMP re-certification:

For the PMBOK® Guide, you can download it for free (in PDF) from the PMI website if you are a member. For the Andy Crowe, the price on Amazon is US$62.89 (you should check this yourself by clicking here: Andy Crowe as Amazon prices differently for people from different location).

I would strongly advise you to postpone the ITIL® course (if that’s feasible) as the ITIL® course would gain you PDU (you will need 60 in three years) for your PMP re-certification.

However, owing to her career needs, the ITIL® v3 Foundation course would be taken first:

Thank you very much for answering my mail so quickly.

My membership has expired. After failed the exam, I focus in my MBA study in Singapore and just graduated from MBA on 9th November 2014.

I need to rejoin the membership and buy  the Andy Crowe book.

Yes.  I agreed in view of the ITIL® gaining PDU.  Contradictory, I am long waited to be ITIL® certified, always find no time slot for this.  My contract ERP Project Manager role has just complete served on 1st November 2014.  Prior picking up another project, was thinking to go for the quick grab on ITIL®.  PMP 5th Edition exam, CISA certification too.

I need to confirm by today.   
Afterwards, the reader began planning her PMP Certification study schedule:

For full time study to pass the exam, how many hours should it be sufficient?  Would to know get the guideline from you so I can plan.

I have previously done an in-depth survey about 100 PMP on how they prepare for the PMP Exam, here is my reply:

I would like to refer you to this article:

which is based on the experience of over 100 PMPs.

The reader then acted on her words to purchase the necessary PMP Exam prep online course and the PMP Exam Prep Book by Andy Crowe. Wish her PMP success!

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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