Category: Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam using A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)

What to Do If you Fail PMP® Exam Twice

project manager fail pmp examOK, I really hope that you will NEVER have to make use of this week's PMP Exam tip: If you fail your PMP Exam twice, then consider waiting a bit instead of taking it for a third time right away. Here's why:

Once your PMP Exam application is approved, you are given one year and three attempts to pass. In case you fail all of these three attempts, you need to wait one year before filing another application to try again.

So... If we assume a worst-case scenario of you failing the exam twice within ten months, this means that you now have two months and one more attempt left to pass your exam. But think about it: you are already nervous, studying to pass the exam has become a real chore, and you may question your ability to pass the exam. Add to this your personal life, your workload that may come in the way of your studies, and you can see that your third attempt might not go well either. And if you really fail a third time, then you'll have to wait one year to reapply.

So why not give yourself a clean slate?

Instead of going headfirst through this wall and failing for the third time, simply let your PMP Exam application expire, apply again and give yourself another year and 3 fresh attempts. Granted, doing this is more expensive (PMI members pay $275 for a re-examination vs. $405 for a second, completely new application), but it removes the pressure of having to cram for your 3rd attempt in the short time left, as well as the mandatory 1-year wait after the failed 3rd attempt.

Of course, this is a very personal choice. The timing of your first two attempts must be considered as well. If you take suitable measures to pass on your third attempt, or if your two failed attempts happen early on in your eligibility period, then it might be better for you to go and try for a 3rd time right away. But if you're unsure about your readiness or if time is running out, then letting your application expire is a valid choice.

I also recommend the PM Podcast episode “Six Reasons Why You May Have Failed The PMP Exam Three Times”, where I interviewed Kevin Reilly. We discuss the reasons for failure and provide our recommendations as to what you can do about it. Here is the link to the interview recording:


Training for Project Management Professional (PMP)®, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®, and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®