A Practical Study Plan and Experience Sharing (passed on 18 Jun 2012)

Dear all,

I have passed the exam on 18 Jun 2012 with 4 Ps and 1 MP (Initiating). If you have a appropriate study plan in the first place and try your best to stick with it on preparation, I believe you must be able to make it within 8 to 10 weeks. I'm going to post my study plan below first. After that I'm going to share my experiences with the actual exam and to explain some myths.

Study Plan 10 weeks.

week 1 - 2: Read Rita book from cover to cover to understand all concepts and all calculations. Resolve all questions in the book.

Week 3 - 4: Read PMBOK from cover to cover (excluding Appendix A - G), including the Common Acronyms and Definition (at the end of the book) and the Code of Ethics (from PMI website). It's quite boring to read it for the first time, even if you've obtained understading of PM concepts from Rita Book. You got to force yourself to work it out.

Week 5: Mock Tests - Head First 200Q and 200Q Final Exam from Andy Cowe's book. They're quite straightforward tests which will help build your confidence and get a feel of the full exam. You should be able to complete the test within 3.5 hours if your 4 weeks reading on the two books was effective. Review all the questions you resolved wrongly as well as those you were not quite sure about. Make your own notes, which you'll find very convenient for your review in the last week.

Week 6: Skim through Rita book. You can try questions (by KA or 5 Processes) from Fastrack simulator. V6 and V7 no obvious difference.

Week 7: Skim through PMBOK. Focus on:

  • 1. The <Table 3-1. Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas Mapping> on page 43.

  • 2. All ITTOs and Data Flow Diagrams. Ask yourself why ITTOs are required for each Process. The deeper and more systematic understanding, the better. I've ever tried to memorize them, but failed. I reviewed them quite many times, instead.

Week 8 - 9: Mock Tests, review questions answered wrongly and make your own notes:

  • Paid tests from PMStuy. Closer to actual exam, compared to other tests I've ever tried. The actual exam is a bit tougher than it. Let's say you scored 80% on PMStudy. You'll probably score 70% -75% in actual exam.

  • 2 PMP exams from Fastrack. Good Quality and helpful. Trickier than actual exam. Less as close to actual exam as PMStudy is.

  • Oliver Lehmann 175, excellent questions but the answer and explaination are quite brief. Pay attension to those questions whose answers are originated from PMBOK.

  • PMZilla 200 Tough Questions. I bought it and got 55% only.  

  • One of my  PMP course mates recommended SimpliLearn mock test and gave good comments on it. I didn't even get time to try it.

After this many Mock Tests, most of the gaps in your knowledge must have been filled. But your work is not completed yet and you got to review everything in the last week. Keep up your good work!

Week 10: For Review only. NO any Mock Test!!

  • Review all process and ITTO from PMBOK as many times as possible!

  • Review all mock question you answered wrongly and the notes you ever made.

  • Review all calculations. Calculations are quite easy in atual exam, believe me. I had 101 calculation questions but I didn't even have time to try them.

Experience with Actual Exam:

The night before exam, I didn't stay up late as usual. I went to bed earlier instead. 4 hour test will be quite energy consuming. You need to get enough sleep.

On the big day, I arrived test center 40 mins earlier and the staff of test center asked me if I want to start exam earlier. I agreed as I don't know what to do to kill the 40 mins prior test.

You'll be given pencils, some draft paper, and a muffle for the test. There'll be a calculator in the test system for use.

There're a lot of ITTO questions in my exam. They're not straightforward but you can tell they're asking about ITTO if you're familiar with PMBOK.

Most of the question have 4-5 lines. But the meaning is quite clear. You don't need to re-read questions in most cases.

I encountered only 1 question that I've got no idea how to resolve. It must be one of the 25 pre-test questions. So, you don't need to worry about them at all.

I tried my best to concentrate on the questions and to spend around 1 min in each question. I spent more minutes on a few questions. I went to Gens for 3 mins. I managed to complete all questions 17 mins earlier. I knew I must be able to pass at that time. I spent the remaining time reviewing some of the marked questions and did modified two answers.

To sum up, spare no efforts in the preparation and you'll success in the exam.

Some myths:

1. If you got high score in Mock Tests, you'll surely pass the exam.

It's not true as there're no Mock test at the same difficulty level as the actual exam. And Mock Test may not identify all your gaps in all knowledge areas or processes. In thi case, PMBOK is the most important thing as all questions are from the book or derived from it.

2. You can cram for PMP exam in a couple of weeks.

I admit that some elite or lucky people are able to make it in a couple of weeks. E.g my big boss who was able to pass exam after just two week's preparation several years ago. But it's not applicable to most of the people, I think. You need to have good and systematic understanding of all KAs and Processes. It takes time, especially for people who need to work and have family to look after. By my observation in PMZilla, 6 weeks to 10 weeks are more appropriate. that's why my study plan was for 10 weeks. So the average duration will be 8 weeks.

3. The longer your preparation is, the better. I don't think so. It's just a certification, all you need is a "Passed". Why not make it in a more effectient way?

Good Luck to everybody!

 - Danny

admin's picture

Congratulations Danny , thanks for the detailed writeup.

Danny is a good boy since he passed his PMP in the first try with excellent proficient levels and Danny is all the more a good boy because he wrote an excellent write-up. I am proud of you Danny, like many others!!!! Enjoy....


Warmly, KK....

Hey Danny, well written and congratulations on your success!

One thing forced me to write here is because of this line from you - “PMZilla 200 Tough Questions, too tough and will destroy your confidence established already.”

I am not sure how it is going to destroy the confidence having known that PMP exam is for a matured, experience and senior people. People who would use such test would have some expectations in their mind frame i.e. score. If you have passed PMP exam, it cannot be because of happy reasons, the factors you are criticizing has also role in your success. Success is like origin of life where millions of factors played their role including destruction elements like meteorites falling to earth and Volcanic eruption.

In another couple of LL I read some people criticizing the material/test they used, and they passed PMP using it. How come, you passed then?

Toughness teaches you how to handle failure and become rigid. It has equal role in your success.

I am again sorry, to hijack your happiness thread, but as a teacher, I could not stop writing here. :)

Saket, PMP

Maybe you are right. Maybe I should have used the word Impact rather than Destroy.

I did PMZilla 200 Questions quite late, around 9 days before my exam. I thought I had been well prepared for the exam at that time. But I scored merely 55% on PMZilla. You might be able to imagine how worried I felt when I resolved wrongly or were not sure about 75% of the questions. It did impact my confidence, believe ot not. Maybe I'm immature, inexperienced and junior.  

Besides, I was not able to finish reviewing the PMZilla questions after scoring. I did not have time to review them as I decided to stick with my study play in last week, concentrating on notes and ITTO only, rather than dwelling too much on the low score. I think my decision for the last week was right.

Thanks Danny, you are not at all immature, inexperienced and junior, if this was the case, the subject line of the blog would have been different.

You have passed the PMP exam with 4p and 1mp. Such a good result. If you have achieved such a success, your plan worked out. Easy things, tough things, success, failure, your decisions etc everything you tried and attempted played their role in your success.

Anyway, good luck to you for a great project management career.

Saket, PMP

I'd like to thank PMZilla and the following guys:

  • PMZilla Admin Thank you for establishing and maintaining such an great PMP forum. Respect to you!

  • projmanpro,saket_pmp ,sspawarPMNovice , etc. Thank you guys for your help and your information. Good luck to you all!.

admin's picture

Sure my pleasure, thanks for mentioning that. Also PMZilla exam is meant to be tough, but the questions are very close to real exam. So its a good benchmark. I usually say that 52% and above in PMZilla and you are very likely to pass the exam and 60% in PMZilla test is a guaranteed pass.