How I passed the PMP exam on my first attempt

Like many PMPs before me, I am privileged to share my experience on becoming a certified PMP, having passed my exam on September 24th, 2009. First, a big kudos to this forum and all the contributors. The forum has proven to be a very valuable knowledge base, this was very helpful to me preparing for, and during the real exam. I assume your application is approved and you are working towards your exam which is already booked with Prometric.

In preparing, like many, I began reading the PMBOK 3rd edition. The PMBOK 4th edition is a little easier to read but still I would be asleep after a few pages....I just made it through the book once. I knew the PMBOK was not enough, so my quest for more resources lead me to the following.


PMPrepCast - Why it worked. After watching the episodes, I was able to better understand not only the 42 processes but the context as intended by PMI. The Audio/Video format increased my comprehension and retention. Good Value at $100.


PMP Exam Prep 6th Edition - Why it worked. It helped me to focus my efforts. The exercises and chapter questions were very good in ensuring you understand the context. It also has useful "Tips and Tricks", for example, searching the electronic copy of PMBOK for "Recommend Corrective Action" to see how it is being referenced and under which processes.

PM FASTrack Exam simulation Software v6 - Why it worked. These questions really made me think and to answer them you need to focus, it also took some time to answer questions that required calculation or seem to have many correct answers. This was invaluable in the real exam, you will notice that 4 hours is not a long time. My first practice test, I completed 137 questions in 4 hours.  

READ PMBOK 4th Edition

Now that I had made up ground, I was more comfortable with the language of the PMBOK and my second read, was faster and more focused.


As mentioned in one of the PrepCast, an athlete doesn't just show up and run. He/She practice running the race, over and over and naturally one gets faster. So, the more NEW questions I answered, the more I found gaps. The more gaps I covered, the more prepared I was for the real exam. Weeks before the exam, I was doing 50 questions in timed one hour sessions every two days and a complete exam on weekends. The off days was used to cover my gaps. This meant reviewing wrong answers, reading things I missed in the PMBOK. (eg. hammok activity, tornado diagram etc.)

These exams have good quality questions some similar to the real exam: - 175 sample questions - FREE - 200 sample exam - FREE - $49 US - Q & A’s for the PMBOK Guide - ISBN: 978-1933890753 - $20 US - a few sample test questions



Someone on this forum said know thy exam...this was very helpful.

To my surprise the exam was not as tricky as I read on some of the forums. It is a psychometric test that is ambiguous at times. Rita had great tips on surviving the exam. The exam comes at you from different angles (what do you as project manager do FIRST, NEXT, what is BEST, etc) so the context of the processes are most important. Memorization of the ITTO will land you only about 10-15 questions, your experience really kicks in beyond that. Know the following areas inside-out:

Quality - all process, ITTOs, what tool is best

Risk - all processes, ITTOs, risk strategies

Procurement - Close Project, Close Contract, Administrative closure, Contract types

Configuration Management - Integrated Change Control

The PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

HR - Develop & Manage Team

Communication - Manage stakeholder, if they request a change, as PM what is BEST,

Earned value - what the values mean, what formulas are for forecasting, which formula to use when, how to derive unknown values

Determine critical path, Determine change to the critical path, Critical Chain, Fast tracking, Crashing

Finally, you need a strategy when taking the exam, mine was simple. During the tutorial of 15 minutes create my brain dump sheet. Pace myself to 50 questions in 45 minutes. This will guide you along, you have to keep going and not get stuck on any one question. There are many more tips but most important.....get well rested before your exam, it will help you focus!!!

Best of luck!

admin's picture

Congratulations Kevin, and great writeup. I am sure this will help people decide on what study material to choose