An all-round PMP exam preparation plan, by Manjush M K, PMP

manjush PMP exam preparation planShiv, I would like to share my PMP exam preparation plan and my lessons. Here’s the approach using the classic Process Groups way 🙂


pmp lessons learned manjushI heard first about PMP at my previous organization. All our management training were aligned with PMBOK. But I felt no need or urgency for PMP at that time. I realized the need of certification last year.

I took 35 Hours contact class and decided to take the exam within 2 months. It did not happen due to various professional/personal reasons though. But by the time I decided to take the exam (10 months later) I had forgotten all the important lessons from the contact class, and I had to start all over again.

Lessons learnt: It is always better to attempt the exam immediately following the contact classes before the information you gathered starts to fade away. A thorough PMP exam preparation plan is required though before you attempt the exam.


I divided my study-plan in two phases.

First phase: detailed study to understand PMP concepts

Second phase: exam preparation using revision and practice tests.

I prepared my PMP exam preparation study-plan in an excel sheet and strictly followed it.


First phase (Duration 1 month)

I studied Head First PMP 3rd Edition completely (like a story book) and tried to understand all the concepts. I found PMBOK guide bit difficult to digest during my first round of study so I took help of Head First PMP to understand first. I completed all the exercises at the end of the chapter to make sure I understood the concepts clearly.

Second phase (Duration 2 months)

I completed PMBOK guide 5th Edition in one month. Then I studied Rita Mulcahy’s exam prep 8th Edition in 2 weeks. Then I went through various training videos available in the internet. The remaining two weeks were kept for revision and online tests.

I made sure to subscribe to Shiv’s PMP notes from the blog and read through the experience and study methods followed by successful candidates.

4 days before the exam I brushed through PMBOK and Rita Mulcahy’s book at least 3 times.

I went through PMBOK Glossary.

I tried to learn ITTOS by heart (even though everyone suggested not to) but found it useless and difficult to remember.

Then I concentrated on Process Charts and found that if Process chart is understood clearly then I’ll be good.

I started memorizing the Formulas, Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping (take 3-2 on page 61 of PMBOK). I practiced making the table using 2 fingers to divide the columns and thumb to divide the rows, with this practice I found I could write the complete table faster. Then I focused on concepts such as Power-Onterest grid, Risk to buyer and seller according to contract type graph (from Rita).

Understood clearly how to solve PDM and CPM problems.

I found that memorizing formulas is easy but application is not that easy, unless I practiced few question and understand how to apply the formulas.

Not the least, practice online mock tests. These were the ones I used –

  1. Oliver Lehmann (Online) 75Q
  2. Head First PMP Mock Exam 200Q
  3. PM Exam Simulator (Free 3-day Trial) 170Q [Shiv: here’s a link to free PMP training as well. You’re welcome :-)]
  4. Oliver Lehmann (Downloadable PDF) 175Q

Monitoring and controlling

Assess yourself via online test on a regular basis and make sure that you get more than 80%.

Check on your weak areas and study to fill the gaps.

Create and practice your brain dump consisting of formulas and tables within the 15 mins (brain dump strategy).

Monitor the time that you are taking to finish 200 Questions.

At the beginning I was overshooting the time but with practice I learned to understand the question faster and was able to control the time I was taking for each question.


I took the afternoon session for the exam. I had sufficient sleep the night before and just looked into the process charts, formulas and charts before the exam. I tried not to take too much of stress.

After reaching the venue, I completed all the formalities (the staff at Prometric is very cooperative), went to restroom and then entered the exam room and sat for the exam. I found that others were typing ferociously and the noise was disturbing for me. I used the masking headphone to suppress the noise. I was comfortable thereafter.

The clock started and I finished writing the formulas and charts in exactly 15 mins time. Then I started with 200 questions. I took 3 hrs 50 mins for me to complete 200 questions. No breaks in between. 8 mins to relook into marked question. Then last 2 mins, I just stared at the clock for my verdict to be announced. Then Prometric survey window popped up.

After completing the survey, Tada… Good news was on the screen.  I had cleared PMP exam in the first attempt.

After getting PMP certification don’t forget to celebrate with your family and importantly don’t forget to share your methods and experience at Shiv’s PMP Lessons Learned section. It’s a great way to give back to the community as well.

You may have your own methods to study. I just jotted down my experience as a reference. Please go through the experience of other people too. At the end you are the best judge for your own preparation. Prepare your own PMP exam preparation plan based on what has worked for others and your convenience, and follow it up.


Best Regards,

Manjush M K, PMP

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