How to Pass the PMP Exam on Your Second Attempt

If you fail in your first attempt of the PMP exam, you don’t have to panic, because you still have two more attempts within one year of your eligibility period to retake the test.

Please note that you have to use these two re-attempts within one year of your eligibility period; failing to do so will restrict you from filling out the PMP exam application for one year. Even if you don’t attempt the exam or you failed in the remaining two attempts, you cannot sit for the test for the next year.

Before I outline the strategy for your next attempt, let me give you some key facts.

  • The fee for the second and third time will be less than the first-time test fee, and this fee will be different for PMI members and non-members.

The fee for the second or third-time re-examination for the computer-based test is as follows:

  • For a PMI Member: 275 USD
  • For a Non-Member: 375 USD

The fee for second or third-time re-examination for the paper-based test is as follows:

  • For a PMI Member: 150 USD
  • For a Non-Member: 300 USD

What Should You Do if You Failed the Test?

If you fail the PMP exam, you should start a self-audit.

On your test result, you will notice the process group your performance was poor. You only need to find the weak spot in those process groups and fill the knowledge gap.

In the PMP exam, you will see six types of questions, such as:

  • ITTO based questions
  • Definition based questions
  • Situation-based question
  • Formula-based questions
  • Interpretational questions
  • Questions on Professional and Social Responsibility

In most cases, I have noticed that most professionals score less on ITTO based questions because they find them very difficult to solve.

Other tough questions are mathematical, and questions based on situations.

If you scared of ITTO based questions, I suggest you read the PMBOK Guide to visualize the flow of processes in the project. Never try to memorize ITTO; it is tough to memorize and doing so will diminish the purpose of these ITTOs. PMI wants you to understand the process flow, not to memorize them.

Now we come to the mathematical questions. Many professionals find these questions very difficult, and they don’t study them. They think it is a waste of time and they can compensate for these questions by scoring more in other areas.

This is a wrong approach, which you must avoid. If you understand the concept, mathematical questions are straightforward to solve and can help you get high score in the exam. Try to practice mathematical questions and understand each formula used in the calculation.

Regarding situational-based questions, professionals think the way they will perform while doing their job. Note that you are attempting the PMP exam, and during this exam, you have to think the way a PMI thinks. You have to assume you are working in an ideal world and everything should follow the PMBOK Guide standard.

You have to be careful while solving the situation-based questions.

For instance, assuming you are going to attend a meeting; you are a little late, and you see a red-light signal; nobody is there, and you do not see anyone on the road. What will you do?

The options are as follows:

  • Since no one is there, you will break the signal
  • You will not break the signal
  • Only this time you will break the signal, not again
  • Since you are going for an important meeting, you can break the signal

In the question above, you may think that since you are going for an important meeting and nobody is there, you can break the signal. However, this is incorrect, because you cannot break the law in any case.

Likewise, there will be many questions in the PMI, and to answer those questions you need to sync your thinking with the PMI.

Strategy to Prepare for the Exam

There is no need to panic if you fail the PMP exam. Take a rest for one or two days, develop your strategy, and restart your preparation.

I recommend you read any two good PMP exam reference books and try one good PMP exam simulator.

I have seen many professionals complaining that they got more than 70% on one online test, 80% on another test and so on; still, they failed the exam. Please note there is no guarantee that you will pass the real test by passing an online practice test with a good score.

While reviewing some of these tests, I realized that they lacked the ITTO based questions, which is a major portion of questions in the real exam. I believe this is due to copyright issues. So, you passed the test without attempting many ITTO based questions, which can give you false confidence.

Therefore, to pass the exam you must understand the ITTO based questions, and you have to go through the PMBOK Guide to do this. Read the PMBOK Guide as many times as you can.


I know many people who failed the exam become nervous, frightened, and demoralized; they feel they cannot pass the exam again. This is not true; you can pass the exam on your next attempt if you fail on your first attempt.

Passing the PMP exam is not like winning a race where only one candidate wins. There are more than half a million PMP certified professionals who have passed the exam; therefore, there is no reason you cannot pass the exam as well. Do not be frightened if you fail the exam on your first or second attempt; Find your mistakes and knowledge gaps, make a plan to correct the mistakes and fill the knowledge gaps, and follow this plan. I hope you pass the exam.

I wish you good luck on your next attempt. If you need any help from me, you can ask through the comment section. I will be happy to help.