How Do I Pass the PMP Exam?

Top tips from a PMP expert about how to pass the notoriously difficult PMP exam you first (or next) time.

What is the best way to prepare for the PMP exam?

The best way to prepare typically consists of a mix of strategies, including:

  • Exam Prep Courses. For many test-takers, preparation can feel overwhelming. Finding the right exam prep course can give you access to all these strategies in one place, with a Coach who can ensure you stay on track.
  • Exam Simulators. We recommend that those studying for the PMP do between 800-1000 practice exam questions prior to taking the test. You’ll want to be scoring consistently above 80% to know for sure that you’re ready to pass the exam.
  • Reading. Most people find it important to read the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition and the PMI Agile Practice Guide at least once.
  • Prep Books. Prep books or flashcard products can be helpful in understanding and memorizing core content.
  • Study Groups. Working with other PMP aspirants to study the material can be helpful and make the studying process more fun.


Learn more about the course with a proven track record that includes all of the elements necessary for success here.

How long does it take to prepare for the PMP exam?

Most PMP-seekers will need 30-90 days to prepare for the exam. The duration depends on the hours of effort you’re able to put in each week, given your other commitments. It’s a good rule of thumb to treat your PMP® project like a small part-time job (at least 5-10 hours a week).

What is the PMBOK® Guide?

The PMBOK®  Guide is a PMI publication updated every three years or so. It identifies a subset of principles, processes, tools, and techniques that are generally recognized as good practice across many industries and sectors.

Besides the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition, what else do I need to read for the exam?

Since over half of the exam covers Agile content, we recommend that you also read the PMI Agile Practice Guide and the Scrum Guide, a short document that specifically outlines the Scrum framework. Outside of these source documents, we also recommend you pick up a copy of The 50 PMP Exam Questions Everyone Gets Wrong by Cornelius Fitchner, creator of the most respected PMP Exam simulator on the market. (We like it so much we include it as part of our comprehensive PMP Exam Prep program.)

Do I need to know any math or formulas for the exam?

Yes, there are a few formulas that you should know for the exam. However, there are relatively few of them, and they are simple to learn. Most people say that the formula questions are some of the easiest because they have straightforward answers. The most difficult questions on the exam are situational, where you must use your best judgment to choose between two or three equally attractive (or unattractive) answers.

Should I take a PMP exam prep course?

It’s definitely possible to study for the exam (and pass) without taking an exam prep course. That said, it’s much more difficult. Here are the key challenges you’ll need to address if you go down the self-study path:


  1. Putting together your study material and study plan. Unfortunately, neither the Exam Content Outline nor the PMBOK® Guide provide a clear “table of contents” you can use to study for the exam. Self-studiers usually purchase one or more exam prep books to build a study plan.
  2. Finding explainer resources. Most PMP seekers will run into several concepts that they don’t understand at first. You’ll need to find trusted resources (usually more than one) to ensure you understand everything you’re studying.
  3. Collecting exam simulations or practice questions. This one is by far the toughest since so many products online are poor quality and/or not updated to the new exam content outline. Our favorite is this PMP Exam Simulator by OSP International.
  4. Getting your 35 contact hours. Even if you don’t take a PMP exam prep course, you will need to find 35 hours of classroom (in-person or online) instruction in project management to be eligible to take the exam.
  5. Maintaining energy and commitment. Studying for this exam can be a slog, even for very motivated people. If you are studying without personal support (like a study group or instructor), you’ll need to have a plan for staying focused and committed.


These challenges are why many people choose to leverage PMP exam prep courses. These courses typically count for your 35 education contact hours, include live instruction on everything you need to know, and provide vetted practice questions.

What is the best PMP Exam prep book?

In terms of a comprehensive exam prep textbook, Rita Mulcahy’s  test prep book is the most popular and credible on the market. It’s worth reading, especially for the practice questions which are included.

Our favorite prep book is The 50 PMP Exam Questions Everyone Gets Wrong by Cornelius Fitchner. While it’s not a comprehensive overview of the exam content, it’s a great way to test your knowledge. Plus, it contains some really useful exam-taking tips at the back.

What is the best simulated exam to pass the PMP?

We’ve tested a TON of exam prep simulators and gathered lots of feedback about which ones are closest to the real thing.  The winner, hands down, is the PMP Exam Simulator by OSP International. It includes over 2,000 practice exam questions, including five complete exams. Every question includes full-answer explanations.

This product has been on the market for a long time and has a great reputation. We think the questions are slightly more difficult than the ones on the real exam, but that’s a good thing. We like this so much, we wish we had created it…so we did the next best thing. We included it in our exam prep course.

What is a good study plan for the exam?

We recommend that you begin by inventorying your knowledge. Take a practice quiz or exam and note both your overall performance and the topics you found most challenging. Next, shore up your knowledge by reading key sources for the exam (including but not limited to the PMBOK® Guide and Agile Practice Guide) or taking an exam prep course. Lastly, you’ll want to do LOTS OF PRACTICE QUESTIONS.

How many PMP sample exam questions should I answer before taking the exam?

Most people need to do between 800-1000 practice questions before taking the test. But you should also consistently score over 80% on practice exams before you take the real thing. Some people find that means they need to do well over 1,000 questions to be successful.

How should I manage my time while taking the PMP exam?

Time management begins with every practice test you take. Try to maintain a pace of one minute per question, except on very long ones. It’s also really important that you simulate the real exam by doing long sets of questions as you approach test day (i.e., 50-100 at a time.) This will help develop resistance to fatigue.

During the exam, make liberal use of the “mark question” feature. If a question is taking too long, mark it and move on. Do a first pass of the easier questions, and then come back to ones that could be time sucks.

How do I know that I'm ready to tak the PMP exam?

You should be consistently scoring 80% or higher on practice exams on longer quizzes (i.e., quizzes over 50 questions).


Pass Your PMP® Exam In 3 Weeks With Our PMP® Exam Prep Course.