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

My PMP certification exam study plan

Initially, there was no plan, to be honest.

I simply wanted to get the concepts right by reading the two above-mentioned books. Once I finished two reads of both the books, then I started exploring various blogs and materials online.

I had to figure the core areas that form the backbone of my PMP study. I realized there are 3 core areas that I need to focus on for my PMP certification study –

  1. Inputs, Tools & Techniques, Outputs of each process
  2. Understanding of the flow of project management processes and information across Knowledge areas and Process groups
  3. Thorough read of PMBOK guide, to pick up nuances of project management

Making my own study notes

Once I planned my study and came up with a schedule, I started making my own notes on each topic. I realized that this will help me a lot during the last stage of preparation and for revision before my PMP exam.

I actually made charts for each knowledge area with their ITTO and notes on each. While making notes, I discovered few patterns. For instance, Expert Judgement is a tool used for almost all of Initiating, Planning and Executing processes and a some of the Control processes.

Likewise, I made a mental note of the tools used in all estimating processes in Cost and Time Management. I also discovered that studying Stakeholder management and Communications management together made a lot of sense as there were quite a few commonalities between the two. All this made it simpler to get the concepts right. Trust me, with every read of PMBOK you will discover more.

All this made it simpler to understand the concepts right. Trust me, with every read of PMBOK you will discover more!. Hence I made sure I completed at least 4 reads of PMBOK guide.

Another important tool for PMP certification study is the mocks and simulations. PMP mock tests are very helpful to get a sense of the real exam. You will also be able to plan how you want to spend 4 hours on the exam.

Also Read: My PMP Certification Exam Experience – by Vignesh Kalyanasundaram, PMP

Pros & cons of my PMP study plan

For me personally, the plan evolved as I dived deeper. My plan of making charts for each knowledge area was realized much later. I wish I could have done that earlier.

Since I was taking PMP certification exam – any serious exam for that matter – after almost 18 years from my college days. I had a huge mind block about my ability to get my focus back into studying and taking PMP exam. But I took it up as a challenge. My two daughters helped me a lot and encouraged me to go for it.

I was very skeptical of the timeframe, and sitting for 4 hours to complete 200 questions seemed difficult. In reality though the 4 hours just flew by and I actually ran short of time! 🙂

I had only five minutes to attempt the last 10 questions. It is all about staying focused during those crucial 4 hours of the exam.

Also read: How I Aced my PMP Success In Spite of Not Studying PMBOK– Tara M. King, PMP

My PMP study tips for your exam

PMP certification exam is not easy but at the same time not impossible.

As per my experience, I figured that the last three to four weeks before the exam is the most crucial prep time. So plan to cut down all the distraction from work and family during this time. This planning has to be done at the beginning of your study itself, considering major events in your family/work. Keep in mind your travel plan as well if your job requires you to travel to client place and so on.

During prep planning, factor in your travel plan as well if your job requires you to travel to client place.

You would also need to fix with certainty the amount of time you would spend every day. Plans do go awry sometimes, and the little buffer you build in here will come in handy.

Also, plan how you’d want to spread your time and efforts between reading and taking mock tests.

Good planning and flawless execution – just like in a project – is key to our PMP success.

All the best to the aspiring PMPs!


Shalima Jain, PMP

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, 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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pmp certification exam vigneshShiv, I feel very happy in letting you know that I cleared my PMP certification exam on February 16th !! I owe you a lot for this success and thanks for all your help and guidance which you gave me on this journey.

How it all began..

pmp vignesh kIt all started in September 2015 and even before becoming a PMP certified Project Manager I did the cost-benefit analysis. At that time I decided to do some certification and performed research on various options like CAPM, PMP, Prince 2, ITIL next level certification and so on.

Finally, I decided to proceed with PMP.

When I started I found the website of Edward Chung to be very useful to understand the prerequisite and syllabus etc. Then I was lucky to find PMESN website and immediately subscribed the daily emails explaining the various concepts. I have to say it was pure Project management explained in clear, plain English!! No ambiguity, no IITO, tedious calculations etc.

Though ITTOs, calculations are necessary for the exam, I feel for a beginner it is more important to just understand the concept in a simple way.

My chosen set of PMP certification exam study material

When it comes to the study-material, I decided it has to be Rita’s PMP book or HeadFirst PMP followed by PMBOK. [click to continue…]