manish pmp lessons learned

Hello, I am Manish Das, and I passed my PMP exam in July 2020, and below is my PMP exam study plan and lessons learned.

Hello, I am Manish Das, and I passed my PMP exam in July 2020, and below is my PMP exam study plan and lessons learned.

Preparation Background

In Aug, I started my PMP exam preparation and enrolled in Joseph Phillip’s Udemy course and started watching the course for 3-4 hours a week.

The project management concepts were building up, and I was able to absorb the material in small chunks as the course progressed, but I did not set my target date to take the PMP exam.

One evening while on my way back home, I came across a Google news feed where a person had shared his success story of clearing the PMP. I bookmarked this page and started reading this blog and all the success stories.

The site was clean, clutter-free, with no high-pitched selling, and it was full of useful info related to PMP preparation. This site was none other than

Based on the blog’s info, I got my PMI membership and gained access to the PMBOK Guide 6th edition.

I found the PMBOK a bit daunting and dry. I was not sure if I could read it front to back even once, so I searched the internet to understand the importance of reading the PMBOK Guide in passing the PMP exam, and I found many mixed opinions with most people suggesting to go through it.

A few members claimed to have passed the exam without referring to the PMBOK at all.

I half-heartedly completed the first read of PMBOK by the end of Dec 2019, and then I emailed Fahad for guidance in January 2020 after completing the PMBOK for the first time and earning the 35 contact hours from the prep course. Fahad advised me to read Head First PMP thoroughly, then go for Rita and then the PMBOK Guide.

He also advised me to read the PMBOK Guide as many times as possible and enroll in the PM Exam Simulator by Cornelius Fichtner.

With this minimal advice, I realized that I had a long journey before taking up the exam. I followed Fahad’s advice and enrolled in the simulator and started reading Rita’s book.

The types of questions presented inside the chapters and at the end of the chapters were thought-provoking.

Realization dawned on what level of question comprehension was required to apply the PMP concepts in answering correctly.

I bought Fahad’s PMP Formula Guide in Feb and mastered the mathematical part of the exam. This gave me confidence that I was on the right path. I kept reading the blog and the emails from Fahad.

I continued to solve 30-40 questions regularly from the exam simulator to build confidence.

I asked Fahad for guidance again in April, as I wanted to take the exam in May. Until this time, I went through only 5 of the 10 Knowledge Areas in Rita’s book and wanted to rely on my understanding of the PMBOK and exam simulator.

However, he asked me to read Rita’s book twice and solve all questions from the simulator. Being the only source to consult, I took his suggestion and read Rita’s book twice and PMBOK thrice.

I covered the exam simulator almost twice by taking the exams in chunks of 100 questions; initially, I was solving 30 to 40 questions per day. While solving questions, I started to recall most concepts from Rita’s book and the simulator.

I scheduled my exam for 2nd July at 11 pm to have a quiet time with no disturbance from my 3-year-old.

Two weeks before the exam, I wanted to take mock tests from a different source, and I attempted question banks from Tridib Roy on Udemy. The questions were good and had sections on ITTOs and Agile.

On the day of the PMP Exam:

Due to COVID-19, I took the exam from home as no center in my area offered the exam.

I ensured that the exam software was installed, worked beforehand, and logged in 15 minutes before the scheduled time. The login process was smooth.

Due to my nervousness, I was touching my face frequently while the instructions were being displayed.

The proctor pinged me to be aware that this gesture was not allowed and could lead to disqualification.

I immediately corrected this behavior.

Once the exam questions started flashing, I answered the questions quickly.

The questions were short, but not direct and situation-based. There were 8-10 mathematical questions. Only a few required the use of the whiteboard as all of them were easy.

New questions stopped being presented after the 89th question. An optional break of 10 minutes was available.

However, the notice read that I would not be able to review the questions after the break. I took 20 minutes to revise the 89 questions and took a break after a total of 120 minutes. In these 10 minutes, I updated my wife, who was eager to find out how I was performing.

I drank some water, stretched a bit, went to the washroom, and went back to restart the exam’s second leg. 

I completed the exam with 15 minutes to spare. I used this time to review the marked questions.

On the final submission, a congratulatory message flashed up. I was happy that I passed the exam on my first attempt.

Lessons Learned:

  1. The whiteboard usage needs some practice, so familiarize yourself with it. Through blogs and YouTube, I found that this whiteboard is similar to the one used in the PMP exam.
  2. I had not plugged in my laptop charger. I had to make a request to the proctor to get up during the exam and plug in the power adapter. It is better to have the power cord plugged in during the exam.
  3. Having a mouse helps you use the whiteboard and read the questions quicker by pointing the cursor over the text.
  4. Note that the candidate should return after the break before the expiry of the 10-minute counter to avoid cancellation of the exam.
  5. At some point during the exam, I was reading the questions aloud. This prompted a warning from the proctor. You need to avoid vocalization.

Material Used:

  1. The PMBOK Guide 6th Edition
  2. Rita’s book
  3. Fahad’s PMP Formula Guide
  4. PM exam simulator by Cornelius Fichtner
  5. Fahad’s Blog (PM Study Circle)
  6. Edward’s Terms
  7. Ricardo Viana Vargas’s explanation of the process flow concepts on YT was helpful
  8. A YouTube video from Aileen Ellis on remembering the major outputs of the 49 processes
  9. Tridib Roy’s question bank on Udemy

Exam Preparation Tips:

1. The PMP Exam Course Outline of the five process areas should be downloaded from and read thoroughly (6-7 pages).

Print it out and read it every day.

2. Most of the ITTOs (Inputs Outputs Tool and Techniques) should be recallable along with the definition of all 49 processes.

3. Page 25 of the PMBOK should be learned by heart. No brain dump on paper is allowed, so we need to rely on our recalling power. I believed this to be a disadvantage as no memory dump sheet/calculation sheet was allowed.

4. Along with PMBOK, pick only one exam preparation book like Rita Mulcahy (9th edition for PMBOK 6) or Head First PMP or PMP preparation by Andy Crowe. It is better to cover the same material twice than look at two different styles of presentation. This is my understanding.

5. Solving 2,000+ questions should be a good target for practice. The ability to solve two full-length tests under exam conditions will give you confidence.

6. The glossary in the PMBOK should be very familiar to you. Re-read it as many times as necessary to recall the definitions.

7. Spending time on looking at both the correctly and incorrectly answered questions helps build confidence.

Best Regards,

Manish Das