What is the guarantee, I will pass the PMP Exam?

-- Vivek Prakash

Many people who enquire for PMP Workshop, often ask “what is the guarantee, I will pass the PMP Exam?” I am observing that numbers of people asking this question is increasing. As more and more people are asking this question, I thought of putting a perspective on this matter.

With the people who ask this question, my conversation normally goes like this…

Raj (not the real name): Vivek, there are institutes who are giving me the guarantee that by attending their program, I will pass the exam. Can you give me the same guarantee?

Vivek: Raj, we do not give any such guarantee. For us guarantee means your efforts and our support. If this is there, you will pass the exam.

Raj: Can you give me guarantee?

Vivek: Let’s understand it this way. When you are enquiring about PMP, it means you are graduate and have some experience. When you took admission in high school, did school give you any guarantee that you would pass? Did your school give this guarantee when you took admission in 12th? Did you get such guarantee in graduation? Did your company give you guarantee that you would perform when they offered you a position?

Raj: No.

Vivek: But you pass all these exams and also performing till today therefore you are enquiring about PMP exam. When you never rely on guarantee as of now and have a successful career then why do you need guarantee now? Are you feeling less confident? I don’t think so but the question why are you asking for guarantee is important.

I would like to leave this conversation here. Let’s see from where the concept of guarantee has come and why people are asking for it. In today’s world everybody is hard pressed with time and want to achieve things quickly. Aim is to acquire a certification that will give them edge over others instead of acquiring skills and learning to implement them at work. Many time people are confused and understand that acquiring skills and acquiring certification is same.

I have met senior managers who say that their project manager has cleared the PMP Exam but there is no significant difference in understanding or implementation at work. People’s behavior and understanding do not change overnight and it will be unfair to expect from a PM to be a different person today just because he has passed PMP exam yesterday.

Preparing for the exam takes some time and is an important phase. What I will be after passing PMP Exam largely depends upon how I take my preparation phase. If my intention is just to pass the exam, my focus will be on the things that will help me clearing the exam than things that help me understanding project management and its implementation. I will focus on some tips provide by different people, some tricks, some common trends and practice as many questions as possible even if I don’t understand them. This is where guarantee come from. No one can give guarantee that you would understand the concepts except you your self but tips, tricks, some common trends and extensive practice of exam like questions can give you guarantee to pass the exam. You will acquire the certification however will fail to acquire the knowledge. Guarantee will take you towards rote learning style. I am not saying that looking at tips, tricks, trends and practicing question are crimes but focusing on these things without understanding the concepts & principles will give you only PMP Certification, you will not be able to perform at par.

We must remember that PMP credentials will take us to job-interview or your organization can sell you to the client more easily but then expectations will be high and you have to perform at par. PMP certification will take you to the stage but you will perform there with your knowledge and skills. People who only focused on passing the exam during their preparation phase will not be able to sustain on the stage.

Few days ago, Mr. Narayan Murthy made a comment on quality of IITian and blames it to coaching classes. What role these coaching classes are playing in degrading the quality of IITians. In fact this is true for all competitive exams either it is IIT or NIT or regional colleges or any other competitive exams. Coaching classes business runs on how many students get selected. The focus is on getting the student clear the exam any how instead of building knowledge which will help student to pass the exam naturally. Basically encouraging the rote learning and extensive practice of similar questions which kills the creativity and exhaust the student even before he/she enters the institute.

The person who has focused on gaining knowledge, understanding concepts, relating the principles with practice on the ground, understanding implantation challenges during his/her preparation, will naturally pass the exam and will also perform after the exam. Here also you need to look at some tips and tricks but this will not be a focus area but help in performing better at exam. Evaluation tools like an exam have some limitations and they tests things beyond knowledge and common sense. Therefore you need to take help of some tips and memorize some stuff.

Preparing for PMP Exam is a process where you undergo training and devote hours to concentrate on project management. Your focus should be to comprehend the concepts, gain knowledge and compare the same with ground practices to understand difference and challenges in implantation. If that happens, you have a good understanding of various situations to tick the right answer and pass the exam naturally. Yes you need to practice questions but to test your knowledge in different situations and correcting the course.

Here I would like to state one example from one of my class. After Human Resource Management chapters, when we were reviewing the chapter by exercising some situational questions, one of the participants answered most of questions correctly. I asked him how he was able to do so. He told me (and the rest of the class) , “Vivek, when we were going through the chapter, you kept coming up again and again on Win-Win situations and kept insisting that win-win is the only stable arrangement. Win-lose, lose-win or lose-lose ultimately lead to lose-lose situation. So whenever I was confused, I checked which option was a win-win situation and I ticked that.” This is the power of understanding the concepts. Now irrespective of what the question is and how it is framed, there is a high probability that he will tick the right answer and there is a very high changes that we will practice this principles back at his desk making the project environment more productive and healthy.

Guarantee will lead you towards rote learning mode which may give you quick success but in the long term it will pull you back. Use your preparation time for developing knowledge and skills in project management so that you not only perform better at exam but all perform better as PMP.

Wish you all the best.