Passed PMP on 17th Aug 1st Attempt, Lessons Learnt

Mine is a textbook case of how not to prepare for the exam. I must have studied erratically for around 2-3 weeks total. The most amount of effort I put in was 10 to 12 hours during the last 2 days before the exam (because of a morbid fear of failing and losing 400+$).

However, I do have my own list of LL for all the aspiring candidates:

  1. The exam is not that difficult as it is made out to be. It is fairly easy, and a lot of questions are common sense. Which leads me to the second point...
  2. You do need to have some amount of real world project management experience. This really helps as I was already practising a lot of things that were mentioned in the PMBOK such as Risk Identification and Mitigation, Control Charts, Pareto Diagrams, Earned Value, etc. Hence, I just needed to skim through these topics.
  3. As many people have already pointed out, there are some topics which are given more importance and coverage (read more questions) than others. These topics are:
    1. Risk Management. I should have prepared more on this topic because there were a lot of questions on risk.
    2. Organization Types (Projectized or Matrix). I have mentioned this topic because you generally won't expect a lot of questions on this. However, I must have got at least 7-8 questions on this.
    3. Procurement Management. Too many questions on contract types, such as which contract to use.... whether CPIF, FP, T&M, etc.
    4. Quality Management. Questions such as which tool to use when. This is because there is a thin line of difference between QA and QC.
    5. Earned Value. This is a very easy and good scorer, because you always know if you have selected the correct answer. There were around 10-12 questions on EVM.
  4. Tools and Techniques are very important. Most of the questions were focused on TT. There were hardly any questions on inputs or outputs. So you can safely skip the inputs and outputs (or to be politically correct, just read these once).
  5. Exam Tricks. There were several exam tricks, which if you know in advance helps a lot, such as:
    1. Exam asks questions on difficult to remember and understand TT, such as Design of Experiments, Sensitivity Analysis, Parametric Estimation. For example, definiton of a TT in the question and selecting the TT name from the options.
    2. Wordy questions are generally the most easiest ones. The real hard ones are the one liners.
    3. Lot of 'filler' questions on Conflict Management, Problem Solving, etc. These are mighty easy to answer.
  6. Mock Tests. Please devote around 1/2 of your study time to giving mock tests. I gave the free one from PMStudy and the Oliver Lehmann 75. I scored around 75-80 % on both and that gave me confidence.
  7. Finally, it makes sense to give the exam only if you are pratising the project management science. You shouldn't give the exam just because you want to add a line item to your list of qualifications in your resume. This is because this is one exam where practical knowledge is as important and useful as much as memorizing the text in the PMBOK.

Best of Luck to all aspirants!!!

 PS. I scored average on the exam with 'Proficient' in only one of the Process Groups :(

admin's picture

Excellent writeup Gautam. Thanks. Congratulations on your PMP certification.

Thanks alot... very encouraging writeup.

Congrats on passing your exam. 

I found a LOT of questions on my exam to be the; "If this, then this" or the "If this, what is BEST" and "What would you do first."  The thing that surprised me was how few definition questions there were.  I had been told that there were a lot of those.

Quite a few of the input/output questions were on my exam also.