Lessons from passed exam

I passed my PMP exam this week with "Proficient" in all areas. I finished the exam with almost two hours to spare. Here is some feedback/ lessons learned from my preparation. Total preparation time: 8 weeks (plenty).


  1. Rita/RMC - over-hyped, self-important, waste of time. My number 1 regret is listening to the hype and buying this book.
  2. Headfirst PMP - a children's book, written in children's language, addressed to people that should be building lego sets, not running projects.
  3. PMBOK5 - a must! I unpacked a PDF version of the PMBOK5 guide chapter by chapter until I knew it back to front.

Practice exams/questions

  1. PMPforsure - an excellent site, despite the clumsy English and occasional dubious answer. The questions are tough but realistic. The number 1 best site for exam questions (IMHO).
  2. PMStudy - as everyone says, a good site for practice exams.
  3. Brainbok - yes, Brainbok. I originally used this site for the flashcards, which I used as a diversion from real study. But the information on the cards somehow became imprinted in my brain. Above everything else, the images of those cards is what I recalled during the exam, and it was very helpful. Strange but true.


I did not take a bootcamp, join a study group, take private lessons, take the "Limitless" pill, do yoga or use any other overhyped method. I simply studied hard. When I failed a practice exam I went to the beach for a swim to destress, then came back and studied even harder.

admin's picture

Congratulations on your PMP 


Congratulations! yes . I  have used  "pmp preparation " By Sohel Akther. Bit pricey. But  I liked the flow and the contents. better than  Rita.




I'm preparing for the exam and your LL is truely vaulable.

How important is leadership & management style of project manager? Did you come across any questions in these areas?


Hi coolpmp69. I thought the total bank of questions a good representation of the breadth of the PMBOK5 knowledge areas. Yes, I do recall questions about leadership and interpersonal skills but I don't recall the number of questions in this area. My suggestion is to study every single knowledge area until you are confident you truly understand them - don't skim or overlook any chapters, even those you may find straightforward. Do this and you'll be fine.

rkraneis's picture


Congratulations on passing the PMP.

Of course, everyone needs to read PMBOK.  But it's interesting to note your dislike for Rita's book and Headfirst PMP.

Here are my book/author reviews so far for PMP books:

  1. Rita - I used this book to teach the PMP in 2014 but didn't enjoy it.  Some people love it, some people hate it.  I found it's advice or tips to be very useful but somehow didn't like the structure of the book that much.
  2. Heldman - I enjoyed her book but it's a bias.  When I passed the PMP, I read PMBOK cover to cover and did so for Heldman's book.  Heldman's book isn't as cutesy as Rita's book it's more of a scholarly work, in my opinion.
  3. Sohel Akhter - This nice man actually found my website on the Internet and sent me a free book to review in late 2014.  I am currently reading it.  Even in the first few chapters I like the visuals in the book much better than Rita.  It just seems clearer to me than Rita's book.

I have not read other complementary books on passing the PMP by other authors.  If anyone tells you Rita is better than Heldman or one book is better than another for passing the PMP, ask them how many books they studied.

Normally PMP students read one complementary book and claim it's "the best".  Also, Amazon scores for these different books are pretty interesting.  You can compare Rita, Heldman, Akhter and others side by side with research.

Long note today.  Congratulations again to Maplanque on passing the PMP.

Richard Kraneis, PMP
Chicago, IL  USA

Hi Richard. Thanks for those references. Heldman and Akhter are new to me! The more I learn, the less I realise I know.

@ Maplanque - Thanks for your advice.  I shall study all the KA areas as you suggested. I prepared but somehow not very confident about the exam. I guess I am nervous :)  but youe advice calmed me a lit bit... thanks!

Congratulations and thanks!! i have started studying for pmp and wanted to know how long was the prep time. is two months sufficient? let me know please, thanks

Hi pkaushik13. I managed two hours intensive effort each day over an 8 week period. This was long enough for me but it was not an easy ride. Staying focussed through the distractions of daily life was the challenge (insomnia, domestic crises, bicycle accidents, illness, home invasions, a stressful day-job in project management, etc). It helps to know your own learning capacity and patterns. In my case, I am incapable of concentrating on any subject longer than 2 hours. But 2 hours of dedicated study is more valuable than 20 hours of website browsing and/ casual reading. I think a 3 month plan should be fine in most cases. 

thanks Maplanque-for your quick response-- I have the same situation like yours lot of things going and i am full time pm as well. i will start the 2 hour daily reading program, and target to get this done by end april. 


First of congraulations on your success.

Unfortnately, I am not the among those who hav passed the exam in first attempt. I was misguided and also didn't prepare correctly due to some issues.

I read PMBOK4 and RITA7th edition in 2013 for 02 weeks only full exagerated studies of 10 hrs daily for 02 weeks. Yet, failed to pass.

I want to give one more try, could you please guide me? I have very limited time for 1.5 month and want to pass and give exam in this time.

Thanks in advance for your inputs

Hi nspirzada1346. I believe you can pass the exam if you commit yourself to a program of study.

First, take a full mock exam to understand your current S/W. Use PMStudy or PMPforsure or PMZilla. Don't be demotivated by your result. It's the baseline against which you can measure your improvement.

Second, download a copy of PMBOK version 5. Print out page 61 and post it on your wall next to your computer.

Third, buy two of the study texts. I ddidn't like Rita or Headfirst, but that's just me. Perhaps you could try Crowe or another author recommended in this thread by others.

Fourth, study EVERY day. You have six weeks, that means two knwledge areas per week AND the additional chapters in PMBOK. It's a lot, but you can do it. Start reading the knowledge areas in PMBOK then, if you get bored, toggle to the same topic in one of the two study guides. Do practice questions whevener you can.

Fifth, take a practice exam every week. 20 questions won't be enough, but 200 might be too much for you. Try 100 questions. In the last two weeks however, make sure you do three x 200 questions.

Sixth, don't give up. Sometimes you'll feel as though you are going backwards, even though you are studying intensively. Your mock exam results will go up and down. The brain works in mysterious ways.

Lastly, try out as many online study resources as you can find. Just google PMP and EXAM and you'll eventuall find a resource that suits you.

Good luck.


Approximately how much time did you spend overall using the Brainbok material? I was told, upon purshase there are over 2000 flashcards.