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10 Best Tips To Pass The PMP Exam On First Try
2015-06-21 12:15:04
Gregory Stobart
Unimaple Technology Ltd.
By Samkit Shah | June 10, 2013                                

“How to pass the PMP exam on the first try”? Is that the reason you landed on this blog post? In either case, the reason you are here is because you desire to be a Project Management Professional. And just like many out there, including me, you want to attempt the PMP exam and give it your best shot to crack it on your first attempt!

First things first, this post will walk you through my personal journey on how, I, in particular, approached the PMP exam. It does not necessarily advocate the ONLY best practices out there. But it shall rather walk you through the usual works of how to go about getting yourself PMP certified from my perspective. It would also be a good idea to first go through the PMP Handbook as a first pass review to get yourself familiar. Again, I would urge you to also explore and find your own style of learning, preparing and approaching the PMP as you embark upon this journey. All along the way you can always keep coming back to this post to refer to any tips and tricks which you might feel shall benefit you.

Click here to download a free eBook guide for the step-by-step instructions on the PMP Application process.

Click here to download an eBook on PMP experience descriptions (comes with 20 usable project work experience templates + 1 actual PMP work experience sample.

Also check out these different PMP material available for purchase and download:

The idea to pen down this information is due to the fact that I personally took help of many such blog posts to prepare myself. Thus, I am going to try and give you abundant information on the PMP application process, PMI membership, PMP exam prep, reading materials, tests, strategies and other tips and tricks! Anytime you feel overwhelmed with the flow of knowledge in this post or get tired reading the long text, take a break, drink some water, and come back and re-focus. After all, the end result of being a certified Project Management Professional is going to take away all the pain that you went through!

PS: If you would like to jump straight to the “10 Best Tips To Pass The PMP Exam On First Try” – then scroll to the bottom of the post and skip the preparation journey aspect of this blog post!

PMI Membership

If you are going to be a certified PMP, you might as well become a member of the prestigious PMI organization. The benefits are manifold as indicated here. You not only gain access to their knowledge database but also get an opportunity to interact with other PMPs within your chapter. For ease of comparison following table indicates if you do become a member eventually you end up paying $11 less for your examination fees. Plus you also entail the benefits of being involved with the PMI organization.

PMI Membership Fees $139
CBT Test Fees Member $405
  Non-member $555
Reexamination CBT Fees Member $275
  Non-member $375
Total Fees Member $544
  Non-member $555

PMP Exam Application Process

While I was working on this post, I had originally planned to describe the PMP exam application process in here. But then I created a separate blog post since the application is a project in itself and best be explained separately. Click Here to read about the PMP Exam Application Process in detail and how you can avoid an audit for the same.

PMP Exam Prep

Diving right into the crux of how one should approach the PMP exam I will highlight a few important guidelines on how I prepared myself.

  • Time commitment – I took a total of 3 months to prepare for the PMP. I work full-time and so I used to study approximately 2-3 hours every day. During my last 3-4 weeks I bumped it up to 4-5 hours a day. During my last few days I went on to read at-least 6-8 hours a day.
  • Initial Approach – I used to read one chapter every day, attempt a few questions on that chapter and write down my notes from that chapter. I would highlight a few points which I feel were important for that chapter and make a quick reference guide.
  • Final Approach – As I moved closer to my exam date, I would review my notes, dump sheets that I created during my initial reading, and attempt full set of 100-200 questions per chapter available online.

Following are the details of how I recommend one to carve out a study plan. Again, this could be transformed as per one’s own liking and style of studying.

  • Primary Reading Material:
    1. Rita Mulcahy, 6th Edition (Check out the latest edition available – Click Here)
    2. PMBOK, 4th Edition (Click Here)
      • Please note: If you are planning on getting certified after 31st July 2013, you would have to prepare from the PMBOK, 5th Edition. For more info: Click Here.
  • Extra References:
    1. Global Knowledge Institute’s Reading Material (Click Here)
    2. Global Knowledge Institute’s Flash Cards
    3. Abhishek’s version of Rajesh Nair PMP Notes (To request these please send an email to
    4. 600 PMP Exam Questions with answer key & detailed explanations. Available for download – click here. Subscribe to the website to get future PMP material (2000+ Q&A, chapter notes, eBooks and much more).
  • Tests:
    1. Rita Mulcahy’s Fast Track, Super PMP Test
    2. Rita Mulcahy’s Fast Track, 9 Knowledge Areas’ Test + 5 Process Groups’ Test
    3. Global Knowledge, 200Q Book Test
    4. Global Knowledge, 200Q Mock Test
    5. PMStudy 200Q Mock Test (Click Here)
    6. PMPForSure 100Q Test (Click Here)

Currently the following PMP material is available on The Wisdom Pearls to help you pass the PMP exam:

  • Click to download600 Best PMP Exam Questions – Set 1 – With answer keys and detailed explanations
  • Click to download400 PMP Exam Prep Questions based on Rita Mulcahy PMP Exam Prep book – With answer keys and detailed explanations
  • Click to download: 101 PMP Cost Management Math Questions – With answer keys and a free PMP formula cheat sheet
  • Click to download: PMP Cheat Sheet – PMP formulas, PMP acronyms and important values
  • Click to download: Best PMP ITTO Cheat Sheet

My PMP Exam Study Plan

Following is a detailed description of my PMP exam preparation journey. Feel free to adjust these per your studying style and other information you might find online.

  • Step 1: Rita Mulcahy’s 6th edition, read page to page -
    1. During this read I was focusing only on learning this subject rather than cramming any information.
    2. I would read one chapter a day and attempt the questions at the end of the chapter.
    3. I did not spend a lot of time on the exercises described within the chapter itself.
  • Step 2: PMBOK, 4th edition, page to page –
    1. During this read, I tried jotting down my own notes based on what I felt was an important point or a formula or a concept.
    2. I had planned to use these notes as my last minute review material.
    3. Would read one chapter a day and then attempt Rita Mulcahy’s Fast Track knowledge area test.
  • Step 3: PMStudy’s Full Mock Test –
    1. This was the first mock test I gave after reading both the books once.
    2. Naturally I found a lot of knowledge gaps based on which I devised my future study plan for the rest of the weeks.
  • Step 4: Read Rita Mulcahy and PMBOK again –
    1. During this second pass of both the books, I would skim the pages a little faster by trying to recollect most of the concepts, definitions, processes and other information.
    2. I would try to relate my knowledge gaps and find out answers that can solve those queries.
  • Step 5: Global Knowledge PMP Bootcamp Class –
    1. Note this step might be different for you. I had a chance to attend one of the boot-camps classes in my vicinity.
    2. During these 4 days, 8Am – 6PM class, I brushed up most of my fundamentals, interacted with the instructor on certain concepts and the overall feel of the exam.
    3. Also got hold of 2 full mock tests + reading material like flashcards, process charts etc.
  • Step 6: Read Global Knowledge Book, page to page –
    1. This happened during the last 10 days before my exam date.
    2. I felt this was the time when I grew in confidence by reading line by line, page by page of Global Knowledge’s material.
    3. It was based out of PMBOK so was even better. The best part being it was brief and concise instead of long boring text.
  • Step 7: Final Step – 2 Full Mock Tests + 100Q Test
    1. I attempted 2 full mock tests during the last 4 days.
    2. First was Super PMP (tough) from Rita Mulcahy and the other one was Global Knowledge’s 200Q (medium).
    3. I also attempted the 100Q from PMPForSure and found the questions most closest to the actual PMP exam. (Don’t mind the bad English on the PMPForSure questions)

Finally, based on the above 7 steps, I can give you the 10 best tips that I find you can follow to pass the PMP exam on your first attempt.

10 Best Tips To Pass The PMP Exam On First Try

  1. Make sure to read PMBOK and Rita Mulcahy at-least twice – once in detail, once just skim through it.
  2. Attempt all the individual chapter tests in Rita Mulcahy’s book + all the individual chapter tests on Rita Mulcahy’s Fast Track CD.
  3. Enroll for as many question banks + mock tests you can, and try to take as many as you can early on. This will help you identify gaps in your learning and knowledge to help you focus better on your lacking areas.
  4. Make sure you review ALL your answers – correct and incorrect ones to solidify your understanding about the concepts.
  5. For ITTOs, I had created 9 charts on A4 size papers and had pinned them on to my bedroom wall. Every time I would walk past it, I would stop for 15 minutes and work on 3 charts. This helps if you have a photographic memory.
  6. Make a habit of creating dump sheets. This will help you a lot to quickly review information instead of skimming through long texts.
  7. If you have a smart phone download PMP related applications to keep you engrossed while on the go. I found it quite effective to keep my mind active.
  8. Join one of the online PMP forums to share your concerns, experiences and gain access to many resources of PMP related information. It will help you interact with similar PMP aspirants, share your thoughts, express your queries and get more knowledge to help you prepare better.
  9. A day before the PMP exam, relax, listen to some music, take a walk. You are not at war and this exam is not the last one you will take in your life! So chill out!
  10. On the day of the PMP exam – be prepared to create a dump sheet of the math formulas + processes across the 9 knowledge areas / 5 process groups. Also be prepared to attempt 200 questions in 3 hours, and mark about 30-40 questions for review. That way you will have 50-55 minutes to review them at the end.

With this, we come to an end of this long post on how to prepare for the PMP exam. Feel free to drop me a line at or post a comment in the section below if you have any questions/concerns or need help for your PMP exam preparation. I would be more than happy to help you out! Good Luck and Happy Studying!

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