I realize I am old (53) but I have been a project manager for over 30 years in the construction industry. I have taken the PMP exam twice and failed twice. I have invested 120 hours of study for the first attempt and 130 hours for the second attempt. I just cannot get into the-mindset of the PMP and the concept of having two questions correct but one more correct than the other is frustrating especially when neither of the answers really are what happens 'in the field'. All my study material refers to the 'real world' for instance the Rita Mulcahy text books and even the PMP prepcast which are both excellent resources both agree the void between being able to pass the exam and being able to perform as a project manager are poles apart. However, with so much time and experience invested I cannot separate my knowledge and experience from the 'PMP recognized' method of answering questions. I had thought that my practical knowledge and experience would be of benefit in the whole learning process but that has not been the case and I have struggled. I realize that there are students passing this exam every day and my sincere congratulations and admiration go out to them but as long as I live I really do not think I will be able to remember 'parrot fashion' all the inputs, outputs, tools and techniques for each knowledge area that the PMP seem to hold so much importance on, especially now there are over 600 of them in the 5th edition. It has been many years since I took a professional exam and techniques are extremely different these days but I would like to emphasize that throughout my studies I have understood and enjoyed all aspects of the content of the PMBOK. I have already improved my performance as a project manager with the knowledge I have gained throughout my studies and the content of your product is amazing. I have become a more knowledgeable and informed professional as a result of my study investment. I therefore think that there has been a massive benefit personally and that is why it is very disappointing to have to make the decision to terminate my studies without the success of passing the exam.
I reiterate that the positives I take away from my studies are immense but I think the PMP is such a broad arena including manufacturing etc that I intend to focus more specifically and find more studies focussed in the construction field.
I will miss the enthusiastic jolly delivery from Cornelius but I have to move on as I also have multi million construction projects to run.
Thank you for a great experience and best regards.
Your story is not unusual. The more seasoned a project manager is, the more difficult it is for them to pass their PMP Exam. I have seen this before, so you are in good company. All of them were high-performing PMs who were leading huge projects but they had trouble with the exam format and basically reported the same issues back.
However, I must commend you on seeing the value of going through the process of study and becoming even more knowledgeable than before. I don't think that any of my past students in your situation saw the "silver lining" as clearly as you do.
I am of course sorry for you that you did not make it, but I do understand (and respect!) your decision to move on.
Until Next Time,
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM
President, OSP International LLC
I am sorry to hear about your difficulty. I also struggled with the same problem. Before I began studying for the PMP Exam I was a project manager for over 12 years and therefore thought the PMP would be a breeze. Nothing was further from the truth. The most difficult thing for me was getting out of the "real" world and into the "PMI" world for the exam. It took months and it was not until I actually attended a 3-Day PMP Exam Prep Boot Camp where the instructor actually pointed out the difference between what he called "Blue” Sky versus "Green” Sky, that I understood and was able to study more effectively.
"Blue” Sky meant that if you look out the window on a sunny day, then the sky was "blue". This represented how things worked in the "real" world. But in order to effectively study for the PMP Exam, if the PMBOK Guide and PMI says the sky is "green", then "for the exam", the sky is "Green". This was extremely frustrating for me because although the PMBOK Guide represented best practices on "most" projects, "most" of the time; they did not represent how projects were necessarily managed in real life.
As I went through this 3-Day Boot Camp the instructor was knowledgeable enough to point out specific instances where something was "Green" Sky versus "Blue" Sky, in the PowerPoint slides, the course text book and in the PMP Exam Simulator questions at the end of each chapter in the course text book. After the third day (even though I did not like it), I resigned myself to the fact that "for the exam" I had to know the correct answers from the “Green” Sky perspective, and forget about the “Blue” Sky perspective. Believe me, this was no easy feat.
After the class (following my instructor’s further suggestions), I created my own flash cards for those concepts where “Green” Sky and “Blue” sky collided and memorized the “Green” Sky concepts. I realized that after passing the exam, it did not matter what the “Green” sky concepts dictated, since I was then back in the “real” “Blue” Sky world, now armed with the PMP credential.
I am an extreme case, because I actually ended up becoming a PMP Exam Instructor as a career. However, the “Green” Sky versus “Blue” Sky lesson is still the most important one I can ever teach my students. I am also old (53 too!) and took my PMP Exam in June of 2011. To this day, the “Green” Sky versus “Blue” sky lesson was always the most difficult lesson to learn, but was also the most important to learn to ensure PMP Exam success.
If you do decide to give it one more try, I hope that my story (and suggestions) will help you in your continuing PMP journey. I took my PMP Exam Prep Boot Camp through my PMI Chapter (
) using Andy's Crowe's Velociteach materials, and I am now teaching this class for my chapter. These are the only in-class materials that I will every use because they focus their information on one goal - Passing the PMP Exam.
Moderators: Yolanda Mabutas, Ahmed Amin, Scott Gillard, Mary Kathrine Padua, ERIC BARTLETT, Gail Freedman, Kevin Nason, Steven Mudrinich, PMP, Mark Wuenscher, PMP, John Wolverton, Tracy Shagnea, PMP, Jada Garrett
This interview with Simona Fallavollita (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the magnificient Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. We discuss the how, what, why and when of the changes that are coming to the PMP exam.