I have this mantra, “If I can do you it, you can do it; If you can do it, I can do it.”

And the same held me in good stead when it came to preparing probably one of the toughest exams of one’s professional career – PMP.

In this article I’d like to share my PMP exam tips, tricks & lessons learned.

pmp exam tips tricks & lessons learned by ramya

The seed

I was keen on earning this most coveted credential in the Project Management world. It all started around June 2016 when I started researching ways to kick start my PMP studies. Soon I learned that it demands lot of commitment, concentration, dedication and hard work.

Actively, I spent 4 months with 2 to 4 hours of preparation everyday. Here is my study plan, resources I pmp ramyaused, tips & tricks I learned in during the course of my PMP study.

Study Material and Study Plan

  • Head First PMP – I spent about 3 weeks to finish this book. This book explains PMP concepts in a pictorial and a fun way, using many memory aids. If you need a light reading of PMP and a fun start, I would recommend you begin with this book.
  • PMBOK – This is THE book to consider for your PMP study. Majority of questions appear from this book so as much as possible try not to ignore this. It took me 1 month for first reading; took less than a month for 2nd reading; and took about a week to skim through the book for the 3rd time.
  • Rita MulcahyI’d suggest reading this book after reading PMBOK for the second time. This book is gold for Quality Management, Procurement Management and Human Resource Mangement. Actually, I started reading only the pointers for tips and ended up reading the whole book. It is so interactive that you feel this book talks to you in person.
  • Saket Bansel’s Videos – I watched his free videos for the concepts I felt I need more explanation. His white board sessions are awesome.

Also Read: How Shalima Jain prepared for and passed her PMP exam in 12 weeks

Resources used for Mock exams

Mock exams are a great way to prepare for the real exam. They not only helped me identify gaps in understanding concepts, but it also helped manage those 4 rigorous hours of the PMP test.

Here are my recommendations for mock tests –

  • Christopher Scordo (1000 Questions) – This book is a savior for PMP aspirants. With clear explanations referring to PMBOK is one of the main highlights of this book. I highly recommend. This is the only paid resource I used.
  • Free Mocks –
    • SimpliLearn 20
    • Oliver’s 75 and 175
    • Head’s first 200
    • Izenbridge free 100
    • Whizlabs free 50 and
    • Rita’s chapter-end around 400 questions

(Shiv: This page lists free mock tests, many of which are listed above)

Also Read: Kasturi used this one simple technique to learn 40% of PMP content while saving a lot of time!

PMP Tips & Tricks I learned that worked for me

1) Never memorize ITTOs

When I was going through the 15 mins instructions in the test center, I felt as if I forgot all that I did in last 4 months!

But believe me, once I started reading the 1st question, everything simply flowed through and fell in place.

I believe this will happen only if one understands how all the inputs and outputs are connected.

I used to create mind maps for self-study, and explained process to myself by picking a process at random.

2) Be it right or wrong, check the explanation of all the answers when you practice

This is where I spent most of my time. I checked all the right answers to validate if my thought process when I answered the questions was correct. Did I select my option for the same reason as given in the explanation? – This approach will streamline and align your thought process with PMBOK.

3) Extra reading while checking the answers

If I got a question wrong, I checked PMBOK for the explanation and I end up reading the whole page.

For instance, I got Risk Acceptance question wrong, when I read through Risk acceptance, I ended up reading Risk Mitigation, Avoidance and transfer as well. I know this takes lot of time but it will stand in mind forever.

4) Practice managing those 4 hours

I’m a slow test taker. During mock exams, I ended up reading the question more than 4 times. So I always took few extra minutes and in the end ran out of time.

After few mocks, I practiced reading the question only once and infer the information the very first time. Instead of rushing, I took extra 30 secs in reading the question slowly, but only once. This helped me a lot in the real PMP exam.

I took 3hr and 50 mins to finish all the 200 questions. But I had the confidence that I will pass the exam, because I knew I had read the question carefully and selected the best answer.

5) I actively participated in PMP forums

Every day I woke up to see a question in Facebook forum- PMP Exam notes, Tips and Resources. Thanks for inculcating the PMP’ ism right from the morning. Also, I enjoyed posting a question/doubt on forums and discussing with other PMs. By this means I have learned a lot about project management.

6) Stay Positive

Give positive energy to your thoughts. It is like nurturing a plant. I even thought of preparing a write-up about my PMP journey to post in this very blog.

Also Read: Murali’s Myth-busting PMP experience.

Last week of my preparation

I made a detailed study Plan for last 10 days.

Being a busy mom of a 4 year old and 2 year old, I was able achieve only 75% of my plan. But I felt confident on my preparedness to take the exam.

I regulated my sleep during the last week of my preparation because I scored well in all the mocks I took during the day time than during nights. Dressed up comfortably, I had a good brunch reached exam hall around 11 am, finished all the formalities and started my PMP exam at around 11.45 am.

As I planned and practiced, I read every questions only once slowly and steadily, and at the end of the 4th hour I was confident that I have correctly answered more than enough to the pass the exam.

Also Read: 9 things you can do on PMP exam day to increase the odds of passing it.

Give back to the community

I feel this more important – To give back to PMP community. If any part of this post helps you in your own PMP preparation, it would be of immense satisfaction for me. I have earned more well wishers and friends after I started my PMP journey. Sharing is caring- for yourself and for others. Many Thanks.

Good luck,

Ramya Manickam, PMP


PMP certification exam was the first big exam I took after a gap of 18 years, after my college. I had to overcome my own doubts and self-imagined limitations and prove to myself that this is possible. I took up the challenge with a couple of thumb rules and it all worked out well.

I’d like to share my PMP journey, what worked for me and what did not, hoping that this will help PMESN readers prepare for their own PMP exam with some insights.

pmp exam preparation shalima


In my view, PMP journey itself is a learning experience, so enjoy this and you will find it much easier to pass your PMP exam.

My study resources

shalima pmpMy entire PMP prep duration was 12 weeks. I did not want to include too many study resources as it only made me get overwhelmed. So, the first rule was to stick with 1-2 main and 1-2 ‘gap’ study resources. I chose the following after some research –

For detailed study –

For ‘last mile’ preparation –

Also Read: PMP Certification – How I Earned Mine Without PMBOK, Jackie W. Gibbs

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Shiv, I wish to share my PMP exam lessons learned for the benefit of PMP exam takers. You might be surprised to learn that PMP practice exams contributed to about 40% of my PMP knowledge. I have also shared few other ‘small adjustments’ that I discovered along the way, which have helped a great deal in my preparation for the exam.
pmp practice exams for pmp prep kasturi

First, here are my..

PMP exam preparation resources

PMP Kasturi MurthyThese were my primary study resources, but I did not go studying them in the same order as above.

I would suggest not starting with PMBOK first – you may easily get overwhelmed. I chose to study PMBOM AFTER I read through other books – which made it easy for me to negotiate PMBOK. Plus, I found that this approach helped me learn most out of every PMP® concept. More on this in a bit.

My prep plan using PMP practice exams

This was my second attempt at PMP® exam.

After the first attempt, I analyzed the possible causes. I realized that could not clear first time mainly because I didn’t go through many PMP practice exams.

This made me vulnerable to all sorts of confusions during the exam, which quite frankly, I did not expect. So for the second attempt, I made few changes to my study approach.

First, I did not miss any ‘PMP Lessons Learned’ articles posted by successful PMP candidates. These articles, coupled with a lot of tips on PMESN really helped me come up with a plan that suited the focus I had to give for work, my need for travel, and the time I had to give to my family.

I allocated 1-2 hour of study 3 days in a week and 6-8 hours of study on weekends for two months. [click to continue…]

pmp exam day tips pmp exam prep

After long deliberation, you decided to take up PMP exam. You applied for the exam at PMI.org, received their nod, went ahead with scheduling your exam with Prometric, collected your top study resources, prepared a study plan and schedule, hit your study milestones and now your PMP exam day is around the corner.

You are, understandably, bit nervous about the exam. After months (for some like me, years) of studying for the exam, you want to get everything right on the day of the exam and come out with flying colors.

Here are 9 tips, based on the exam experience of successful PMPs, that you can use to manage the ‘risks’ on the day of your PMP exam.

1. Get a good 8-hr of sleep the night before

It is important that you feel physically fresh during the exam. A tired body cannot host a relaxed mind. After all, you need to sit for 4 hours and answer question after question.

Even if you feel that you are not completed prepared, which most of us do, make sure you have a good night’s sleep.

Also Read: 5 Things Successful PMPs are Doing The Week Before PMP Exam Day

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pmp prep experienceShiv, thank you for your support, emails, great tips, and the PMP prep books. I earned my PMP yesterday with 2 ‘Proficient’ and 3 ‘Moderately Proficient’ score.

I completed my exam in just 2.5 hours.

I would like to share some advice and study tips here based on my PMP prep experience, for the benefit of PMP aspirants.

pmp mostafa adel My preparation for the exam started way back in April 2016 with a course at my workplace, which ran for three days a week. I completed this course by June 2016. Due to many things, I couldn’t study the materials I got at the course.

I started studying afresh in September 2016 by –

  • Reading your Blueprint,
  • Watching videos on UDEMY for free,
  • Reading RITA, and
  • Solving questions provided by the UDEMY course.

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pmp exam experience murali pmpShiv, I passed my PMP exam recently, and here are a few myths I’d like to burst and also share few tips from my PMP exam experience.

Myth #1: PMP Exam is tough.

PMP exam is not as tough as most people perceive it to be.

pmp murali mohanPMP is identical to the quarterly exams during schooling – I did my schooling in India and I understand other countries have the mid-term exam after 6 months from the beginning of the academic year. Quarterly exams are conducted every 3 months. There are 7 subjects in all. And by the first quarter, we would complete 5 chapters in each subject. Isn’t it? That makes it 35 chapters in all. But, for PMP we have only 13 chapters!

Fact: The difference is the cost of PMP exam and that is where fear lies for many people. “If I failed I’ll lose $500+!”

Also Read: Don’t just start your prep with PMBOK guide – by Vignesh, PMP

Myth #2: It is difficult to write an exam for 4 hours without break.

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