PMP Certification Exam Lessons Learned

less than 1 minute read    Updated:    Harwinder Singh

PMP Certification Exam Lessons Learned Here’s a collection of interesting and useful lessons learned posts from the people who successfully passed the PMP exam, and took the time to share them with fellow Project Managers who aspire to be PMPs.

My Lessons Learned

Selected Lessons Learned

Image credit: Flickr / vblibrary

Leave a Comment

Please select the checkbox


Missing Avatar

Luke's Lessons Learned – Passed on Dec 23, 2009.

Overall: The exam was relatively straightforward. Passed with "Proficient" in all areas. There were no "trick" questions or "double negatives". Focus was more on tools/techniques rather than inputs/outputs. Simple EVM and CPM calculations. The sentence structure on some of the questions could've been improved. Some questions didn't make any sense all – they were probably sample questions. There was nothing that I had not encountered during preparation.

Study Materials: I went through Rita (book, flash cards, exam database), Andy Crowe (book/website), and Kim Heldman (book). \ In my personal opinion, Andy Crow's book was the best. Rita goes into too much depth for the exam and her "process game" was not relevant. Kim provides a different perspective from a practical approach.

Cost-effective Study Method: Read Andy's book, a chapter at a time. After finishing one chapter on Andy's book (say Scope Management), read the corresponding chapter on PMBOK to get further details. Then do the chapter questions on Andy's book. Repeat until you finish Andy's Book. \ Read Kim Heldman cover to cover to get a practical perspective. Understand the EV, PTA formulae (don't memorize).

Try to understand the "purpose" of each of the 42 processes – rather than to memorize ITTO. The best way I found was to draw the process as a box and handwrite the inputs on the left, tools/techniques below, and outputs on the right. Group tools/techniques which make it easier to remember. For example, "Systems (Contract Admin, Payment, Records Management, Claims Admin" for "Conduct Procurements". Once you do this several times a week, you'll be able to recall the information quite easily.

Do free online simulation exams (PMStudy was hard but good). Oliver Lehman's 75/150 questions are good but are harder (and older) than the exam questions. One week before the exam, use the license code on Andy's Book to access the "InSite" online material. Go through all the webcast study materials – which complement Andy's book. Then do their sample exams – which were the closest to the real exam. I was able to score 90+ on these sample exams.

Thank you for maintaining this site. It was very helpful during my application stage and study stage. Good luck to everybody!

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Luke,

Congratulations for passing the PMP exam. Thanks for your appreciation. I'm very glad that this site could be of help to you.

You seem to have followed a very methodical approach for your preparation and had a good set of study material. Your approach to remembering the ITTOs is great.

One thing you didn't mention however, is the training you underwent for earning your 35 Contact Hours. How did that contribute to your success?

Thanks a lot for sharing your extremely useful lessons learned. I'm sure PMP aspirants will benefit from it.

All the best !

Missing Avatar

Dear Friends,

I passed the exam in the first attempt.

The exam is not too tough , not too many wordy questions. Infact one can expect many 1 line questions. Only the thing, they test your concepts really well in the exam.

Give good attention to professional responsibility section and try to practice as many questions as possible.., Though this section seemingly easy, the questions can be tricky and testing you between different values of pmi like between responsibility and respect .., between loyalty to your company and ethical responsibility etc..

One of the most useful resource for PMP prep is Harwinder Bhatia's blog:

Before the exam, you can take the following free mock exams:

effectivepmc exam:

effectivepmc 200 question simulated exam is a high quality test, complexity level is close or slightly more than the real exam and very good for the preparation. Their 3 daily questions is a good source of practice too.

Also, effectivepmc faculty is very helpful. They had provided very invaluable tips for the exam on G-Talk.

Other Good free exams-

Headfirst exam:

pmstudy exam:

Headfirst and pmstudy exams are close to real exam from the point of view of format(length of questions) and complextity

Two of the most important chapters from exam point of view are Quality and Risk, so make sure to have very good command over these..

It is helpful for the exam if one could understand all the ITTOs and remember also, since many questions may be related with ITTOs, it would help in saving some time while answering the questions if you have remembered them.

One good link for practicing ITTOs:

For the study, it would be good if you can form an study group. It would help in beating procrastination, maintaining a schedule and create synergy while studying / discussing jointly.

I got support from many PMP aspirants while preparing, the list is long, I would like to express my thanks to all for the discussions and the tips

Also thanks to Fai and Don for creating pmp exam forums, which are of good help to the aspirants. Many people write in their L-Ls as they were the silent members of the group and passed the exam.., my suggestion to everyone is, do not remain a silent member of the forum and contribute/share as much as possible since if everybody would remain silent member then the forum would lose its meaning.

Wish you all the best for the prep

Missing Avatar

Hi All,

I completed my PMP Exam on Jan 22, 2010. It was a journey of six months including a deviation of a month in the middle.Resources used are following.

Preparing and Reading:
PM Prepcast: I started preparing for PMP by listening to Project Management Prepcast by Cornelius Fichtner.These are like virtual classrooms and are very helpful to understand all the basic concepts clearly.
Rita Mulcahy accelerated learning: This book gives us tricks of trade and tips on which topic we need to emphasize and where we can just give a glance.
Kim Heldman: Can give a reading to get a depth of Knowledge.
PMBOK : Need to read every line of PMPBOK and and also understand the ITTO's
As I had time to read all the above books I gave a try. It is worth to read the above books but It is not a hard and fast rule that everyone who aspire to pass must read all these.You can select your choice.

Practising the sample questions :
I recommend the following link in Harwinder's blog as one stop for sample questions and Practise exams.
Initially while writing 4 hour practise exams I was very much concerned about the exam time and in that hurry I made several mistakes though I know the concepts.So I suggest to give one four hour practise exam to check your ability to manage the given time effectively.
The day before the exam I just used my time in practising Rita's process chart ,9*5 chart in Pg 43 of PMBOK and all formulas.This helped me very much in exam.

Writing the exam:
Forget all the practise exam scores taken before and take this as another new practise exam.(Don't tense yourself by thinking this as something very different from before.)
As suggested by experts earlier, use the method of identifying the answer from choices when you are not clear of identifying the answer from questions.Meaning,define the four choices in your own way and one will match the question.

All the best for all the Aspirants !


Missing Avatar

Hi Everyone,

What a Marathon, i enjoyed the journey thoroughly. I completed it on
12/28/2009. This was my goal for 2009 and achieved it just in time and
with in the cost budgeted.
It took 2 weeks for me to digest this success. Here now i am posting
my LLs.
Started the journey in July 2009 and wanted to complete by Oct. But
got deviated for 2 reasons by 2 months.
1. Trying to read too many books/resources than what i initially
2. Audit process and of course my work schedule

So the first lesson here is, stick to your plan. Define what you want
to cover and put a plan in place and track to it.
Second lesson is, being prepared and expect for audit. I expected
audit but not prepared for it completely. I applied for the exam at a
very late in the game plan and got selected for audit which i did not
included in my schedule. Because of the audit my preparation got
halted for 3 weeks (just mental deviation). So the lesson here is,
apply for the exam well in advance. So that even if you are picked up
for audit, your rhythm is not disturbed. Audit is not a difficult or
bad thing if you are prepared. I surely agree that it can disturb the
rhythm and take you off track as in my case.

Books i prepared:
1. Headfirst – 1 time
2. Rita - 3 times
3. PMBOK - 3 times
4. Kim Heldmen - (Just summary, quick glance and some impt topics)
5. Andy crow (Quick glance)

1. Pmstudy 1, 2, 3, 4
2. Oliver 175 questions
3. Headfirst
4. PMFasttrack

Word of caution: Many other online exam resources are not reliable.
Their questions are not PMI standard and not aligned with PMBOK. In my
observation, only the above 4 are good exam resources.

1. This forum
2. Harwinder Blogs.

About my exam experience:
- Not tough
- Resembles pmstudy questions mostly
- Completed in 3 hours and marked 40 for review
- Many direct questions but they are little tricky in options. If you
are focused, you will see only one option
- Remember there are 25 trial questions (not counted). I am sure these
25 questions would have definitely fall in those 40 questions I
- Even in you get though questions, don't loose confidence. There is a
high chance that these fall in those 24 new questions.
- There are around 10 formula questions.
- Many questions on ITTOs. So I suggest practice them.
- Take deep breaths in the exam .This helps in focus on the exam.

I passed with the following proficiencies:

Initiation – Proficient
Planning – Proficient
Execution – Proficient
M&C – Proficient
Closing – Moderately Proficient
Professional and social resp – Proficient

Exam was very easy for me, may be because I got over prepared. So I do
not want to set any expectations.
To close out, it was a very good experience and journey. Definitely
not a frustrating as many comment, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thanks everyone for making this happen to me. I wish you a very happy
new year and all the best for your marathon.


Missing Avatar

I passed the PMP after taking the PM fasttrack cd practice exams 8 times, getting 54, 56, 66, 52, 60, 59, 62 then 69. I was Proficient in only 1 region, Executing. I was Below in Closing and Professional Responsilbility. Get the cd, take the test when you score 80.

Missing Avatar


I passed the PMP exam in first attempt on 24-Feb-2010.

Exam review -
As i thought the exam was not very tough, because all the questions are straightforward. There is not even a single negative question that confuse us most of the times, such as "EXCEPT the follwing", "NOT the definition" etc.. I got a question on calculating Critical Path for a complex but very easy network diagram. Also, i got only one question on NPV and EMV. Lot of questions on various Conflict resolutions, Risk management and quite a few on EVM concepts.

Preparation - It took nearly more than 7 months for me to appear for the exam. Reasons(Honest) below..
=> Intially i did not commit very much into the exam prepartion.
=> Postponed the exam more than 5 times due to the lack of preparation between Aug'09-Oct'09.
=> Went thru various PMP aspirants posts(really boosted me) in deepfriedbrainproject blog.
=> Prepared seriously with complete concentration to appear for the exams in Jan/Feb'10.
=> Went thru PMBOK guide 2 times.
=> Always visited to learn and understand basic yet useful & important concepts.
=> I did not read any other prep exam books apart from Harwinder's blog.
=> Headfirst 200 questions.
=> Oliver Lehman's 175(PDF) + 75 online questions.
=> PMstudy 200 questions.
=> Lot of bits and pieces questions from various blogs(around 300 questions).
=> PMI eReads & References - Books 24x7(If you have PMI membership).
=> (200 questions).
=> ITTO exam simulator.
=> few(5) hours before the exam, make sure to glance all the topics in (very handy) to remember.

Areas of focus - Risk Management, Procurement Management - Various contract types, its advantages and dis-advantages of each contract types. Techniques used in Quality Assurance & Quality Control. Last but not the least Professional & Ethics.

Initially i felt very tough to understand some of the terms used in the questions and PMBOK. I usually goto or thesarus(in MS-word) to find out the meaning and understand the question. Later, after practising lot of questions and mock exams, i got used to terms used in PMP questions and other related stuffs.

Summary - I would like to thank my good friend Harwinder for maintaining such a wonderful and informational, the best PMP blog for the PMP aspirants. Lots of resources are available in this blog. You will learn around 20% of basic and important concepts while you go thru the PMP aspirants questions and answers. Thanks alot..

All the best for all the PMP aspirants.


Missing Avatar

Hello Friends: I wrote and passed the PMP exam on March 8th 2010 on my first attempt. I followed all the steps and instructions mentioned by Suresh Babu. I had the same experiences as Suresh mentioned and would like to say that his lessons learned was beneficial to me. Thanks to everyone again.

Missing Avatar

Hello All,

I passed PMP Exam on Mar 17, 2010. Below, I am sharing my experience.

Exam questions quality:

I felt the questions I got are simpler than most of the questions that I had practiced. I did not find any lengthy situational questions that will let you swirl around in the question for a long time. Another interesting thing that I noticed is that, I don't remember having seen any questions with the tag EXCEPT or NOT. I got a few containing the BEST though. Got a few questions on EVM (simple ones though)and many questions on ITTOs (So, don't neglect them).

Study format:

Even before I attended my classroom training (as my motivation levels are at the peak), I did try to go through the PMBOK, but I always dozed off without going any further. Then, I went through the Head First PMP, which helped me in aligning my real time experiences with the bookish terms. That has really helped me in going through the classroom sessions without much difficulty.

I completed my classroom course in August and the initial estimate to clear the exam was by the end of October. But my priorities kept changing and I kept on postponing the exam date accordingly. Finally I decided to not delay it any further and set a deadline of Mar 10th (Though I slipped it again by a week).

As I regrouped my self again in the first week of Feb, I went through the following books in that order.
• Head First PMP (I went through it again, to recall what I had read four months earlier)
• Rita's PMP Exam prep – I felt the book is a little less boring than PMBOK, but not the one that I recommend first up. I liked the first chapter containing the PMI-ism's though.
• KIM Heldman's PMP Study Guide – A completely different approach from Head First and Rita.
• Went through the PMBOK in the last week after my initial failure to go through even a single chapter. This time, the book made a lot more sense.

Mock tests appeared:
• Head First PMP Free Test – By far the easiest (Take this test first, which will keep your confidence at a very high)
• Self assessment from Oliver Lehmann (pdf with 175 questions and online test containing 75 questions) – Quality of the questions is a little higher than the real exam I faced)
• PM Study – As good as the real exam.
• Free test from - You need to register yourself first. Though there are a few questions repeated, there are some very good questions, that will let your brain do some work.
• Question bank from the Kim's CD that comes along with the book. Though it does not contain the full 200 question test, the quality of the questions is excellent. Most of the questions are long enough along with their answers. If you manage to get even close to 65% in those questions, you would be doing a good job in the final exam.
• All the questions in the Rita's book. All of them are excellent questions again.
• Last but not the least, I went through the complete question bank given to me by my trainer (SABCONS, Bangalore). The quality of the questions there are as good as one can expect.

Is a regular visitor on the Harwinder's blog (www. ) and Josh's . Though I rarely replied to any of the posts, these two sites have helped me immensely in my personal development.

The exam date was never a problem in Bangalore (You may not find a date for the coming month, but you will definitely find one in the coming week). So, fix a date and go according to the plan.

I wish all the aspirants all the best.

Ramesh Kumar, PMP

Missing Avatar

Dear Harwindar,
Thank for your useful weblog,
I have tried to publish my lesson learned in a new frame to be an simple example of project hope to be useful.

Lesson learned on the basis of PMBOK methodology


At the beginning I had a survey about PMP certificate and its essential role in my carrier as a project manager, and starting this subject was due to business need and promotion .Thus, I performed my high level assumption and constraints and important factors together with resources and people who could impact in this manner (stakeholders).Altogether, formed my simple charter.


In this step I selected necessary areas that might be useful to managing my work to direct me to my target .It wad including Time and schedule, cost and budgeting, scope and domain, level of quality, risks, resources (human and material), and method of communication to others and even all contracts or deals may be need during this trend.

After all I checked the integrity of all areas for interference and contradiction and also their interconnection .One of main concerns had been control and test of progress of Items.


I have executed my management plan as below:

1-I placed PMBOK 4 as my basic study tool.

2-I have selected several management text books in local and English language e.g. organization theory, 6 sigma, strategy management …….

3-I booked and participated in 2 course each for 5 days for general PMBOK and PMP preparation

4-I became active member in Google group and regularly reviewed some other websites like Harwidar's blog to develop my social network

5-I collected a list of free internet sources which was really useful.

6-whenever I ran into any strange or unknown words immediately I searched internet and found very precious and useful information. This had been one of most useful tasks I used

7-My schedule duration for all steps was 3 months up to average 2 hours a day

Monitoring & Control:

I controlled all main constraints like time , cost and scope periodically and apply needed changes to made corrections or prevent some unwanted events , also their probable mutual effects In multiple iterations. Tests and mock exams was my main tool to measure my performance and evaluate my strength. Thanks to free exams of headfirst , Bootcamp , Rita, Lehman which I passed all of them with 70% to 78% score.


I developed lesson learned and found out that PMP is an essential certificate to represent your level in project management, BUT it is not enough you should be in progressive promotion and continuous study and research to maintain your knoeledge basics uptodate.

About the exam:

-It is not like none of existed tests and mock exams.

-Most of questions are situational conditional cases.

-Anxiety is at the highest level at the beginning and end so use 15 minutes for relaxation.

-Write down all formulas and K.A. even though didn't use them at all.

-It is more difficult than other tests but with wide range of practice test your speed rises obviously I finished 35 minutes earlier.

-There is some useful tools that you could answer marked, unanswered and a certain question respectively.

-I marked all comprehensive and detailed question with a random answer for contingency time management whether I encountered with shortage of time

-If you did not pass the exam doesn't worry it is normal most of people do so.

best wishes

salaheddin Zandi


Missing Avatar

Dear All

I have cleared my PMP exam yesterday on my first attempt. For me the prometric center was American Alumni Association, the only prometic center in Bangladesh. Here are my Lesson Learned

I started reading PMBOK during March last year. After reading 3 to 4 chapters, I thought I wont ever be able to read full book. After that, I had a gap of approax 4 months. Then I started to find a online training provider. When I started searching training provider and books I found . From the blog, I got linked with this email group. After reading some articles online and LLs , I realized that its not at all unachievable.

I again tryied to read PMBOK and guess what? I gone through the whole book and as soon as i closed the book i could not memorize a single word!! Anyways, things started to be clear afterwards..

I actually understood what PMBOK was trying to tell me, after I read Headfirst Book. This is very nice to read and helpful to clear concepts. A free chapter is available on net ( )

Besides I read Rita's Book- Once (tried to read more but could not. However after sitting for the exam i realized, if i read Rita's book once more, it would have been better)

PMBOK- May be more than 3 time . Every time i read , it was freash, as if i never read this in my entire life. :)

As I had Project Management course in my BBA program, I did not need additional training. I came to know this by reading PMI handbook and asking the same in this forum. By the time, i searched net and found some good training provider. Cornelious Fitchner is one of them and PM champion comes with good package along with cornelious's material. (this is according to what i found. As i had so much trouble searching good training provider. thought my finding might help others. your finding might be different). Name of other online training provider can be found in the avobe link.

As I told earlier, i found deepfriedbrain very very helpful. Harwinder's relentless effort, references and thoughtful articles has made the site a wonderful onestop place for PMP aspirants.


Missing Avatar

After Part I:
Email group:
I am member of only one group (PMP Cert Online Study Group ) and I found this very helpful. In the exam i saw some quesitons, which i would not ever be able to come across if those were not discussed here.
Inactive member's LL was also very helpful. Thanks all for posting LLs.

Free Tests:

In my last 2 months, I tried to solve atleast 25 to 30 questions a day. It helped me a lot because, every time I got myself wrong, I checked the souce answer and checked back with PMBOK. That gave me chance to go back to PMBOK again and again. How much i scored was not a issue to me. I considered every mistake to be a chance of improvement.

Here are some sites I tried-

As a complete mock exam I tried below exams (before one month and scored 65%, I found the exam tough) (three weeks ago and scored, more than 75%, i forgot the exact figure!!) (two weeks ago and score 79%, i liked the score report they provide)
and Headfirst 200Q hardcopy ( scored 85%)
Rita's Chapter test- around 80%

On the day of Exam:
My exam was scheduled at 12 and I reached the center one hour early at 11:00 am. They asked me if i want to start from 11:30am, I said why not! They took me to the exam area (everything was video recorded inside), I sat and wrote down braindump during the 15 min exam tutorial (took 10 min to write braindump and 5 min for the tutorial). As soon as the tutorial finished, the exam started. I found apprx 50% ques single lined and very easy to answer. But for rest i had to think analytically, and for apprx 5 questions, I stared at those for more then 2/3 min and did not understand what the ques trying to ask.

I finished the exam 17 minutes before the finish time and tried to review marked questions ( which I did not understand first time . I tried to make the anwer correct on my first attempt so took me little longer). I was prepared mentally for any result but when I saw the magical word CONGRATULATIONS.. i was very happy and felt relieved.

Wish all the aspirant very good luck.

Shamima Begum, PMP

Missing Avatar

Hi Team,

Here are my Lessons learned for the PMP test.


1. I started preparation for the test in the month of July-09 by purchasing a PMBOK guide. After some days of reading PMBOK i realised that i was going nowhere. Also the preparation was delayed due to some work commitments
2. I bought the PMP prepcast by Cornelius and listened to it on weekdays 1hr and weekend around 2-3 hrs. This helped me clear some of the basics. Also the blog by Harwinder and Faiz ( ) helped me a lot. I used to read the daily tips provided by their another site.
3. I found Headfirst too graphical and Rita Mulcahey's language a bit negative.
4. I used to complete the episode from PMP prepcast and then cover the same topic from PMBOK.This helped in understanding the PMBOK more.
5. During Jan i applied for the PMI membership and filled my application for the exam. Fortunately i was not selected for auditing ;-)
6. Then i moved to solving more and more questions and online tests. I attempted PMStudy, Effective PMC and Headfirst labs test.

Exam Week:
1. Spent the 5 days before exam in revising the tools and techniques and outputs of some major processes. This helped me a lot on the exam.
2. Understood the network diagram calculations, Decision tree analysis and Contract types and the numericals on these topics.
3. Prepared a brain dump sheet with the Process Group/Knowledge Areas Matrix and formulas covering the Earned Value Management, Network Diagrams,Estimating etc.

Exam Day:
1. I appeared for the Exam at a Prometric center in Mumbai. We can take only 2 forms of ID inside the testing environment. Not even a handkerchief is allowed. Scrap sheets of paper and a couple of pencils are provided. Ear plugs are readily available.
2. Initial tutorial of 15 minutes helps in understanding the test navigation and screen configuration.
3. Completed the test in 3 hrs with around 40 questions marked for review. Reviewed all of those and again a second round of review for 200 ques.
4. Clicked End Exam. Screen went blank for a considerable amount of time. This was followed by a survery after which i saw the word i longed for .Congratulations!

Questions type:
1. There were some questions asking to identify the T&T and outputs of processes.
2. Situational questions were also asked
3. Numericals

Believe me, it feels a lot relieved after passing this test.

My best wishes are with all the PMP aspirants.

Missing Avatar

I passed the PMP exam on 25th March.

*About my preparation:*
I realized that the key to effective study is to commit to the exam date.
Then you stop procrastinating anymore.
Make a plan, and review-replan frequently.
I studied PMBOK->Rita->PMBOK->PMBOK. It took close to 2 month to finish the
entire study. Including 5 days full time study just before the exam.
After every chapter I took exams to recap. And took 4-hours mock tests 3
times. I found Olivre-Lehmann very close to the exam pattern. So if you get
anything above 70% from these 175 questions, you are good to go.

One important thing about the mock test results. In my view, rather then
looking at the knowledge area wise scoring to find, which one is your weak
area, you should evaluate based on your comfort while answering questions
for mock test. If you find some question sounds confusing to answer, that
means you are weak in that area, and study more on that topic. This is
because, the mock test may not cover all topics with equal ratio, and some
of the seemingly confusing questions might be answered right just by guess
work. So KA wise scoring is not a trusted way of finding weak areas.

*About the Exam:
*More than 40% questions were one liner, and straight forward.
No questions on theories (Quality/HR/Motivational...). But it might be by
chance, do read them at least once.
Some questions on CPI/SPI... formulas, but very straight forward.
Few network diagram. One was very complicated, asking for critical path. So
I chose to find the duration for each path in all options. Took sometime,
but got it right. (I guess). But otherwise, they were very simple.
Lot of questions on procurement. Asking to select a particular contract type
depending upon situation. Hardly any question gave T&M and Cost+ in the same
question. So it was choosing between Fixed and Cost+. But could be

*Questions I found confusing:*
Few questions on Configuration Mgmt
Few questions on Administrative closing
Few questions on Social Responsibility. Seemingly easy topic can really put
you on fix.

Through the half way, I had the feeling that I am going to make it. I took 3
breaks. After 1, 2.5 and 3.5 hours. I took 3 hours 45 minutes to complete
the exam with total break of 15 minutes.

* My scoring:*
Initiating the Project *Moderately Proficient*
Planning the Project *Proficient*
Executing the Project *Moderately Proficient*
Monitoring and Controlling the Project *Proficient*
Closing the Project *Below Proficient, Sad :(*
Professional and Social Responsibility *Moderately Proficient*

My plan and study notes along with links to various websites are uploaded on
google. Feel free to use them.
Google Doc format:
Original XLS format:

Last but not the least, many thanks to the group and its member. I found the
lessons learnt very helpful in understanding the exam pattern and study
strategies. Special thanks to Harwinder for maintaining his PMP Blog. It is
a great resource for any PMP aspirant.

Shiv Garg, PMP ;)

Missing Avatar

Hi all,

Today, 24 Aug 2010 I passed my exam on my first attempt.

The first thing I did to prepare for the exam was to attend a course. 5 meetings, 1 day a week for 5 weeks. 9AM-4PM, with 45 minutes for lunch. The course was great, my lector was amazing in passing the material.

After each class, at home during the week I read what we learned again, and they provided us with some sample questions for each section, so I did those.
Each week I had more and more material to go over through, as we learned more chapters.

After the course I committed to a date as many people here recommended. I took the exam 2 weeks and one day (15 days) after the last meeting of my course, to still have a fresh memory of what was learned there.

I never read the PMBOK guide, as in the course they gave us a book of slides which pretty much summarized the PMBOK as well as expanded some of the material. Also, my PMBOK is in my native language, and as the exam is in English I wanted to study the terms and get used to the English version.
The language aid to my language wasn't very successful, as it had a lot of non coherent sentences, like someone used Babylon like crazy!!!
I didn't buy Rita or anything else.
I just read the slides they gave us (you can read the PMBOK) and did A LOT of practice questions (I think it came close to 2000, but maybe I'm wrong, I lost count a long time ago).
I took most of the questions from this site.

Oliver is harder than the real exam, but good practice.
I really liked Simplilearn and pmstudy, those are good exams, close to the real thing.

On the exam day itself I came relaxed as much as possible, with a bottle of water and a sandwich to eat later (it's a LONG exam).
I took 3 breaks. 2 to have something to drink and use the bathroom, and the 3rd (on question 147) to have a sandwich, drink and refresh. Total time of the breaks was about 20 minutes. I still managed to finish 15 minutes before time, even after reviewing marked questions.


Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Kira,

Congratulations, once again. I really appreciate your posting the lessons learned within hours of passing the exam. Thank you.

I posted your lessons learned on my website so that they get better visibility and also get listed automatically under the lessons learned on the page above.

Best regards.

Missing Avatar

Hi All,
I just created an account and this is the first time I am posting into this group. I have been a silent reader of all the posts and inspiring lessons learned. It has been a wealth of information to me as I have cleared my PMP with all your help.

I feel I should share my experience with PMP exam and the whole process.

I started this initiative in 2008 hearing about PMP certification from my PMO. To get 35 contact hrs I joined a training facility in New york spent $ 2400 - ridiclous and pathetic training. Never spoke about pratice exams. Conseqence I failed. Haa PMP is not an easy exam . Success is counted sweetest to me.

Blindly following just the training never paid to the attention of 3 attempts in one year. When I planned to retake the exam in 2009, PMP board did not allow me as per to their guide lines of wait time for 1 year.

My unfinished initative kept on bothering me, I once again applied in 2010 and need to follow the whole application process once again.

I was looking for material from PMP 4 edition, I came accross pm-prepcast by Cornelius Fichtner for $99. Amazing Product, the way he simplified ITTO with reasoning was too good, One such example is Develop schedule ITTO I can never forget. I purchased his PM- study coach but I never followed - thrown away my money there.


PMBOK the bible. PMBOK made sense to me after watching Cornelius videos. Rita Mulchay I read the whole book twice and also bought Fastrack. I also read Andy Crowe. After reading Andy Crowe's book I liked his style more than Rita's. I memorized most of the ITTO and also I suggest to.


PMSTUDY1 (free) – 73%
PMSTUDY1 (free) – 72%
Oliverlehamann – 58 %
PMroadtrip – 71 %
Headfirst – 78 %
SuperPMP (fastrack) – 74%
Andy Crowe – 80%

PMStudy, Headfirst are similar to actual exam
Forums- How they supported me.

Study group is very essential when you are preparing for the PMP. Due to my hectic schedule I never found any patner, the only substitue was the forums

PMZilla too good. deepfriendbrainpmp - The best. For example his explanation on TCPI. Awesome Harwinder, Keep up the good stuff. project-management-prepcast by Cornelius Fitchner.

Final Exam Report on 08/28

Initiation – Moderately proficient.
Planning – Moderately proficient.
Execution – Moderately proficient.
Monitor and controlling – Below proficient.
Closing – Moderately proficient.
Professional and social responsibility – Below proficient.
And I Passed. I have no complains. I did it and I am happy for my efforts. I dedicate my success to my 19 month old daughter and to my wife who supported me.

Thank you to PMZilla, Cornelius(PM-prepcast) and Harwinder - (deepfriedbrainproject)


Sekhar, PMP

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Sekhar,

First of all, congratulations on passing the exam. That was one roller coaster of a ride! Yours is one of the most amazing story I've heard.

Thanks so much for your wonderful comments, and sharing your lessons learned. Your gesture is really appreciated.

Stay in touch through Twitter, Linked In and Facebook (the contact information is available at the bottom right of this page).

All the best.

Missing Avatar


I too wanted to share my experience in which I passed the PMP exam on my first try yesterday. Before purchasing any study materials I did the requisite research online to determine the best path. After taking some time to distill my findings last November I purchased Rita's PMP Exam Prep System. This past February was when I began to dive into the material at a decent pace but not too fast as to burn out. Each of the materials in the course had their place in my study:

PMP Exam Prep textbook – This was my main focus and read this in detail from cover to cover twice then skimmed quickly two more times.

Hot Topics Flashcards – This was a great way to reinforce concepts after reading a chapter as well as prepare for a practice exam or the real exam.

PM FASTrack Exam Simulation Software – This was an incredibly realistic exam experience and I found the questions here to be harder than the real exam.

I did not run across this website last year during my preparatory phase so I do not know if that would have changed my approach. As for the final exam I passed with 2 Proficient, 3 Moderately Proficient, and 1 Below Proficient. I believe the process of studying for the exam frankly is the most important aspect as you learn more about proper practices you may not utilize. Passing the exam of course is important but probably just a cherry on top of the project management sundae.


Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Bryan,

Welcome to Deep Fried Brain!

Congratulations on passing the PMP exam and thanks for sharing your lessons learned. I liked your uncomplicated study approach. You scored 3 Proficients. I'm not sure whether I could have helped you better that result, but I'm sure your comments would have added lot of value to my posts.

Stay in touch (my contact info is at the bottom of this page) and try to share your experience on this site whenever possible.

Best regards.

Missing Avatar

I owe it to this website to at least share my experience and write a lesson learned. I passed the PMP exam today.. about 1.5 hour back with Proficient in 3 and Moderately Proficient in 3 areas. I had expected myself to perform better than that! According to my experience the real PMP exam is much more difficult than any simulation exam I came across. Questions and lengthier and very tricky and almost 90% of them are situational questions.. indeed a 4 hour Marathon..
I attempted Head first PMP exam -88%, PM final -82%, Simplilearn -71%, PMStudy -80%, ReadySeatPass- 87%. All these tests are free tests except the ReadySeatPass which I don't recommend. I think the ReadySetPass is not anywhere near the difficulty level of the real exam. I also tried a lot of random questions that are freely available on other websites.
I recommend Simplilearn exam, it is very close to the real exam in terms of the length of questions and the difficulty level. I also read the PMBOK twice and Head first PMP once.. and of course used this website to learn everything that I felt needed more clarification.

Missing Avatar

Dear All,
Got the three letters after a lot of aspiration and perspiration on 14th Sep 2010. Aah! What a relief!!!
Materials used:
Rita Mulcahy
Head First PMP
Andy Crowe
Preparation Time:
Average of 2 to 3 Hrs a day, for 3 months.
Read one chapter Andy Crowe and take the online skillsoft course (for the PDU) for that chapter.
Apply for the exam
Read Rita
Revise and take mock tests
Take the test at Prometric
What I did (Actual):
Stopped reading after 3 chapters of Andy Crowe
Completed the online course for the 35 PDUs
Visited (I would call it a treasure chest) regularly. Whenever I had a doubt Harwinder had the answer readily available in his blog. I used this site as a road map for the journey!!!
Bought Head First PMP thinking it will speed up my preparation (I was right it really did)
Studied PMBOK
Took Pmstudy ( ) free mock test and scored 75%
Studied Rita
Reread PMBOK
Took Head First free mock test ( ) and scored 88%
Reread Rita
Reread PMBOK
Took Oliver Lehman 75 questions ( ) and scored 70% (This scared me a lot. I was not fast enough and guessed really wild for the last 15 questions and got all wrong!!!)
Took lot of 10 question test at Voight ( )
Took the sample questions in "Q & As for the PMBOK Guide, Fourth Edition" ( available for free if you are a PMI member, these questions are too easy in my personal opinion) – Thanks to Srini Asadi for informing the group ("PMP Cert Online Study Group" ) about this book
Did PMBOK last revision during the last weekend before the exam (This got me exhausted but helped during the exam)
Reread HR management and the Organisational theories from Rita
Stopped reading at 17:00 Hrs on the day before the exam and watched a movie to relax
The Exam Day:
Reached around 8:00 in the morning and was early by 30 minutes (This really helped to get used to the surroundings)
Started with the brain dump of the formulas as a cover but didn't use it during the exam
The exam was neither tough nor easy. The quality of questions was too good and could not be compared to any of the mock tests I took. They really test you in-depth and answering it was a real mind game. Answered the 200 questions in approximately 3 hours with some 30 and odd marked. Took a small break and finished the exam when I was left with 20 minutes for the 4 hours. Answered the survey and waited some 30 seconds or so .Saw the CONGRATULATIONS aha what a feeling 
Lessons Learned:
In my personal opinion the PMP exam tests the real time "you" and can't cover up the knowledge gaps with hours and hours of preparation. The results reflect how proficient you are with the PMI standards in day to day project management.
Visualisation as suggested by Rita will pay to some extent and is a must if you don't have enough experience in any of the knowledge area.
The power of three (reading 3 times, in fact 4 for me) did work.
PMBOK is the bible and can't be replaced with any PREP material. The prep materials help you to understand the PMBOK better than you would without the PREP books.
What I would do differently:
Read Head First PMP: a fun filled book which will prepare you for the journey
Take an online course to earn the 35 PDUs: it will be easy to absorb after the Head First PMP
Apply for the exam
Take a Mock test
Read Rita Mulcahy and visualise every chapter and every concept as if it is in real time
Reread PMBOK
Take lot of Mock Tests
Identify Gaps and reread PMBOK and Rita
Take the real test

Kudos to Harwinder for his blog,"PMP Cert Online Study Group" for the discussions and Cornelius Fichtner for his detailed explanation for questions posted in the group .
"All the best" for all the PMP aspirants.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Anonymous,

Congratulations for earning the PMP credential. Thanks for giving a part of the credit to this site. Your comments bring meaning to all the effort.

Your comments are very interesting. Your scores on mock exams show that you were well prepared, but it seems that you got a tough set of questions in the real thing. Anyway, all is well that ends well ...

Keep in touch through social networking platforms (my contact details are available at the end of this page). All the best.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Harish,

Congratulations for earning that 3 letter suffix to your name. I can fully understand your feelings right now. It is indeed a relief!

Thanks to people like you, I never lose the motivation to keep working hard on this site. And thanks for sharing your detailed lessons learned and particularly that tip on the PMBOK Q&A. It does help to 'revise' the terms of the PMBOK Guide and I recommend it. I have a task on my to-do list to post the books24x7 link to that book on my "Tips" blog. I'm going to do that tomorrow. Just super busy these days with some personal matters and not able to catch up with blog posts and comments.

Keep in touch and good luck for your future endeavors.

Best regards.

Missing Avatar

Hello All,

After many months of study I passed the PMP Exam on October 21, 2010. I work full time and have quite a busy schedule. My study plan was as follows.

1. Reviewed PMBOK/Rita's book on Saturdays with my study partner for 2 hours from February to June. Would read when I could during the week but it was usually difficult.

2. Submitted the applicaton in June 2010. Received notice of approval prior to the start of my PMP Prep Class.

3. Took a PMP Prep class in June for 4 Saturdays 7 hours each time. The class was very helpful. My instructor advised us to have multiple books to study from. The books I got were Andy Crow and Crosswinds Exam Simulation book (in addition to Rita's book and the PMBOK Guide). In addition my instructor also created an exam which I took as well.

3. After the class, I went on with self study with the hints received in the class. My instructor recommended that we go through cycles. One cycle meant going through each chapter and then testing on each chapter until you received 80%. *I have test anxiety so I initially was not scoring well (60%) until I worked on the anxiety of taking exams.

4. In July/August/September I began studying every other night for 2-3 hours and about 4-5 hours on Saturdays. I took home made flash cards with me everywhere I went and I also bought Andy Crows flash cards as well.

5. Due to my test anxiety I posted the following Mantra (which is a combo of things found on the web) on the wall in my bathroom to see as I brushed my teeth

-I AM ready for this exam!
-I AM capable of doing my best, and that is what is important.
-I WILL Succeed.
-This is exam may seem difficult now, but I WILL be ready when I take it.
-I DESERVE to do the very best I can.
(a little corny but it really helped me)

4. The week before the exam, I took (3) 200 question exams scoring only 70% . I had already rescheduled the exam once and felt that I just need to take it and get it over with.

5. Two days before the exam I stopped studying. I relaxed and watched TV. I took a half day of work before the exam and enjoyed the beautiful day outdoors. The night before the exam I went and watched a comedy movie.

6. The Morning of the exam, I did 30 minutes of Yoga to relax and get my body ready for 4 hours of sitting.

7. The BIG DAY! After sitting down I took the tutorial and then did a data dump on the paper provided which included all the earned value formulas, PERT, a small diagram of what processes and knowledge areas, etc. As per someones advice (from this site) after taking the notes I took a deep breath said a prayer andd began the exam. I took a lot of deep breaths before and dring the exam. Finished the exam in 3 1/2 hours and took 30 minutes to review. I found the exam to be hard but not extremely difficult. When the screen went white after my time was up my heart started racing. I took the survey offered by the testing center and then another white screen appeared. Then it appeared...Congratulations! I was so excited, I silently screamed in the testing center.

My advice to those of you preparing for the test is to test, test, test and make sure that you know your inputs, tools & techniques and outputs. Not memorizing them but understanding the process. AND relax its only a test...

Good Luck to all of you and many greatful thanks to those who have posted their stories and a BIG thanks to the creator of this site. Its awesome!

Best wishes to you all!

2. Took a PMP Prep Class on Saturdays

Missing Avatar

I passed my PMP exam today.

Following is my story (LL) to help future PMP aspirants:

1. I had given myself roughly 5 months for preparation. Wanted to enjoy the studying experience and not stress out by setting a tight

2. I took 2.5 months to read the PMBOK guide once. Wouldn't recommend that long but I took my own sweet time, mainly progressing on the
weekends. During this phase, I also read Rita's book based on the old PMBOK version (V3) - had managed to get it from a library.

3. After this, I purchased the Andy Crowe book (based on V4 of PMBOK), and also gave one diagnostic test (SimpliLearn). I got just 58% in
this one, but it was a very good reality check!

4. I then read Andy's book for next 3 weeks - I liked the format very much, simple and easy to grasp! During this time, I came across two
good sites - one was this google group and another was this blog - .

This blog is really good to understand key concepts quickly and it kept me interested in the study.

Kudos to Harwinder for the great work!

5. I then took 1 week off from work - this was my main prep stage. I wrote three different tests:

a) Pmstudy - 76%
b) Edwel - 70%
c) Andy Crowe - 86.5% [this was my last test before the exam and a
real confidence booster! - although few questions were quite easy, so
I was not very carried away by the 86% :-)]

6. In my last week, I read the PMBOK guide once more (including glossary and appendices) - this iteration was much quicker (~ 5 days).
Also, took few video lessons from Andy Crowe's test site (you get a one week free subscription with the book, I activated it in the last 1
week before the exam), and read few articles from Harwinder's blog. I had planned to revise on some ITTOs since during the practice test I
realized that if I knew them well, it was easy to get few more questions right. However, I didn't find time for this and it was too
much overload at the end :-(

7. On the exam day, I reached an hour before time, was ushered in the testing room 15 mins before time. I tried to do a brain dump of
formulae and processes in the first 15 mins for the tutorial. I was a bit tentative answering the first few questions and I encountered few wordy and confusing questions at the start. I took relatively longer
time (than any of the practice tests) for the first 70 questions, then caught up as questions started getting better. I took my first break
(10 mins) after 1.5 hrs with 120 questions completed, then completed remaining questions and started reviewing the marked ones. I completed until ques 60 and took another 5 min break. After this, I was quite impatient to know the result so didn't linger too long on the
remaining marked questions. For certain questions, I could have sat thinking and debating for 10-15 mins between two contentious choices, but I was running out of patience, hence took my best call and moved on.

I submitted the test with 1 hr 5 mins to spare, completed the survey quickly and then waited for the result - Although I was confident,
during the test, it is very difficult to guess how you are doing so you never know until the final moment. Finally, was delighted to see
"Congratulations"! and it was a dream come true for me.

My best wishes to all the aspirants!

Missing Avatar

I just found this site last Friday, as I was doing last minute prep for my PMP exam on Monday.
I spent a total of about 2 months studying for the test. The first month was sort of on my own. I purchased the PMBOK, and read it from start to finish. I then read it a second time, taking notes on each section, concentrating on terms I was not familiar with.
I thought I needed more, so I purchased (actually leased) the PMStudy online course. For me this was money well spent. I got it for one month, along with 4 sample tests. You also earn 40 PDU credits. This was helpful to me because my formal PM training was so long ago. I had documentation for 24 PDU credits for a project management course I had take 10 years ago, but did not have documentation for prior courses.
The PMStudy course tells you to read a chapter, use their study notes, answer sample questions for a chapter, then take the chapter tests, and if you pass (a score of 75% on 12 questions), you earn the PDUs. I did not find the study notes very helpful, and about halfway through I stopped looking at them. Reading the PMBOK and taking notes worked better for me. The sample chapter questions were very helpful. You get 70-80 questions per chapter. They give you two chances, and then tell you the answer, along with the reason why. Most explanations are pretty good, but there are many questions where you need to refer back to the pmbok to fully understand.
I took the four sample tests between two weeks and one week prior to taking the exam. These tests were very close to the actual exam in content, format and difficulty. They say if you can get an 85 on the sample test, you are ready. My scores were between 79.8 and 83.6.
I spent the last week reviewing PMBOK and also reading the PMI code of ethics. As I said earlier, I found this site the Friday before taking the test. I did Oliver Lehmann's 175 question test, which I also found very helpful and similar to the actual test. I thought the explanations for the Lehmann questions were a little better than the PMStudy explanations. Also very helpful were the comments people posted about taking the actual test. I am so glad that someone posted that the screen was blank for quite some time after clicking the button to finish the test.
I did not use any other study materials.
The test site was about 40 minutes from my house. I left at 11:00AM for my 12:30PM test to make sure I had plenty of time. I spent 20 minutes in the car doing one last quick review and went in at noon. They let me start the test right away. I did the first pass through the test in about 2 hours, and marked about 60 questions. I took a quick break, then went through the marked items. On the second pass there were some questions I was certain of, and a few where I had no idea. I unmarked those. There were also a few that I was not 100% certain of, but thought my original answer was not correct. I changed them, but left them marked. I then made a third and final pass through the marked items, but did not change any. I was able to pass with 4 P's and 2 MP's (the MP's were on initiating and closing, which I think are the two easiest sections, I probably did not spend enough time here because they had the fewest questions and were perceived to be the easiest)
Although I felt very familiar with the pmbok I did not memorize the inputs/t-t/outputs, but I agree if you do this, it will make the test a little easier and less stressful.
I also agree that a lot of the answers are common sense. If it looks like you would be taking the easy way out, or not following procedures properly, it is wrong.
Knowing all the cost calculations is also important, but seemed easier than the sample tests.

Missing Avatar


I have passed my PMP exam on 9th Nov.

First I want to thank Harwinder for helping PMP aspirants through his Blog, I had no direction where to start and which books to refer, 'Deep fried Brain' has helped me a lot, In my vew 'Deep fried Brain' is a one stop for all the PMP aspirants.

Preparation time: 4 and half months

I have stared my preparation with 'Head First PMP' , after completing I have to go Onsite (Sweden) for one month and I carried PMBOK with me and was able to complete one round of study( as I was alone and was able to utilize time)
Had studied Rita Mulcahy once and took all chapter end exams ,
Then read PMBOK twice before taking Mock full length exams.
Last two weeks I was only solving questions.
Andy crowe chapter end exams( good book)
Oliver lehmann 175 questions scored 61%
Closest to the exam is pmstudy mock exams, I took three exams and was scoring in the range of 70-75%. As my scores was consistent for three exams I was confident that I will be able to score the same.

On day before the exam I have scanned PMBOK completely to keep everything in mind, and also ensured to have good sleep , but still I was feeling exam tension so woke up in the morning and went for Jogging ( Usually Jogging is my stress buster) I was feeling fresh and ensured to remain the same till exam.
Started my exam was able to complete the exam in 3hrs 20 minutes, I utilized my remaining time to review the questions. I feel exam to be easy what counts is how cool you are during that four hour duration.

Key to success is to solve as many questions as possible .

Thanks to all the users in this group.

Missing Avatar

I passed the PMP Exam on 15th of Nov with moderately Proficient. I must say that exam was not very tough , however tricky with very closed ended questions. Your Concepts have to be very clear. I would recommend not to take PMP exams as very easy exam. Prepare as much as you can with proper planning.

I ended the exam with 6 seconds on the watch . I completed all the 200 Questions , few questions didnot make sense at all. Managed to trip the computer once and It started right from the same point.

I studied
PMBOK Thrice
Rita Mulchay Twice
PMFASTRACK about 2 Times with Review of all the knowledge area.
Head First PMP Once
Andy Crowman - Pass PMP on First Try once
ITTO Reviewed Multiple times.
Did MOCK and Practice Session.

Scored Above 90% in PMSTUDY , RITA and Few other Mock est
Scored 70 Percent on OLIVER Lehmann - Insanly Difficult.

Lots of Inspiration from deepfriendbrainpmp

Thank you all.

Ashok Shahdeo

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Ravi,

Congratulations for passing the exam. A huge thanks for the compliments, and giving back to the PM community by sharing your lessons learned.

It's good to know that this site has some silent admirers and it feel great to receive some encouraging words from them.

Good luck for future and keep in touch through various networking platforms.


Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Ashok,

Congratulations !! Thanks for sharing your lessons learned. I'm honored to have inspired you in some way to go for PMP certification.

You made a good point that the exam is not tough, but at the same time, it shouldn't be taken lightly. I had a similar feeling after I took the exam.

All the best and keep in touch.


Missing Avatar

Hello Harwinder

I cleared PMP today.

Your posts helped me a lot for understanding the deep and hidden meanings of various PMP topic.

Without any doubt is the best source to prepare for PMP.

Thank you

Missing Avatar

Hello Harwinder,

You have been of great help during my quest towards becoming a PMP.

I passed my PMP exam on 8th Dec 2010 with Proficient in 4 domains (Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing) and Moderately Proficient in 2 Domains (Initiating and Professional Responsibility).

Thank you for all your help. You are doing an amazing work.

Best Regards,
Abdul Khader S

Missing Avatar


Hello All,

Initially PMI'ism & PMBOK gave me cold waves all over during my training classes @ PMI Bangalore Chapter.

Well, that called for a well planned prep and passing strategy and..
Here is what I did:

-Select a book which can be easy to read and to the point, so I picked up HEADFIRST PMP. It also helped me get back to studies smoothly after a longtime.
-After this I wanted to pick up a book which is simple & precise to the point covering important points in depth. So I went ahead with Andy Crowe's book.
-After above 2 books I finished PMBOK. Now it wasn't boring.
-I sat for few days & collected as many sample question papers from various websites. The best were found in Harwinder's blog. I got about 4000+ questions. Solved them honestly & noted down mistakes & made up small notes.
-Last 1 week, I excused myself from work & read the hand out provided by the Bangalore Chapter & my notes.

Da Exam: -
-As soon as I had my test taking work station ready, I was asked to start my test. Well, like every1 said there was a small 15 minutes tutorial about test taking and I was able to see the tutorial & get my brain dump ready. My brain dump only had formulas. Time value of money, minor tips on project selection calculations, EVM, EMV, float etc.
-Started my test exactly at 5PM & followed as per my planned test taking strategy. 50 q's 1 hr break, 100 q's 1.5 hr break, 50 q's 1 hr break, review remaining test time.
-I had marked only 8 questions out of 200 for review & I started reviewing them. Unfortunately, I was still not able to find the right answer as these 8 were really confusing & 'real hard'. So I didn't really change my first answer. I had 10 more minutes at hand and I finished the test. Took a small survey after which I saw CONGRATULATIONS!! You passed PMP. I was so glad, I really wanted to yell out of happiness but I had to control myself.
-Over all the questions on the exam were real wordy & left me with no option than reading the question again & again at least 2-3 times. If prepared well, you can identify 25 research based questions out of 200 easily. To control a lot of chemical reactions in my brain, I went real slow in answering as per my strategy.

My analysis (Purely out of my experience of taking PMP exam)
-No need to read PMBOK & Rita 3-4 times. One good run is good enough.
-PMI local chapter contact hour training would be more beneficial than audio visual training material.
-Choose the books that fit right with your reading not with someone else. Discuss with PMP's they should be able to give you high level understanding on how the book is & the way it is written.
-As long as practical experience is kept in locker outside the test taking center & PMI'ism is followed. It makes answering easy & passing too.
-Memorizing ITTO's isn't really required. A good understanding of how ITTO's interact within each process would be good enough.
-Since the exam is broken down in process groups not knowledge area. Concentrate on major process groups vs KA's & their related topics & q's as you find in sample q papers.

My suggestions for Preparation.
-2 books are a good deal to get 2 different kind of reading experience & viewpoint. Andy & HeadFirst or Andy & Rita (highly regarded by most of the PMP's).
-Harwinder's blog for understanding critical topics like EVM, Quality Assurance Vs Quality Control etc.
-Sample question papers from Harwinder's blog page & oliver lehman web page.
-Read as many as LL's from people who passed PMP & those failed too. So that you can take corrective actions in your way of preparing.

I hope this would help all the PMP aspirants visiting this page. If you wish to contact me you can @

Best Regards,
Abdul Khader S

Missing Avatar

Hello all,

I cleared my PMP on Dec 27, 2010. Prepared for a month and a half and the hard work paid off. Have posted my lessons learnt in my blog.

Feel free to ask questions.

Last but not the least. I was and am a regular visitor to this site and it helped me a lot during my preparation. Keep up the good work Harwinder and am looking forward to writing a few articles for your site.


Missing Avatar

Hello Harwinder,

Passed the exam some 2 weeks ago on my last day of the 1 year eligibility period. First try success, had rescheduled 7 (!) times.
I only became aware of your site some days before the exam. I wished I had done so before as I really felt it was useful to see all the links as well as the lessons learnt as above.
Because of work I really only managed to start studying 10 days before the exam. I managed as I worked extremely hard and efficient in the last 4 days prior.

When I saw your site I was kind of put off by all students who claim they had studied for are my comments for those who are like me and started late:
- Memorize all 42 processes and their assignment to process groups (5) as well as knowledge areas (9) as well as understanding of their KEY ITTO's (Inputs, Outputs, Tools & Techniques). No point memorizing all ITTO's unless you have too much time left...I did not learn any, but remembered some from the practice exams.
- Memorize all relevant formulas and practice some calculations
- 4-6 exams (the more you study, the less exam practice is needed). Good for confidence building. In my opinion 4-5 exams should cover all you need to learn to pass easily. Take them serious, check you score afterwards and repeat/understand the ones you failed.
- Reading first chapters of either Crowe, Rita, Heldman, Headfirst, PMBOK. I recommend either Headfirst or Crowe for those who like things "uncomplicated". One can also study the chapters related to the Knowledge Areas, but not really needed if you practice sufficient exams and if you are a minimalist like me :-) You can always check these chapters in case you have issues understanding the answers of the practice exams.
- Understand all 200+ glossary (e.g. back of Crowe or Rita).

I liked . Scored around 69%-73 for various exams just 1-3 days before D-Day. They claim you need to score 85% in order to feel comfortable. I guess that is true for the very risk averse amongst us. Apart from that it seems more like marketing to me especially if you concentrate well during the exam.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hi John,

Congratulations on passing the PMP Exam? Whoa .. last day of the 1 year eligibility .. talk about just in time :)

Honestly 10 days is too short a preparation time for me, but I like your efficient approach and your tips are great. I'm sure people will get motivated by your post.

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. Good luck for future.

Missing Avatar

Hi Harwinder,
Yesterday (March 21st, 2011) was the D-day and I passed the PMP exam with Proficient in 4 levels and moderately proficient in 2 levels. I am really excited and happy about the result.
I was a regular visitor of your site and you are doing a pretty good job out there. Congrats and keep it up. Apart from your posts, what helped me a lot was the pmp lessons learned from many "real" people and so I thought I will also add to your huge collection so that it may help other pmp aspirants.
My journey started on August 2010 as I bought the PMBOk guide and started reading along with pm prepcast from Cornelius fishner. I have a 40 minute commute in train to my work place and pm prep cast helped me a lot. Also it gives me 35 contact hours which is valid (Why I am saying this is because my application was audited and PMI recognize it as a valid contact hour). After first round of reading the PMBOK guide, I thought twice whether I really should go for it as I can't recollect even a single item from that book. I prefer "Solid State Device" book of my engineering rather than PMBOK . Then I bought Rita's book for PMP and then it started making sense and along with prep cast and by Dec end, I finished Rita's book. I applied for exam and started reading PMBok guide and also become a regular visitor of .
If someone ask me what should you do to prep for the exam, I will suggest this
1) PMPBOK Guide book (3 times). Each line in that book can be a question on the exam. In my case ( I know it's a big question bank and may be I was lucky) around 50% of the questions were one liner and in that around 30% were direct questions from PMBOK guide. So each line is important.
2) Ritas book (1 time, max 2 times)
3) Free exams ( I didn't take any paid exam, so I am not sure how worth is it). During last one month of my preparation, I was more doing online free exams. Its very important that after the exam, make sure you go through each and every question in the exam and figure out why it was wrong or correct. Let me put the links here.
i. Some free iphone apps
Except headfirst, for most of it I scored around 65-75% and headfirst I scored around 80%. And most of the time I finish the entire mock test in 2.5 hrs.
On the day of the exam, I reached 1 hr before the exam time. I finished 200 question in around 2.45 hr and about 30 questions marked for review. Reviewing those marked one was very important and as I changed some of the answers while reviewing.
I took 3 breaks, after first hour (finished around 70 question), then second hour, finished around 150 question and around 2.40 hr after finishing full 200.
Hope my experience help some of the PMP aspirants and All the Best.

Missing Avatar

Just a few notes on my own experience, I passed the exam in February 2011.

I spent one month studying Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep book (6th Edition). Just focused on that with little reference to the PMBOK. I spent one 2 – 3 hour session going through each chapter, taking my own notes, doing most of the exercises and sample questions at the end. Some of the chapters took longer than others so needed more time. You will know which ones by the length of the chapters themselves. For example, the Procurement chapter is long and shouldn't be rushed as there is a lot in it.

Then I spent a month doing a similar exercise using the PMBOK, my own notes and Rita's PMP Exam Prep book. I refined my notes into new notes, structured the way the PMBOK is laid out. I found this to be more relevant preparation for the exam. I re-did all the sample questions in Rita's book.

I found Rita's book great, it really helps the way it points out the key things to remember, tips for the exam itself and the PMI-isms, these are very important

The PMBOK gives you the structure for the exam itself, as the whole thing is really based the processes and knowledge areas.

My exam memory dump consisted of:
The table on p43 of the PMBOK (Process Groups and Knowledge Areas Mapping)
Communications Formula
Present Value Formula
PERT Formulas
Earned Value Formulas
Sigma Values (1, 2, 3, 6)
Point of Total Assumption
Float Formula
List of Conflict Resolution Techniques in order of preference
Budget list and their risk focus (eg. Contingency Reserves v Management Reserves)
Team Building phases (Forming, etc)
Sources of Power

It took me ten minutes to write all of that out from memory, so there was no point in having much more in it. From about 2/3 weeks out from the exam I wrote it out every day, the first thing I did at my desk in work when I arrived in!

I did not memorise all of the ITTOs. I just didn't see the point from the sample exams and I'm glad I didn't. The only thing I wrote down as part of the brain dump was the steps for Scope: SOW is input to Project Charter, Project Charter is then an input into everything up to and including Define Scope, from which the Scope Statement is an output. The Scope Statement is then an input to all remaining planning processes except Estimate Activity Durations, Develop HR Plan, Quantitative Risk Analysis and Develop Risk Responses. That helped. Know the difference between Verify Scope and Control Scope. Be familiar with the principle differences between Plan, Conduct, Admin and Close Procurements. Once you're generally familiar with what each process actually is and you have the chart from p43 written down in front of you it is possible to pick the correct ITTO from the list in the questions.

I bought the RMC PM Fastrack CD for sample exams and also the PM Study 4 exams package. I also did the 175 Oliver Lehman questions. I found this hugely valuable to focus on the small things that tend to come up over and over again in the exam. The main thing is to spend time understanding the questions you got wrong and why. The Super PMP was very very tough, but going through it will stand to you in the exam.

Support sites like Deep Fried Brain are invaluable. They provide excellent tips and articles and the Lessons Learned are very helpful to know what to expect on the day.

I hope this helps anyone looking to do the exam, best of luck!

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hey Kevin,

Thanks for coming back again and posting your lessons learned here on my request. Not everyone who uses this site comes back to post his/her lessons learned after passing the exam. In the past 2 years, I have had several hundred thousand visitors, but only a few lessons learned posts. Or maybe not many who use this site find it useful :)

Anyway, your contribution is really appreciated. Good luck for future, and stay in touch.


Harwinder Singh Avatar

Soumyajit Mukherjee passed his PMP exam recently and sent me his lessons learned along with a thank you note. You can read his message .

It was a bit too long to be posted as a comment.

Missing Avatar

Hi Harwinder,

I am pleased to share that yesterday I passed my PMP exam. Most of the credit goes to Rita's book and your great work on Deepfriedbrain blogs & BrainBOK. I also would like to appreciate your commitment and promptness in clarifying the queries on your portals.
I was preparing from past 3 months and most of time spent in studying Rita Mulchay's PMP Prep book in evening and weekends and articles on various sites during my free time in office. I have gone through Rita's book 2-3 times, and PMBOK once. I also skimmed through Head First PMP. I believe after reading Rita's book, all books are very easy, however you still need to go through the PMBOK because the exam uses the terminologies stated in PMBOK.
I have tested myself with around 1000 questions on the popular site my friends already mentioned above including Rita's book.
Exam questions were a mix. Around 20-30% were straight forward with very basic definitions and rest were situation based. Most of the questions were on ITTO and some were on ethics & calculations.

Great thanks one more time...
Amit Mittal, PMP

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hey Amit,

Congratulations. That's awesome. Well done.

I was waiting for your message on the 27th and was really glad to see it. Somehow I get attached to people I interact with through this blog. Their success or failure is mine too.

Thanks for sharing your ASS (Absolutely Short and Simple) lessons learned too :)

Good luck for future. Let's stay in touch.

Best regards.

Missing Avatar

Cleared the PMP exam on May 9 (first attempt). :)
I would like to thank my family for their support.
Thanks to Cornelius for Prepcast and the formula guide.
And also various forums & websites. Specially, deepfriedbrain, pmzilla and pmhubs.

I used following books and material for the preparation.

a. PMBOK 4th Edition (read cover to cover twice)
b. The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try, Fourth Edition by Andy Crowe (read it 2 times)
c. PMP Exam Prep, Sixth Edition: Rita's Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam by Rita Mulcahy (read it 2 times)
d. Prepcast from Cornelius
e. Formula guide from Cornelius

I had planned to give myself 4 months to prepare for this test.
I started preparing from Dec last year. After reading all the books mentioned above once and
finishing the prepcast, I applied for the exam in Jan. Then I scheduled to give the exam on 24th March.
But as I am based in Tokyo, and there was the eathquake incident, I rescheduled it for yesterday 9th May.
After the earthquake and incidents that followed, the PMP study stuff was kind of completely washed off.
I was feeling as if I dont remember anything. :cry:
Then again I started studing from 1st May. Took one week off before the exam and studied every day.
And gave the exam on 9th May.

Things that I did for preparing for this exam:
1) Memorized the Process group-knowledge area chart on page 43 and the Rita Process chart.
2) Read a chapter from PMBOK, then Andy and lastly Rita. This gave me a deep understanding of the processes.
3) Learnt all the formulae from the formula guide and solved all the formulae questions.
4) Read the PMBOK glossary.
5) Did Rita's fast-track questions for all knowledge areas.
6) Did not memorize ITTOs. But read it enough times to know most of them.

Mock tests

1) PMStudy Free Test and one paid test. Very good questions. Good difficulty.
2) Oliver Lehman's 175 & 75 question. Very good questions. Good difficulty.
3) HeadFirst Free Test. Very good questions. Moderate difficulty.
4) PMRoadtrip free questions. Very good questions. Moderate difficulty.
5) Edwel Very good questions. Good difficulty.
6) PreparePM Good Questions. Moderate difficulty.
7) End of book exam from Rita and Andy

I scored between 75% to 80% for all of the tests.
Only in the end of book test for Andy I scored 89%

My observations & suggestions:

1. The questions on the real exam were not wordy and the choices were not difficult to pick up.
2. Only few questions required more thinking.
3. The exam was not so tough in my opinion.
It depends on the understanding of the processes and also on how much do you retain after reading the books/material.Overall, the exam was not as tough as I thought but also it was not easy either.
4. Practice at least 3-4 full length tests. If you are doing good on the above mentioned tests, you will be good on the exam.
5. Writing the dump during initial 15 minutes of tutorial may NOT be helpful. Do it only if you find it useful. I wrote the process chart and the formulas but did not look at them at all.
6. Plan for the breaks and take them only if you need. I took one break after 1 hr 30 mins.
Completed the exam in 3 hours 10 mins.


Missing Avatar

Lessons learnt:

1. Self study materials (PPTs) from employer (IBM) based of PMBOK (~4 hour/ knowledge area)
2. The book -- How to pass PMP on your first try, by Andy Crowe (This is one of the most simplified study material around)
3. VelociTeach Sample Tests (The above book comes with a 1 week free access to this website). This has got practice tests (averaged 85-90% overall)
4. Sample Tests - PM Fast Track version 6 by Rita (has around 1400 sample questions) (Averaged 70-75% overall)
5. Oliver Lehmann Sample Test (FREE) 175 questions (Difficult) -- (Scored 62%).
6. Head First Labs Sample Test (FREE) 200 questions (Easy) -- (Scored 85%).
7. TechFaq360 Sample Test (FREE) 200 questions (Easy) -- (Scored around 80%)

So this is pretty much what I did for 6 weeks before writing the PMP exam. I didn't read PMBOK guide at all. I guess the easiest route to success is to read the materials once and understand the concepts, and take as much practice tests as you could, before writing the real exam.

For me, first few questions of the actual PMP test was difficult which made me kinda nervous. I marked it for later and went ahead with other questions. Finished all questions in 2.30 hrs (took two 5-10 mins breaks in between). Then reviewed all questions again (both marked and unmarked) in another 1 hour. Finally submitted the test when 10 mins to finish.

I was pretty happy to see that I passed :)

This was the final result:
1. Initiating -- Moderately Proficient
2. Planning -- Moderately Proficient
3. Executing -- Proficient
4. Monitoring & Control -- Proficient
5. Closing -- Proficient
6. Professional Ethics -- Moderately Proficient

Missing Avatar

I just passed my PMP this Afternoon.

Intiation - Moderately Proficient
Planning - Moderately Proficient
Execution - Proficient
Monitoring & Control - Proficient
Closing - Moderately Proficient
Professional Responsibility - Moderately Proficient.

Practised a lot of questions (in Andy Crowe's Book, Oliver's 175 questions, in Crosswind's Book, HeadFirst's 200 questions, and i used and for online practises too.) i did these questions over and over and over again.

The book i read was Andy Crowe's book - pass at first try. and i sure did!

went through a soft copy of the PMBOK Guide but i don't think i finished it though.

All in all, i'd advice any intending PMP exam-taker to read till they feel very familiar with the concepts of Project Management as presented in whatever book they pick to study with and then go over as many questions as they can lay hands on (over and over again).

Finished under 2hours; took a 2minute break - after answering all the questions - to go to the gents, and then went over about 10 questions or so i marked for review. i think i changed only 1 or 2 from what i chose earlier.

Ademola Abejoye PMP.

Missing Avatar

Hi Harwinder,
Just cleared the PMP Exam yesterday on my first try.
Got Moderately Proficient in Exec/Prof Resp and Proficient in the other 4 domains.

Few lessons learnt/tips based on my experience, which i have also posted on the linked in PMI career central:

1) Understand the CONCEPTS - you can get questions correct if you understand concepts. You can derive everything on your own, rather than rely on memorization. When people say the exam is easy - it is because they understand the standard.
2) One can use any popular book like Andy Crowe/Rita Mulcahy - choose the one which you are comfortable with
3) Read the Head First PMP Book First, if you are new to PMIs processes. It is like a Story book and a great read, which will really make you understand some basic concepts.
4) Read PMBOK atleast once - Just like Prep Books cover items which are not listed in PMBOK, the reverse also is true. PMBOK is an excellent source to validate conflicting/unclear information given in different Prep Books. After all, the exam is primarily based on PMBOK.
5) Mugging up ITTO's will be a waste of time. I can tell you by experience that if you understand all processes, their concepts and why those are required - you can get all ITTO questions correct. BrainBOK is an excellent free tool to test your ITTO knowledge. Must take the quiz! Great Job Harwinder!
6) Take practice exams to test your knowledge, but only few reliable ones pmstudy, velociteach, Headfirst. I did not take the Oliver Lehman test, after seeing what lot of people wrote about it being too tough - i did not want to lose confidence.
7) Practice sitting for 4 hours by take 2-3 full tests. It really helped me. It was only roughly after 175 questions for which i took 2.45 hours, that i felt the need for a break.
8) Have a test strategy. Some people suggest that you must quickly answer 200 questions in about 2 hours and then spend time in review. What i did was - took longer time and ensured that i was correct in the first time. So i ended up taking 3 hours for completing 200 questions and had marked only 5-6 for review. Anyways - Dont get stuck on a question - mark it for review. One must use the strategy best suitable. Also most important is that post answering 200 questions, you are mentally exhausted - i had a bad headache due to an overnight cold. If you have spent good time on your questions and are confident of the answers, DON'T do a review except for the marked questions. There is chance of second guessing and you might actually change right answers to wrong and do more damage.
9) Make your own notes when you study - which you can refer to for quick recaps.
10) Make your OWN study plan. Use tips from others, but plan whats best suitable. All of us are from different educational/professional backgrounds and hence, everyone's experieces would be different - what works for one person may not work for others.
11) Harwinder Singh's is one good blog - you can refer to it for clear some basics.
12) Best part about Andy Crowe's book - apart from the simple and positive language, is the free Insite 1 week Trial. I used it about 1 week prior to the exam by taking a full online video course. Great interactive way to revise.
13) MOST IMPORTANT - SET A DATE. Most of us are used to targets, else we sleep. I dragged myself for some 6-7 months after earning my 35 hours, post which i woke up in June and set my date. I had to slog, since i had the target in front of me!


Missing Avatar

Hi Friends,

I would like to share my lessons learned for clearing PMP certification.

I cleared my PMP certification on June 4,2011( the big day of my life)

Preparations steps:

1) Read PMBOK once just a rough reading
2) Then joined institute for 35 contact hours
3) Post that filled the application and booked the centre as it was tuff to do the bookking. Do back ward study
4) Read PMBOK twice , made some notes
5) Read Rita 2 times
6) Read Healdman once just a rough reading(questions are really good of Healdman)
7) Did mock test at least 8-10 and main point once you get answers, please guys re read wrong and right both answers, so that you know what exactly you have done and this will improvise your weak areas.
8) Don't break the rhythm study everyday weekdays 2-3 hrs and weekends 7-8 hours
9) Took leave from office for 2 weeks
10) In mock test make target to get 70-75% then only give the exam
11) Last 1 week: Stopped giving mock 4 days before exam and read PMBOK 1 more time and read your notes.

Missing Avatar

Hi All,

I'm excited to inform you that I've cleared and part of huge PMP community on 27-Jul-2011.

Let me share the lessons learned with you all.

Mine was 5 month journey started in Feb'11 and finished in Jul'11

Preparation Steps:

1) I didn't attend the bootcamp, instead choose prepcast.
2) Read Headfirst once.
3) Read PMBOK once(very raw, couldn't finish half)
4) Read Rita once (got the real hang of it)
5) Schedule the exam(to put pressure to self)
6) Read Andy Crowe once, very nice book.
7) Went through almost all the free questions (oliver/headfirst etc...)
8) Read Rita once again.
9) Practiced many questions (close to 1000)
10) Finally gave exam. During exam first 15-20 questions made me demotivated, so took a break, had some water and snack, took some deep breath, there on there was no stoppage. I took another break after 150 questions. Then the finally after completing all. I didn't get time to review all the questions(timed out).

But finally when "Congratulations" message came, phew what a relief.

So all in all it was very satifying, unlike many I didn't went through whole pmbok, but practicing questions made it work.

Sanjay P

Missing Avatar

Hi All,

Just got to say, Plan the project that is your PMP exam to Close it successfully!

I have cleared my PMP exam on the 3rd August. And my starting point was your blog. I was regularly following your blog and ofcourse using BrainBOK.
They were very useful. I picked up good points from the lessons learned. My schedule was very tight so i had to cram really hard, as i had to manage my office as well as the studies.
And i got to pay undivided attention only during the last 5 days of the exam.

I did not go through many books actually.
I wouldn't recommend my schedule below.

But I felt Exam was little bit easier :)

This was how i planned.
step 1: 15 days (2-3 processes per day) for 42 processes read from Rita M and PMBOK.
step 2: 3 days for 9 knowledge areas revision.
step 3: 3 days Mock exams (head first and other sets mentioned in ) along with referring to PMBOK and Rita.
step 4: 3 hours each for PMBOK chapter 1,2,3, ethics, social and professional responsibility.
step 5: 1 day for redoing the exercises in Rita's book.
step 6: 1 day to consolidate formulas and ITTO's

1. The advantage I had is that the course at the chapter where we took our credits was very helpful.
2. The faculty gave many useful tricks to get things over easily.
3. Give 2-3 Mock exams atleast before 15 days. I got into a bit of panic, since i did not have much time. Oliver's exam was good but the result nearly made me to reschedule.
4. I somehow recovered and went through the KM's again.
5. Important thing about ITTO's is i did not read them!
Just be able to visualize what is done during a process (Quantitative risk analysis- probabality and impact) and what will come out of it. I did not remember the inputs.
I just remembered one Tool in each process and recollected the remaining with the help of that.
6. I slept well before the exam and because of the Mock's i was running in no time.

Once again I would like to thank Harwinder for creating this great resource of knowledge and all the others for sharing their LL's.

All the best to you Harwinder and to any one who is planning to take this.


Missing Avatar

I am happy to report I successfully passed with "Moderately Proficient" across the board.
Here is what I did:
1. Read many of the topics on .
2. Purchased Head Start PMP and read 1 chapter/day. Reread Quality, Procurment, and Cost (3 areas I was weakest).
3. Planned my PMP Training and Test taking as a project, to have fun with practicing a project.
a. It helps prepare and become familiar with all the steps, inputs, and outputs
b. It's not as stressful as "reliving" work projects
c. It can get through many of the processes
d. No, I won't give you my actual documents. You need to build them to learn them.
4. Signed up for an online test bank Measure Up (616 questions) $30 for 2 mos.
5. Used many of the free test question resources found on .
6. Used Brainbok to test my knowledge of ITTO
7. Practice 100 questions 1x/day. 2x on weekends. Review all answers you get wrong thoroughly.
8. Write down and look up any term that I couldn't remember when it came up on a practice test. Then look at that answer and review thoroughly. Closer to the test, this was not often.
9. Create a 1 page cheat sheet of everything you want to remember. Then each day at work, try to create it from memory. Fill in what you forget. When you go to the exam, you can almost create the whole thing from memory.
Here was my test strategy:
1. Relax –write at the top and bottom of every scratch paper "Relax."
2. The 15 minutes to learn how to take the test on the computer I used to write formulas, graphed the Cycles and Knowledge Areas, and tried to relax.
3. For every question, I followed this process:
a. Read D, C, B, A.
i. You have to train to think backwards.
ii. Reduces "hurry up" fear…since you're starting at D, you can't go fast.
iii. Helps you understand what the question is asking.
b. Read off in your mind the definition of each as you read….don't analyze.
c. Look and carefully read the question (if in a scenario)
d. Look for trigger words (before, after, stage of process, etc).
e. Choose the best answer – if I was not 110% sure, I marked it.
4. Looked harder at paragraphs for trigger words that would make a different answer correct.
5. Don't worry about what you mark/don't mark. Know that you thoroughly reviewed each question
6. Relax when you are done by getting some comfort food. I had a Greek Gyro at 10pm…
What to Know to take the test: Besides everything, here are my suggestions
1. Read the PMI Code of Ethics – Remember to do no wrong, who it applies to, that you have actual and aspirational rules, think of others before self, and turn your mother in for a PMI for any violation. That's 5-10 percent of your grade easily earned with minimal study.
2. Be comfortable with calculations:
a. Know the standard formula setup, but also practice calculating when the info must be found by additional calculations. E.G. If you have AC, SPI, and CPI, what is the PV?
b. Knowing the other calculations, inc. lines of communication, sigma, and EMV, PERT, Time Variance, Std Dev, etc.
c. This is another 5-10 pct that's easy to achieve
3. Managing Team conflict
4. Contract Types & best for seller & buyer (fixed for buyer, cost for seller)…there's more but that alone helps.
5. Know the Grid (9 Knowledge areas, 5 phases)
6. What are the roles of a PM – How is a project created
7. Differences between Project and Process, Project and Portfolio, Project and Program
8. Remember difference between Qualitative Risk and Quantitative Risk.
Congratulations on passing your PMP…when you've put forth this effort, you won't need luck.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Congratulations - Rashmi, Ravi, Yogesh, Anjali, Vithal and Chuck.

I'm sorry that I was not even able to take a few moments to congratulate and thank you for your achievement and contribution. All of you have clearly spent so much effort in compiling and sharing your lessons learned in great detail. I appreciate your effort and the wonderful feedback, and wish you success in your future endeavors.

Keep in touch through FB, TW, LinkedIn ...

Missing Avatar

I have been a reader on this blog for about 4 months now, which approximately the time I spent preparing for the PMP test. My favorite section was the Lessons Learned and today I am proud to share my own:

On August 18th I passed my PMP certification exam in Toronto. My journey started back in the spring of 2010 but I got side tracked due to work and personal commitments and was not prepared to write the exam. So it got deferred until this year. I decided to update my application in mid-April and it took three weeks to finalize and submit. Although I got selected for an audit, the whole process was pretty straightforward and I got my clearance to book the test a week after sending the required documentation.

I used the following resources/strategy to prepare for the exam:

- Read the PMBOK 4th edition twice, read the Glossary once.
- Read Rita's Mulcahy's book twice, attempted end of chapter tests.
- Andy Crowe's book twice, attempted end of chapter tests.
- Got Rita's FAST track software and tested myself on the individual knowledge areas.
- 6 weeks before the exam I started attempting practise exams; Andy Lehmann, HeadFirst, Andy Crowe, Rita's Fast Track Super PMP and PMStudy tests on the weekends.
- Made notes on the mistakes I made during these exams and reviewed the notes on a daily basis.
- Took a 5 day boot camp course provided by my employer 3 weeks prior to the exam.
- Practised the Process Group/Knowledge Area Chart and EVM Formulas every morning until I could write them within 15 minutes.

The exam is not easy and it tests your knowledge and understanding of the PMI's project management processes and framework. During the test I didn't take any breaks and finished all 200 questions in 3 hours, for the last hour I went through the marked and un-answered questions and spot checked random questions. Ended the exam with 13 minutes left, filled in the survey and got my Congratulations.

I suggest that you give yourself a minimum of four months preparation time if you do not have project management experience. The resources listed above are sufficient to clear the exam, boot camp is not mandatory but recommended.

Hope this helps the up and coming project managers.


Missing Avatar

I came to know about this site just 2-3 weeks before my exam today, but I must mention that it has really really helped me. Thanks DFBpmp. Some of the concepts which I had "some" understanding were very well understood after going thru this site and it really helped me in the exam. I passed my exam with "Proficient" in Planning & M&C and Moderately proficient in the rest.

Mine was a little haphazard way of studying but I'll try to mention my recommendation.

1. I would say start with RITA (its THE BEST book for PMP). After Rita you can go through the PMBOK (don't forget the PMBOK).
Either do Rita + PMBOK chapterwise or after complete the whole book.

2. The abaove two should be fine for most of the concepts. refer to DFBpmp, pmzilla to get more understanding.

3. give as many tests as possible. PMP is a very "different" exam. It is very important to understand and be comfortable with the nature/type of pmp exam questions. It also helps to locate any areas/concepts that you missed while reading the books.

So above are my two cents. Hope it helps somebody ;)

Missing Avatar

Feels great to add PMP in the signature. Yes, i have passed the PMP in first attempt on 27-Dec-2011. I must thank deepfriedbrain & brainbok sites. Created blog and added my experience. . Please review and let me know your comments :)

All the best !!

Elangovan.K, PMP

Missing Avatar

Sharing my experience of passing the PMP exam – I cleared the PMP exam in my 01st attempt with a grading of 'Proficient' in all the process groups.
I followed only two sources – PMP exam Prep (06th Edition) by Rita Mulcahy and PMBOK.
Rita's book covers about 70-75% of PMBOK. For the remaining 25-30%, I used PMBOK – I encountered this missing 25-30% in the below tests.

Also, I read Rita's 06th Edition though I should have read 07th Edition – I took this risk because there were quite comments in web pages that there is no significant difference between 06th and 07th edition. So I decided not to spend money again on the 07th edition.

Study pattern followed:
1. I read Rita's book very thoroughly twice and finished it with a quick third reading.
2. I then started testing my knowledge by giving below mock exams. Except 'PMP Exam simulator', all of them are free. I never attempted a mock exam more than once since I saw no point in it.
Test 01st Attempt Score Comments
Oliver Lehmann - 1 69.71% Free
Oliver Lehmann - 2 69.33% Free
Headfirst PMP 76.50% Free
Simplilearn 70.00% Free
PM Study - 1 76.57% Free
PMP Exam simulator 79.00% Paid. 79% is
Average score
in 7 tests

3. After giving the above tests, I realized that it's a must to remember the Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs for each process area. Though most of them are logical, you have to remember some odd ones.
4. PMP exam simulator – In total there are 9 tests. I purchased this in the last week before the PMP exam and attempted an exam every day. It takes around 6 hours to complete this end to end – around 3.5 hours for answering the questions and another 2.5 hours for understanding the explanations behind each answer. I could only finish 7 exams since I ran out of time. I think PMP exam simulator is good – quite some questions are tough and make you think!
5. In my opinion, the most important thing is when you finish the above tests, review every question and its answer and understand the explanations even if you have got the answer right. In my case, in quite some questions, my reasons for getting the answer right were different than the one mentioned. Also, I always cross checked the answers with PMBOK to remove the risk of incorrect answers and explanations in these tests. However, I think more than 99% of them are right.
6. In all, I attempted 2250 questions and understood the logic and explanations behind every answer (whether rightly or wrongly answered).
In my opinion, if you follow this approach, 2000-2500 questions are more than enough practice for the PMP exam.
Also, I think attempting an exam every day in the last week before the PMP exam helped me physically as well as mentally to give the actual PMP exam without much stress or discomfort.
7. In summary, it took me around 2 months end to end for all the above – I had taken a holiday of 15 days when I started my study and followed it up with a holiday of 7 days a week before the PMP exam.

8. In the exam, I think the most important thing is to carry out a brain dump of all the important & complicated stuff in the scratch sheet provided – this way, you don't have to remember them again during the exam.

9. I used all of the 4 hours in the exam and fell a little short of time to review answers of marked questions (I could not review around 15 marked questions). At the end of all this, i saw the word 'Congratulations' after a short survey.

10. That's it from my end, Folks. I wish you the very best in your PMP endeavor and hope you clear it in the 01st attempt.

12. Lastly, but the most important, I think this site is a big boon for PMP aspirants. I would have definitely struggled with my preparations if I had not gone through this site especially the lessons learnt section. A great great effort by Harwinder!

Harwinder Singh Avatar


Congratulations !!

Thanks for sharing your lessons learned in such great detail. I'm very glad to be of help.

I really appreciate the time that you have taken to compile this information. This stuff would be very valuable for others preparing for the exam.

Hope the certification brings great rewards to you. Good luck.

Best regards.

Missing Avatar

Happy and thrilled to share with you all that I have passed my PMP last week on my first attempt.

I have relied mostly on my self study for 3 months by studying the following books: PMBOK(4th Ed.), HeadFirst PMP (2nd Ed.), and Rita Mulcahy (6th Ed.). Even went through Andy Crowe's book once. Andy Crowe's book is very straight word, to the point and no unnecessary talk. HeadFirst helps you to register the concepts more effectively. Though Rita's book is quite negative, I like her very detailed explanation and many pitfalls to look for. For the last 10 days before exam, I think I have taken 10 - 12 full PMP tests available at the end of the prep books and also free online simulation tests. I think I have made good preparation, as I find the actual PMP exam not that difficult. There are a few tricky and trap questions which must be watched for.

Whenever I attempt full sample tests, chapter-end tests etc., I go through explanations for all attempted questions (both correct and wrong questions) not just for wrongly answered questions. I think this has helped me fully grasp how I think differently from the author of the explanation - for each and every question attempted.

Deepfriendbrainpmp and BrainBOK haver really helped me as wonderful reference sites. Infact, I have made this site as my first stop before searching others. Many thanks to Harwinder for putting up this!!

-Chandrasekhar Yechuri, PMP

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Chandra,

Congratulations on your success! I’m thrilled as well to hear that news.

You seem to be almost over-prepared for the exam. There are some good pointers in your lessons learned especially about reviewing both correct and incorrect answers.

I’m glad to be of help. I invite you to join my new forum PM Hangout and give back to the community. You may post these lessons learned in the forum as well.

Good luck for your journey ahead …

Missing Avatar

I am happy to share that I cleared my PMP last week in my first attempt itself.

I started preparing from 15 Feb, 2012 with PMBOK(4th Edition) and Rita Mulcahy(6th Edition). I took one chapter, read both in PMBOK and Rita and took sample questions test. Later I took the following Exams.
1. Head First - 80%
2. Oliver - 69%
3. PMP by Rita Questions (twice)- 49% and 71%
4. Exam central - 75%

After I took my mock exams, I spent more time reviewing wrong answers, which taught me hidden concepts and answering pattern.

Before two weeks of my Exam, I started spending time in forums (deepfriedbrains, pmstudy, examcentral etc)for one hour and undergone chapters in costing, WPI/WPM, OPA/EEF, power/conflict resolution etc

Then I memorized ITTO and formula. Tried writing in paper many times. One day prior to exam, I had gone through Rajesh Nair Excel which was useful to review.

Started exam and after 3 hrs and 40 min, I completed my exam successfully with Congratulations message

Missing Avatar

Hi, Harwinder,
I have cleared my PMP yesterday (27th April) with Proficient at Initiating, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Moderately Proficient at Planning and Closing. Thanks for your support ! Where can I post lessons learned in your site?


Missing Avatar

Just passed my PMP. I got 1P and 4MP's. I'd like to thank Harwinder for his excellent blog and clear and detailed topic explanations.

I spent around 8 weeks (first month was a little bit casual but very serious the next month). I read Rita Mulcahy's book 3 times, Did NOT read the PMBOK (read just 10-15 specific pages) and did 4 PMPStudy tests, Oliver 75 and 175 questions.

Spent a lot of time on BRAINBOK and Deepfriedbrain clarifying the topics and learning ITTO's.

I'm happy and relieved since I wanted to take the exam before the format change came into picture and I took it on 39th July. Best of luck to you all.

Missing Avatar

Cleared PMP exam in first attempt with Proficient in all process groups. My PMP journey experience and lessons learned.

Study Material

1. Rita -> 1 time
2. PMBOK 5th Edition -> 2 times
3. PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct -> 2 times
4. Rajesh Nair Notes located at -> Very useful for quick review
5. -> Make sure you understand the differences of the closely related words/concepts
6. -> Review the Knowledge areas (not mandatory but useful for quick review)

7. Printouts
Took the printouts of Table 3-1 and ITTO's of each Knowledge Area from PMBOK 5th Edition and reviewed them frequently during the preparation. If possible try to remember all the 47 processes in the Table 3-1. This will help you in gaining the expertise on the Process Framework, and rememembering input-output flow from one process to other. It is not mandatory to remember all the ITTO's but have a good understanding of the usage of tools & techniques

8. Study Notes
Maintained a list of topics with which I was not comfortable/ didn't understand completely while reading/ answered incorrectly during the exams. Reviewed the PMBOK again specifically for these topics and general resources in the internet to gain deeper understanding

Practice tests

I took several practice tests on internet. Below are my scores which will help you in setting your baseline. It is necessary to spend enough time to review the mistakes and the understand those concepts in detail in order to increase your score in subsequent tests. Also, I noticed that my scores increased significantly once I was able to remember most of the ITTO's. Please note that HeadFirst and PMStudy are the last exams that I took before the final exam.

Edwel programs -> 76%
Oliver Lehman -> 77%
PM Prepcast (paid) -> 75-80%
HeadFirst -> 83%
PMstudy -> 88%

During the exam:

1. Listed down the 47 process grouping mapping and all the formulae (PMBOK pg: 224, PERT calculations, PTA) in first 7 mins. I could remember all of them in my head but wrote it down on the paper to avoid making mistakes under stress

2. Answered first 20 questions really carefully reading each question twice. I wanted to gauge the complexity of the exam and see if there are trying to trick me in choosing the wrong answer. But noticed that most of the questions were straightforward and only few were tricky

3. Completed first 100 questions in 2 Hours and then took a 7 minute break. It is important to refresh yourself during the break. I had my favorite protein drink during the break :)

4. Decided to increase my speed as I felt comfortable with the question patterns. My goal was to review all the questions and avoid timeout situation. I have blindly marked any question that is lengthy and would require me to spend more than a minute to answer it. With this strategy I was able to complete next 95 questions in 100 minutes. I had spare time of 20 minutes to answer the 5 left over questions and review few questions that I marked for further review.

5. I found that few topics where tested repeatedly with various scenarios. Don't be afraid to choose the same answer multiple times (8 in my case) if you are confident that it is the correct answer. My recommendation is don't skip any topics during your preparation. If you are unlucky the same topic can repeat multiple times which might result in low score or even failure

I would like to thank all the people who have shared their experience earlier which helped me a lot in setting up my strategy for the exam. Finally, I would like to thank my dearest wife and 2 year old daughter for sacrificing their family time and allowing me to focus on the exam preparation.

Hope that the above information is useful to you and wish you the very success for your PMP certification!

Best Regards,
Manoj Aerroju

Missing Avatar

I cleared PMP exam on 23rd Nov 2015 with 4 Ps and 1 MP in closing.
Thanks a lot Harwinder, this site really helped me.
As I thought I was done with my preparation I came across this site and found lots of gap in my preparation.
This site really helped me in filling those gaps and developing me in right mindset for clearing PMP exam.
I read Rita Mulchay and PMBOK together 2 times and after that solved lots of sample question paper mentioned on this site in different posts.
Solving question paper really helps to align thinking with PMI.
My advice would be to solve 4-5 200 questions papers as you have to do in exam.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Deepti,


I'm really glad that you found the blog useful. I also feel somewhat guilty for not updating it in a long time particularly in view of the recent update to the PMP exam. A few new topics have been added to the PMP exam that have not been covered in any of my posts.

Thanks for sharing your lessons learned and experience. I fully agree with your advice of taking a few full length mock exams before the real deal.

I wish you all the best.