# PMP Certification: How do I pass the exam at the first attempt?

This article stresses the importance of looking at the questions from a PMBOK perspective to get a high score and highlights an approach to pass the exam.

I usually contribute towards project management groups in various social sites, blogs and forums. As a certified PMP, I try to share my knowledge and experience to help the enthusiastic guys to pass the exam. Most of the candidates in those groups post questions such as “where can I find the sample exam questions for free?  I’m taking the exam next week, any tips from the group; where can I find the material for free, Are the questions tough etc”. Most of the responders share their experience and provide encouraging input to help them. When I looked the exam tips related queries, I could see several folks responding “Yeah. You need to read the questions and the answers carefully. You need to remember the Earned value formulas” etc to share their experience.

When we look at the exam tips from the participants, they are all right. We need to read the questions carefully to see the “odd man” out. We need to read the answers carefully to make sure we select the best answer for the questions. We need to remember or even write down the Earned Value formulas. But we are missing one more important piece of information. That is looking at the questions & answers from a PMBOK perspective. Let me explain now. Let us take a closer look at the below 3 sample PMP questions which I have written for you.

Q1: You are a project manager for a software firm. You are performing Risk planning. For your project, the information gathering techniques you use in the Risk Identification process include all of the following except:

A. Brainstorming, B. Delphi technique, C. Interviewing, D. Checklists

The answer is option D –Checklists. You can easily find the answer if you have gone through the PMBOK guide for one or two times. Not a big deal. Now let us look at the second question.

Q2: In probability theory, what is the probability that if you roll two dice you will have at least one 6?

A. 1/3, B. 11/36, C. 1/36, D. 1/6

The answer is option B- 11/36. This is a matter of applying the probability rule of addition.  You can do it easily if you have gone through the mathematics part of PMBOK including Earned Value formulas. Not a big deal. Now let us look at the third question.

Q3: You are a project manager for ABC Inc, a Fortune 500 company. Your company uses standard software development life cycle (for example, analysis, planning, development, testing and implementation). Your organization reviews and approves all the major deliverables before the next phase begins. What is the process called? Choose the best answer.

A. Stage gate, B. Phase review, C. Milestone review, D. GO/NO-GO review

What is the correct answer for this question? Your company may call it as a GO/NO-GO review meeting. Few companies may call it as a Phase review meeting. Few others may call it as a stage gate meeting. My current employer calls this as a Phase review phase review meeting. But what is the best answer PMI is expecting you to select. PMI wants the exam takers to select “Stage gate” as the right answer regardless of whatever you follow in your organization. This is called the PMBOK way of answering. My advice to the exam takers is to think the answers to the questions from a PMBOK standpoint when they select the best option for questions. Also, I would like to suggest the below approach for exam takers to pass the exam at the first attempt.

a) Become a member of PMI, b) Read the PMBOK guide twice or thrice, c) use  free materials available on the web to understand the topics better, d) form a study group or join a group, e) Enroll in a PMP prep course which is convenient for you, f)take mock up exam until you feel comfortable, g) schedule to take the exam within a couple of weeks after completing the prep course, h) use the PMBOK approach of answering the questions on the exam.

I’m sure you will pass the exam.  Good Luck!

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