This is a PMP exam lesson learned of Mr. Khaleelah who is a regular visitor of this and has passed the PMP certification exam.

First, I wish to thank Fahad for his detailed formula guide. He went to great lengths to explain each formula and concept. I approached him several times, and he responded to all of my queries quickly.

Now, let me explain to you how I prepared for my PMP exam.

I read the PMBOK Guide, subscribed to PrepCast, and completed the training course. Afterward, I practiced the PM PrepCast practice questions. After one month, I attempted a few mock tests, including Fahad’s mock test, which helped me understand where I stood.

I read Fahad’s blog posts. They are a superb resource. I used Google for any concepts I did not get.

I understood forward/backward pass for a network diagram from the PMP Formula Guide. The formulae regarding vendor payment calculations were well explained in the PMP Formula Guide. Fahad’s PMP Question Bank helped me reinforce my understanding of the theory.

The PMP exam is challenging because of the time constraint, but if you grasp the concepts (for example, resource optimization, schedule compression, etc.) and their application, it becomes easier. Trust me, Fahad excels in explaining things.

I never memorized any ITTOs; the key is to understand the concepts. I was worried about that, so I tried many methods to commit the information to memory. Then I read Fahad’s blog post that stated we should not memorize ITTOs but understand them and I was encouraged. I focused more on tools and techniques, and I imagined how I would apply them.

You need to understand the following concepts to pass the PMP exam.

RACI Charts and Resource Calendars

You will see a few questions on your exam from the RACI chart and resource calendar, so familiarize yourself with these topics.

Histogram, Resource Calendars, Control Charts

It is essential for you to understand histograms, control charts, etc.

Understand the difference between control limits and specification limits, and be able to determine if a process is out of control.

Earned Value Management

You must know what the Estimate at Completion is, how to calculate it, and its significance.

For example, does it represent the original budget or revised budget? Understand the SPI and CPI including calculations and results interpretation.

Know the difference between variance and trend analysis.

Project Selection

You should know project selection methods and be able to select the right one.

For example, if you have many projects to choose from, what criteria are used to select the best project? Is it a cost, profit, meeting business objectives, or another determining factor?

Stakeholder Management

You should know how to manage your project’s stakeholders. Stakeholder management is important for your project’s success.

Lessons Learned

You will get a few questions about lessons learned. You should know when to capture lessons learned and how to use them.

Closing the Project

What input is required for closing the project and what are the outputs? You need to understand the closing process. On the exam, you will find a few questions from this process.

Critical Path Method

Critical path is an important topic and you should have a clear understanding of the network diagram, finding a critical path and the related calculations. Calculations include forward/backward pass, total float and free float, the float of activities on a non-critical path, etc.

Know how to manage a situation when you are behind schedule.  Understanding schedule compression techniques and resource optimization are important.

Change Requests

You should know when and how change requests are raised and approved. Scope creep, gold plating, and control scope are vital concepts to grasp.

You will find many questions on change requests on the exam.

Risk Management

Risk management is a major topic for the PMP exam. You need to understand risk identification, prioritization, and the development of risk response strategies.

You should know how to manage risks, including secondary and residual risks, and what you should do after implementing a risk response plan and how will you select a particular risk response strategy under any condition.

Have a clear understanding of risk categories in the PMBOK Guide and master the grid.

You will be asked how you could have done to prevent a certain situation or what you failed to do. You will also need to identify the authority as a risk or as a stakeholder.

Contract Types

You should understand contract types and the selection of contracts under different circumstances, the difference between contract types, etc.


You should know the difference between corrective action, preventive action, and correction, and their application.

Will your team be safe from an audit? Can you ensure compliance with the methodologies?

Other Topics

Study the process analysis and tools and techniques of continuous improvement, because you may see a few questions on these topics.

Know the whole process sequence and understand the order from developing the project charter to closing the project. It will help you answer many tricky questions.

These are my lessons learned for the PMP exam. I hope they will help you with your preparation.