Passing the PMP® Exam on the first try

How do you prepare for a 200-question, four-hour test that’s renown for being extremely difficult?

“You prepare thoroughly and you do it strategically,” says Ravi Kalluri, a senior manager for program management at Cisco Systems and certified SAFe program consultant.

Kalluri,  M.S.E.E., M.B.A., PMP® and Certified Scrum Master, is teaching the popular UCSC Silicon Valley Extension PMP® Examination Preparation: 35 Hour course. It’s a grueling exam that he remembers clearly, especially the challenge of sitting for hours to work out complex test case scenarios.

“You need both mental and physical stamina,” he says.

Fortunately, Kalluri passed the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam on his first try. He has gone on to build a successful career that has included directing project development at some of the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley.

“These days, PMP® certification is the minimum people look for,” Kalluri says. “It’s like having an M.D. for a doctor or a Ph.D. to be a professor. Everybody wants to pass on the first try and many schools promise that, but really it’s about the kind of preliminary work you’re willing to put into it and the materials and methods you choose to focus on.”

Putting in the Time

It takes time. The Project Management Institute projects that the most successful test takers study at least 35 hours prior to the exam. Even seasoned project managers need to hunker down and commit to a serious study schedule.

“It’s not a made-to-pass exam,” Kalluri says.

People are worried about all the material there is to learn, all the books and different preparatory methods. They’re worried about taking too long at the exam. Will they understand the scenario questions? How much studying is enough?

“I haven’t seen any certifications that are so complicated. They’re not straightforward questions.”

There are, however, a lot of things you can do to pass the exam on the first try. In PMP® Examination Preparation: 35 Hour, we will have exhaustive material review of exam source material, question banks, in-class quizzes and a big focus on case-based scenarios.

“We can’t claim this course will guarantee a first try pass,” Kalluri says. “Nobody can guarantee anything. But, the kind of preparation and the community of support we provide can put you in good position to pass the exam first try.”

The Benefit of a Curated Study Plan

Sure, you can study for the exam on your own or in one of the many study groups that abound, but typically the working professional appreciates the steady pacing and accountability found in a focused and affordable course.

The face-to-face interactions and peer pressure reinforces your strong study habits,” says Kalluri who is now gearing up to take the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner ACP exam. “People have busy schedules and don’t always have time to figure out what materials are needed. It really helps to have somebody else helping to keep the schedule and supplement what you’re already doing.

“Plus, my classes are fun. We can all do this in a collaborative, relaxed environment.”

Tips for Passing the PMP Exam on the First Try

  • Check the PMI website to confirm the current PMP Exam content outline and format.
  • Review the PMP handbook.
  • Practice with sample questions and scenarios.
  • Review A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
  • Enroll in a formal study course by a Registered Education Provider (such as UCSC Silicon Valley Extension).
  • Participate in a peer study group to collaborate on study methods.
  • Have a good night’s sleep.

Coming Changes to the PMP® Exam

The new PMI exam focuses on three new domains:

  • People– Emphasizing the skills and activities associated with effectively leading a project team
  • Process– Reinforcing the technical aspects of managing a project
  • Business Environment– Highlighting the connection between projects and organization strategy

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