The PMP Exam – Up Your Prep Game for First-Time Pass!

Jul 26, 2018 | Project Management

We’re betting that there have been times in your life when you’ve had to prepare for and pass some very difficult exams.  

The PMP exam is very challenging!

As we mentioned in the article Destination: PMP Certification – When Will You Get There?, passing your PMP exam is not just a matter of learning and remembering information well enough to answer memory-based questions.  You will also have to be able to analyze project management scenarios, make judgment calls and select the answer representing the best (or worst) course of action for a given scenario.

To add to the challenge, there may be only very subtle wording differences among the multiple choice answers to a given question.  For example, there may be one obviously wrong answer, and three that are very close contenders for the correct answer.

As you know, there’s an entire industry based on making effective PMP exam prep programs and tools readily available to aspiring PMPs.  

First, Discover Your Learning Style …

We’re all wired a bit differently when it comes to how we learn.  Your learning style affects how well and how fast you grasp, process and retain information.  

There are many different definitions and presentations of learning styles, but the basic concepts tend to fall into learning preference categories like those below.  Understand that an individual’s overall style is usually comprised of all of the categories in some manner or other, and is more precisely defined by where one’s learning preferences land on the continuum between extremes within each category.   

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If you’re not sure how to determine your own learning preferences, there are many resources on the Internet that you can go to – you can even take free questionnaires or tests to help you discover your own unique wiring for learning.  

Here’s an example result of a learning style questionnaire.  This individual who completed the questionnaire is more of a thinker than a doer; slightly prefers to work with facts rather than abstracts; is strongly visual; and is fairly well-balanced between bottom-up and top-down learning.  


Your Learning Style Defines the Best PMP Exam Prep Tools for You …

No matter what your learning personality is like, there’s a toolbox for it!

The table below keys the learning preferences to their commonly recommended methods and tools for PMP exam preparation.  Be aware that some tools are free whereas others come with price tags. Search the web for the tools that are the best fit for your budget as well as for your learning preferences.



[1] The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide is the foundational reference for the PMP exam content. As such, it should be the primary study reference for all learning styles. If you are a PMI member, you can obtain a free copy of the PMBOK®.  

[2] In-person PMP exam prep courses and practice tests are probably the most broadly effective learning tools. Many of the courses incorporate other tools such as PMP study guides, practice tests and discussion groups.  


Organization Details and Phone Number:

In this screen, you enter your Job Title within the organization, and the organization’s contact information.  

Note that the Job Title is the title of the position you held at the time you gained this project experience. Our PMP candidate was the Operations Supervisor by position title in the organization, and held the Project Manager role on the project.

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Organization Contact and Phone Number:

Enter the organization’s contact for the project–this is the individual who would be able to verify your experience on the project..   This should be a manager or stakeholder within the organization, or perhaps an external client.

The Contact Relationship is the relationship of the contact to your role as you directed/led on the project.

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Then you will enter your experience in hours by domain.

Our PMP candidate worked nearly full-time on this project for its seven-month duration, and gained experience in all five project management domains.  

Note that you will record the hours for each domain, and they must be logical when considering the overall duration of the project.  

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Finally, a brief narrative description of your experience:

The narrative description can only be 550 characters long, so keep it concise but meaningful.  

Note the guideline that is included in this section.  Also, remember that the Responsibilities and Deliverables must be pertinent to your role on the project – in other words, what you were responsible for and what you produced.  Look back at the previous screen and review the descriptions of the domains to understand what types of activities and deliverables would be considered relevant under each domain.

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Review Your Experience Submitted

Once you click Save and Continue on the last Add/Edit Experience screen, the application will automatically display the Experience Worksheet.  You can see a summary of the information you just entered and how your experience is totaling up toward your minimum hours (4,500 or 7,500) requirement.

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The first example experience is done!  Now on to the next …


From here, we move on to the next experience, which is the Office Space Expansion project.

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The steps for entering this experience are the same, so we won’t repeat them.

Note that the project management experience for this example is only relevant to the Executing Domain.  All other domains will have zero hours recorded.

You may include experience for one or more domains for any given project experience, but the sum of all of your experience hours must cover all five domains.  


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Now your summary includes the second experience example.  Your “Still Need:” numbers have decreased.

When you have submitted all of the experience you need to satisfy the months and hours of your requirement, all you have left to do is record your PM education (such as a PMP exam prep course) and your application will be ready to submit!  

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