Passed PMP exam from the 1st attempt.

Dear PMZilla forum members,
As promised, here I am, updating you on my exam results – passed from the 1st attempt, got 4 P’s and 1 MP. I’m very happy and proud.
First of all – thanks to all who helped and supported me!
Second, I also promised to provide some answers to the questions I had before I took the exam. Those questions are in other threads, so I apologize that I don’t reply to the original ones, but rather answer to them here. 
My first question was: Which simulator is more closely reflects the real exam - Rita's PM FASTRack or Cornelius Fichtner PMP Exam Simulator? The answer is – Rita’s. I will elaborate. Both simulators are great. But Rita’s style of questions, their phrasing, sophistication, and complexity, are more closely mimic the real exam. Well, I know that each candidate get different set of 200 questions taken from the database of thousands, so my feedback might be subjective. But I strongly believe that this statistical sampling (remember this from the PMBOK? :) is pretty accurate. Don’t get me wrong – the CF (Cornelius Fichtner) simulator is excellent. It has very friendly user interface, it’s very structured and the greatest feature of all, IMHO, is that you have an ability to leave feedback for every question, and a professional PMP will answer you in less than 24 hours and will reply to your further emails. So you kind of having a personal coach during the entire preparation period as long as you have this simulator. Also, CF simulator is more PMBOK “oriented”, so it’s easier to understand the questions and easier to understand the explanation of the answer, because it refers to PMBOK. But this is also the main drawback of this simulator. It’s too heavily relies on the PMBOK rather than on the real project management experience.
My second question was how many direct ITTO questions are there on the real exam? Did we really have to memorize all those 600 ITTO’s or relax and follow the guidance of many sources not to memorize them. I didn’t see any on my exam. Just to make sure you understand what I’m talking about: for example, the CF simulator has many direct questions of this type: “The XYZ process has 4 inputs: 1) ABC 2) DEF 3) GHI. What input is missing? Answer: A) JKL B) MNO C) PQR D) STU”. So on the one hand it’s good, because not having such direct questions on the exam means you don’t have to memorize ITTO’s, and therefore I’m happy I didn’t drive myself crazy trying to memorize them. But on the other hand it means the CF simulator does not really reflect the actual experience and it would have been better off replacing those questions by other, more applicable ones.
Now, another question/comment I had was that Rita’s book has very negative and even humiliating style when talking to you as low level project manager that should be ashamed of not doing your job properly, or not like the book says you should. I still have this opinion. However, this approach helped me to study very hard to turn myself from being ashamed to being proud of myself that I made it with 4 P’s and 1 MP even without managing years length $10M construction projects with 200 team members spread across the globe.
Going back to the real exam vs simulator. Rita’s PM FASTRack simulator has  bank of about 1,500 questions, so you can do about 7 full simulations. Also, you can choose SuperPMP exam which is the collection of the most complicated questions from this bank. Rita doesn’t recommend to do more than 2 simulations to avoid having the same questions in different simulations. Anyway, I did 3 and the SuperPMP. I scored 80+ on those 3 and only 65 on the SuperPMP. I felt that the real exam complexity level is somewhere between the standard FASTRack exams and the SuperPMP, more leaning to the side of the standard. The real exam does not have too wordy and long questions, but most are scenario based and most involve more than one process group and/or knowledge area. So you really need to understand how all the parts in the this engine work and interact in order to correctly answer the question. And as Rita says in her book – there are indeed many questions on the exam that as you what the project manager has to do NEXT, or FIRST, or BEST, or IMMEDIATELY, etc. Now, formulas’ wise – there are questions that require to calculate different aspects of the earned value, like CPI, SPI, etc. as well as interpret them, but the calculations were not difficult (at least for me). Few questions on the network diagram (critical path , etc). But the majority, as I mentioned above are scenario based involving many aspects of the project management in one question.
One more thing – time management (not the project management), but yours. I was able to finish all my mock exams in less than 2.5 hours. But on the real exam it took me 3 hours to answer all questions. Then I took a break of 15 min (washroom, snack, stretch) and reviewed my marked questions during the rest of the time. So you have to consider that your performance on the real exam will most likely be slower and therefore try to aim to a maximum of 3 hours per exam while doing the mock ones.
Here is how I prepared to my exam. Please consider - it was my personal way, so you should see what works for you, guys:
1. My overall preparation time took 3 months, while working full time job and having family with 3 kids. So I studied every day 1-2 hours, and every weekend 8 hours. 
2. Took boot camp – total waste of time and money. The only added value was 35 PDU’s, which I could have got much more cheaper had I did market research properly and read this forum in advance :)
3. Read book by Joseph Phillips which I got on the camp – very disappointing. Seems like just user friendly interpretation of the PMBOK without too much added value. But being a diligent student, I’ve read it from the first to the last page, answered all questions in the end of each chapter, and practiced both full mock exams coming in the CD with the book. I don’t even remember how much I scored back then.
4. Read PMBOK once (while taking the boot camp) and then used it as a reference during the rest of the preparation time.
5. Thanks to some review I saw online I purchased Rita’s book which was the wisest decision in my preparation to the exam. Could you believe I didn’t know about this book when I just started to study? Read the book twice, made all exercises in each chapter, all questions in the end of each chapter
6. Purchased Rita’s PM FASTRack software and as mentioned above – took 3 standard PMP mock simulations and one SuperPMP. As mentioned above – scored 80+ on the standard and 65 on the SuperPMP. This was another wise decision, even though this software is so expensive! Absolutely overpriced. But, eventually, it’s paid off.
7. Purchased Rita’s flashcards – both book and audio version. Yes, I’m crazy. But this also was a good decision as I listened to the flashcards on the go and “played” with one of my kids on the book flashcards asking him to test me. He is 8 years old and now he remembers many things from those flashcards that I already forgot! Kids, you know, their brains are like sponge. Now he can be PMP assistant. Or Associate PMP :)
8. Purchased Cornelius Fichtner online PMP Exam Simulator and practiced all 8 full 200 tests. Scored 80+ on 7 of them and 75 on 1 of them. Didn’t to the ITTO’s test which eventually was not needed.
Well, I think I already wrote too much. Sorry if I bothered you. I didn’t mean to write so long story. But it flew, so I let it. Hope it helps. And good luck to everyone! Feel free to ask questions. I’ll be glad to help if I can.
MBA, PMP. Yeah! :)
vishwanathkanchipmp's picture

Dear Friend,

         Congrats on achieveing PMP and thanks for sharing your journey details towards PMP.

Good luck and all the best.



Thank you Kanchi!

Good luck to you too!


Congratulations !!

Thank you for the details, Stan


I am also using Rita's Fastrack.  I have attempted only 1 test and scored 79.5 %

Can you please suggest whether I am on track ? and do you suggest anything else ? 



Thank you Ashwin.

You scored almost 80, so you are definitel on track. However, as you mentioned, it's just one exam, so to make sure your process is within the control limts and statistically stable :), it's better to attemt 2 or even 3 more exams and see if you are consistently scoring 80+. But it's just my personal opinion.

Another point which is even more personal - it's you and only you who can decide whether or not you are ready for the exam. Sometimes you score high, but still feel something is missing. You just feel not comfortable yet to go to the exam. I had this feeling even after I scored a few mock exams above 80. Then I reviewed wrong answers, checked explanations in Rita's book, checked reference in PMBOK, and only when I saw that I understood why I was wrong and studied those points again, I became more confident. Eventually, when I reached the level that I felt I'm ready, I relaxed.

So again, everybody are different, and each one should choose the way that works for him/her (like everything in our lives).

Good luck to you!


That's awesome!!

Did you just do many tests on Rita's and CF's only?

From Rita's FASTrack I did 3 regular PMP's and 1 SuperPMP. Rita's has more, but she herself does not recommend to do all of them.

From CF's simulator I did 8 out of 9. The 9th was pure ITTO's which I didn't do (and eventually did not see those questions on my PMP exam).

Good luck!

I see. Thanks for sharing!!


Congratulation and thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for taking time to share your experience.
Now i can see from your experience what i have to do.

1000 Thank you again for sharing this great experience.