My Lessons Learned (LL) from the PMP exam

4 minute read    Updated:    Harwinder Singh

PMP Exam Lessons Learned by Harwinder Singh I passed my PMP exam on 11/27/2007. I’m not going too much into the details of what I did to pass the exam because what worked for me may not work for you. So, I’m cutting the long story short and highlighting some important points only.

Most Important PMP Lessons Learned

  1. Know the terms and definitions in the PMBOK very well and don't forget the glossary. This alone can help you answer about 20% of the exam questions correctly.
  2. I opted for an online PMP Exam Simulator (about USD 100 or so) to earn my 35 Contact Hours of PM Education. An excellent option that I discovered after I passed my exam, is the PM Prepcast. Recently, I had a chance to evaluate the new video PM Prepcast. You can read my detailed review of PM Prepcast.
  3. Two primary sources - PMBOK and Rita's book - are sufficient, except for the topics mentioned below.
  4. Contracts (majority of exam questions put you, the PM, in a situation where you are working under a contract).

Important Topics for the PMP Exam

Study the following topics from sources other than PMBOK and Rita’s book:

  1. Delegation - Study this topic from Chapter 4, Important Issues in Project Organizational Design of Organizing Projects for Success: The Human Aspects of Project Management, Volume One - by Vijay K. Verma by Vijay K. Verma. It will be sufficient to answer most delegation questions on the exam.
  2. EVA
  3. PTA (Point of Total Assumption) numericals
  4. Conflict Management (explore sources other than Rita's book - it is not sufficient to answer the exam questions and cost me dearly).
  5. Negotiations
  6. McClelland's theory
  7. Seller fee related numericals.
  8. Contracts (if you can find other good reference material).

Additional Tips for PMP Exam Success

  1. EV numericals are straight-forward. No traps. Double check your answers and don't lose out on some easy scoring opportunities.
  2. No questions on drawing a network diagram or calculating critical path. So, know you basics well and don't get carried away with chapter 6 on Rita's book.
  3. There are "out of the blue" questions, which you cannot answer no matter which book you study from. So, expect to see such questions on the exam. Remember, there are 25 "trial" questions, which are not scored. So, who knows ?
  4. You'll have to "guess" on a lot of questions, even on topics that you thought were your stronghold.
  5. Do as many mock exams as possible, but watch out for question fatigue.
  6. I had many questions where the problem statement was exactly the same as in lot of mock exams, BUT the answer choices were different, and most of the time the answer choices had a "twist". No questions straight from the sample exams :(
  7. Many of the questions make you think and some just leave you amazed!!
  8. I did a brain dump during the 15 min tutorial, of the process chart and EV formulas but didn't find any use for them during the exam. I would have been better-off saving some extra energy for the exam. To me, it was a waste of time and effort.
  9. There are a plenty of straight-forward questions - at least 40. If you have studied PMBOK and Rita's book very well (I read both these books at least 3 times each), these should be in your bag.

My PMP Exam score

  • Initiating - 65%
  • Planning - 86%
  • Executing - 73%
  • M&C - 83%
  • Closing - 90%
  • Prof Resp - 100%

Note: The score report doesn’t specify % score anymore. Now it displays proficiency levels - “Proficient”, “Moderately Proficient” or “Below Proficient”. Read my post on popular myths about PMP Passing Score to learn more.

All the best to all PMP aspirants!

Please feel free to post your questions and comments.

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Missing Avatar

73% & 83% in Execution and M&C, really cool. I found these 2 process groups are bit mathematical & dry.

Really good stuffs in your blog yaar.. Keep up the good work & post more. Will be more useful for my preparation..

Missing Avatar

Really appreciate your blog.. good informative one. I have already earned PDUs for appearing in exam but could not attend the exam based on 3rd edition. Now I am thinking to appear exam based on 4th edition. Can I get a free download of PMBOK 4th edition somewhere. (Amit)

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Amit,

Your PDUs will still be valid if you take the new PMP exam based on PMBOK 4th ed. I've confirmed this with PMI a few weeks ago. Regarding your question on getting the PMBOK 4th ed., if you have decided to take the exam, then the next thing you should do is to take up PMI membership. As you probably know, if you take PMI Membership, the entire membership fee will be paid back in terms of lower exam fee for members. Exam fee for members (USD 405) is USD 150 cheaper than for non-members (USD 555). PMI membership fee is USD 129. So, membership is kind of free, plus you save additional USD 21. Once you become a member, PMI will send you a CD for the PMBOK. As a member, you can even download the PMBOK (3rd and 4th ed) from anytime.

All the best !