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Everything You Need To Know About The PMP Certification Exam – The Facts, Myths, And PMP Passing Score

By July 20, 2022No Comments

Everything You Need To Know About The PMP Certification Exam – The Facts, Myths, and Getting a PMP Passing Score

The Project Management Professional certification is an incredibly beneficial asset to possess for every project manager. Because of its recognized value across the industry, it is also difficult to attain.

Some of the benefits that come along with being a PMP certified professional can include:

  • Better pay in comparison to project managers without these additional credentials
  • The chance to interact with colleagues and organizations all over the world
  • The opportunity to connect with a larger number of professionals from the same industry

After you decide you want to embark on the journey of getting your PMP certificate, you need to ensure that you’ve completed all of the necessary requirements before taking the exam. Once you’ve completed all prerequisites, as well as train, practice, review, study and prepare – you are ready to move forward to taking the exam.

But mentioned, taking the PMP exam is no walk in the park, and you should do all that you can to ensure you are fully prepared before jumping in to take the PMP exam.

In this article, we will review everything you need to know about the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. We will share with you, how much you need to study, which study methods are best, and also, what qualifies as a passing score for the PMP.

Who Can Pass The PMP, And How?

Something you need to know before we get into the exam itself, is that the Project Management Institute doesn’t disclose a lot of information about the PMP, including, but not limited to, the number of people that are able to get certified on their 1st attempt. The PMI provides their own training, resources and materials, however they will not disclose how they select the questions and what specific criteria they use to determine a passing rate.

This quote from the Project Management Institute sums it up pretty well,

“The PMP exam passing score for all PMI credential examinations is determined by sound psychometric analysis. PMI uses subject matter experts -project professionals from around the world and many different disciplines- to determine how many questions you must answer correctly to pass the exam. Each scored question in the exam is worth one point, and your final score is calculated by totaling the points you have earned on the exam. The number of questions you answer correctly places you within one of the performance rating categories you see in the report.”

So basically, a definitive number for the PMP passing score from the Project Management Institute does not actually exist. Since every applicant gets a different batch of questions, with a varying range of difficulty, trying to find the magic number is close to impossible.

Because not every exam has the same questions and some of them can be relatively simple or easy in comparison to others, it would be unfair to expect them all to have the same value.

Many have tried before to work out the system and figure out how to calculate the PMP exam passing score, to no avail. Still, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you’re properly prepared for the PMP exam, and to help increase your chances of passing the PMP exam on the first try.

Some Facts About The PMP Certification Exam

  • It has one hundred and eighty questions
  • The first stage consists of a tutorial
  • You get a survey after it, which you can complete in fifteen minutes
  • The time you are allotted to finish the exam is close to four hours, with no official breaks
  • If you want, you can take a small break, but the time is going to be deducted from the allotted four hours
  • There is a random number of multiple selection questions
  • It has a specific amount of questions where you need to add the right word or number

When Should I Apply To Take the PMP Certification Exam?

It is suggested that once a candidate reaches a high score on their Project Management Professional sample exam of 70% to 80%, it’s time for them to apply and reserve their spot to take the PMP Certification exam.

The Project Manager’s Institute’s PMBOK does provide some info on the type of questions that will appear in the PMP exam, split into five core groups, in which you’ll need to show proficiency. Of these five core groups, the PMI state that the split of questions are as followed:

  • Business Environment – 8% of PMP Certification Exam Questions
  • Processes – 50% of PMP Certification Exam Questions
  • People – 42% of PMP Certification Exam Questions

How Much Do We Know About The PMP Pass Rate?

In 2004, the third edition of the PMBOK Guide was released. The Project Management Professional exam was updated in July of the next year to correspond with the third version of it. Around those months, the Project Management Institute pushed the pass rate to an incredible eighty-one percent.

The percentage of applicants that are able to pass the Project Management Professional certification exam on their 1st try has declined considerably as the pass rate has increased. By December of 2004, the Project Management Institute moved fast and reduced the PMP test passing score to a manageable sixty-one percent.

Up until 2005, the Project Management Professional Certification Exam Handbook mentioned the sixty-one percent pass rate, until they suddenly stopped sharing any information about it.

Another change occurred in the last half of ‘07, when the Project Management Institute modified the results reported in the PMP certification exam passing score articles around this period. Moving away from %’s connected to domains, the Project Management Institute began using a different way to rate every domain according to proficiency levels, meaning the number you scored on each category became obsolete when measuring pass rates and what the ideal score should be.

Some Myths About The PMP Certification Exam

PMP Exam Myth #1:

  • Sixty-one percent of applicants pass the Project Management Professional certification exam.

As we talked about earlier, we have no conclusive data about the number of people who currently pass the PMP exam. It has been over 15 years since the Project Management Institute shared anything in regard to the PMP passing rate.

Due to the psychometric nature of the exam, whether you pass it or not depends entirely on the questions you receive, and the type of answers you give. Hypothetically, everyone who gets an easier set of questions could be made to believe that the Project Management Professional exam pass rate is actually much larger than they thought. At the same time, the people who get the other side of the coin would very likely believe the exact opposite.

PMP Exam Myth #2: You will not pass the exam if you get a below proficient rating in any category.

Whether you get below proficient or not on any section of the exam will not affect the result in the way that you think. It is simply a myth.

The Project Management Professional test examines a person’s thorough achievement on the PMP exam across all areas, not just one. Furthermore, the value of each question in every particular section may differ significantly. As a result, just though you scored below competent in one category doesn’t mean you won’t be passing.

However, if you have low performance in areas where the questions count more towards the overall percentage, you have a greater probability of failing the PMP exam.

PMP Exam Myth #3: All questions are worth the same

The value assigned to each question is completely different from one another. Because the pass percentage for the Project Management Professional certification exam varies depending on the type of questions assigned to your test, the harder questions will carry more weight than any of the simpler ones. Taking the time to go through a large range of different example questions is definitely the most recommended method to develop your intuition of what will be complicated for you, and what will be easier.

PMP Exam Myth #4: Variation between the rate scores does not exist

We do not have any definitive data about that. The number of myths that surround the PMP certification exam is pretty high! Just like the sixty-one percent passing rate, this one is most likely face. As we have mentioned before, because of the variation in the difficulty levels and the nature of the test, there isn’t a single number that applies to every PMP candidate.

Just think about the fact that there are people who were able to get certified with a fifty-five percentage score, and others have gotten a sixty-five and weren’t able to make it to the pass rate.

What Information Do You Get On Your Exam Score Report?

The exam score report is less about numbers and more about an overall review of what areas of opportunity you had. If you are expecting an actual number or even your percentage, you will be disappointed, as you won’t find it here.

The things you will find on your Project Management Professional Exam Score Report are:

  • Whether you passed the exam or not
  • The Proficient, Moderately Proficient, or Below Proficient scores you got on each section

The way you get your results depends on which option you go for. If you decide on the computer-based test, you are going to receive a copy of your results, along with the report.

The people who take the paper-based test have to wait a considerable length of time to be informed whether they passed or not. Checking your report and results will be possible after 6 to 8 weeks.

How To Make The Best Out Of Your Project Management Professional Exam Score Report

Trying to guess the winning combination for each proficiency level on the Project Management Professional exam hasn’t been achieved so far. All we can do is speculate, and try our best to match up some of the data that we have gotten from a number of different score reports.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Once you reach a proficiency level in 5 domains you will for sure fulfill the Project Management Professional pass rate.
  • Achieving moderate proficiency in all sections will give you a fair chance at reaching the Project Management Professional pass rate.
  • Getting a proficiency level in 3 domains and below proficient in 2 more will make it very likely that you will get to the Project Management Professional pass rate.
  • Reaching moderately proficient in 4 domains plus below proficient in 1 more, you have a chance of passing.
  • Hitting below proficient in 3 domains makes you less likely to pass, whether you do well in the other domains or not.
  • At the same time, if you get moderately proficient in 3 domains and below in another 2, you will most likely not pass.
  • Having below proficiency in +3 domains means you won’t be reaching the Project Management Professional pass rate.

We hope this information has helped you to understand the overall scope, changes and plans you should make in order to adequately study for the exam. Keep in mind, it is highly encouraged to take a PMP Training Course in order to fully prepare. While you, of course, are able to study on your own, a professional training course is likely to know the most up-to-date changes, tips, tricks (and even myths!), which can help you be comfortable that you’ve studied the correct information in the correct way. With proper planning, you should be set to pass the PMP exam on the first try!

Wishing you luck!

Read Our Reviews

Brain Sensei is rated 4.7 out of 5.0 stars based on 99 review(s).

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Great simulator.

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Great Course, the year long access and customer service is top notch. I would recommend Brain Sensei to anyone looking to prepare for their PMP exam.

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It was actually really great. Made some very dry materials much easier to absorb. Passed the PMP exam with flying colors on my first attempt.

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This course had good reviews online from previous clients so I decided to try this one. Relevant course materials and great timed practice tests allowed me to ace the actual certification exam on my first attempt. I highly recommend this course.

- PL

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This is a great tool to support the PMBOK Guide. Quizzes, presentations, and videos help break down the massive amount of information that comes with the PMBOK, truly helping you prepare for the actual exam. Great way to get your 35 hours classroom credit!

- Penney

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I think the course is good. I wouldn't mind a few more videos and audible in the trainings. I do a lot do reading. I bought the PMBOK book on the side and sometimes have trouble connect the class to the PMBOK book. I do enjoy your format. I am learning. Personally I need buckle down and spend more time on it.

- Anthony

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Brain Sensei helped me to prepare for and pass the PMP exam on the first try. I used many exam simulators and this one was by far the most similar to the exam. Im so happy I found Brain Sensei and chose to prepare with them!

- Alex Jane

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I am a refugee from Ukraine. I applied to Brain Sensei with a request to provide me with a scholarship so that I could prove my skills and abilities for Europe where I am now due to the invasion of my country. The Brain Sensei team promptly responded to my request and provided the opportunity to study in their PMP course. I am very grateful to the Brain Sensei team and am happy to start learning! Thank you very much!

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Easy to navigate the platform

- Michael

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I really enjoyed the Brain Sensei self learning course as well as the virtual course with the instructor. I was able to pass the PMP with above target ratings for every section. I am so pleased with how easy and efficient the courses were to navigate, and how simply the PMI approach was placed into every day situations. I would highly recommend this course to everyone wanting to either freshen up on their Project skills or to master the PMP.

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Very prepared for the PMP!

- Brenda

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Hi Folks, good course there. More info/exercises on EV and formulas would be really helpful. Thank you very much.

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I passed my test on the first try! Excellent learning tool. There were some questions that I found to be confusing or contradictory with the answers, so I sent those to the Brain Sensei team. They always responded quickly, even on the weekend! Some adjustments are being made because of my feedback. I appreciate their care and that they take the time to support during the studying period.

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Perfect program for me. I did it at my own pace, and passed the exam with flying colors.

- Mary Garnett

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I'm very satisfied with the Brain Sensei PMP Exam Preparation Course. All 8 Modules are very well structured and detailed. This course is best for those who would like to learn at their own pace. Of course, lots of studying is needed (PMBOOK and other agile-related books and material). The customer service team is exceptional, very supportive. I had an immediate response to whatever I needed.

- PS

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This is a great course!!!!

- Darrius Cooley

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Great training tool! I learned a lot and realized how much training I needed to learn. Now to take my exam!

- Michelle

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Engaging, self-pacing course that contains accurate content. Prepared me well for the PMP exam which I passed on my first attempt. This course is best for those who would like to learn at their own pace. For example, I completed it over the span of 2 and a half months.

- Matthew

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The course was thorough and the practice exams enhanced my learning. However, I am having a hard time receiving my PDU credit for taking the course.

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The story approach was good but I feel like I wasn't ready for some of the questions on the site.

- Barbara

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very good but needs to be more updated

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I loved the PMP prep course and the level of learning from this. I am hoping this learning to be translated in PMP certification as well :) Another thing to mention is the very responsive support and quickest issue resolution. I had an issue with subscription expiry and they resolved it very swiftly. Thanks!

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phenomenal training opportunity that provides a variety of learning styles for all.

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Great way to prepare for the PMP Exam!

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Excellent test prep for the exam, though some more practice tests on agile would be beneficial

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It is often hard to figure out what the right answer was on a quiz or practice exam. Frequently, the correct answer is buried in a lot of text about what options are wrong.

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The content was spot on and I am much more confident in understanding the processes and how everything works together now. (The) course is great; however, the customer service team is Exceptional! Very responsive and thorough, and at all times; and when I had some technical difficulties (or questions) they stuck with me through resolution. Highly recommended program and company.

- Daniel R

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Great customer support. Wish more Agile modules were available.

- John

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helpful focus, detailed testing.

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Very thorough training. By taking this course and reviewing some free online study materials, I was able to hit above target in every category.

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Thanks for all the support.

- Mohansingh

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Good Value.

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Need to do project planning

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Passed on the first try!

- Tanya

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Good courses, lots of text and reading. Not as many videos or interactive pieces that I was expecting. And some misspelled words.

- Bevin

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It was great!

- Heide

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The Course documents should remain open for longer than 6 months, given that PMI gives you 365 days to prepare for exam. Also, the option to extend visibility for the course documents, costs almost a 5th of the course, but opens up the docs for just 30 more days. Propose to extend this to 90 days at the very least.

- Vasily

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I'm very satisfied with the Brain Sensei PMP Exam Preparation Course. All 8 Modules are very well structured and detailed. I believe that practice exams included in the course helped me a lot with the preparation for my PMP Exam. I appreciate Brain Sensei for their amazing course and for the awesome service. They responded to all my requests immediately. Thanks. Highly recommended.

- Helen Borimsky

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The format of the prep-course is great overall and a great alternative to reading the PMBOK. Barring a few minor glitches here and there, the flow of information ensures that concepts are well understood not only from the point of examination but to the point of application in day to day professional activities. Explanations provided in the answers of prep exams (apart from the 1st one) are also a key to understanding the thought process to be applied. With the focus being on Agile approaches from 2021, the information in the course seemed adequate to cover the concepts. All the Best to all aspirants.

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- محسن گلستانی

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Studied BrainSensei for 11 days and passed. Succinct and highly informational chapters. The 4 practice exams are marginally more difficult then the PMP. Borderline impossible to fail the PMP if you pass this course.

- Sarmad(Sam)

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Great course! They break down all concepts in a very clear and interactive way, that doesn't put you to sleep. Would recommend to anyone who is looking to pass the PMP exam with flying colors.

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اشحنولي

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Your course, quizzes at the end of most modules and practice exams truly challenged me. I definitely derived the value and knowledge I was looking for in preparation for taking the PMP Certification Test. In particular, I appreciated the explanations that popped-up in the tests after an answer was submitted - very educational and helpful to my learning/understanding the material and concepts better. Some areas that could be improved (and some of this is nit-picking) include: * Some of the grammar and overall sentence structures, particularly in the latest set of practice exams, needs to be cleaned-up. Some were missing 'of', 'for, or had an extra 'an' in the narrative - got confusing at times. * In the practice exams, I'd like to see shorter sentences rather than the flurry of 'and' and 'or' conjunctions that made reading the sentences go on forever (had to read them multiple times to truly understand their meaning). That said, I enjoyed the overall online course taking experience and thank you for accommodating my requested time extensions. Best regards, Scott Conn

- Scott Conn

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Liked it. Need access for longer though.

- Jerome

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What I like best about Brain Sensei is the interactive nature of the course. I think this material would be numbing if delivered as simple lectures with slides. This method is an improvement on that. On the other hand, an in-person course, while more expensive, would likely be even more useful if you have the funds and the time. I haven't taken the PMP exam yet, so I can't comment on how useful the practice tests are.

- James

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Great

- Yennyfer

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The Brain Sensei PMP program is a wonderful program that condenses the PMBOK into digestible and retainable bites leveraging the power of story telling. If you're looking for a program that will get you your credit hours but also help establish a foundation of PMI knowledge this is the program for you!

- Kenny Dalen

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Passed first attempt

- Lee

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Truly the best course in town if you wish to pass the PMP exam on the first try. I love the idea of playing the role of the samurai and practice your project management skill in her shoes. And not to forget, the generous amount of practice exam gave me just the right dose of confidence before taking the real one. Highly recommended

- Minh Vo

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The course was great, though I found a lot of parts hard to comprehend. I feel a lot more prepared and better skilled to manage projects in my career. Thanks, Brain Sensei.

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The BrainSensei PMP preparation course provided me with all the material required to be ready for the exam. It is well structured, explains the concepts clearly, and most importantly, provides ample training questions through the four mock exams and assessment questions at the end of each module. I passed the exam with Above Target in all sections on the first attempt.

- Gael Riethmuller

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Overall I really liked this learning course. It was very helpful and allowed me to be well prepared for the exam. The 2nd and 3rd practice exam are great to give you real example questions and help prepare you for what to expect. BrainSensei's customer service was the best. I had to delay taking my test due to COVID and they extended my membership for free. They went above and beyond my expectation which was great. Only changes I would recommend is to add 1 or 2 more practice exams like the 2nd and 3rd exam and get rid of the agile practice exam. This is not a real focus of the test and therefore is not really applicable in my opinion.

- Ronnie

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BrainSensei developed a great learning method to prepare for the PMP certification exam. Their customer service is always very professional, fast, spot on and dedicated to your success. I recommend them.

- G. Buchs

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I've sent several emails to BrainSensei (one of them not so nice, but the rest were okay) and the team has always been so polite in answering the questions. I'm a very straight-forward person and don't like the PMI-ism type questions because they seem like 'gotchas' or traps, and this is not how I manage my team. I took the Master of Project course (which was garbage) then failed the PMP exam. Throughout the PMP exam I felt so out of touch. Even with the first practice exam on BrainSensei I felt out of place, but I am not getting the hang of things. I hope to pass the exam on the second attempt! The brain sensei experience has been *miles* ahead of the Master of Project garbage. Brain Sensei should be proud of both their product and of their team! I love getting replies to my concerns so quickly. Nice work :) !!!

- Joseph Mather

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This course was great. it laid a great foundation for the PMP exam.

- Marc Vazquez

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very useful

- Dan

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I was very pleased with the preparation provided for the PMP certification. I went through the materials twice and passed the exam on the first try. A couple of the questions need to be polished up, but very good training overall.

- Glen

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Very easy to work with and quality product.

- Joan

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The storyline provides excellent examples that provide context for understanding the core concepts and processes

- Ann

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Good self paced learning tool

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Outstanding job

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This is by far the best way to prepare yourself for the PMP exam. The material is presented in a unique and engaging way that makes learning it easy and also fun! The company behind this course is also very professional and responsive. Keep up the great work!

- Amir Afifi

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I have studied with other programs and I didn’t feel prepared. After a short time with Brain Sensei, I had the confidence to succeed on exam day, which I did on the first try after studying with Brain Sensei. It was worth every penny.

- Andrew Grady

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Great program

- Ashley

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Course is made for people who are already grounded in the material, not for someone that needs all the basics. Was budget friendly and OK content.

- Andrew

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Brain Sensei is great tool to have in the study arsenal while preparing for the PMP exam.

- Derek

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I really enjoyed the modules and content offered by Brain Sensei! I passed the PMP Exam on the first try and would recommend this course to anyone who is looking for a great PMP Exam Prep.

- Delfin Gallegos

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Overall layout is good, but there are some quality issues. Progress isn't always saved across all devices and progress gets lost. Some small spelling mistakes. I loved the practical storyline...

- Riaan

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Passed my PMP on first attempt using Brain Sensei Prep course.

- Mohammad Ali

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Quick and helpful response. Thanks!!

- Laura

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Absolutely Fantastic learning software. Highly recommend it! Very well thought out and creative. Really enjoyed my study time. Excellent mock tests and mock exams. So so helpful. Thank you Brain Sensei Team for being part of my PMP journey!

- Tracy

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Need improvement in presenting more relevant real exam type questions. The practice exams are too simple and easy and do not prepare you for the real exam. Otherwise, good concept presenting material

- Amir

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The prep materials provided plenty of content which prepared me well for the PMP exam. The questions were packed with information.

- Cameron

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Teaches the PMP in a solid manner, some things you need to know as a potential consumer: -The Samurai backstory is extremely short, and didn’t really assist me with recall in any in-depth way. It only gave broad brush-strokes as to what each phase entailed. -MOST of what was on the test was covered in the lessons, however if I had zero real prior PM knowledge prior to the test, I would have failed. -The first practice test forces you, as the student to actually read into the PMBOK, which was a benefit in the long run as it assisted me with quickly referencing what I needed to find. -The course will likely cover wave tops and subjects, forcing me to self-study for a week before my test... not a bad deal all things considered. -Brain Sensei’s course has incorporated Agile into one of their practice tests, and this test IS mandatory. This may seem strange, and I didn’t get a satisfactory reason why I needed to take a purely Agile test when I only wanted to take the PMP, for anyone else in this scenario, this is the reason: In June, PMI is revamping the PMP test to include Agile as a significant portion of the PMP. Brain Sensei is just ahead of the curve trying to get students prepared... fret not. Their customer service is extremely responsive and does take care of their members. My program had a couple bugs, and the customer service fixed my problems within 24 hours. All in all... it was absolutely worth the money for me.

- Kevin

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I am very impressed with this learning system. The content is laid out in a way that will make any learner understand all the process groups and ITTOs in order to understand Project management and be equipped to excel in the test. The learning system is engaging and fun at the same time. It's very different than other learning material which is composed mostly of videos. Some improvements are needed, but in my opinion Brain Sensei is great value for money

- said durra

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At first, I was attracted to Brain Sensei training for their original learning program using a Samurai's story. And indeed it made the whole learning experience funnier - so easier. I felt like the Samurai. Then, I was amazed by The Brain Sensei Team's reactivity and help when I reached out through contact@brainsensei.com Their support was constantly reliable and efficient. I appreciated their professionalism and didn't feel on my own. At last, the course and the practice exams proved to be efficient since I passed the PMP exam - with 'Above Targe't in all Domains. So thank you so much Brain Sensei Team !! Charlene

- Charlene LU

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Overall very good. Got stuck a few times trying to find resources which I should have downloaded the before starting the program. Customer service has been great.

- Jonathan Williams

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SO far I am thoroughly enjoying the Brain Sensei PMP prep course. I have taken a Project management class as a part of my degree which I recently completed and project management has always interested me. I find the course to be educational and easy to follow. I am grateful that this course has been designed in such a way that is simple to understand all of the complexities in project management and that allows me to study at my own pace.

- Eric Browne

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The content is good and easy to understand

- Glenn

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This review is based on completing all course work through module 102. The story and interactive nature of the course are helpful for learning and relating the material. It would be nice to have the page numbers to the PMBOK guide where references are made to it. Other information that will be helpful, are the explanations to the practice questions at the end of each module. These are provided only after immediately answering the questions. Having these available in the score summary from the 'history' tab will be helpful to refresh why the answer is correct and other options are not.

- Rohan Punit

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Overall I would rate this course an 8/10. I liked how there were exams towards the end of every module and I felt that it was very useful having it laid out in different scenarios. I rate it only an 8/10 as I had some glitch/software issues and lost my progress resulting in me having to re-do modules/exams multiple times. All in all, that was maybe useful in the end as it was a way for me study or 're-learn' the course material. Thank you!

- Nikki Cordy

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Clear and precise explanations of how things work. I was never lost navigating the course.

- Gary Nicol

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A smart approach to present the information which makes it fun and engaging while at the same time preparing for the PMP exam. Brain Sensei differentiates itself from other PMP exam preps in that it delivers the knowledge through the use of storytelling technique. I recommend this course because it will help you pass your PMP exam on the first try.

- Jamal

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Loved the story telling and the practice exams. I felt very prepared when the actual exam came around.

- Josh

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One of a kind training that was truly engaging!

- Claire

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Excellent course for preparing for the PMP exam in a fun and engaging way! The practice questions resemble the actual questions on the exam making it a completely worthwhile experience.

- Rossetta

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I passed the PMP exam after taking Brain Sensei's Online PMP Certification Exam Prep. The practice exam questions were so similar to the questions that appeared on the exam. On exam day, when I sat down to take the test and started running through the questions I felt so relieved! The practice exams are also timed so you get more comfortable with the exam experience and feel better prepared when you sit down to take the test. The other differentiator was the video content throughout the modules. The concepts are taught through a story of a young samurai defending her kingdom. This will probably be the only PMP prep course where you can learn all the knowledge areas and feudal Japan at the same time. I'd recommend this course not just because of the videos but because it helped me pass my exam on the first try.

- Jackie

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Good course, but a few grammatical errors with how some questions were worded.

- Sonia

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It was good!

- Sergei

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Loved the unique approach and it still had all the info I'd expect from a full PMP exam prep course. Very responsive on questions too.

- Chris