Passed PMP with 5Ps 16-Mar-2013 - Detailed LL

A word of caution: This is a very detailed LL and may eat up your precious time. 

Dear All,

During my initial days of PMP preparation, I was a silent observer in this wonderful forum. But later broke my silence and became an active member. I cleared PMP with 5Ps in my first attempt on 16-Mar-2013 and thought of sharing my experience on this journey. Before going into the exam room, I wanted to write this as the first line in my LL. "The exam was damn easy", but whatever happened was quite opposite, "The exam was difficult". This is not to scare you, but is the fact. May be I was unfortunate enough to receive the toughest set.

My preparation:

I started studying from 22-Dec-2012. But my serious preparation kicked off on 02-Jan-2013. Approximately 70 days of preparation with a total study of around 280 hours (till the day of my exam).

Resources used:

PMBOK guide Fourth Edition (more than 4 times)

Rita Mulcahy 7th Edition (3 times)

PMZilla forum

I started off with PMBOK and initially found it difficult to understand. But somehow managed to understand the flow. It took me 25 hours to complete the first pass. Then I moved on to Rita and spent 50 hours to complete the first pass. Her tone may be a bit negative, but the book helped me in understanding the whole concept. I tried all the chapter end questions and then referred back the book for the wrong answers. This helped me correct my concepts then and there. I scored 78%.

I started my second pass and this time read PMBOK and Rita in parallel for each chapter. This helped me to map the concepts in PMBOK with the explanation given in Rita. I think this is the best way to picturize the entire flow. I once again did the Rita chapter end questions and this time believe me, I scored 90%. It took me around 50 hours to complete the second pass and I completed on 01-Feb-2013.

After this, I thought it is the right time to test myself with some mock tests and on 02-Feb-2013, I took my first mock (TechFaq360). After this, I started going through PMBOK and Rita (3rd pass) line by line during weekdays,  and on every weekends I used to take 2 full 4 hour mock tests and review the wrong answers. By this time, I had 75% understanding of the ITTO flow. To understand the remaining 25%, I printed the ITTO for all the 9 knowledge areas (totally 9 pages) and stapled it together. Every day without fail I used to go through these 9 pages once and try to map the processes. By doing this, I reached a position wherein I was able to answer any type of ITTO questions even in my sleep.

Through this forum, I came to know about the various quality mock tests. I decided on which tests to take and added a target date to each test. I never deviated from this plan. Below are the tests taken and the scores.

 Mock Tests:

Rita Mulcahy Chapter End (1st pass, 2nd pass)

78.48, 90



PMZilla 30 tough


Skill Sign 50 questions


Exam Central


Edwel Programs


Christopher Scordo (7 - 12)


Christopher Scordo (13 - 18)


PM Study1


HeadFirst PMP


PM Study2


Simpli Learn


PM Study3


PMP For Sure


Oliver Lehman - 75


Oliver Lehman - 175


Frank T. Anbari


PMP Fast Track


SuperPMP Fast Track


PM Study4


One important thing is, please refer PMBOK for all the wrong answers even if the exam provider has given an explanation for the correct answer. As I have read many people saying that PMSTUDY was close to the real exam, I was very much confident since my scores in PMSTUDY were really good. The confidence level was so high that during the last 5 days before my exam, I studied only for around 10 hours which is 2 hours per day. But I didn’t underestimate the exam and was prepared for everything.

Exam Day: (All the data given below is about the set of questions which I faced)

The exam centre was 1.5 hours journey from my home and my exam slot was at 8.30. During the train journey, I went through ITTO and Glossary and my personal notes which were just a 4 page document. I carried a snickers bar chocolate and a small water bottle with me just to make sure that I don’t starve during the exam.

Reached exam centre 40 minutes before the exam and completed all the initial formalities. Before going inside the exam room, I had a bite of snickers and drank some water so that I can withstand for another 2 hours before taking a break. They provided me with a set of ear plugs, scratch pad, a physical calculator and 2 pencils. The exam centre was very silent and the staffs were really accommodating.

The biggest mistake committed was, I started doing the brain dump even before starting the tutorial. There was a screen asking me to confirm if I was Arun. I thought that I can complete the brain dump and then proceed. Suddenly a dialog box opened while I was doing the dump which said that if I don’t confirm in another 10 seconds, the exam will automatically end. So please be aware that you need to confirm yourself immediately, else the exam will automatically end.

After completing the brain dump, I skipped through the tutorials and the exam started. The first question itself was like a bomb. I couldn’t even understand what they were asking about. Then I took a deep breath and again read the question, but to my surprise, I was still unable to map it to any process or group. Finally after spending a minute on the same question, I marked it for future review. The second question was of medium difficulty and then I thought things will start moving. But when I completed the first 10 questions, I had marked 4 questions and the time spent was 9 minutes. I had never taken this much time in any of the mock tests. The questions were extremely difficult and the same rate continued throughout the first 100 questions for which I took 90 minutes.

I remember reading in one of the LLs that the first 100 questions were very easy and the next 100 was very tough. I somehow had a very mild feeling about this inside my heart which said that the questions from 101 will be easy. To my great surprise, exactly the same thing happened. The next 100 questions were easy when compared to the first 100. If you ask me to rate the difficulty level of PMSTUDY exam with my real PMP exam on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being easy and 5 being difficult), I would rate PMSTUDY as 2 and PMP real exam as 5.

Below is the split up of the questions based on the difficulty level.

Very Difficult


Medium difficult






Very easy


In total, I got 10 EVM problems and 5 network diagrams. These will fall into the easy and very easy categories. But the EVM problems were not straightforward in the sense, the EV, PV, AC values were mentioned in the form of sentences and we need to derive them. So you should have a strong understanding of the basics of these values.  There were no questions separately on ethics or professional responsibility. One main thing I noticed is that there were no negative questions, like questions with the word ‘EXCEPT’.

Below is the split up of the questions based on the format.



Indirect (twisted)






 Below is the split up of the time taken.

1 to 50

50 mins

51 to 100

40 mins

101 to 150

30 mins

151 to 200

40 mins


I took a break of 10 minutes after completing 150 questions as I was totally exhausted. I ate the remaining snickers bar and drank plenty of water. It took 2 hrs and 50 mins for me to complete the first pass of 200 questions. I had marked 30 questions and started going through each question which took me 50 minutes to complete. During the last 20 mins, I started reviewing all the questions and when only 10 seconds were remaining, I completed reviewing 120 questions. Altogether I changed answer for around 7 questions. Then completed the survey and I was confident of passing but didn’t expect Proficiency in all the groups.

Advice to PMP aspirants:

  • Kindly draft a plan and stick on to that at any cost.
  • Secret for success is determination, dedication, patience, practice.
  • Be relaxed and keep your cool.
  • Whatever happens, please be confident enough. This is not the end of the world.
  • “Time is of essence” – Time management is very important.
  • Active participation in PMZilla forum will help you a lot.

Thank You Note:

  • God the almighty
  • My wife Suganya and my parents.
  • PMZilla forum members, especially Pawar, Sunita, Bhavesh, Manikandan, Sangeetha and many people whom I would have missed.
  • My office colleagues.


All the very best to all!!!


Thanks for the detailed LL!  Also, congratulations, once again.  From having read several of your earlier posts, I had no doubt that you were going to do well.

I have some questions reg your prep and also the exam, can you please comment?

- When you read PMBOK and Rita Mulcahy Prep, both multiple times, did you skim or fast read OR was it detailed/focused reading?

- Does the exam tutorial last for exactly 10 min? Or can we complete it in, say, 5 min and then do the brain dump? Trying to see if both the brain dump AND tutorial can be done prior to the starting the exam.

- Is there a way to change an ALREADY submitted repsonse to a question? For instance, in the middle of the exam, I realize that I have submitted repsonse 'A' to an earlier question, but now I feel that 'B' should be the correct repsonse. Can I change it from 'A' to 'B' even though I have NOT marked this question for review?

Thanks for your help!


Thanks for your wishes. Below are my comments.

- When you read PMBOK and Rita Mulcahy Prep, both multiple times, did you skim or fast read OR was it detailed/focused reading?

1st pass was line by line (though I didn't understand much). 2nd pass was also line by line but this time tried to understand everything. 3rd pass of PMBOK was skim through. 4th pass of PMBOK and 3rd pass of Rita was again line by line.


- Does the exam tutorial last for exactly 10 min? Or can we complete it in, say, 5 min and then do the brain dump? Trying to see if both the brain dump AND tutorial can be done prior to the starting the exam.

Once you go to your allocated seat, you need to confirm that you are the intended person for the exam by clicking YES on the sceen where it shows your name. After this the tutorial will start and last for 15 mins. During this time, you can do the brain dump and after complpeting the same, you can skim through the tutorial ans start your exam.


- Is there a way to change an ALREADY submitted repsonse to a question? For instance, in the middle of the exam, I realize that I have submitted repsonse 'A' to an earlier question, but now I feel that 'B' should be the correct repsonse. Can I change it from 'A' to 'B' even though I have NOT marked this question for review?

Yes you can always use PREVIOUS button to go back to the previous questions or you can use the REVIEW button which lists down all the question numbers. You can select which one to correct. But obviously you should know the question number (if you didn't mark it) else you need to go through each question and find out the expected one.

 Dear Arun,

What a great method of explaining the lessons learned.Kudos to you.As you said God is the almighty i too beleive on this supernatural power.Did you get any questions like Lag or lead in the Network diagramming methods and how did you solve it.


Thanks for your wishes.

As I have already mentioned, the network diagram questions fell in the category of easy and very easy. There were no questions with lag or lead. Everything was straight forward. It took me less than 5 mins to solve all the 5 network diagram questions. They were that much simple.

 Thanks for the detailled LL and Congrats for being PMP ,

Were the questions close to Oliver lehman or Christpher scordo 

Thanks for your wishes.

The very difficult questions (70 questions) which I received were no where near any of the mock tests or Scordo. I deemed them to be extremely tough.

The medium difficult & difficult (70 questions) were a on par with oliver lehman. The easy and very easy (60 questions) were easier than PMSTUDY.

Congrats on your PMP.

Any example how the tough question will look like?


All the tough questions were situational based which is difficult to explain in a single line. As far as I know, the only way to answer those questions is to have a very indepth knowledge about the concepts.

I have never come across such situations in either real life or in any of the mock tests.

Congrats on your perfect score! No greater feeling than this one I'm sure :)

~ Diba

Thanks for your wishes.

Great job done for aspirants like us.

Hope we understand our mistakes and correct with the possible two pronged strategy as below:

Mistakes are generally occuring for two reasons

a) Lack of knowledge updation (study more for understanding concepts)

b) one could have avoided,either due to hurry or being little lethargic for not reading all the answers(unlearn certain old habits and be more composed)

with the above, hope we can come out with success like the one you have achieved which is really commendable




admin's picture

Excellent LL Arun, especially the details of the exam are very helpful.

Congratulations on getting 5Ps, Always precious to hear from 5P members.



Thanks for your wishes Admin. You are really doing a wonderful job. If this forum was not there, I wouldn't have scored 5P. I owe my success to this forum.

Congrats Arun  and Thanks for replying to all my last minute questions:)

Thanks for your wishes Sunita and congrats to you too.

 Dear Friend,

          Congrats and thanks for sharing in detail LL.



Thanks for your wishes Vishwanath.

 Dear Friend,

       Could you kindly provide me your email id plzzzzzzzz.



I think you can get that from my account in this forum. Anyway, it is

 Thanks alot friend.

Many Congrats Arun n Excellent LL..

You have realy answerd lot of queries (Which generaly bothers most of the PMP aspirants) about the Exam and the patteren .

Well done n all the best for your future..

@Admin: Every time in between the posts there are two Posts which appears many time (Prada Online Shop and Polo Ralph Lauren Canada both by lxzhiboy ) . I request admin if possible block the user lxzhiboy 




Thanks for your wishes Narinder.

 Excellent!. What a performance!!. Congratulations!!!.

Thanks for your wishes Glory.