Passed PMP Exam On My First Try (25 June 2011) - Some Lessons and Tips

Hi PMPs and aspiring PMPs,

My background is in finance, IT, and process excellence.  I got my Six Sigma Black Belt in 2007 and I found that many of the tools I utilized for that can also be applied to Project Management.  I have managed small/medium projects before, so that experience helped too, but this test is passable for someone who has limited PM experience.

I took the exam yesterday and scored proficient in Planning, M&C, and Execution and scored Moderately Proficient in Initiating, Closing, and Professional Responsibility.  Due to work, I was religated to studying on the weekends.  From my experience, I wanted to share some of my experiences and lessons with you.  It took me 1 hour and 35 minutes to finish the exam with no break.

1)  I wouldn't necessarily classify the exam as "difficult".  It is tricky and requires focus.  I took the four sections of the CPA several years ago and passed that on my first try.  The PMP exam was more broad and challenging than at least two of the CPA sections.

2)  For text, I read the Rita book (sixth edition) and did all of the chapter end questions.  I took extensive notes off of this and essentially studied my notes after I was done reading the book to keep the information fresh in my mind.  I sold the book once I was complete with it, so it forced me to rely on my notes.

3)  Take practice tests!  From some of the practice tests I have taken, the questions I seen on the exam were very similar.  Here are some very good question sources to prepare:

ExamCentral - I liked this and it is free.  Solid reinforcement material.  Try to score in the 80-85 range with the material and you should be set.

Oliver 75 and 175 test - Good, detailed questions.  Scored 84 on the 75 question test and 86 on the 175 question test.

CertGear trial - This gives you a variety of 113/114 question exams and a final 200 question exam.

PMP Exam Simulator v4.1 - Good practice questions and learning tool.  This is the only tool I purchased through Dr. Larry Hawkins store on eBay (hawkins8733).  

4)  Make sure you prepare adequately.  Give yourself at least two months before the exam to study, depending on your familiarity with the material and experience.

5)  For the practice tests, don't get frustrated.  Try to understand WHY an answer was wrong.  Often, on the PMP, there will be two answers that appear to be correct.  Try to understand the flow between the knowledge areas and process groups to logically select the correct answer.

6)  Definitely understand the Quality and Risk areas.  There was a variety of questions from these two areas on my exam.

7)  When taking the exam, remember to breathe, RELAX, focus, and logically progress through the questions.  If you see a few questions with information you haven't studied, don't worry.  If you follow my advice above, you will see 95% of the material that is on the test.  

Best of luck to everyone.

admin's picture

Congratulations on your PMP and thanks for posting your LL

Hi Majinjxo,

My heartiest congrats on your success.Am planning to take up the exam in october.As you know that the

version is getting changed from 4 th to 5th edition.Coudl you please suggest wether the above

said material will do or need to read some other books.plz letme know the freed latest dumps

web sites and if possible plz share your notes.

send to me :-





Hi Syed -

If possible, I would take the exam before 31 August.  From what I have heard and read, some portions of the exam will substantially change after that date and the prior materials, while relevant, may not be fully sufficient to prepare for the exam. 

My notes were handwritten in a notebook, but they are not substantially different from the Rajesh or Chowdary notes.  These notes are comprehensive and can serve as a great study guide, in my opinion.

Majin J.X.

Congratualtions Majin!!

Could please you tell me the full name of Rita's book that you are mentioning here? Also can you point me where to find Chowdhary and Rajesh's notes.




Congratualtions Majin,

I saw Mr. Rajesh Nair notes, it is really nice,

Now I have a doubt regarding Exam, Questions will come from PMBOK only? or as in your notes especially HR and Quality many items are out of PMBOK. Do we need to learn those?, How much % of questions will come outside PMBOK?



Hi Afsal -

To be perfectly honest with you, I did not study from the PMBOK.  I find the PMBOK to be useful when you are managing projects, as a reference, but the main material I studies was Rita's book and tried to understand the "flow" of the processes and knowledge areas.  If you take a step back and think about the flow (e.g. you need to perform risk identification before you can qualitatively analyze risk and you need to do this before you quanitatively analyze risk), then you will be in good shape for the exam.  The flow of the processes is quite logical and this will also help you pass without memorizing ITTO.

The questions are varied, but many are situational in nature.  This means they are based on the PMBOK, but they ask what you should do given a certain situation, meaning they go beyond the PMBOK and see if you can interpret key facts and choose the best action.  Experience helps with this part of the exam.  Very few questions were basic or definitional in nature, coming straight from PMBOK.

Hi Aditya -

You can get the notes here:

For Rita's book, this is called PMP Exam Prep Sixth Edition.  Here is a link to it on Amazon:

If you plan on taking the test after 31 August, you will need the Seventh Edition which has just come out.

Best of luck and if there are any questions I can help with, please let me know.


RP's picture

How substantial was the Procurement element in the exam? Number of questions approximately?

I would say roughly 20, give or take.

RP's picture

Interesting. I've read somewhere that Procurement does not feature too much or the difficulty levels are not challenging as others.

Obviously 10% of the paper counts a great deal but in terms of difficulty? I think you mentioned that you used Rita M, so in terms of difficulty comparison?

The Procurement questions were not difficult.  There were questions like what phase are you in (Conduct, Administer, Plan, Close) and they would describe a situation where it clearly fell in one of those four buckets.  There were about 4 questions regarding the Procurement Audit vs Performance Review, in which phase it occurred and what it is about.

The remaining questions were around contract types and these were fairly straight forward.  About 2 calculation type questions where you had to calculate the incentive fee/profit.

RP's picture

Ok, good. Thanks for confirming Majin.