During the end of January, I received a call from a person just leaving the PMI examination center. A few weeks before, another person had called…they too having just cleared the exam successfully. Both had used my book, I Want To Be A PMP or video course, PMP Live Lessons – Guaranteed Pass to clear the exam.

Every now and again when successful PMPs call following their examinations, I find them quite excited and happy with their achievements. I share their happiness. Indeed, the exam is tough and covers vast areas. Most of the questions are situational in nature, which strongly tests the taker’s understanding of the concepts.

As I spoke to these folks recently about their exam experiences, I found myself becoming aware of several paradoxes. Here are two such instances:


Paradox #1:

The first successful PMP indicated that he:

  • Received a number of direct questions, along with many situational questions
  • Had a number of mathematical questions posed to him
  • Had no questions on graphical interpretations

The second PMP said that she:

  • Didn’t have a single question that was direct (in fact, all of the questions were situational or scenario based questions)
  • Had only 2 or 3 mathematical questions, which were very easy
  • Had a few graphical questions

As you can see, one would wonder how to prepare for an examination which encompasses such completely different experiences!


Paradox #2:

There have been many PMPs who took my classes last year and a few who have written about their exam experiences. As one goes through their success stories, their experiences run the gamut:

  • Some of them are very highly experienced in project management (sometimes over 20 years), whereas a few others have very little experience (less than 3 years).
  • Some read the PMBOK guide thoroughly, some 3 to 5 times, and some don’t put that much effort in reading the PMBOK guide at all!
  • Some have written with a focus on Risk Management, Procurement Management, and Resource Management, whereas other have mentioned that they advise exam takers to focus on Quality Management and Integration Management. Others have mentioned focusing strongly on Communications Management and Stakeholder Management.


As an aspiring PMP, what would you do with such diverse opinions?

The bottom line, I would say, is that your PMP exam experience is going to be unique. No two experiences are the same, and that’s why the PMP exam and the PMP credential are unique. Just as a project is a temporary endeavor which creates a unique product, service, or result, each person’s PMP exam preparation and subsequent exam experience is unique. That said, the impression it leaves in your mind won’t be temporary; rather, it will be a long-lasting one.

As you go through success stories and/or listen to other PMPs who have passed the exam, you will find that successful PMPs do many things and focus on many topics. A few specific things to do come to the surface even though experiences are quite varied. In my on-demand webinar, we discussed how to be a successful PMP by zeroing in on five “must do” items. These are based on my teachings, interactions, and what I’ve learned from professionals aspiring to be PMPs.