Lessons Learned

Lessons learned during PMP Exam Preparation

This is Priyasloka Arya working in Honeywell, I take opportunities to share my LL in this forum.

Passing PMP is an achievement in itself. There are two aspect of preparing for a certification one is preparing for the exam and other is getting proper project management concepts. For examination point of view I have followed the books listed below.

I have vowed not to follow Rita Mulcahy books as it has a negative tone and makes you feel this is only book and her words are gospel of truths (still I feel it is the best book available if you could overlook her implicit arrogance).

I have started my exam preparation six (6) moths ago, that is by end of Jan, 2010. I have to reschedule my PMP exam because Six Sigma Black Belt Exam (ASQ) has become my priority and it has a fixed calendar date unlike PMP.

Exam Preparation:

My preparation took longer duration because I was going through in details of all project management techniques and standards (list is given below).    

I have been following PMBOK and Kim Heldman book mainly for my preparation. PMBOK is written in a lawyer like parlance and Kim book is opposite in contrast. The practice questions and audio summarizations are in Kim's books are excellent.

But, it could have been more systematic in presentation/bulleting and paraphrasing (Like a book of Dummies /Head Fast PMP or Joseph Phillip).

  1. PMBOK (One Complete Read)
  2. Kim Heldman(Two Complete Read)
  3. PMBOK (Two Complete Read)
  4. Selected chapters from Joseph Phillips  Book

I have taken PMP Practice Questions Exam Cram 2(even it is from 3rd Edition), I liked the question set and exam simulator Interface .Believe me PMP exam questions are less difficult than Cram and Kim's book questionnaire.

Before exam I have taken PMZilla Final PMP Exam (200 tough questions by T Kapadia from PMZilla http://pmzilla.com). Guys, the questions compilation is excellent, I endorse this product, as benefit-cost ratio is too high.  

I keep following PMZilla posts later and have been benefited by tips and witty writing of Harwinder.

I have followed extensive mind mapping technique (using freemind http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page tool) and prepared ITTO maps for all process and had taken print outs in A3 sheets for revision.

I had glued process maps from TSI (http://www.truesolutions.com)on walls of my study room for revision and easy follow up.  

I have taken three (3) days off from office before the exam (8th July, 2010) and it helped me enormously for revision. I used to switch off my cell and avoided temptation logging into office network via VPN.

I recommend to complete reading of all the practice standards (like wbs, scheduling, EVM) from PMI. It is written in a better (interesting way) than PMBOK.

Before the exam:

See the location of exam centre in Google map and take a printout.  Call up the exam center and note out the landmarks to avoid last minute haste.

I had tried my best to have non spicy food a day before my exam and proper sleep.

Exam Date:

I have kept all the necessary documents (Passport, location map, water bottle-glucose added, biscuits, towel, and cakes) in a handbag.

Exam centre in Jayanagar (Bangalore) was not far off from my place in HSR. I opted for auto instead of my vehicle as I was not aware of that location. I requested my wife to accompany me. The appointment time was @9:00 AM (I believe during morning mind is fresh and un- cluttered).

The checking in prometric was a bit more than expected. Security guy in prometric announced; I can not take anything inside but passport not even my wrist watch (so weired!!!).

Exam starts with a simulation test which goes for 15 minutes; I took the test and relaxed all my senses.

The exam started, all the questions looked easy for me (I know even easy looking questions might have some trick I must have committed mistakes).

Just a word of caution: do not spend much time (more than 2 minutes on a question) select a good looking answer, mark for review and push on.  

I have kept 30 minutes for review for questions marked for review. 

I have submitted my answers and waited for my result and the screen went blank (white screen), survey questions popped up. I filled the survey and again waited for congratulation screen. At last, the screen appeared and I was elated. 

The final score was:

Domain                                             My Result

Initiating the Project                          Moderately Proficient

Planning the Project                           Proficient

Executing the Project                         Proficient

Monitoring and Controlling the Project    Moderately Proficient

Closing the Project                             Moderately Proficient

Professional and Social Responsibility     Moderately Proficient 

My Take away from the whole experience:

Initially, somehow I felt the exam is bit hyped to its question paper standard. But later, my friends retorted that after studying so much and passing other exams like CSSBB, PRINCE2, ITIL and ISTQB might have helped me.

In the end: to me, if the exam looks easy and is actually so EASY. I could have been proficient in all process groups.

Looking ahead from here:

Time to garner more knowledge and prepare for Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Managing Projects with Office Project 2007 and Earned Value Management Professional®. I will mentor my friends to pass PMP and contribute to blogs in PMZilla (I owe a lot to them).


I thank all who have helped me in this endeavor. My wife for tolerating heaps of books and scribed pages in my study room citing this is only PMP preparation not rocket science research and my mother who thinks that I can not fail. I thank Harwinder for his insightful articles (in PMZilla.com) and T Kapadia for his question sets.   

To all the PMP Aspirants:

Prepare early, develop good knowledge beyond PMP. Do not spend lot of money on exam simulator and training for PMP, it is not worth. Read a lot, discuss a lot and keep your self updated with different questions/patterns from online resources.

Wish you good luck.  

Books and Resource for PMP

  1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: (Pmbok     Guide)


  1. PMP: Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide

by Heldman, Kim


  1. PMP Project Management Professional Study Guide

Joseph Phillips  


  1. PMP Practice Questions Exam Cram 2

by David Francis

    Standard for Project Management


  1. Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures

(Project Management Institute)


  1. MIL-HDBK-881A





  1. Practice Standard for Earned Value Management

(Project Management Institute)


  1. EIA-748

Earned Value Management Systems

(EIA Standard)


  1. Practice Standard for Scheduling

(Project Management Institute)

  1. 1490TM IEEE Guide Adoption of PMI Standard

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge

    Books for Project Management

  1. Software Project Management

by Hughes

  1. Quantitative Methods in Project Management

by John C. Goodpasture

  1. Planning and Scheduling Using Microsoft Office Project 2007

by Paul E. Harris

  1. Microsoft Office Excel 2007 for Project Managers

by Kim Heldman, William Heldman

  1. Software Project Management in Practice

by Pankaj Jalote

  1. Project Management for Dummies

by Stanley E. Portny


admin's picture

My heartiest congratulations to you on becoming PMP.

Secondly excellent compilation of LL . I am sure this page will be bookmarked and circulated.

FInally I am glad that you liked the PMZilla Book and thank you very much for endorsing the product. So many people have purchased this book, so far you are the 1st person to post the feedback on this forum.

When I compiled the questions my intent was to not waste any time of the person and maximize the value for time. That's why I compiled only 200 question as opposed to 1000s of questions elsewhere. Even if you take other tests you will get 60%-70% easy to moderate questions 20-30% tough questions . But what you interested as PMP aspirant is how to answer those 30% tough questions.

Thanks and all the best again


My heartiest congratulations, too!!!

Thnks for comprehensive LL description and the handful recommendations.

Just a question - could you share you mind map file on ITTO? (Of course, if it's not a problem)