The 5 “P”s to Getting PMP Certified

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The 5 "P"s to Getting PMP Certified

PMP stands for the Project Management Professional Certification certified by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is considered one of the most prestige certification any project manager may attain. Reflecting on my PMP Exam journey, I discovered 5 “P”s which are vital to helping me to succeed in passing the certification exam in the first attempt. I hope my sharing will be useful to fellow Aspirants.

The following are my 5 “P”s:


Since PMP stands for Project Management Professional, professional experience and professionalism is two of the top requirement for the exam. PMI requires Aspirants to have quite prolonged professional working experience before applying for the exam (i.e. you need to be a professional in order to become Project Management Professional):

  • 3 years (during which there are at least 4,500 hours) of project management experience for degree holders; OR
  • 5 years (during which there are at least 7,500 hours) of project management experience for High school diploma holders.

And PMI has published an article on “Professional and Social Responsibility” which all Aspirants need to agree to in order to be eligible for the exam — i.e. PMI assumes that every PMP Aspirant should be fairly familiar with the “Professional and Social Responsibility” and this would be tested on the real PMP Exam!

The “Professional and Social Responsibility” is actually quite logical in the sense that being a “professional” one should be abided by a certain moral and professional standard, e.g. Responsibility, Respect, Fairness and Honesty.

Pre-recording Training

For busy professionals, one of the top hurdle to being certified is to fulfil the requirement of 35 Contact Hours of Project Management Education. However, with pre-recorded online training courses, I could be able to attain the 35 Contact Hours without actual contact with the project management instructors in person.

How? There are online distance learning options to fulfil the 35 Contact Hours requirement which are recognised by PMI (such as the highly acclaimed PM PrepCast™ — I used it myself to help me pass the PMP Exam in first attempt or the GreyCampus online PMP Exam Prep course) as the course providers are PMI Authorized Training Partners (R. E. P.). The courses by PMI Authorized Training Partner have been pre-approved by PMI to satisfy the education requirement. And if being selected for the audit, Aspirants would only need to provide a copy of the course certificate without any need for course outline and details (I experienced the audit myself and I cleared it with ease).


One point to add to the “Pre-recoding Training” section is that there is no any “magic” courses that would help you pass the exam without arduous preparation. Aspirants need to take the time to study and prepare for the exam themselves. The normal Aspirants would need around 2 months with 3 hours per day (i.e. around 150 – 180 hours) in order to pass the real exam in first try.

My PMP Exam Preparation included the following:

  • Reading the PMBOK® Guide twice (the PMBOK® Guide can be downloaded for free if you are a PMI member)
  • Read an exam Prep Book (e.g. PMP Exam Book by Rita, How to Pass the PMP Exam in First Try by Andy Crowe or  Head First PMP Book — the comparison of these books can be found here)

Peer Pressure

Some would flourish by studying alone while others benefit from forming study groups. I would highly recommend joining a study group if you are not the most disciplined exam taker of the world.

By joining a study group, you are “forced” to adhere to a study schedule through peer pressure. The weekly or bi-weekly meeting of the study group acts inevitably as a check point for the progress of the Exam preparation project.

Too engaged to travel to a study group? With the advancement of technology, joining an e-study group is your solution!

Practice Makes Perfect

This cliche is actually applicable for your exam study.  Aspirants would love to pass the exam in first try. But how to be sure that you have attained the necessary knowledge and level of skills in order to pass? That’s where mock exams would help you. Nearly all instructors would recommend that the most credible way of understanding your readiness to passing the PMP Exam is getting around 75% or above in several quality mock exams in your first attempt:

    • Oliver Lehmann (Online) — 75 Questions
    • HeadFirst PMP Mock Exam — 200 Questions
    • PM Exam Simulator (Free 3-day Trial) — 170 Questions
    • Oliver Lehmann (Downloadable PDF) — 175 Questions
    • Edwel Mock Exam — 200 Questions

For your information, I got around 80% in all of these PMP sample exams in first attempt and I got 4 “Proficient” and 1 “Moderately Proficient” in my final PMP Exam in first try (my lessons learned).

Conclusion: Have Faith in Yourself and Try Again!

Remember the 5 “P”s for your exam success:

  • Professional
  • Pre-recorded Training
  • Preparation
  • Peer Pressure
  • Practice Makes Perfect

Hope that the 5 “P” would be useful in your journey to getting certified.

Wish you 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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