Passed PMP Today - 30-Aug-2011 - Sharing Lessons Learned

Hi All
I have been a silent observer for the past 5 weeks. Today I passed the PMP exam and would like to share my lessons learnt 
which might prove to be useful for someone.
Available Study time I had: 5 weeks starting Jul 19
Exam date : 30-Aug
I work as a Project Manager and have a 3 year old child. I could not take many leaves hence all my studying was done at 
work (around 2 hours), and 2 hours after work and 12 hours over weekends.
Study guides used: 
PMBOK 4th edition :Studied all chapters 3 times. 1 st pass was very vague however the second and third passes shed some 
Rita Mulcahy: Did not study fully. While taking practice tests noted areas which were unclear and not mentioned in PMBOK. 
The unclear areas were clarified with Rita's book. With just 5 weeks to go I had time only for PMBOK.
Few Points to note:
1. Signed-up for PM Prepcast 15 questions a day. They gave me the initial confidence boost I needed.
2. Used HeadFisrt free chapter on critical path and float
3. Took close to 100 test questions per day from different sites. I noted down questions/areas which I did not know and studied those areas in depth. This helped me a lot to identify the areas not covered by PMBOK. Ofcourse, if you have the time and your study plan includes Rita or Andy Crowe then the practise tests will be easy.
4. I used Kim Heldman MP3 to listen while commuting. This gave me a good summary of the different chapters and helped me test my understanding.
5. 2 weeks back I noticed that I am not doing a good job of remembering the ITTOs even after 2 passes through PMBOK. I decided I needed help and searched through PMZilla lessons learned. I found a narrative with the idea to use Mnemonics for some of the tools and techniques. That helped me a great deal. Some of the TT I used from PMZilla and some I made up. Also another useful tip from PMZilla is to note down which processes do not have EEF & OPA as a (x) and those processes having only OPA as (o) in the process group grid also helped. 
6. I practised writing the 43 processes grid and EV formulas on a daily basis along with the Mnemonics coined. 
Mock Exams taken a week prior to exam:
Headfirst PMP : 82.5%
Oliver Lehmann 175 questions : 75%
4 days before the exam, my manager shared Rajesh Nair's notes from PMZilla. One look at the notes my heart stopped. I had not prepared to that extent at all and I started having misgivings on my preparation and whether to postpone the exam :( Wonderful notes. I used Rajesh Nair's notes last couple of days as a refresher. I was happy to see that most of the points addressed were familiar and I could bring back details from memory. That was a good sign. I stopped studying on 29-Aug afternoon. I could not take any more. I was scheduled for the afternoon batch on 30-Aug.
Day of the exam: Reached Prometric at 12:30 PM for exam at 1:30 PM. Had to wait till 2:30 PM as there was some server issue and all batches were delayed. One important point that helped me was a YouTube video on 'what happens in Prometric'. This video helped me to understand that during the tutorial the brain dump had to be prepared as the test starts as soon as the tutorial ends. The questions were moderately difficult and very tricky.
1. Close to 5-6 questions on team stages 
2. Approx 5-6 questions on conflict
3. 2 network diagram questions
4. 4 emV questions
5. approx 4 to 5 ITTO questions. The Mnemonics helped a lot
6. Lots of questions from Close, Quality and M&C process group
7. Lots of situations questions
I finished the exam in 2 hrs and 30 mins and reviewed all questions for 1 hour and then submitted the test. Was tensed in the last moment but passed :)
Result: 4 Proficient 2 Moderately Proficient
Special thanks to my husband and Mother-in-law for taking care of my son, my Project Manager for providing me with study materials and my friends for their encouragement and the trust they had on my abilities.
Mnemonics used by me: 
Collect Requirements : F FIGO GPQ {remember it as Ford FIGO}
Define scope  (APEF) {from PMZilla}
Define act (DERT)  {from PMZilla}
Seq Act  (lAPSD)
Est. Act. Res.(APE BP)  {from PMZilla}
Est Act Dur (APE TR) {from PMZilla}
Develop schedule (SCCRe WLoSS) {from PMZilla}
Control Schedule (PVPRe WLoSS)
Estimate cost (APE BP TR CV)  {from PMZilla}
Determine budget (CHEF R)  {from PMZilla}
Plan quality (CCCB SPADF)  {from PMZilla}
Perform QA (QP) 
Perform QC (FISH SCRAP C)  {from PMZilla}
Develop HR plan (ONO)
Acquire project team (PraNAV)
Develop project team (TRIG TC)
Manage project team  (OC PII)
Plan communications  (C4)
Distribute information  (CId)
Manage stakeholder expectations  (CIM)
Report performance (VCR F)
Identify risks (DICE ADS)  {from PMZilla}
Perfom qual analysis (R4 PE)
Perform quan analysis (DQE)
Plan risk responses  (CSS E)
Monitor and control risks (RRR VeST)
Plan Procurements (MEC)
Conduct Procurements (APE BP II)
Administer Procurements (CRIP PPC)
Close Procurements (PNR)
All the very best!!

Congratulations and nicely written detailed lesson learnt.... inculding the Mnemonics which will be helpful to all future PMP aspirants.




Can any one help me to get the study material of PMP Exam Prep by Rita's Seventh edition. How to get that book. Please help me,




admin's picture

Good post on Mneumonics... Congratulations on your PMP

 Thanks Satish and PMZilla. This site was of great help in my short study duration. This is the first time I have posted anything online as this site motivated me to do the same.

 Congratulation on passing.  I have passed by taking break from work and studied in library but I know your job is more difficult as you were working and then taking time to study 



Congrats..These mnemonics are very good and should be helpful

Congratulations on clearing the PMP exam. By reading your comments it shows your dedication on getting the certification.

Your suggestions and Mnemonics will be more helpful to others.

If you can clear the PMP with in this short duration, then you can clear easily PGMP. So take the next challenging drive.



Congrats Shree.

Thanks for your mnemonics. Could you send me Rajesh Nair's notes to my mail


Vembu A

Hi Vembu

Thanks. You can download the same from PMZilla home page.



hi this is new site and have more information instant bingo guide

Sorry guys for late post - the internet has been down since 29/Nov!

Here's the exam / preparations / aids / hype etc from my lens:

Exam Prep (Till 3 days before exam) ==>

Approx 40-45 hours spread over 6 weeks till 27/Nov [PLUS 40-45 hours taking exams or reviewing incorrect answers]. Rita's 6th edition is the only book I used. Yes, I did not open PMBOK even once although I have the hard copy (as part of my PDU earning in house company conducted course during Sep/2010).

That I took GMAT in end-2008 & completed my MBA in 2010 already takes care of handling exam preparation mindset / stamina and lot of topics such as Communication / HR / Procurement / Quality / Time Management etc.

ITTOs and Practice Exams ==>

No separate ITTO preparation - I just cannot cram. Rita's process chart and thorough understanding of process flow helped me identify Is & Os of all processes, my practical experience in large projects helps me keep a grasp on Ts & Ts.

Took Rita's chapter end quizzes twice - once during first pass and again after completing preparation. Took PM FastTrack 4 Knowledge Areas + 1 Process Group + 1 PMP + 1 SuperPMP. Finally, on 28/November I took Oliver Lehmann 175 Question acid test (to decide if I need to reschedule). Consistently scored 80 - 85 % in all exams after I completed my preparation. Always used to complete exams at the rate of 90-100 Qs per hour, except for Oliver's where I took 2h 5 minutes to complete 175 Qs.

Note that starting 19/Nov, I only took tests, updated my revision notes and revisited wrong answers' topics. After 27/Nov, I did not open any PMP related text except for my notes.

Exam Day & Result ==>

Reached exam center (Jayanagar, Bangalore) 1h 20 min ahead of schedule - I had visited the center on 28/Nov to familiarize myself (my first visit to Jayanagar area).

Was allowed to start 40 minutes before schedule of 13:30 IST. Exam experience need sub-headings

  1. Passed with Proficient in 4 Process Groups and MP in Executing group.

  2. Took me approx 3h 30 minutes to finally 'END' the exam, that is, until I was completely exhausted & could not longer revise & re-revise.

  3. Exam difficulty level= Similar to PM FastTrack or Rita's chapter end Qs, and easier than Oliver's.

  4. First 50 Qs freaked me out - that was the make or break time. After those 50 Qs, it was smooth until I hit another patch of 10 odd hard Qs.

  5. Mathematical Qs or Diagram related Qs are extremely simple.

  6. Either read Qs slowly or Re-read - they have so much extraneous information that the real Q may be lost to you.

  7. If you as much as decimal (.)1% doubt your answer option, MARK it for REVIEW. Some people suggest you also mark all calculation & diagram related Qs for review although I followed the former guideline.

  8. Easy Qs can also trick you into incorrect answer choice because the answer options may be so close - do not get tricked or let down your guard.

  9. You need to be physically prepared for around 5 hours of ordeal (taking travel time into account). Grab a chocolate bar (or anything sufficiently filling) before the exam, avoid coffee as it is diuretic.


My two cents to all the PMP Aspirants ==>

  1. Read the section above, which ended into I giving advice although I started with recounting objective experience.

  2. PMP Exam & its preparation are lot about mental + Physical stamina - Follow any standard preparation aid available in market and MORE IMPORTANTLY, try to be consistently regular (as I would study 1 hour each weekday & make up over weekends if I miss that).

  3. Cramming is best used when you cannot grasp a concept or want to be 100% sure you do not miss a single Q on ITTO.

  4. Try following a routine that you'll be subjected to on exam day for at least 7 days before the exam - exam center would still not be as pleasant as home (yes, I say this even when I have 2 small kids at home, do not have a separate study room and my next door house is under renovation).

  5. 75% score in PM FastTrack / Oliver should see you through - prep yourself mentally saying to yourself "I DESERVE TO BE CERTIFIED PMP AND I'LL EARN MY CERTIFICATION ON ...". BTW, starting 19/Nov, I ate-drank-slept-dreampt-spoke-breathed only PMP AND on 27/Nov night, I said to myself that I just want to get over this with an emphatic score!

  6. The exam is overhyped (as it should be) - if you have direct experience (as PM not APM) on large projects OR have had exposure to similar topics (in another Quality course / MBA / Training program) OR are good with books OR have studied hard + smart, YOU HAVE TO GET THROUGH.

What Next for me ==> This post was for you, the reader and possible applicant. I hope you'll find value and would be ready to further share if you choose to contact me. I'll look to balance my current role with some projects along with the heavy ITSM & Green Belt related stuff I've been doing for a while.

Before I sign off, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Ms Mulcahy, Mr Lehmann, Sridhar (whose blog on another site gave me some insights) and scores of online bloggers (who can be said to be my virtual study group).



Im finding tough to prepare as I travel a lot and not finding time to sit and study and losing confidence in my preparation now,

Please let me know the audio book of kim heldman and how helpful was it?

send an email to if possible.





Thanks. You can download the same from PMZilla home