1st Attempt PMP, Lessons Learned - Detailed

I took the PMP today, November 4th, and PASSED! Woot woot. Feels great. I am surprised that I passed with 2 Below Proficiency’s. Doesn’t matter though, because I passed.

First of all, thank you to my wife for dealing with me throughout this... :)

Initiation – Moderate Proficiency
Planning – Below Proficiency
Execution – Below Proficiency
Monitoring & Controlling – Proficiency
Closing – Moderate Proficiency

I wanted to share all the lessons I learned while studying for my PMP Exam.

PMP Application:

I was not audited when I applied to take the exam ☺… I applied 35 days prior to the date I took my test. I recommend getting this out of the way before you start studying.

Time Spent:

I spent 95 hours over 53 days. 41 days studying, 12 days off. The last 30 days, I did not take a day of from studying. During the last month, I average 15-22 hours of studying per week.

PMP Study Philosophy:

I studied to PASS the PMP Exam. No more, no less. I did not take the PMP exam to become a better PMP. I did not study to take the PMP for any other reason than to pass. Due to this, anything more than what was required to pass the exam, was extraneous, and ultimately a distraction. I think that each individuals own exam philosophy is important. This may offend other career PMP’s, but is nevertheless the truth. For those about to take the PMP exam, determine your own PMP Study Philosophy. This will help you determine which resources to use, study methods, etc.


I went a little crazy with PMP Exam study resources. I spent almost $1000 on PMP Exam study resources.

I memorized the 47 processes for my download sheet. I practiced the download sheet 21 times. I had the processes and formulae written down in less than 11 minutes. I purchased the 47 Processes Spreadsheet by Richard Kraneis for $4.99. This was extremely helpful, and I would say instrumental in me learning the 47 processes. This was the most cost effective PMP resource that I purchased.

Here is a quick list of the resources I purchased:
PMP Exam Prep – Rita, 8th edition
PMP How to pass on 1st try – Crowe, 5th edition
Headfirst PMP – Greene & Stellman, 3rd edition
47 Processes Spreadsheet – Richard Kraneis
PM Fast track for the PMP Exam – Rita, 8th edition
PMP Prepcast – Cornelius Fichtner
CBT Nuggets, PMP – Steve Casely
PM Study, Gold – Pmstudy.com (40 contact hours achieved here)
PMtraining , practice tests – PMtraining.com
Simplilearn , practice tests – Simplilearn

I did not read the PMBOK. I flipped through it a couple of times during gap analysis. I would say I read the PMBOK a maximum of 1 hour total.

I read both Rita Mulcahy’s and Andy Crowe’s books cover to cover. I bought the Headfirst PMP book, flipped through it and realized that it did not fit my learning style, as the graphics in it were too distracting to me. Figure out which book works for you. Knowing what I know now. I would have used Andy Crowe’s book. It was excellent. Rita Mulcahy’s book, as many have said before, is very wordy… and a little condescending, but in a humorous, positive way. lol. As it ensures you are awake, and understanding what you read. Bottom line: I really enjoyed Crowe’s book. Easy to read. Wish I had time to read it twice.

I watched about 8 hours worth of Cornelius Fichtner’s PMP Prepcast. It was good. He breaks it down well. I wish I would have bought his practice exams with the Prepcast, but I did not. I had just bought Rita’s Fasttrack (for $299), and didn’t want to spend anymore. See below for recommended resources.

Practice Exams:

I took 7 full length, 200 question exams. Listed in sequential order.

PM Study Test 1: 53.71%
Simplilearn Test 1: 50.5% (I found this test difficult to read (due to font size) and didn’t take another)
PM Study Test 2: 61.71%
Rita’s Fast Track: 63.5%
PM Study Test 3: 66.86%
PM Study Test 4: 70.29%
Rita’s Fast Track: 69.5%

I took a number of shorter PMP practice exams (338 questions total) at the beginning and towards the end of my exam prep. I averaged 69% on these exams.

I was very concerned that these scores were inadequate to pass the exam. After every exam, I was usually disappointed and read forums to see others practice exam results. I focused on gap analysis and it paid off.

Practice exams are vital for a couple of reasons:
• To build the endurance needed to sit for four hours.
• To recognize where one’s gaps are in the material. Thus, a practice exam with no gap analysis is a waste! This is vital! I studied, (not just read), every single question I got wrong, and why.
That being said. Make sure you understand the material, and have a complete download sheet prior to taking practice exams. I feel I jumped in to practice exams far too early.

Don’t take a full-length practice exam the few days before the exam, instead practice your download sheet and review the gaps in your knowledge.

Do a practice download sheet that you use for each practice exam. Use that actual download sheet for that practice exam.

Recommended Resources:

If a close friend asked me what resources he should use, I would tell him this:

1. Buy Richard Kraneis’ “47 Processes Spreadsheet”, memorize the 47 processes
2. Sign up for Cornelius Fichtner’s PMP Prepcast w/Exams. (I didn’t buy the exam option but wish I would have). You will get your contact hours here.
3. Buy the How to pass the PMP on 1st try – Crowe, 5th edition (read twice)
4. Take 5-10 full practice exams. Do extensive gap analysis.
Those listed above should cost about $300 total. I feel that too many resources may have hindered me more than helped me. Also, many PMP Exam Prep resources want to make you a better PMP. (See Study Philosophy)

Note about copyright information:

It is unfortunate that so many people viewing PMZilla who desire to achieve their PMP certificate, are willing to violate copyright law, instead of investing in their career by purchasing a resource! I will not email anyone, any PMP study material. You should go buy a copy of the resource yourself. So do not ask me. If you read above you would have noticed I spent a considerable amount on study resources, because it is a worthwhile cost.

One last note:

I do not recommend rushing your exam, as I did. I feel that I was very close to failing. Take your time. Understand the material, and try to get a consistent, decent score on practice exams (75%+). I got a 70% once, but do not recommend it. Keep studying until you start to gravitate towards correct answers in practice exams. You will start to eliminate more and more incorrect or less desirable answers in practice exams. It is a great feeling.

I did it in 95 hours, and I have a goldfish brain. You can do it!

Good luck to you all!

I cleared it too on the same day November 4th.

Initiation – Moderate Proficiency
Planning – Proficiency
Execution – Proficiency
Monitoring & Controlling – Moderate Proficiency
Closing – Moderate Proficiency

Good job. Excellent scores. How long did you study for?

10 days and 10 hours a day.

admin's picture

Congratulations and thanks for posting here. !

Generally we delete the posts where people ask for copyrighted material. Let me know if there is some thread still open.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

rkraneis's picture

I'm Richard Kraneis, PMP.

I am so grateful to the author of this comment for his unsolicited compliments on one of my PMP learning tools: my 47 PMP processes spreadsheet. It's located at http://richardkraneis.com/pmbok-5-learning-the-47-processes-to-pass-the-... .

It's an honor to be mentioned in an article alongside the names Rita Mulcahy, Andy Crowe, and others.

You can see my various PMP learning services at my website: http://richardkraneis.com/ .

And certainly, you can purchase my 47 PMP processes spreadsheet at http://richardkraneis.com/pmbok-5-learning-the-47-processes-to-pass-the-... . Although I know his real name, "Spiderfli" said: "This (Richard Kraneis's spreadsheet) was the most cost effective PMP resource that I purchased."

Best wishes to all in Passing the PMP,

Richard Kraneis, PMP
Chicago, IL USA