Passed exam on 08/23 - Lession Learnt

Hi Team,

As I told in my previous thread, I cleared my PMP exam on 08/23 in first attempt. Throughout my preparation, I was kind of active on this forum and read almost all lesson learned threads. Though some of them are motivating, but it was disheartening to read about failures even after doing full preparation and scoring similar % in sample exams. But I didn’t loose my heart and continued my studies. So if you ask me mantra to clear exam, it’s dedication and patience. I know most of us give this exam during that part of life where we are not used to study and can not give consistent sittings due to professional/personal commitments. So, if you are able to be patient and give dedicated effort for about 2 months, I don’t see any reason for failure.


Preparation Time:


I started off my preparation with PMP 35 hours training classes within my company. But I didn’t listen to anything in these classes and attended them just for sake for application process. Then I read Rita’s book once during March-Apr time. I had to stop preparation during May-June due to some personal commitments. Finally, I started my actual preparation from 25th June. So, I would say it’s about 2 months of dedicated effort. I used to study 2-3 hours on week days and 8-10 hours during weekends.




I used only 2 books throughout my preparation.


  • Rita Mulcahy PMP Prep


 Lot of people mentioned about other books but I didn’t follow any other book. I believe these 2 books are more than enough for PMP preparation. My suggestion is to go for only 2 books – PMBOK and any other book, be it Rita, Head First etc. I liked Rita’s book as it helped me in clearing 80% of terms and concepts. I would suggest reading Rita’s book followed by PMBOK and keep on repeating this step till you reach stage where you can visualize whole book with closed eyes.


Apart from these books, there are some other materials/sites which I referred:



My special thanks to Harwinder who is giving so much of his time helping us. I read his blogs regularly and must say he is great writer. His articles on Point of Total Assumptions, Risk Management, Configuration Control, Probability and Duration Estimates, Difference b/w WPI, WPM, Forecasting & Performance Reports, Difference b/w Scope & Requirements are great and must read for all PMP aspirants.   



I used this website for chapter wise questions and for topics like Team Roles, HR Theories, Additional Quality Tools e.g. Force Field Analysis, NGT, Matrics, Activity Types. The chapter wise questions are really good and are freely available. I found their full length exam easy.



I don’t have words for all my friends with whom I had healthy discussions and who helped me clearing lot of my doubts. Please be active on forums and try to answer other people queries. Even if you feel question is simple, do answer and put your viewpoint. Sometimes, we feel that we know answer but when you actually start writing about it, you will realize your gap.



I referred this article for delegation topic.



This is for Ethics & Social Responsibility.


  1. Lastly, if you are only following Rita’s book, you may want to check for following topics from different sources as they are not well covered in Rita’s:

    1. Different Phase Types – PMBOK 19-21

    2. Composite Organization – PMBOK 31

    3. Difference between EEF & OPA – PMBOK 14,32

    4. Configuration Management System from Harwinder’s blog

    5. Facilitated Workshops – PMBOK 107

    6. Product Analysis & Alternative Identifications – PMBOK 114

    7. Activity Types – Discrete, LOE, Apportioned –

    8. Schedule N/W Template – PMBOK 141

    9. Alternative Analysis – PMBOK 155

    10. Critical Chain Method – This is very important concept and I read lot of articles from internet. I think Harwinder also has one good link in one of his blog.

    11. Additional Quality Planning Tools – PMBOK 199 and

    12. Attribute & Variable Sampling

    13. Common/Special Causes

    14. RTY - I am not sure if this topic is in PMP syllabus but I read these concepts after giving Oliver’s test.

    15. Salience model –

    1. Stakeholder’s Grid – PMBOK 249

    2. Forecasting Methods – PMBOK

    3. I would suggest reading Communcation chapter from PMBOK rather than Rita’s as she didn’t covered last 3 processes well and they have some important concepts. PMBOK should be enough for those processes.

    4. Read PMBOK Appendix for Interpersonal Skills and Decision Making

    5. PTA –

    6. Last but most important – Glossary in PMBOK. Sometimes, we understand concepts but may not able understand their definitions.

    7. I didn’t use Rita’s process chart and glued myself to ITTO’s only.


Tests/Sample Questions:


I gave following full length exams with my scores in first attempts:


  1. Oliver 75 questions – 70.6%

  2. Head First PMP – 82.5 %

  3. Oliver 175 questions – 70%

  4. PMSTUDY 1 – 78.86%

  5. PMSTUDY 2 – 81.71%

  6. PM-ABC – 71%

  7. – 83%

  8. simplilearn – 71.43%

  9. Fastrack – Super PMP – 84%

Most of them were free and good but I would say pmstudy and fastrack were more close to real exam.

Study Methodology:


First Round of Reading (During Apr-May): Using above material, I started my chapter from Rita’s followed by questions at end of chapter in book itself. I completed this book once without much jumping into PMBOK.


I took printout of Page 43 of PMBOK along with 9 other pages covering ITTO. These 10 pages were ready reckoner for me and I always keep on referring them.


Second Round of Reading (25th June – 15th July): In my second round, I revised book again and also gave PMP Fastrack & chapter wise exams after reading each chapter. I generally scored 70-75% in both sources. During this round, I read PMBOK too and marked concepts which are not well covered in Rita’s and need to be crammed.


Third Round of Reading (15th July – 6th Aug): I read Rita again and at this time, I was kind of familiar with all concepts, so was able to finish it early. Also, I revised all wrong questions of Fastrack and pmproadtrip again at end of each chapter.


Full Length Exams (7th Aug – 12th Aug): Then I spent one week giving full length exams. After every exam, I always consolidate important wrong questions in excel sheet for later review. I kept few full length tests for last days.


Last Full Revision (13th Aug – 18th Aug): I read both books and revised ITTO again.


Pending Full Length Exams (19th Aug – 21st Aug): Gave pending exams during these 3 days


Last Revision on Last Day (22nd Aug) – I read both books & all my notes and believe me I completed all this in a day. This can give idea of my preparation that I was able to complete each chapter in 1 hour and without referring books, I was able to write all high level points.


D-Day (23rd Aug) – My exam was in evening, so reached there after hectic office work. I was really very nervous. I pen down page 43 and important formulas on rough sheet during tutorial time. There were only two categories - easy questions and tricky questions. The tricky one’s are those questions which you can understand but all options may look correct or you are not able to choose best of last two left options. I was able to complete 200 questions in 3 hours and took break for 5 mins. Then I targeted skipped questions which were about 5 and then moved to marked questions which were about 55. I completed these marked question right on time and I ended exam with about 2-3 mins left. Frankly speaking, I wasn’t sure at that point if I would pass or not. Then screen blinked for sometime and then something appears. Bang, that was Prometric survey :(. They didn’t tell my result and expect me to fill the survey. I gave “very satisfied” in everything and completed survey within min. There was option to skip that survey, but I tried best to be generous:-p. Then then then , finally actual screen comes up with Congratulations !!!!.


Other Points:


I got 1 proficient, 4 moderately proficient and 1 below proficient. I am not sure about passing % or criteria but this is what I interpreted from various threads. You will be evaluated on 6 domains and you need to pass in each domain i.e. score 61% in each domain. I think “Below Proficient” means you scored somewhere between 0 – 70% and “Moderately Proficient” means 70%-90% and above 90% is proficient. So, you can pass exam even with “Below Proficient”. Well, these % numbers may be different and this is just my interpretation.


Also, another important suggestion is to maintain notes. Keep on writing important points in separate document or in book. Also, keep consolidating wrong questions which helped you clear some of doubts. e.g. (Please note this is just example of important points)


  1. Customer does not generally approve the project scope (what you are going to do to complete their requirements); instead, they approve the product scope (their requirements).

  2. Project Scope Statement & WBS is not used as input for Verify & Control Scope.

  3. When control charts are being used, outliers are singular measurements outside the bandwidth between an upper and lower control limit.

  4. WPI is output of Direct & Manage Project Execution and is input to all Control processes.

  5. All control processes have following common inputs:

a.       Project Management Plan

b.      Work Performance Information

c.       Organizational Process Assets

d.      Control processes doesn’t have EEF as input


This list will be different for each individual and its all up to us, how we maintain it. The thumb rule is to have your knowledge gaps highlighted in book or captured in notes so that you can revise them in last days.


Well, that’s it from my side. Best wishes to all of you who are appearing in exam. I feel proud of myself and thanks to my wife who has shown so much of patience& provided full support. It’s giving me so much of satisfaction to write PMP in my resume now :)





That was LL in great detail.. congrats once again... looking forward to your continued involvement in the forum.

 Thanks for the detailed plan above. Here is my take on the exam and maybe a few tips for those who will get certified shortly...

After postponing the exam twice, I just decided to take the plunge last week. And I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Even the part where the heart stops for a while after clicking the submit at the end of the ordeal. In fact, if it were not so damn expensive, I wouldn't mind taking the exam again.... I 
  • Be thorough on the ITTOs... contrary to what the common expectation is, there are indeed 'point blank' questions on these. I used some ideas from the post above (Thanks Jagjit) on how to group/categorize and remember them.
  • Take as many sample questions as you can...and remember the answers.. ha ha ha! 
    Though the questions on the exam are very different from any of these preparation questions I have seen, these questions will help you become thorough with the concepts. There are some very good sites mentioned in the presentation slides that was given by the chapter.
  • One strategy that worked for me both on understanding the subject (sometimes you just have to mug it up) and saving time was to circle the questions that I could not answer correctly on the first attempt and crossing out questions whose answers were obvious; you couldn't make any mistake with these question even with your eyes closed. Now when you are doing the ... ahem ... backward pass... you only need to review the questions that you got wrong. If you can write down the reason why you got the wrong answer... even better.
  • I'd definitely recommend  the cost effective solution - Head First. Read it thoroughly - cover to cover. Shame on me, but I only glanced through the PMBOK. I honestly couldn't read the entire thing!
  • What I've noticed is that if the candidate has good communication skills, he/she doesn't need to burn as much midnight oil as the someone who has average comm skills. Communication is after all the vital link. The exam is about understanding the question first.
  • Make sure you use the "mark' feature on the exam to the greatest extent. Even if you have the slightest doubt - Mark it. After the 'forward pass', there will be a few 'flashes of sanity' that will help you figure out the right answer during the review.
  • Probability says you have a 25% chance of getting the right answer. You just need to work a little more to raise your chances for the remaining  37%!
Go take that plunge... and all the best! 
Now to gather and keep track of the 60 credits...