Passed PMP (25-Oct-14) Lessons Learned

First off, congrats to all of have taken and passed. I took the exam and passed on 25-Oct-2014.

My results:
Initiation - Moderately Proficient
Planning - Proficient
Executing - Proficient
M & C - Moderately Proficient
Closing - Moderately Proficient

The exam took me the full four hours (no breaks). I had roughly 5 minutes to go back and look over a few questions. It was as tough as I was expecting and everyone said. There were a lot of questions with two potential right answers and a lot of toss-ups for me.

At the exam center (which I booked one week in advance) it took about 15-20 minutes to get checked in. Many others were taking exams at the same time--GRE was most common. So, do arrive the 20-30 minutes early.

I did learn the 47 knowledge/process groups and all the math formulas. Did a brain dump on most during the tutorial. It did help a little but wasn't really necessary.

With 3 other people (project managers) at my company with PMP's I felt I should also have the certification. I began my venture in July 2013 by getting access to Skillsoft training (only item paid for by my company).

- I began my study with a corporate offered training program: Skillsoft ( This is how I got some/most of my contact hours.
- I also used Career Academy ( which is some Groupon training that leverages Looking Glass Development training material. I enjoyed this MUCH more than the dry/boring Skillsoft on-line training.
- PMBOK 5th Edition
- Head First PMP

Started in July 2013 - Oct 2013. I got sidetracked for a couple months and picked back up in Jan/Feb 2014 time frame. I finished all those online trainings, or at least Skillsoft by April 2014. I did take a lot of notes.

I read through PMBOK and that was hard. The Head First PMP is much more interesting. I went front to back in that and did all exercises (took 200 question exam online though).

It wasn't really until Aug - Oct I really got serious. By that time I had done all the online training and read each book once. In Sept/Oct I built up to the exam. That meant doing a week or two review/re-read of the books and doing some Career Academy video watching and taking quizzes after the knowledge areas. I was spending an average of 1-3 hours 4 days a week doing some reading/studying/exam and then another 4 hours on 2-3 weekends before the exam. Easily 40-60 hours of work the 1 month before the exam.

In October I spent about 1 week on PMBOK gloss over and then took exams online over about 2 weeks. Most 200 question exams were taking me 3 hours. My goal was to have 1000 questions under my belt for exam time.

Oliver Lehmann (75 questions)- 61.3%
Skillport (200 questions) - 59%
Skillport Retake with feedback - 67%
Career Academy (200) - 78%
Head First PMP (200) - 76%
PMStudy (175) - 69.14%
PM-Exam Simulator (170) - 70%, 66%, 80%, 63.75%
(4 small exams add up to 170 questions)

After reading online about all the people scoring 80% I was concerned. However, I had been doing this on and off for over a year and I really wanted to be done. I felt confident I could get 70% on the exam where minimum passing is 61% so I decided to book the test--one week ahead of time. I found an early spot on Saturday (to not take off any work) and was set. I slept VERY poorly the night before.

When the exam ended I thought this could go either way. I was EXTREMELY relieved to see PASS I wanted to cry. Crazy huh. How can an exam elicit such an emotional response? Well it did. I was relieved to know I'm done studying; that my journey is complete. Now I know how everyone else feels. It was a lot of effort to pass and would be very hard to pick up and do a retake.

Good luck to those who are studying. I wish you well. I know what you are going through. Also, let my lesson learn of being between 60-80% on practice exams be an indicator that you can PASS the PMP but you will likely not achieve proficiency in all areas.

I didn't take any in class bootcamp. I only did online studying (presentation/voice). Spent $99 on Career Academy and another $100 or so on books.

Hope this helps. Thanks for reading.



thanks a lot to share.

Here is my actual Mock result with PMStudy,

Exam 3 = 63%
Exam 1 = 71%
Exam 2 = 69%

do you have any recommendations ?
What should I do Next ?

Oliver H. Lehmann ?

Do try to take some other exams. There are quite a few "free" ones out there--many of them I listed. PMP Exam Simulator and Oliver H. Lehmann are good. I was also going to take PMTI Institute but never got around to it.

I did like Career Academy (Groupon for $99) however, there can be an overwhelming amount of questions to answer between sessions!

Congrats Dan ...

admin's picture

Congratulations on that relieving feel. Thanks for posting here.

Congratulations Dan.
You must be so relieved.

How does one pick up their scores from the "sixties" to the 70's to 80's >> do they continue with tests, go back to reading?

What are your views?

My method was:

Skillsoft and Career Academy - watch and learn.

Try to read PMBOK

Do all of HeadFirst PMP (more exciting)

Skim HeadFirstPMP and do the same for PMBOK.

Take test and go over areas that I'm not doing so well in. Why did I miss a question. Look up details in PMBOK book.

It is a good idea to go back and read some more, it will make more since after you take a practice exam. So I would take exam on Weekend, then go back and skip 2-3 chapters over the next couple of days and then take another exam. It typically helped.

If you have a really good memory or feel for all concepts you can push into the 80's and above, if you do that you'll do real well on the exam. If you can push into the 70's with confidence you'll likely be successful on the exam. Remember, all you have to get on the exam is 61%. Good luck. And yes, what a relief/burden lifted!