What You Need to Know About PMP® Exam Boot Camps

Boot camps in general provide an accelerated path through the study process. Interruptions are the bane of those preparing for the exam. Things that seriously get in the way of quality study time include phone calls, email and friends making unexpected last-minute plans.

Boot camps address this issue as well as another one:

  1. The lack of a strict and firm time commitment to study typically results in missed schedules, whether for study or exams. Boot camps head these interruptions off at the pass.
  2. In any case, having made a financial investment in your boot camp with a firm schedule is quite effective in assuring that your nose remains close to the grindstone.

Boot camps are also specifically designed to provide all of the 35 contact hours of project management training that are a prerequisite for the examination. They typically last three to five days, making for quite a concentrated study period.

Paying the Bill

Some boot camps guarantee you your money back if you don’t make a passing grade on the test. Naturally, some restrictions apply. Generally, of course, the boot camp provider insists on being paid in advance. You may variously be required to take the exam multiple times within a certain time frame and fail on all tries in order to receive a refund. As pointed out elsewhere on this site, PMI charges a re-examination fee on each re-examination session.

It isn’t uncommon for employers to offer to pay for your boot camp, so long as you pass. That means, of course, that you must front the money, and the boot camp fees can be quite substantial. Employers generally consider this to be an incentive to strengthen your dedication to the process, and from their viewpoints it could be considered only fair that they pay only if you make a passing grade.

Cost and Duration

As mentioned, boot camps generally range from three to five days in duration. Costs can run from hundreds of dollars to six or seven thousand dollars. Clearly, due diligence in making an intelligent choice is important.

Pass Rates

Many providers publish an examination pass rate, and these can be as high as 99 percent. This rate normally excludes those who did not take the exam and those for whom no information is available. Money-back guarantees are not unusual. You should read the fine print, of course. Pass rates overall for the general population of exam takers are far lower. Of course, these statistics are skewed by the significant number of test-takers who followed ill-advised preparation steps.

Questions to Research About the Provider

Considering the substantial investment of time and money required, it’s important to understand what your boot camp operator is and isn’t providing, and it falls all over the map, so to speak. Here’s a checklist. Few providers will be answer satisfactorily in every case.

  • Is the provider a Registered Education Provider with PMI? (This is not a requirement but a useful quality indicator.)
  • What is the total of class fees and additional cost components?
  • Is a copy of the PMBOK® Guide provided as part of the course?
  • Is the boot camp guaranteed to run, regardless of enrollment? This question can be important if you must make extensive arrangements in order to attend. Having a class canceled only a day or two before the scheduled meeting date can be disruptive to both your personal and professional life.
  • Is there a money-back guarantee? Is so, under what precise conditions?
  • Will the provider pay your re-examination fee for a second attempt? (This is not a common feature.)
  • If you don’t pass, are you eligible to attend the same class again in the future at no cost?
  • Who is the instructor, and what is his/her experience in project management?
  • What prep materials are used? Often, these will be home-grown, but there are several good class material sets that you can find evaluations on.
  • Is lunch included?
  • Is post-class tutoring and support available? If so, what are the avenues and conditions?
  • If the boot camp is a physical class, is it supplemented by online resources?
  • How many days and how many total hours does the boot camp class include?
  • Is there GI Bill eligibility?
  • Is there an option of completing the class coverage partially in one class and then finishing in another, or online?
  • How many practice questions are provided in total? (You’ll want lots of these, and you want them to be highly situational and realistic relative to the exam itself.)
  • Are the class materials provided in advance?

Before and After You Attend Boot Camp

Preparing for the exam in three to five days within one single week is, it goes without saying, an intense experience. In fact, and to be realistic, considerable outside study will be required. Here are a few tips. Be aware that it is not reasonable to assume that boot camp alone will make your first exam try a success.

  • Read the PMBOK Guide at least twice, prior to boot camp. On each successive reading, more and more concepts will become clearer to you. You will get the best value from the boot camp if it’s not your first exposure to the material. In fact, it should be toward the end of your extended study period.
  • Make notes of the material you have the most difficulty understanding, so you can emphasize those portions later and have your questions ready for class. You should ask questions, but it’s also important that you balance your questions with respect for the time of other students.
  • Schedule your examination no more than a couple of weeks after boot camp, if you have been preparing in advance of the camp. If not, you may be forced to study longer after the camp.

Some Notable Boot Camps

There is a substantial number of boot camps available. Let’s look at and analyze just a few as preparation for your own more exhaustive research to pick your ultimate provider. This review should not be taken, and is not meant, as an endorsement of those that are included. In addition, the reviews do not purport to include all relevant information regarding the vendors. It’s important that you use this information only as a springboard for your own evaluation process.

Intense School PMP® Boot Camp

This organization has a novel twist, allowing students to take the exam on the fifth day of class. This twist does highlight a factor that should be considered. As the vendor points out, after class students do forget class material, making the statement that “studies show that adults will forget almost 50 percent of what they learn in a class within two weeks of the end of a class.” The critical point is whether the student is ready to take the examination by the fifth day. It should be pointed out that it is an option, not a requirement. Traditionally, the view has been that more practice is required. For many, the boot camp lays a framework for understanding that is progressively added to and refined in the following weeks. Claiming a pass rate of more than 93 percent, the vendor provides no statistic as to the success rate for those taking the exam on the fifth day. The vendor does make the statement that “If for some reason you do not pass, we will purchase a 2nd exam voucher for you to re-test.” This guarantee applies only once.

A session is scheduled during most weeks at a location in the United States. Besides the live boot camps, a variety of other options are available, including self-paced streaming only, self-paced with online mentoring, and live online classrooms.

Cheetah Learning

Cheetah, a PMP Registered Education Provider, also offers both online and in-classroom options, claiming a 10-year audited PMP exam pass rate of 98 percent using student-reported information. Offering both classroom and online sessions, Cheetah camps are five days in length. In addition to nationwide classes in the United States, classes are available in Canada, Europe, Mexico and South America, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and India.


Velociteach conducts boot camps in locations across the country and online via GotoMeeting. These camps are four days in duration and include assistance in completing the examination application.

The text used, in addition to the PMBOK Guide, is Velociteach CEO Andy Crowe’s The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try. Included is a six-month subscription to the company’s e-learning online system called In-Site, 250 flash cards, 5 audio CDs, a quick reference guide, a work book with 11 memory device aids, and over 1,800 practice exam questions. Access to a 1-hour pre-class webinar with an instructor prior to class is available to students. There is a 100% money-back guarantee if you fail the exam three times within one year. Post-class support is provided. Access is provided to InSite before class to allow advance study. Past winner of PMI’s Provider of the Year award in Continuing Education.

Group onsite training can be held over 3 or 4 days with discounted pricing.

PMsimplify Weekend Camps

For those with a busy schedule, weekend camps can be quite attractive, and you should look for one in your area. PMsimplify‘s sessions are held in the District of Columbia/Northern Virginia, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Orlando, Charlotte, Miami, Raleigh-Durham, Tampa and Phoenix areas. The primary areas are Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Phoenix, with other areas served on demand. The money-back guarantee comes in two flavors, depending on whether you have a Premium or Deluxe package. Both cover the re-examination fee and under certain conditions, a $300 refund.

Global Knowledge Camps

Global Knowledge conducts both online virtual and physical classroom boot camps. Physical classroom sessions are conducted nationwide in the United States. Virtual classroom sessions are scheduled for convenience across multiple time zones to serve a global audience. Flash cards, reference charts and more than 600 practice questions are included. For those desiring more flexible instruction times, their Guided PMP Exam Prep course serves that purpose with a blend of self-paced and instructor-led virtual training over a three-month period.


PMStudy claims a 98.7 percent overall success rate for its boot camp students. Their four-day classroom sessions cost $1,999 per student. Forty contact hours are included. Also included is a month of access to a study course on PMstudy.com which provides study guides, chapter tests and four full-length simulated practice tests. PMstudy says the boot camp has enrolled more than 100,000 students worldwide from 167 countries.

Off Peak Training

Off Peak‘s well-reputed 35-hour training session is provided as four- or five-day sessions, as well as weekend and night formats. They point out that a full assessment exam is provided on the last day with metric assessment of results in exam sections. This is a feature you should look for in any provider.

PMTI Boot Camps

PMTI‘s four-day classes are offered not only in the United States, but also in Canada, India, Australia, UAE/Dubai and Singapore. Their 100-percent money-back guarantee requires that you take the exam within 14 days of class completion. In the event of exam failure, they pay the re-examination fee, analyze your results and offer custom coaching. On a second failure, the same deal applies. In the unlikely event of a third failure, they will refund your tuition, less the exam fees.

Taking the exam within 14 days of class completion is actually good practice, but your overall study schedule may then require advance study. In that case, it’s not advisable to make the class your first introduction to the subject matter. The company claims 100-percent success on the second try. Keep in mind that these statistics, across all vendors, are dependent on student reporting for accuracy.

The class materials include more than 650 practice questions, breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks during classroom sessions and 45 PDUs. Keep in mind that PDUs can be claimed only after you already have at least one PMI credential awarded.

Training Camp Boot Camps

Training Camp provides the usual 35 contact hours of exam prep training and 600 practice questions. A nice feature is that they have the flexibility to allow you to complete the training live online, in public classrooms or even at your location (for an extra fee). Breakfast and lunch are included, and a hotel stay and round-trip airfare can be optionally included in the price.

Best of Success to You in Your Selection and Training Process

Here, we have only listed a few example providers to get your started in your exam-prep provider decision-making process. Again, this discussion is not intended as, nor should it be interpreted as, an endorsement of the quality of any provider.