Untold Secrets of PMP Exam Preparation

Santanu Deb recently cleared the PMP exam ( PMP number : 1861389)  with flying colors! Here he shares his experience and highlights of him PMP Exam Preparation  that are not discussed very often.

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Project Management Professional (PMP) is test of your understanding of project management concepts and application of project management knowledge. It is NOT a test of how well one can memorize or how fast one can read or write.
There are a lot of blogs, videos and online material that describe different aspects of PMP exam preparation and application process. Here I am describing a few which are not found easily.


PMP Application Audit Process:

Yes, My profile got selected for an Audit. It’s a random process. The moment I paid my fees, the next page showed a message that my application has been selected for Audit. It took 5-6 business days to get the extra work done (and yes 5-6 business days). My application got selected for an audit on Friday evening, prepared all the paperwork during the weekend, got the signatures on Monday and dispatched the courier on Tuesday. The Courier reached US on Thursday evening (US time) and it was opened on Friday midday and cleared within an hour’s time. So in total 5-6 business days!

Audit is random and does not take much time. Be careful with the courier company as that is where the maximum time is spent.


Test of Understanding:

Understanding requires you to get deeper knowledge and put things in perspective. Developing an understanding will require you to read and gather knowledge from multiple sources. For one topic, one source may be good while for another topic, another source may be awesome. I have seen and felt that youtube is the best place to go when things seem to annoy much. Whenever you do not understand a topic (Project lifecycle or Tuckerman Ladder model or Salience model or whatever), just try to get more information from youtube. Videos are easier and quicker to understand. This is one of the things which may take most of your PMP prep time. But the positive side of developing an understanding is that once it is developed, it is not easily forgotten. So concentrate on understanding the basics of the topic rather than trying to cram.

Understanding the concepts is the key to answering the situational questions.


Memorizing and Speed:

Both of these aspects are not as important as the previous one but a fair amount of thought and time also needs to be spent here. Though the things to memorize may not be huge but still there are things which one has to memorize. Formulas, Names, Theories etc fall in this category. Just keep a separate list of things which need to be memorized and visit them frequently. This will keep them live in your mind. Speed in reading is also necessary because you have to answer 200 questions in 240 minutes and the exam has questions which are lengthy (8-10 lines average). Keep track of time when you attend mocks and decide if you need to exclusively focus energy on your reading skills.

Regularly rehearse the memorizing topics; Speed of reading and understanding questions is significant.


Mock Tests:

Mock tests are an absolute necessity for passing the PMP exam. They will give you an understanding of what “kind” of questions is asked in the exam. The exam would not ask you direct questions or expect direct answers from you. PMI expects you to apprehend a situation and then choose the best solution out of the options provided. There are numerous mocks available which you can take for free. Take care to validate and analyze the mistakes after every mock. A mock without post exam analysis is not worth the time and effort spent on it.

Do as many mocks as you can and doing a post exam analysis is a must.


Impact of a Good Training Course:

A good training course is also important for preparing for the exam. One would need 35 contact hours to become eligible for appearing in the exam and the easiest way to get those contact hours is through a training course. I would highly recommend NOT taking the training course as the first step towards PMP exam preparation. PMP syllabus is huge and since all of those would be covered in 4-5 full day sessions. If one does not have any idea of PMP course material, he/she may get demotivated easily. I would recommend doing some self-study first and enroll for the course. While doing the self-study, try to get familiar with PMP course content, try to study and read about various topics, terms and theories to create the basic foundation. Once you have the foundation ready, you can enroll for the course and be able to get maximum benefits out of it.

Enroll for training only after doing some self-study and use the training to understand the critical topics and secure 35 Contact hours.


Scheduling of Exam:

The Prometric website is a very user friendly and good website. Scheduling the exam should take not more than 5 mins. Be ready with the Zip code of the city where you want to appear for the exam. One should be able to get the slot for an exam within the next two business days but this is not guaranteed. I would recommend scheduling the exam when you are ready to appear for the real exam. Work towards a tentative date and schedule it just few days before it. Rescheduling is expensive and should be avoided.

Scheduling of exam should be done just few days before the target date. Rescheduling exam is expensive and should be avoided.


Pre-Exam Day:

I believe this is the most important day. Staying calm and keeping anxiety under control is the key. I did not appear for any test nor did I study rigorously on this day. I went for an early morning walk with my mother, dropped my daughter to school, spent a quiet day at office (which is when I went through my flash cards and notes), picked my daughter back from school, had an awesome afternoon nap, went to a local mall with the family, ate an early dinner and retired early for the day. Before sleeping, I gathered all the documents (appointment confirmation, passport, driving direction to the venue etc) and kept them in the bag.

Don’t get worried about the exam. Make sure that you have a good sleep so that you are fresh the next day.


Exam Day:

This is the D-Day. Remain calm and keep anxiety at bay. Do something that keep your mind cool. I engaged myself in listening to Buddhist chants while driving to the venue. Once there, I had coffee at Barista and immediately after that showed up at the Prometric center. I started my exam earlier than the scheduled time which is such an awesome thing. Yes, in Prometric, if you reach early and wish to start early you can do so provided they have vacant cubicles available.

Be relaxed and generous towards time. Do NOT hurry while going to the venue. The extra time can be utilized to either study or start the exam early.


What’s inside the Prometric center?

Prometric centers are highly professional environments. Multilevel checks at different steps by different people are done to avoid any malpractice. Lockers are available to store any valuables. The locker can ONLY fit a laptop bag so be careful on what you might want to store. You will only carry an Original ID and locker key inside; nothing else. You will be given 2 pencils, 1 workbook and 1 calculator (if you want). You can ask for more stationary but you shall have to submit one to receive the other. The seats are not lavish but comfortable enough. Cameras are all over the seat. You have an option to use an ear muff headphone that will reduce any noise that might distract you. I recommend using it. Prometric staff takes rounds in the bay area and keep eye on your activities physically and via camera. Should you need any help, you are expected to raise your hand. Seeing it, one prometric personnel will come to you for assistance. You are not expected to leave you seat without company. Breaks are very expensive as they may take up to 10-15 mins of your time. Through frisking is done every time you go out and come in. Avoid wearing a lot of layers or pocketed clothes as all pockets are checked every time which take a lot of time.

Read the whole story; it might be of great help.

Passing Marks:

This is one of most confusion prone areas of PMP preparation. Different sources of information hint at different passing marks or grades. Passing score or grade for PMP examination is not disclosed by PMI. No one knows how many questions one needs to answer correctly to pass the exam. Even the passing grades are not clear. Many have an impression that getting 3 Moderately Proficient is sufficient for passing the exam but this is not true. I have seen results where 4 Moderately Proficient or 5 Moderately Proficient have failed the exam. Securing 75-80 percent on mock exams is a good indication that one may be prepared for taking the actual exam.

No one knows the minimum passing score for PMI PMP; securing 75-80% in mock exam is a good indication of exam readiness.

Post Exam:

Relax !! You have worked hard for the past few weeks and you deserve some bit of rest and relaxation. Prometric gives you a printed result sheet. The PMI certificate takes a few days to arrive at your mailing address.
Do not forget to thank those who have helped you in your PMP journey. Later you may also want to write your experience and strategy and publish it somewhere so that other PMP aspirants may benefit from them.

Say thanks to anyone you should and do share your lessons learnt with others.

PMP Lessons Learned: Ahirjoy Biswas., PMP

Hi All,

I am very happy to share with you all that today I have passed the PMP exam after 2.5 months of sincere effort. Except closing, got proficient (Above Average) in all areas, in closing I got moderately proficient (average). Here goes my PMP lessons learned story,

Initiation(D-Day- 90 – D-Day – 70)

Started with browsing internet for resources and very soon got overwhelmed by the information overload. However started with PMPrepCast by legendary Cornelius Fichtner.  Though I had gone many internal PM trainings and also lead up to 18 member teams, I was not sure whether those will be counted for 35 contact hours, so didn’t want to take any risk. More than the contact hours, the style of Mr. Cornelius motivated me a lot. I used my blackberry to listen to the PrepCast on my way to office and home. Applied for PMP and application was approved.

Planning (D-Day- 70 – D-Day – 60)

i.   Enrolled in few high quality groups like PMZilla, PMHub and DeepFriedBrain. I am sincerely thankful to all the excellent and kind people who have given valuable suggestions in these forums, those were real eye openers. I read a lot of lessons learnt, specially from those who have failed, hats-off to these brave-hearts who wanted to fight back again. I have read somewhere our life is not enough to learn from our own mistakes, so I tried to understand what I can plan better. I guess that’s what LESSON LEARNT are for J . Specially, Rajesh Nayar’s note from PMZilla was an invaluable gift!

ii.  I also enrolled for two good newsletters. Considering these are free, those were of high quality.



iii. Enrolled in yahoo groups, PMHUB@yahoogroups.com, PMPExamForum@yahoogroups.com

Execution (D-Day – 60 – D-Day – 30):

I started reading books now, the books that I have used are:

  1. Andy Crowe – Excellent for Initial Confidence Build Up. To the point.
  2. Rita Mulcahy – Bible for all PMP aspirants, I agree the tone is a bit negative, but who cares if you have such excellent tricks-trade, PMISMs and Situational questions.My technique was read a chapter for Andy Crowe and read the same from Rita to build on it.
  3. PMBOK – Read Only once – I know many people have told it is a bad idea, but I have got very few things extra here (like forecasting techniques etc.). But I think this book has too many negative publicity which Is not justified. I am not sure what people expect – a crime thriller? This is a standard written by experts mostly by volunteering, it is also a good reference, go through the glossary twice… you will notice few interesting definitions like Elapsed Time and Duration.

Monitoring and Controlling (D-Day – 30 – D-Day – 10):

Now it was the time for mock exams. I knew very well I have to work very hard here as this will make or break my PMP dreams. So I have started with free exams with the below sites,

http://www.pm-exam-simulator.com  3*30

Oliver 75 + 175

headfirst – 200

pmstudy  – 200

pmzilla  – 25

And few other sites which I will not mention here because very soon I realized those are not adding any value! Either those are very straight-forward or have a lot wrong answers. I needed process improvement 🙂

So, I started searching for good paid exam sites, after a little research.. my qualified seller list stands like – PMStudy, PMPerfect, PMExamSimulator (Cornelius) and Rita’s Fast Track. All these have very good reputation in market. But my selection criteria being the lowest price for the first try I went with PMStudy and PMPerfect. (Trust me, my fallback plan included buying for the other two if I had failed today :)).

I must say, mock exams(paid or not) really helped me a lot. You must appear for as many good exams as possible, those will clear your concepts. In real exam you will never get any question exactly same, but if you build on your mistakes, analyze why you are wrong, the final exam will be much easier.


I will also advice you to must mark those answers which you are guessing, as next time you may guess wrong!!!!

Also, you must make notes of your mistakes for ready reference which you can revise a day or two before the exam.

Closing (D-Day – 10 – D-Day):

I started revising the books, notes in last 10 days, and the skimmed through them again. Stopped appearing for any more exams, partly because I was getting bored and also didn’t want to loose my confidence. When you are ready, you are ready, it doesn’t matter if you get 75% or 85%, judging PMP preparedness based on percentage is not wise.

The day before the exam, I didn’t touch any book, saw some science-fiction movie and my all time favorite TV Serial – “Wonder Years” in amazon kindle. It was a great break.

On the day appeared in the exam hall 30 mins before with my passport (currently I am in USA). Here is the exam exp,

  1. Put the headphones on
  2. In initial 15 mins wrote down PMBOK – Pg -43 and all EV formulas
  3. Promised myself I will not get excited and skip an important word in a question or in an answer (which I had often done in mocks), will read each Q at least twice (Qs were not that wordy)
  4. Initial 30 Q was a bit confusing, I marked 14 of those, but gradually questions seem easier, there was a time I answered 40 consecutive Qs without marking anyone and that ws the time I became confident that I will pass J
  5.  Questions seem quiet easy to me.. trust me.. I am not exaggerating , if you read Rita cover to cover understanding the concepts and not just memorizing ITTOs and Practice so many questions you have to be familiar with the concepts, they can not create concepts out of the blue after all ;-), will somebody need to tell you there is a diff between crashing and fast-tracking/QA-QC/Scope-Statement and Charter? You should be confident enough to apply these concepts based on the situation given?
  6.  For the situational questions, the page-43 was really handy, you have to think where you are and you have to decide your action mostly based on the next logical process
  7. There were few questions on ITTO which I can easily answer, I have never memorized those, and I will advice nobody to do so, if you understand the process and TT why should you waste your time?
  8. Finished 200 Q in 2hr 40 mins, had gone through the marked Qs (around 35) in next 30 mins,
  9. Took a break and in last 40 mins again quickly browse through all Qs, this time I have changed around 7 answers, and I am sure most of those are for good.


Closure Report: 🙂

PMP is a tough but an interesting exam, but not scary at all. You need to have a good plan and discipline to follow the plan. May be you have to postpone some personal activities for few days. But the final outcome can give your career the needed boost. This should be enough motivation for you to prepare yourself for PMP. All the best.

PMP Lessons Learned:Aditya K Gupta., PMP


Lesson Learned:-
1) I read PMBOK 4th edition twice (The Bible)
2) I purchased PM-Precast and went through it once, it was a nice product and also got 35 contact hrs too 🙂
3) Apart from that I also read Rita Mulchay once, which was really helpful.
4) I completed free online simulator questions, as many as possible and scored above
70% in each one of them.  I suggest that please take online question based on PMBOK 4th
edition only. Do not waste time on old questions. I found pmhub the best one, as it sends
you the result with correct answers to your email ID.
The questions from various books were really helpful
1) I scheduled my exam just 4 days before and luckily I got the available slot which suits me.
2) I called the prometric center to confirm what facilities will be available to me during exam.
They were very co-operative and provided me every information, I needed.
3) Before entering to the exam I was provided with all necessary instruction and a 4 page sheet with 2 pencils.
4) Before starting exam there was 15 mins training, to let you know, how actual simulator works.
5) Before starting my exam I took another 5 mins to write down all the formulas on the sheet.
My suggestion is follow the same to avoid any confusion during exam. It helped me to relax a little bit,
because I don’t have recall the formulas when question arises.
6) After that I started my exam and in my mind I was sure that it is not to take much time.
So before answering any question I read it once then read the answers and then again the question.
It helped me to identify most appropriate answer before making my final choice.
7) I was well on schedule; I kept monitoring it after every 50 questions.
8) At the end I was left with 16 questions marked and 27 mins left to review. However during exam
I made sure that I answer all questions, even if I mark it.
9) During review I found that one of my question was not answered to first I answered that question.
10) Then I went for review of all the marked questions and changed my answers for 3-4 questions only,
rest of them were correct as per my understanding.
11) There only few (5-6) question for which I was not sure.
12) And finally I ended my exam when i was left with 15 mins of time and Hurray…
I cleared my exam with a congratulations message.
13) After that I took the survey that was meant for prometric center and its facilities.
14) Finally went outside where I was provided with the printed exam result and I left the center
with great satisfaction.
I hope this will help you in your preparation.
Thank you all for your all your support and resolving my doubts

PMP Lessons Learned: Vanathi., PMP


I passed my PMP exam yesterday (6th Sep). I had come across PMP in 2008 but kept it as my second priority due to my increased responsibilities in office and at home.

I started PMP exam preparation aggressively from 26th Jun 2010 with an aim to finish by 30th Sep.

2 key inputs I would like to highlight are

1. Read PMBOK thoroughly.

2. Follow your own reading style with confidence. The questions are designed to test your understanding. So you are the best person to judge which reading methodology works for you.

Below are my lessons learned



  1. This is an important and key point that I would like to share. Don’t get alarmed by the inputs like “Minimum preparation 3 months”, “Read minimum 3 times”, “Have to build skills to even understand the questions” etc. They are just guidelines. You must know your reading style, skill levels, methodology of study, etc. Just follow that. I somehow got influenced by the above comments and postponed months to take PMP
  2. You might be selected for audit when you apply for PMP exam. So provide the stakeholders whom you can reach easily to get endorsement. I did a mistake by putting someone in overseas. So the delay affected my PMP priority and schedule.
  3. If you delayed PMP exam for sometime, start with the planning stage. I followed a planning stage for PMP preparation to get my mood around the PMP exam. One of it is to register in this group
  4. Preparation Time taken – 6 complete weeks including my annual leave of one week. The rest of the 5 weeks were weekends and 3 hours of study everyday
  5. I followed cumulative approach (which means I skim through the previous chapters whenever I start a new chapter. Also, it helped me to relate the info in the previous chapters with the current one. E.g. any linkage, if so, what, how and when. If no linkage, why not) for my reading. Then I had a quick glance before I appear for my final exam
  6. PMBOK is the bible for PMP. You shouldn’t skip any in PMBOK.
  7. If you find PMBOK dry, just start with other books. Then you can come back to PMBOK. I read first 2 chapters in Rita and came back to PMBOK. After that, I continued with PMBOK and referred Rita only when I needed.
  8. The only other book I referred is Rita.  I purchased Rita hence it took a week to get. This is part of my planning stage
  9. In Rita book, I skipped the “Project Management Processes” when I first read as it was difficult to map out. I came back to read it after I complete all the remaining chapters. It just took an hour to complete it.
  10. Site used – www.pmroadtrip.com excellent site and it has almost everything for the exam. Free study material and questions.
  11. Question Bank Used – Pmstudy.com. Very close to exam style. I purchased their sample test (4 sets) as part of my planning. They have one free set in their site also
  12. Other Free Questions tried – Simplilearn, Head First PMP, pmroadtrip.com, Kim Heldman (From PMI site). My score was ranging from 72 – 93%.
  13. Preponed the exam first time ever in my life from Oct to Sep 6th as I felt that I was ready.



  1. When I read my first question, I was like “Is that simple?”. Yes. It’s true.
  2. Style and type of questions are similar (not the “SAME”) to pmstudy questions. So I was very comfortable
  3. 50% of the questions were straight forward. If you read PMBOK well, you must make all correct.
  4. I had to think twice before I answered remaining 50% questions. But I really liked the quality of those questions and appreciated how it triggers our thoughts. If you are analytical and know PMBOK / PMI-sm, you can get it without much difficulty. Lot of them are related to Point 6 given below
  5. You must know what’s proper English to answer some of the questions.
  6. Professional and Responsibility questions – Rita is correct as the questions are blended with the Project Management processes. So you must know how to apply code of ethics in all the project management processes and groups .
  7. Better to be familiar with the PMI Code of Ethics from the PMI site
  8. ITTOs – I don’t regret now as I spent time on this. This helped me to answer a lot of questions
  9. Questions using formulas were simple and I didn’t require a calculator
  10. Out of the 200 questions, only one question appeared “Greek and Latin” to me.
  11. Took around 2 hours to complete 200 questions and another 1.15 hours to re-check. I did regret now why I checked again. Few of those I corrected went wrong

Overall, you will be able to pass the exam if you understand the PMBOK thoroughly and aim to make all the answers correct for the straight forward questions.

I wish you all the best for those working on PMP preparation. Good Luck




PMP Lessons Learned: Mirza Azfar Baig, PMP

Dear All,


Finally! I passed my PMP exam. Here is my PMP lessons learned.

My journey started almost 2years ago. I failed PMP exam but didn’t lost the hope and it was my passion to achieve this certification because I know how to manage a project while dealing with PMP processes.

I prepped myself again after 08 months of last episode and give a kick from May 2011 and here am I writing my LL to you. WOW!

I took time to read LL’s from others which was very helpful but the process I took wasn’t as disciplined as I can. And here is my story.

  • I read PMBOK twice and yes it was boring in the start but it gives you formal understandings so please bear with it.
  • I read Rita’s study guide and practice the simulation software as well
  • I read Headfirst which really gave me a thorough understanding while using its graphical approach
  • I skimmed through the whole Rita Simulations with knowledge area wise with explanation to each question…..I don’t think that I missed a single explanation either it was correct or wrong selection which really helped me out in understanding the concept and approach to answer.
  • I was subscribed with EPMC daily PMP question (please google it) which also helpful in practicing question.
  • Rita Flash Cards was also provided some Aid in my preparation, which normally I used to copy in my mobile and listen while driving.

Read More

PMP Lessons Learned: Nikhil Dave., PMP

Passed PMP on Tuesday 27th July 2010.

Thanks to all in the community for sharing their valuable knowledge. It helped me a lot in preparing for the exam.


Initiation Moderately Proficient

Planning Proficient

Executing Proficient

Monitoring and Controlling Proficient

Closing Moderately Proficient

Professional and Social Responsibility Moderately Proficient


Lessons Learned:


Classroom training:

Attended classroom training provided by EPMC – http://www.effectivepmc.com/

Became member of PMI in mid of May and started preparation by reading PMBOK.

Books Referred:

Went through PMBOK Guide – thrice (1st from page first to last, 2nd process wise along with EPMC material, 3rd after reading the Head First)

Read Head First PMP once

EPMC course material – once along with PMBOK

Time taken to read:

1st time, PMBOK reading took 20 days (2 hrs daily, 5-7 hrs weekend)

2nd time around 8-10 days (3hrs daily, few more on weekend)

3rd time 4 days (8 hrs daily)

I was out of touch for around 14-20 days. I strongly suggest not to remain out of touch for long, unless you just can’t which was my case.

Rest spent on reading Head First and cracking few tests

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Scheduled Exam:

Submitted the application in mid June for which I got the approval in five working days. Registered for the exam on the same day for 10th August but then I felt ready so preponed it to 27th July just a week before.


I kind of liked reading PMBOK from first to last than process wise. I guess it doesn’t matter provided you understand what happens after what. For me it worked. It may not for you! You will know what you prefer when you will finish reading it for the first time. Many of the PASSED PMPs have mentioned here that they had gone through PMBOK twice with a reference book and I think reading twice is OK, but I had a huge gap between the 1st and 2nd round. So I had to go through it again. That certainly helped a lot! While reading each sentence/topic just try to relate it to questions as to what kind of question can be asked. That will help you remember it well. You can do that once you go through few questions to get an idea about questions that can come up. As everyone says, understand the usage of ITTO rather than memorizing it. I found HEAD FIRST a good source to understand those. Also it has some more info which is not described briefly in PMBOK so that may help you in the real exam.

Tested the knowledge:

Head First 200 Qs: scored 91%

Oliver Lehman 175 Qs: 75%

EPMC free test: 74%

PMSTudy free test :75%

After cracking Head First with 91% I was stuck with 75% in the rest of the tests.

Solving papers will help you determining the questions and what to expect. Also it will get you the experience of sitting for 4 hours which is must. Take breaks to reduce the burden on your brain. That will help you a lot. You may find some of the similar questions from these papers in the actual test!!

I had registered myself on:


EPMC – free question everyday,

PMPBootCamp.org – free question everyday,

pmpexam.com – free question everyday

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Woke up at 6:00am and went through the glossary section of PMBOK in an hour – didn’t read the ITTOs at all. Reported to the exam center at 8:00am. I was assigned desk at 9:45am!! There were two more guys for PMP who were assigned the desk at sharp 9:00AM. Mentioning this just to keep you aware that it may take long though I think mine was an exception case!

Started the test with the tutorial. I was given a scratch pad and pencils in the beginning of the tutorial. I wrote down 5×9 table (PMBOK page#43) and formulas of Cost,Schedule,TPE,EMV, Communication Channels on the scratch pad in 7 minutes. During the test, I didn’t look at the scratch pad even once to refer those. You should do the same scratch pad exercise when you do tests at home.

Ended the tutorial and started the battle. Read each question very carefully, almost twice. Took little less than three hours to finish the test. Was confused on 4-5 questions so jotted down their possible answers on the scratch pad to review it later. Revisited those at the end, changed answer for one and then didn’t have much to review so ended the test. Filled out the survey and within few seconds, reached on the “Congrats” page.

Highlights on the exam questions:

Got 4-5 Qs on EV calculation and they were pretty easy. Didn’t require calculator at all. Most of them were provided with SPI and CPI and were asking the project status.

Few wordy questions on Direct and Manage Project Execution.

1-2 Qs on evaluating which project to choose based on IRR, NAV calculations. This was a surprise for me as I was not expecting it but had gone through the calculations before so could crack it.

Project framework Qs were little tricky.

1 Q on float calculation, 1 on the relationship.

No Qs on communication channel J

Overall found it easier than the tests I had gone during the preparation.

All the best!

Best Regards,


PMP Lessons Learned: Roshni Rajagopal., PMP

Finally finished off with my PMP exam, and was happy to see congratulations flash on the screen!
For those who are going to attempt it soon, here’s my lessons learned and hope it helps.

My Preparation:

1. Read PMBOK once

2. Read PMBOK again

3. Attended mandatory 35 PDU course at Bangalore PMI Chapter. Here I learned Rita Mulchay is also a good book to read

4. Read Rita Mulcahy and PMBOK side by side. One chapter Rita, then PMBOK and then Rita’s chapter practice tests

5. Attempted tests but was getting around 73% in the tough tests like Oliver Lehmann

6. Went over Rita M & PMBOK last time only to skim over and make notes. I made notes on Formulae, 9 by 5 table and ITTO and Rita’s process chart for planning which she said is good to remember. When I made notes on ITTO I left out the OPA, EEF and things like OPA updates in the the inputs and outputs and concentrated on the unique things for each process.

7. I did not cram the ITTO, its too much to remember but by the end after going through it so many times and making notes, I had a good idea about them.

8. My entire study consisted of about an hour to two hours on weekdays for about 6 months.

9. When I was finally giving exams I was getting about 77% in the tough one (Oliver Lehmann) and 80-90% (Headfirst, Rita) on the easy ones.

10. PMBOK was very dry with all the ITTO tables. Rita was much more interesting and I felt like I am really learning. Instead of directly giving ITTO tables she suggests we think and come up with answers. So definitely worth a read. And there are several topics like how to select a project and HR theories which are not given in PMBOK. However I did not read any other book because I think that would have been an overkill and would have led to confusion, Instead concentrated on knowing these 2 well.

11. In real life I had more experience in executing and less in the other areas. Especially initiating and closing. So it was necessary for me to put in the time to go over the material properly. One has to know the PMI terms and way of doing things. Even on the parts I was well versed in, there were several things I came to know – like one should use meetings for risks rather than status. And we used to have these long boring go around the room status meetings at work- and these are a waste of time as per Rita! I wish my then Project manager had taken PMP! 🙂

12. I couldn’t attempt as many tests as I had planned. There is so much free stuff available on the net that one can never feel like one has done enough! I rescheduled my exam once. But then one can never be perfectly ready. So I let go , and went ahead with the test. Ensured I got a good nights sleep before the exam.

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On the Day of the Exam:

1. Wished I had carried a jacket – it was cold with the AC

2. Wrote down 9 by 5 table, formulae and Rita’s planning chart on the scratch paper provided by prometric

3. 200 questions is tiring!!! I took breaks like this to ensure I remain fresh
@50 questions – stretched at my desk
@100 questions – came out of the test center and nibbled at biscuits, drank water etc
@150 questions – stretched at my desk
@200 – came out of the test center and nibbled at biscuits, drank water etc

4. Finished 200 questions in 2 hrs along with the breaks and spent the next hour revisiting each question. I was out by 3 hrs

5. I seemed to get more questions on risk management (ITTO) , contracts, conflict management and quality control ( control charts etc). There were several questions on ITTO. And one question from Rita’s process chart for planning . And the earned value questions were very direct and simple. I preferred these over the social responsibility questions…those are so vague I started thinking I must not be very ethical! 🙂

6. I got a result like this : PASS
and proficient (above avg) in planning, executing, monitoring & closing
and moderately proficient (avg) in initiating, closing & professional & social responsibility

Well I was hoping to get above avg in every area- but too bad! Now just happy to have it out of the way and be able to put PMP next to my name 🙂

All the best to all you people preparing ! Good luck!

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PMP Lessons Learned: Sneha., PMP

Hello every one,

I am pleased to let you all know that I passed PMP on Saturday Jul 10. Here are my lessons learned.

My journey started Jul 11 2009 and ended Jul 10 2010. During this one year I have attempted to give the exam multiple times. I have postponed the exam not once, not twice but… wait for it!.. a total of 10 times!!

Well Jul 10 is the absolute last day I could take the exam for 1 more year. So it was do or die kind of situation.

I used the following for my study:

  1. PMBOK– fully one time and then for review
  2. http://www.pmroadtrip.com/– Saved my life! – did his sample test
  3. PMPrepcast: listen to most of the pod casts
  4. Rita’s Fast track – did 1 simulation, some knowledge areas

Rita test are very much different then the exam. Good to attempt, but don’t get worried if you don’t ace it.

  1. Pmstudy – 4 exams- these are very close to actual exam
  2. http://www.monkibo.com/PMP-exam-ITTO-Trainer/index.html – good tool for itto
  3. The groups were a great help!

I started to study the PMBOK from middle of Jun. Ss most of you know it is quite dry when you first start to read. But after couple chapters it wasn’t as bad. I think PMBOK should put some samples for each of the document they refer to. Like a sample scope, or risk register. That would help us visualize what each of the doc are meant.

PMRoadtrip was the one which helped me to remember what each of the documents were and which is used as an input and output and why. I was able to remember ITTO much better once I started using this website. I give lot of credit to this web site to help me pass. It is free, other wise I would not have found it. Thanks ALEX!

I practiced writing itto every day, but I still could not remember it 100%, then I found http://www.monkibo.com a couple of days b4 the exam. Great tool to help test ITTO.

The 3 day weekend for July 4th helped a lot in my prep, I also took the Friday off to study. I studied at least 6 hrs during weekday and close to 10-12 hrs during weekend. Most of the time I was trying to memorize ITTO. And I am glad I did, coz there are just sooo many questions on them.

  • On the exam day I woke up at 6 am ( exam was at 12:30 Pm)
  • I studied Prepcast formula, PMBOK Glossory, some notes and ITTOs
  • Started to the exam center like 2 hrs 😀 I didn’t want to any chances with the traffic.
  • I got there by 11.00 but sat in the car and looked the ITTO and some HR note ( coz I most got these wrong in the practice tests)
  • I was seated right after I got there. The room was filled with other test takeers. I was the only one taking PMP Exam.
  • I brain dumped during the 15 min -wrote all the formulas and process groups and some HR defs.
  • The exam started right after the 15 min counter. I didn’t get a chance to wait for few more min to do some more brain dump.
  • The first question- I have no clue what they were asking, it was related to Plan Quality.
  • After that, the questions were quite easy but I still took my time studying them. At 15 question mark I began to relax and picked up speed.
  • I took 2 breaks- usually I don’t take any brakes at home, but I felt I should during the exam. Once coz I was really hungry after 50 min L.. then other one after an hour.
  • I was done by 3 hrs, reviewed the marked questions and started to go thru all of the question. Around 135 the time ran out. I did they survey, then got congratulation.

Well about the exam itself:

I was very surprised by the level of difficulty or rather lack of it.

Not many wordy questions, all the problematic questions were straight forward.

I am not sure if I just lucked out in getting an easier exam or if this was the norm.

The questions were quite direct and when you read it, you know exactly what they were asking. The only ones I have trouble with were the once ITTO, esp IO part, I did OK on the TT one. I would suggest you spend lot more time on the ITTO and what goes in each of the documents. If you were able to solve problems in any of the exams you will be able to score good in the exam too. If you see a guys name in the PMBOK memorize the definition. I saw many questions.

Best of luck to every one


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PMP Lessons Learned: Rajesh Kheni., PMP

Here is my two cents on learning;

Exam Result :

Initiation: Moderately Proficient

Planning: Proficient

Execution: Proficient

Monitor and Control: Proficient

Closing: Moderately Proficient

Social Responsibility: Below Proficient

Exam Experience :

1) Exam was really easy and straight forward. It is my personal opinion; anyone who fulfill PMI eligibility requirements can crack this exam with little efforts.

2) Do not let any sacred try to convince you this exam is tough.

3) In my exam out of 200 questions almost 50% questions were one line questions, almost 25% questions two lines, another 20% questions 3-6 lines and may be 2-3% questions were more than 6 lines. The point is—Exam questions are straight forward and to the point ( This is my personal experience through real exam, Some candidate may have different experience.)

4) Almost 90% questions are from PMBOK and remaining are from Outside (I think some of them will be for just experiment). Anyone who digests PMBOK can easily crack the exam.

5) Almost 75% questions are directly or indirectly testing the knowledge of ITTO. The point is you should know ITTO by heart or digest them well. You can not get away without memorizing\understanding ITTO.

6) There were around 10-15% questions, which had tricky answers ( It was difficult for me to judge thin line between correct and wrong answer). Most of these questions were from Social and Professionally responsibility.

7) For me most difficult section was Professional Responsibility. These questions were really challenging and it was difficult for me to judge correct answer. Although I have prepared well for this section, I could not stand to the exam’s expectation. I have paid heavy price in exam ( below proficient performance)

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My Preparation

1 PMBOK is boring for first reading therefore I started with Headfirst. (Innovative approach to convey key concepts.). I rate this book very high among all PMP exam preparation books. This book is pictorial and it has lots of easy to do exercises therefore It was fun for me to read this book. I recommend this book to all PMP aspirants without any reservation. If you believe in Self study like I do you can rely on this book.

2) After reading Head First, I joined the PMP course to earn 35 hours credit to qualify for the exam. Although people appreciated my coaching class in Dubai, I did not like the course. In fact my headfirst reading was more interactive and learning oriented than my PMP course. It was waste of money and time. However I am most benefited from their question bank and mock tests. In fact the online course I got from Andy Crowe book ( I purchased this book and I got one week free access to his web site) was much more effective. It is my personal opinion that one should do the self study rather than waste money and time attending these courses.

3) After course, I did my first reading of PMBOK. I understood approximate 50% from first reading ( I am not genius). if you do not understand everything in first reading, It is alright. All you need is patience and commitment. If you want to clear this exam with excellent grading, PMBOK is must and only resort. You can not under estimate the importance of this book. In my exam, I got almost 90% questions from PMBOK. …………Can you see the benefit of reading PMBOK? I read PMBOK thrice (two detailed reading and one skimming). PMBOK is the best. After all it is written by makers of exam.

4) I loaned Rita’s book and read it once. This book is worth reading but one should not read this book without background information (standard terminology of PMI). You have to keep PMBOK nearby to go through Rita. I like this book because it has given insight of larger projects (she does not share the example while discussing the concept but she does mention that on large project things work like this..). If you have time, No harm going through this book else do not worry. Questions at the end of each chapter are useful (Real Exam’s questions were much easier than Rita’s book). The language of this book is threatening. You will loose confidence. Rita portrays exam is very though. Do not believe anyone who says exam is tough. Some people covey such message for marketing to benefit. If you are genuine and got Project experience, I am sure PMI want you to become its member and spread their methodology in the real life. It is privilege for PMI that you are joining PMI institute. It is win-win situation for both.

5) I also purchased How to Pass on Your First Try by Adny Crowe [ I read only half and realized it is better to focus on PMBOK]. This book is also easy to read like Headfirst. You can pick any of these books ( Head First or How to Pass) to begin your study but I rate headfirst higher compare to this book. The good thing about Andy Crow’s book is it will give you one week free access to his online course. If you are using his book, Please do not miss online lessons and online question bank. It is worth listening audio lessons and most importantly use his question bank. I think you can also generate 35 hours certificate (I tried once but I got message I have to complete all audio lessons before I apply for certificate. Unfortunately I did not have time to go through all lessons). You can save almost US $ 250-500 for course.

6) I also read Harwinder’s blog. I am thankful to this gentleman. Because of him, I could easily answer 15-20% questions in exam. I recommend all of you to go through his blog while preparing for PMP exam. You can find easy and detailed explanation of the key confusing topics from Harwinder’s blog. Particularly I like explanation on difference between Work performance information, Work performance measurement, Report performance, distribute performance, difference between change control and configuration control. Explanation of configuration management system, Risk, Point of total assumption and Earned Value analysis etc.

7) Finally I skim the PMBOK day before exam to recollect what I read in the last three month.

TIPs for future Aspirant.

1) Digest the PMBOK book.

2) Understand\memorize (whichever you like) ITTO.

3) Do not waste money and time on coaching classes. Wealth of free information is available on Internet. Use it.

4) I recommend Self study and online cheaper course to earn 35 hours requirement.

5) Visit Harwinder’s blog. You will find easy explanation of key confusing terminology. You find it by googling it.

6) Try two or three mock tests before you appear for final exam to get flavor of what you will find in exam. Personally I like Oliver Lehman free test (75 questions and 200 questions). Do not worry if you score less in these exams.

Let me wind up now. I wish you all very best luck for preparation. My sincere prayer to GOD, All of you may get better grading than me.

Warm regards


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PMP Lessons Learned: Akbar Raja., PMP

Glad to let you know, I passed the PMP exams in Dubai from Prometric Testing Center at the first attempt.

A little about my background. Having been in the Construction and Project Management field for almost 30 yrs and having managed successfully and completed Projects without any penalties for Companies I worked for ,and also having been in many Senior positions without any Employer asking for PMP credentials,it was difficult for me realise its value when one of my Junior 2 -3 yrs ago fueled this idea of PMP credentials and procrastinated for almost 2-3 yrs on this. Finally 3 months ago I took up the 35 PDU eligibility course for PMBOK 4 PMP credentials here.

Being 55 yrs of age with difficulties in concentration , memory , focus ,arthritis , work load in my Present job, I took this up in a mental framework and attitude of ‘learning’ something instead of the ‘know it all’ attitude. Attended the eligibility classes on 5 consecutive weekly-offs during which time I normally sleep after lunch. It was difficult even to keep awake at these classes. The last exam I gave was 32 yrs ago and it was very difficult to memorise even simple formulas like CPI=EV/AC. To increase my brain ‘tuning’ by playing some brain games used www.lumosity.com and other various games on Iphone available in Apple stores to improve memory,concentration etc.

During this time and interaction, did a lot of internet research and browsed websites. By the time classes finished and I had plenty of information. They had mentioned at the classes that no one could pass the PMP without actually practicing the mock tests, and I fully agree with this. Based on this I found out a lot of websites (the ones that are usually mentioned in all these group emails and links),hence am not repeating them again. BUT what I didn’t see on these groups is the mention of some cheap and good Apple Iphone applications available cheap which I am going to inform for all you Iphone/Ipad/Itouch (or is it Ipod?) users available cheap for 1 to max 8 usd.

The first Mock test almost crashed my bloated ego..45-50% only or less…found out why..when I reviewed the sessions.., the answers were OBVIOUS, why ??? because I didn’t read the questions, the usual PMP’s question drafts NOT , ALWAYS, LEAST and other expressions..and I was not reading all the answers…simply clicked what I thought was the obvious answer without READING ALL THE OPTIONS. I continuously made these mistakes for some more time,but improved on this bad habit of NOT READING the questions properly and also all the options. Also sitting through all the 200 questions at a stretch requires focus and attention,not to let your mind roam wild.So sat through 50/100/150/200questions and evaluated and ‘End Exam’ wherever and whenever was called off for a meeting or when to sleep and would evaluate the %age based on proportional basis.ALWAYS reviewed why the answers were wrong and what was the right answer and why. Also remember what is repeated on several websites/books etc etc..You need to give PMBOK answers,what PMI thinks is right.Another trick I learned along the way which is propagated on many websites is to ELIMINATE THE OBVIOUS WRONG ANSWERS.So you are left with the right answer in many cases or two right answers allowing you to choose the BEST answer.

For your information,there is a wealth of information in the Explanation of the answers than the questions themselves especially in Rita Mulcahy’s Version 5 based on PMBOK 4. I actually read the whole book of some 450 pages (after so many years) and solved some good 450 questions included with the book. I couldn’t bring myself around to reading the PMBOK 4 ,but referred to it for various diagrams and some topical information. Anyone in Dubai can take this book from me at half the price – AED 175/- and if there is some one who needs it desperately and cant afford it,I can give it free also.
I am attaching some files which are available on some popular websites freely. Hope this is not any infringement, in fact by posting it to a group,it popularises their website and sales also. Would be useful for many to take their paid and free tests online.

Now for the Iphone/Itouch/Ipad applications-Here they are (besides others too available on Apple stores)

1. cramstar PMI-001
2. PMI-PMP4 Tech2000www.t2000inc.com
3. PMP1 by Apptia LLC (do google search or search on Apple stores)
5. www.istudyapps.com
6. PM Quotes www.pmchampion.com
7. PMP Elite www.ikanksha.com
8. PMPFlash on Apple stores
9. PM Exam www.pmchampion.com. GOOD ONE
10. PMPEXAM (search on Apple stores)
11. PMP Csheet (search on Apple stores)

Now about ITTO’s. Just couldn’t memorize them as advised by so many. So did the next best thing,understood them, and their sequences. Cross-referenced them when the answers were wrong.In fact for those who have difficulty I would recommend buying PMI’s product at http://www.pmi.org/Marketplace/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?GMProduct101107001 ,though I did not buy it. Answered hundreds of questions on ITTO’s ,and even purchased flash cards, just went through them once.
Another website is Project Management Prepcast by Cornelius Fitcher-PMP and good to join his PMP newsletter.
Another website is www.cramsession.com
One day before the exam,went through the answers of this PDF filehttp://www.headfirstlabs.com/PMP/free_exam/ (PDF file included in this eMail,Answers are more explanatory and knowledgeable)

The Actual PMP was much more easier than expected and my expectation was approx 90% correct ,which may or may not have been the case.(didn’t make any wild guesses) and PMP never give out the %age,only Pass or FAIL.Yet I was only ‘Moderately proficient’ in almost all the domains..why?? This could be due to an assessment system followed by PMI called the ‘Modified Angoff Technique’ (check on Google). or maybe my own shortcomings.

Hope this long lessons learned helps and contributes and shares my experience with PMP credentials.

All the best..!!!
Akbar Raja

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