Cleared PMP on first attempt

Akhilesh Nair's picture

Dear PMP Aspirants,

I am glad to share that I took my PMP exam on 09 Mar, 2015 and passed the exam on my first attempt. I would like to share some of my experiences and lessons learned from my preparation days:

  • Prepare like a professional and not like a student. For me it was virtually impossible to cram all the ITTOs in the PMBOK 5th edition. So I would suggest that you try to understand the situations in which a particular tool or technique would come in handy. Try to plug them in to situations that you have faced in your work experience. During my preparation I came cross youtube videos from Richard Kraneis. I found the videos very helpful and easy to understand. There are other useful material available on Richard's website which you might find useful. Some of the links which I tried are:

  • Next, I would recommend that you study as many questions as possible during your preparation. I tried the free test from Simplilearn, PMStudy and questions on Oliver Lehmann's web site (both 75 and 175). I also purchased Oliver Lehmann's app which provides 553 questions, this is really helpful for studying on the go. Studying these questions helped me focus on the ITTOs that I was getting confused with while answering the test questions
  • Reading the PMBOK multiple times will not guarantee success in the exam, as the exam is completely situation based. So, I would recommend that you try to relate whatever you study to the projects that you have handled in your workplace
  • I did not spend any extra money on taking coaching classes. Just read the PMBOK, took practice tests and made notes for each knowledge area. Making notes is a good aid for last minute revision
  • It is really important to train yourself to sit and focus for 4 hours. You will really need the entire 4 hours to attempt all questions on the test. So sleep well the night before the test and stay well hydrated
  • 2-3 months of continuous preparation is ideal for the test. I would not recommend preparing for 5-6 months as it is very likely to lose focus over that time duration
  • Always believe that you can clear the exam. The questions on the exam are pretty simple when compared to the practie tests that you would take. Just be confident about your preparation and you will clear the test

These are some of the points that I could think of. Please feel free to ask me any questions that could help you with your preparation, i would be glad to answer.

Wishing you all the best with your preparation and exam!

Many many congrats, Can you please share what were the percentage/break up of situaitional questions, direct questions, math questions, any recommened KA to focus on etc, tricky situations ? How did you manage time on your test ?

Thanks in advance.


Akhilesh Nair's picture

60 - 70% questions were situation based may be more than that, and the key areas were quality, risk, schedule and change management. I remember there were 4-5 questions on type of contracts (procurement management).

The maths questions related to EVM were pretty easy there were 10-11 questions but they were really easy, if you are  sure of which formula to use then it should be a breeze and these questions help you to gain some lost time

7-8 questions on various management theories, If you take enough practice tests then you will have them covered. I guess I got 3-4 questions on the Tuckman's stages of team development, may be I was lucky that day

I would say all knowledge areas are equally important, but if you look at ITTOs then more questions were from quality(control chart graphical questions), risk, integration, scope and schedule(critical path graphical questions) management. 

Questions on scope, HR and stakeholder management would usually be tricky because all the options are very close to being correct. You need to use your work experience and good judgement here

On time management - I would say taking practice tests made me realize that one key component which adds to the complexity of this test is concentrating for 4 hours. There will be times during the test when you might lose focus, try to bring yourself back as soon as possible. I set myself a target of 60 questions per hour and I was able to achieve 50 each in the first two hours. in the third hour I got some numericals and easy questions so I was able to do 60. I had 40 questions left in the last hour. I took a break of 5 minutes(I felt it helped) at the stroke of 3 hours. By the time I finished all questions and reviewed the marked ones, there were 8 minutes left on the clock. 

So, I would say you need every minute of the 4 hours. Try to maintain a good speed from the beginning, do not doubt yourself at any stage. Be confident of the answers that you have marked. 

Having written such a big essay, I would say it is not as difficult as it seems. With a calm and cool mind you will enjoy the 4 hours and come out with a positive result.

admin's picture

Congratulations Akhilesh. Thanks for sharing.

Akhilesh Nair's picture

Thanks Admin!

can you let me know if one month is sufficient to practice mocks and full length+ free and paid ones.? once you are done with reading of Rita PMBOK...etc 

Akhilesh Nair's picture

One month is more than enough. I would suggest you take the tests and leave some time for yourself to go back to the PMBOK and read about the questions that you get wrong.

I prepared with complete focus for 1 month, before that I was doing e-learning courses to get 35 contact hours. And in that 1 month also I had to read the PMBOK and then take tests. So, if you have already read the books then you can really prepare yourself really well in this last month by taking tests and revising. One month is a very long time just ensure that you stay on track and stay focussed. I studied some 800-1000 questions, which I feel were enough.

I am planning for Exam by may 10th.

So, by April mid I must be through with all book concepts as i have already read and understood them several times...lost tract in the last month and giving a final revision now....

thanks for your advice as this will help me :)

rkraneis's picture


It was a wonderful surprise when you left a comment at my blog at Richard Kraneis .  And, it is very kind and gracious of you to mention me on PMZilla, the largest PMP student blog in the world.

Anyone seeking to pass the PMP should seriously consider your educational remarks here on PMZilla on how you passed the PMP.

I am so glad we could chat yesterday on Skype.  I look forward to you joining my PMP Study Group Webinar this Saturday, March 28 as a guest speaker.  It should be fun.

Best Wishes on Using Your New PMP Certification,

Richard Kraneis, PMP
Chicago, IL  USA
Richard Kraneis on YouTube

rkraneis's picture


It was a delight and great pleasure in doing a two hour webinar with you last Saturday.

If Admin allows it, PMZilla visitors can visit my website and watch my two hour PMP Study Group Webinar with Akhilesh (my new PMP friend from India).  My two hour webinar video featuring Akhilesh as a guest speaker is FREE at Will You Join My PMP Study Group.

Just visit Will You Join My PMP Study Group on my website and watch the video shown at that location.  I hope everyone enjoys it.

Thanks again Akhilesh (and thanks to Admin).

Richard Kraneis, PMP
Chicago, IL  USA
Richard Kraneis on YouTube

Congratulations on your success. !!!

I have my exam on Monday April 6th.  I have been practicing with the sample questions from site.  

Do you think they are close to the real questions in interms of level of difficulty?




Akhilesh Nair's picture

Apologies for the late reply!

The questions on this site are also good. I would suggest you do solve Oliver Lehmann's questions and if possible take a look at the questions in his android app.

Since there is only one day left now, I would suggest you revise your notes and if possible take a full length test. Wish you all the very best for the exam!

Hi Akilesh,

Congrats on your PMP certification. How is the quality of Android questions by OL. I see very few people purchase these android version of OL questions. I am planning for my exams by end of May 2015.

Akhilesh Nair's picture


I had purchased an app which cost around Rs. 260. There were 553 questions. Since the app was on the phone, I could study anywhere. 

I think this was a really useful resource. If you already have access to other practice tests then you can stick to those. The more questions you study the better you will be prepared for the test. In my opinion the level of questions on the app was pretty decent.

You still have lots of time ahead of your test. All the very best!

Hi Akhilesh,

I don't have any idea of PMP since there is an requirement of PMP certification for one of my project I am planning to go-ahead with this certification.

please assist me with the pre-requisite before making my decision.

I am not a bookish person will be able to spare 2/3 hours daily for my studies.

Akhilesh Nair's picture

There are certain eligibility criteria that you need to satisfy to appear for the PMP test.

1. 35 hours of project management education has to be reported while filling the test application form. You can get a certificate for these hours from a registered project management education provider or you can also report 35 hours accumulated by studying the e-learning resources of SkillSoft.

2. Based on your academic qualification the number of hours of project management experience you should report will wary. You can get the numbers from this link

For the preparation part, there is no option other than hard work. Study the PMBOK fifth edition. You can download a free copy of the PMBOK if you take the membership of PMI. The test fee for members is $405 and for non-members it is $555.

You will get an initiation when you are accumulating the 35 hours of project management education which is mandatory. Apart from this I would suggest the following:

1. Read the PMBOK, cover to cover, if possible two times.

2. Take atleast 5-7 full length practice tests, and then study each question to understand the answers. Try and study atleast 800-1000 practice questions

3. Take practice tests from Oliver Lehmann's web site. You can also download the paid app for android from Oliver Lehmann, this app should give you 553 practice questions.

4. If you cannot spend much time on studying, it would be better to stick to the PMBOK and not go for additional resource like books from Rita Mulcahy. Rely on you work experience, trust me, that combined with your study of the PMBOK is enough to help you ace the test.

5. You can also think of joining a good training institute, they will take care of getting you the mandatory 35 hours of education and will also provide you lot of practice tests and learning resources.

6. You can also take a look at  to view some easy techniques for PMP preparation

Hope my answer is helpful, if you have any more queries then do drop a line at