Any test that you failed is upsetting and frustrating, but failing the PMP exam can be downright depressing. It’s a huge test and takes 4 hours out of your day. And now you have to do it all over again.
So, do you go back and take the exam again? YES. Definitely.
There are many reasons that you should go back and take the exam again. Here are just a few:
- Now you know what you’re up against. Since you’ve seen the exam, you have a sense of what it’s going to take to succeed. You understand the flow and how questions are phrased. In other words, you have an advantage.
- You still need your PMP certification. That you struggled with this first round doesn’t change the fact that a PMP certification with make you more money and make you more employable.
- No succeeding is not the same as failing. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ― Thomas A. Edison Even in Silicon Valley, failure is not seen as failure. It’s seen as a learning curve. Even the places where you missed the mark are part of your life experience that makes you stronger.
We doubt that we need to remind you again that a PMP certification is more than worth the money and time that it costs you. If you’re not sure, consider this:
“The survey—which collected self-reported salary information from more than 26,000 project management practitioners in 34 countries—reveals that respondents with PMI’s globally recognized Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, garner a median salary that is 20 percent higher on average than those without a PMP certification.” – https://www.pmi.org/about/press-media/press-releases/global-survey-reveals-pmp-certified-project-managers-earn-20-percent-more
Those figures are from 2015. The difference appears to be getting larger each year as companies start expecting project managers to have PMP Certification.
What to do after you have failed the exam
The answer is simple: Get back on the horse.
Don’t stop studying, but this time come at it with a different plan.
Do everything you did the first time. That got you whatever score you’ve already achieved, but add on the things that you didn’t do before.
1- Read the PMBOK® – The Project Management Body of Knowledge®, PMBOK® is everything you need to know. It’s all in there. At the same time, it’s one of the least exciting things you’ll ever read. Read through it to make sure you know every concept in there. That’s what the test is on.
Make a photocopy of the table of contents. As you read through it, mark each chapter or section with a rating of how well you know it. A happy face for something you understand well, a sad face for things that confuse you, and a flat face for things that you get, but don’t feel like you’ve mastered. You can even leave a blank face, a empty circle, for concepts that are 100% unfamiliar. There should be very few of those.
Those faces will tell you what you need to study going forward. Start with the unfamiliar and move to the stuff you’re really good with. Don’t ignore the stuff you’re good on; there’s a great chance you missed a subtle point.
2- Don’t focus too much on ITTO. – Inputs, tools, techniques, and outputs are what the PMBOK® is all about. The problem is that these concepts are only part of the exam. The processes in the PMBOK® are useful, but they can’t get you through the exam. You need to make sure that you don’t overfocus on this one area. Often, test-takers will memorize all of the processes and find that that’s not enough for the exam.
3 – Practice, practice, practice – Take practice exams every single day. You need to take practices tests every day. These tests are designed to mimic the exam. To discover where your weaknesses are, take the practice exams you can find all over the internet.
Start right here: https://www.4pmti.com/pmp-sample-test.aspx. Don’t just look at whether you passed or not. Look at each section of the exam. Look for those places where you didn’t score as well. This will point you in the direction of your weaknesses.
4 – Wasting time on irrelevant – One of the things that crush most people who fail the PMP is that they spent a lot of time on things that simply aren’t on the test. If you use a quality source for information about what’s on the test, you can save yourself a lot of pain and wasted time.
There is a lot of information on the internet about the PMP exam and not all of it’s correct. You need a group of people who pay close attention to what the exam has on it and, just as importantly, what’s not on the exam.
Of course, we have a recommendation (https://www.4pmti.com/), but there are many great companies out there dedicated to helping you study for an exam. The one thing that can help is to make sure that the firm you’re looking at is a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). These firms and individuals have been approved by PMI as offering a proper exam preparation program.
5 – Getting fidgety! – This might seem strange, but if you’re used to walking all day, sitting in one place for four hours can be difficult. There are 200 questions and there is no way to get through in less than a couple of hours.
If you spend most of your time squirming, feeling the pain in your bum, and getting tired or irritable, you won’t be completely focused on the exam in front of you.
Learn to sit and study for hours at a time. As the exam date nears, make your study sessions longer and try not to get up. By the time the exam rolls around, you should have already proven to yourself that you can sit for four hours straight without needing to get up and move around.
6 – Test anxiety – There are millions of people who know all the answers until they have to sit down and prove it. Test anxiety is a real thing. It’s the fear that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about. If you’ve been studying, you should be fine.
Overcoming test anxiety is all about practice. Take as many practice exams as you can. The more tests you take, the more accustomed to being tested you’ll be. Then on the day of the exam, you’ll be ready for the feeling of answering questions.
7 – Understanding what you read – “What time does the next train arrive?” “Purple.” Just like some strange interaction with someone who is hard of hearing, not understanding the question will have you giving the wrong answers. Make sure that you read the questions carefully and take your time.
Watch for some of those testers tricks, like giving you answers that seem perfectly reasonable, but they’re wrong because of a small fact given in the question. The questions on the PMP exam are pretty straightforward, but you can still trip yourself up by not reading carefully.
Failed the PMP Exam
If you’ve failed the PMP exam once and want to try again, study differently this time. Look at the list above for hints and ideas as to why you might have failed the first time.
Take your time, study hard, and you’ll do fine. Let PMTI help you with our guarantee that you’ll pass or we’ll keep teaching you until you do.
Yada is not just the leader of the Project Management Training Institute (PMTI). He helped to write significant portions of the project management standards worldwide. He is helping PMI right now in reviewing, directing, and leading the development of the 7th edition of the PMBOK(r) Guide to incorporate the most monumental changes to project management standards in 35 years. He shares his wisdom with readers via the PMTI blog.