Home | Step By Step Guide to Pass PMP Exam

Your Dream to Pass PMP Exam

You are a Project Manager, aspiring to be a PMP. You are looking for most efficient way to study and pass PMP exam. But you are confused with thousands of results you get when you search for PMP exam related queries in the Internet. Well, you are not alone. I went through the same pain few years ago, which motivated me to create this site.

Look no further. Start your journey to fulfill your dream to be a PMP and this guide will tell you all you need to do to become a PMP.

PMP Certification End To End Process Flow

PMP Certification Process

Carefully look at the flow chart on the right side [click on the image to enlarge it] . All you need to do to pass PMP exam is to follow the process step by step, one step at a time.

Passing PMP exam is no Rocket Science. But, it is both easy and difficult. It is easy to pass PMP exam if you get each step in the process flow right. It is difficult to get these steps right, unless you are prepared and organized well enough to work smart towards your PMP certification.

Read further for clear guidance on how to tackle each step and achieve your dream of becoming a PMP.



Things To Consider Before Applying For PMP Exam

Everyone suggests to check the eligibility criteria before applying for PMP exam. Basic eligibility is as follows:

  • High school diploma, with 5 years of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education.·
  • Bachelor’s degree, with 3 years of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education.
For more details about PMP eligibility, refer to the PMP Hand Book

. But, apart from the basic eligibility criteria there other few other factors you need to consider before applying for the exam.

  • Gain for Pain: Understand if PMP certification will benefit you. Only if you are convinced that it will help your career, proceed further.
  • Time Factor: PMP Exam preparation takes a lot of time. Assess the professional and family demands and see if you can spare the time PMP exam preparation demands. I have seen lot of people spending time and money only to give up in the middle with the excuse that they don’t have time. Always begin with the end in mind.
  • Cost Factor: It is not that, PMP certification is exorbitantly expensive. But if you don’t have a good plan you may end up spending a lot of money in study materials and trainings. In the later sections I have provided some guidelines on the study materials you absolutely need to prepare for the exam. This will help you minimize your PMP certification cost.


PMP Certification Cost

PMP Certification cost is a common discussion point. Everyone would like to know how much would it cost. Simple answer to this question is, it varies. But you can still consider the cost of various common components and get an approximate cost involved. This could be anywhere between USD 900.00 to 1000.00. For details on the cost breakdown and common cost components please refer to this blog post: How much does the PMP Certification Cost?

35 Contact Hour Training

35 Contact Hour Training is a prerequisite to apply for PMP Certification. You are required to provide proof of completing 35 Contact Hours through formal Project Management Training along with your PMP Application.


Hence it is important to complete this training BEFORE submitting your application. There are various ways to earn these 35 contact hours.

Some of the options are:

  • University classes on project management
  • Classroom trainings from training providers
  • PMI Chapter organized trainings
  • Employer conducted programs on Project Management
  • Online Training with Video and Audio aids

Everyone’s preference to earn these 35 contact hours may vary based on convenience, cost etc. However, if you would like to use these trainings not only to earn contact hours, but also to prepare for your PMP exam, multimedia based online trainings are your best bet. They are cost effective, offer flexible schedule and repeatable for your study purpose.

Read this article: Cheap and Best Online 35 Contact Hour Training options to find out more on some of the quality training options available online.

PMP Certification Application Process

PMP Application Process

In the PMP application, along with the proof of your education and 35 contact hours you have submit professional experience details. For the experience you quote, you are required to mention your supervisor who can confirm your experience. So, before you go online and submit the application, be ready with your project management experience documented. Keep your supervisor informed about your application. PMI may contact them for the verification.

Once you have this information, go online and submit the application. You need to create an account in the PMI Website to fill the online application. You can count a week for the application preparation phase.

Here is the outline of the PMP exam application process.

  1. Become a PMI member. This is not mandatory. But, by becoming a PMI member you will save USD 150.00 in your exam fee. The membership costs only USD 129.00. The membership comes with a free, personalized digital version of the PMBOK Guide current edition.
  2. Start filling in that application online. Make sure you describe your project management experience accurately. Once you start, you have up to 90 days to complete the application and submit.
  3. Once submitted, the PMI will review the application and approve it. It could take up to five business days to get the PM approval. Once approved you are eligible to schedule the exam.

Scheduling the PMP Exam

Yes, I strongly suggest that you schedule the exam BEFORE you start preparing for the exam. This sets a clear goal during your preparation. But, how do you know when to schedule?, Well, it depends. Typical preparation time for a PMP Certification exam is between 3-6 months. So, based on your other commitments estimate the time you need and add about 20% buffer to cover unknowns. Based on this decide on the exam date and just schedule it. If something should drastically go wrong, you can reschedule it. But certainly, don’t schedule the exam just to reschedule later!

You need to pay the PMP exam fee before you can schedule the exam. Make the Payment. You can use any credit card to pay the PMP exam fee through PMI website. The exam fee is USD 405.00 for PMI members and USD 555.00 for non PMI members.

Once you make the payment, one of two things could happen.

  1. PMI will accept the application & payment and issue to code to schedule the exam. Once you have the code from the PMI, you can visit www.prometric.com/PMI to schedule your PMP exam. You have one year to schedule the exam, once your application is approved and the payment is processed.
  2. PMI will trigger an audit on your PMP application. Read further to know all about handling PMP application audit.

Fear Factor: What If My PMP Application Picked for Audit?

PMP Application Audit

A lot of PMP aspirants are afraid that their application may be audited. You need to understand the following key points regarding PMP application audit.

  • Auditing your PMP application doesn’t mean that PMI is suspecting your eligibility
  • The audit trigger doesn’t mean you haven’t submitted complete application
  • Selection of applications for audit is completely random.
  • Yes, your application getting picked for the audit is a possibility!

But, there is nothing to be afraid of. I can confidently say that because my PMP application was picked up for audit, and I cleared it without any issues and later passed my PMP exam. I have written a detailed article on how to clear PMP application audit and you can check it out too.


Study Smart and Pass PMP Exam

Let us accept it, PMP exam is not an easy exam. Taking it light will only end up in failure. However, as professionals, we have our day jobs which could extend beyond work hours also. Many of us have family commitments too. What do we do? Well, study smart, not hard!

PMP Exam Study Tips

Before you begin, you should have the end in mind. Three key aspects you must know before you start: WHAT, HOW & WHEN. Without this you will end up juggling with bundle of books, spending countless hours and not getting the expected result.

  • WHAT: Have a clear idea on what to study. You must select PMBOK Guide, training materials, practice exams and simulator you would be using.
  • HOW: You should have a plan on how to cover the scope of this preparation. For example read PMBOK Guide, followed by another book and then take a full length exam etc.
  • WHEN: Your study plan must have a clear timeline and also a target date to take the exam.

Based on my exam preparation and lessons learned I have written a detailed article with crucial tips for your PMP exam preparation. You can read it here: 10 Secret Tips to Study Smart and Pass PMP Exam.


Master the Art of Answering PMP Exam Questions

When all is said and done, what matters is your ability to understand and answer the PMP exam questions. This is the part you should master through your study. There are 200 questions in the exam, to be answered in four hours. The questions come in variety of flavors, such as:

  • Straight forward questions based on PMBOK Guide
  • Derived questions based on facts in PMBOK Guide
  • PMP formula questions
  • Situational questions with lengthy alternatives

Each type of question has to be handled in its own way. You need to systematically break down the questions, answers provided and make an intelligent choice. Hence I have covered them in detail in separate articles linked below.

Handle PMP Exam Like a Pro

No matter how hard/smart you study, unless you get it right in the exam, you can’t become a PMP. This is where it gets a bit tricky. PMP exam is a four hour long exam and you have to answer 200 questions.

You are allowed to take as many breaks as you can, but the clock doesn’t stop.

When you first enter the exam hall and start looking at the questions, you may go blank and feel you don’t recall anything you studied.

If you end up spending long time in first few questions, that may put you in a panic situation and you may feel that you won’t be able to complete all the questions.

Well, don’t worry. You can handle these four hours beautifully and come out with flying colors. All you need to do is to follow some basic rules in the exam room.

Read more about effectively handling the PMP Exam here: How to Handle the PMP Exam Like a Pro




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