Three Mantras to ensure you don't fail PMP® Certification Exam a Second Time

So you failed your PMP® Exam. What next? Find out how you can make sure your PMP® Exam retake is not disastrous.

Preparing for a PMP® Certification exam can be not only a burden on our cognitive functioning but also a nerve-wracking challenge that can upset our mind. Remembering the formulae and getting a firm hold on the concepts are tasks more difficult than they seem. Being out of school for several years, you might have forgotten the art of preparing for an exam.

Uncertainty about the examination content can also lead you to hesitate. Hours of active studying, weeks of endless practice and days of sheer perseverance can go in vain when you become entirely blank on the day of the examination – and that can be very frustrating.

That is what exactly happens to so many aspiring Project managers, and needless to say, they end up crestfallen because they failed the exam that they sacrificed so much. It is unfortunate that this often causes some of them to lose hope – or worse – completely give up on their dreams. Some of them regret the rush that led them to take the exam before the pattern changed, while others regret placing too much or too little emphasis on the mathematical aspects of PMP®.

But as we all know, regretting doesn’t help. What you need to do is bounce back in your next attempt. Don’t stop now, because the gap might affect your momentum and erode your current knowledge of the material unless you continue studying.

So what do you do to make sure your retake doesn’t turn out to be a failure? We give you three simple, solid mantras.

#1 – “I Shall Not Rely on the Pmbok® Guide Alone.”

The outcome -whether success or failure- depends upon the nature and quality of the study material. While the PMBOK® Guide is your key guide, you have to ensure you explore material beyond it, as well as look at active participation and meticulous practice.

  • Read books: When preparing for professional examinations, books are perhaps your best friends. Books are the output of the efforts of a large number of experts and domain specialists from across the world and represent the entire current, up-to-date body of knowledge collated from various experts. As paid content, books also serve as sources of distilled professional advice and key principles.
  • Utilize all available resources: There are plenty of PMP® exam resources that can help you ace the, which we have mentioned in one of our previous articles.
  • Attend seminars: Be a typical Project Management geek. Stay on the constant lookout for webinars you can attend, and participate in as many discussion forums as you can. Exchanging ideas can help you in ways you can never imagine, even when it comes to a PMP® exam retake.
  • Practice to perfection: You might have practiced several times in your previous attempt. But you also might have missed out on applying the best practices and deducing key insights. You’ve got to make sure that your scores cross 85% in each practice test – and that you ace at least four out of six domains. Only then you are truly ready for the big day.

#2 – “I Shall Not Study Haphazardly.”

Like you've learned in your school days, having a plan and schedule for every little thing you do not only adds discipline to your daily life but also helps you perform better in every task. There are tons of study plans and schedules you can follow to pass the PMP® exam. Decide your strengths and weaknesses, and develop a plan around the areas you need to focus on.

Here Are a Few Things to Keep in Mind While Making a Study Plan

  • Brush up your strong areas: Confident about a few domains? Think you’ve aced them anyway? Even then, you need to polish your knowledge before the next attempt. You can, however, spend lesser time on these areas, so you have enough time to focus on your weaknesses.
  • Consider professional training: Whether you're a seasoned, experienced Project Manager or are a wide-eyed aspirant just starting out, there can be absolutely no substitute for professional training. Popular professional PMP® courses that train you for the PMP® certification exam offer hundreds of hours of rigorous coaching by industry experts and exposure to live industry projects, so you master Project Management.
  • Transform your weaknesses: Instead of being frightened of your flaws and shortcomings, work hard and work smart, so that you can transform them into something you can tame easily. Of course, trying to master those knowledge areas might be unrealistic, but you can still try! What matters is passing, and spend enough time until your weaknesses no more scare you.
  • Follow the question pattern: PMPro has discovered that PMP® questions are allocated according to the time a project manager usually spends on each aspect of the project lifecycle:
  1. Initiation: 13%
  2. Planning: 24%
  3. Executing: 30%
  4. Monitoring and Controlling: 25%
  5. Closing: 8%
  • Include breaks: You don’t need to work 24x7, as our customer support team! Make sure your study plan is intensive, but be certain that it does not drain you out. The last thing you want is to be mentally exhausted because that can lead to a lot of forgetting. Do not waste your efforts.
Do you want to gauge your PMP® preparation? Try answering this PMP® Practice Prep Questions and assess yourself!

#3 – “I shall breathe.”

Yes, you read that right. Often, aspiring Project managers forget to breathe. The stress is at a peak, and the pressure is too much to take. You may lose sleep, and even if you do take a nap, you might be jolted right out of it with a nightmare about failure. This may lead you to skip meals, burn the midnight oil, avoid social gatherings, and stay an arm’s distance from any leisurely activity. Do not be so hard on yourself.

Here Are a Few Techniques That Can Help You Relax

  • Take deep breaths: This technique explains the mantra. Deep breathes, calms the mind and brings a fresh awareness to the mind and the body, while short, quick breaths increase nervousness.
  • Meditate: Skeptics may disagree because meditation requires complete silencing of the mind. However, it rejuvenates the senses, and clears the mind of unnecessary thoughts, getting you all set to study again.
  • Pamper yourself: Visit salons and spas, and refresh your skin. Massages stimulate healthy blood circulation and thus soothe the mind and the body at once!
  • Cultivate an active social life: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. That isn’t just a clichéd proverb, but an absolute truth. Do not overwork yourself. Take breaks and meet people.
  • Eat healthily, sleep well: Proper eating and sleeping habits are crucial not only right before the exam but throughout the learning and preparation process. Eat light, but nutritious food; and get as much sleep as you need.

And that about sums it up. What have you been doing wrong? Do you have any other suggestions to make? Tell us in the comments below!

PMP® and PMI® are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

About the Author

Kamakshi KamathKamakshi Kamath

Kamakshi Kamath is a Knowledge Analyst at Simplilearn and writes on Project Management, Salesforce, TOGAF and Digital Marketing. With a degree in Journalism, Psychology and English Literature, Kamakshi is passionate about all things digital, and has been involved in digital marketing for premium brands such as The Oberoi Hotels and Resorts.

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  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.