Passed PMP, 1st attempt :) yay!

I just
passed my PMP exam on last week in my first attempt.  :)  I
have been following the forum in PMZilla for few months and learned a lot from
the LL by other PMPs. I will summarize some of my preparations works, reference
materials, practice exams’ scores etc for your reference. Hope the information
will be helpful for PMP aspirants. Just treat this post as a story telling and
it is quite long (and I hope not boring)…



  1. Head First PMP (First
  2. PMP Project Management
    Professional Exam Study Guide, Kim Heldman (5th Edition)
  3. PMBOK Guide,(4th

The reference materials above are provided in the sequence
that I read them. I started off with HeadFirst book, before I go for the 35
hours PMP classroom training. It is a REALLY GOOD book for beginner to project
management concept. All of the concepts are presented in an easy to understand
and interesting way and you will have the basic concept stick in your brain for
a pro-long period. It works really WELL for me maybe because I am under the
category of HIGHLY VISUAL learning style (VAK assessment).

After picking up the basic concept, I have no problem
absorbing the knowledge in the classroom training in July 2009. I started the
PMP exam application in August and get the green light in September 2009 to
proceed with exam.

Then, I continued my study using Kim Heldman’s book (text
book came along with the training class). Well, it does provide a lot more
information compared to HeadFirst, but personally I do not think I like it a
lot because it is TOO WORDY for a HIGHLY VISUAL type of people like me. Though
not easy for me, but I still finished reading the book from cover to last page,
and that took me a month…Oops… 3 more weeks left before the exam…

Finally, I started reading the PMBOK Guide right after
finishing Kim heldman’s book. After getting acquainted with the concept from
the 2 books that I read, reading PMBOK is not as suffer as described in some
LLs I read before. I finished reading the PMBOK guide in just 10 days, and
reserved the remaining days for exam questions (Will be discussed in next


Question banks:

  1. Chapter review questions  (HeadFirst)-- scored ~80-90% 
    on average
  2. Chapter review questions (Kim heldman)--scored
    70-80% on average
  3. Kim Heldman Bonus exam questions (Bonus
    exam 1 & 2, total ~ 150 Questions)--scored ~70-75% on average
  4. Oliver Lehmann 75 (77%)  and 175 (78%) questions
  5. Headfirst Lab 200 Questions -- scored  89%


Practice on
the exam questions (item 3 – 5) in all 3 days before the exam.  Adjust the time limit according to the number
of questions in the exam (e.g. 3.5 hours for 175Q). For all the questions
answered wrongly, revisit the reference book to clear the concept tested in the
questions. For those marked question, revisit the question again to understand
why did I chose the right/wrong answer. Make sure I understand the decision
process that makes me choose the right/wrong answer. By doing all these, it
helps me to close most of the gaps in my knowledge for the exam.


 Exam day:

Reached Prometric center about  50 mins before the scheduled exam time. I was
provided with 3 pieces of paper and 2 sharpened pencils. Started the tutorial
and let the 15 mins timer counts down. Read the tutorial for 5 mins, and use
the remaining time to brain-dumped important formulas (not really use them in
the exam though). Start answering after I ended the 15 mins tutorial. I was a
bit nervous in the beginning, and read every sentence carefully, and made slow
progress. But after gaining the momentum, everything started to get smoother.
For situational question that I not so sure with the answer, marked and

I managed to finish the first pass of question answering in
3.5 hours. Marked around 20 questions, and among them about 6-7 is totally no
idea on which answer to choose. Used up the remaining 30 mins to go through the
marked questions, and submitted for final result. Then, I was redirected to a
survey of about 8 slides (just took about 3 mins to answer all of them), and
have to wait like 30-45s for the exam software to process the result (a long
wait huh under that situation)… and saw “CONGRATULATION…..”. Phew…and YAY!!!!!!

I could immediately see the exam report… I scored 4 domains with PROFICIENT,
and 2 domains (with least % of questions) with MODERATE PROFICIENT. Not so
bad…  :)


 Misc Tips:

  1. I wrote down the expected
    “milestone” in the scratch paper provided, something like 4.00 hour: 0 Q;
    3:30: 25Q; 3:00: 50Q…..0.30: 175Q. By writing down the “milestone” list, I
    could track my progress against the list, to make sure that I manage the
    time properly. Trust me, you do not have the mood to keep calculating
    something like “oh… now is 2 hours left, I supposed to have answer x
    questions by now”… so the “milestone” list really helps me a lot in
    tracking if I am on schedule or behind schedule. J
  2. Make good use of the free audio/flash card
    or whatever learning aid provided by the book/online. I printed out some
    ITTO charts, downloaded the audio book from Kim Heldman ‘s CD to mp3
    player, and make sure I utilize every minutes while commuting &
    driving to “download” the information to my brain (I swear I drove
    carefully… just having those audio playing at the background, and hope
    that it will be like my favorite song, which I could remember the lyric
    automatically after plenty of replays… guess the same concept applied to
    PMP concept?) :P
  3. Read the LL from other PMPs, and it will
    really help you to get an idea on how to prepare for the exam. One of my
    favorite LL is by Shu-Wing Pang, PMP. (

 The exam
preparation process is presented in a very structured way, and in fact I
benchmarked my mock exam score to the author’s score, and in the real exam I
score something similar to the author! (4 Proficient and 2 moderate
proficient)… what a good and accurate benchmark!

  1. One of the favourite
    questions by aspirant PMP is which mock exam is closest to the real PMP
    exam. Personally I feel it is between Oliver lehmann (difficult) and
    HeadFirst Lab (easy). Personally I feel Rita’s exam question (Super PMP)
    is overkill and too tricky. It is far more difficult than the real exam,
    and almost kill my confident to take the exam. However, I do find Rita’s
    exam prep book really good (even though I don’t really own one… read part
    of it at the bookstore) as it covers plenty of important concepts that are
    not in the reference materials that I have.


General comments:

  1. Not so much of calculation
    questions (<10 I guess)… and it is quite straight forward (of course
    sometimes you need to play a bit with the formula, but as long as you
    understand the concept it will not be a problem at all).
  2. Make sure you READ and
    UNDERSTAND the “Professional and Social responsibility” concept,
    especially the one from PMP Handbook. I think I would have better result
    if I read that thoroughly and carefully.
  3. As I learned from the
    other PMP’s LL, I found it really useful (especially for the long question)
    to read the answer first before you read the question. This will help you
    to focus on important info in the question instead of distracted by “red
    herrings”. Also, from my experience you could easily eliminate the 2
    obviously wrong answers, and it is not impossible to choose the right one
    from the remaining answers (it will not drive you crazy as some of the mock exams trying to do...).


Ok… That’s all from me. Sorry for making this post a long
one, but I hope that the aspirant PMP will find this post helpful. Good luck!

Best Regards,


admin's picture

Winson, this is an excellent writeup. Congratulations on your PMP and All the best for future endeavous