Why You Should Smile During the PMP Test?



No. of Attempt
Study Duration
4 months

PMP® Course

Prep Book
Head First PMP®

Mock Exams Attempted
PM FASTrackHead FirstPM StudySimplilearn
PMBOK® Guide Read
1 time

“Smile as much as you can during the exam. It’s a stress buster.”

Ravi cleared the PMP® exam after several sleepless nights. Below is his lessons learned.

  • I am obsessed with the PMI®’s approach to manage the projects, so I treated my PMP® exam as a real “Project” and followed the same approach to planning and executing the study preparation for the PMP® certification. Here are the details:


  • Already have my contact hours
  • Did a vague estimation of the efforts required


I spent a significant amount of time to plan for PMP® study:

1. Study Material & PMP® Exam Simulators

I decided to purchase two books for preparation and had a 3rd book for reference after some researches. The PMBOK® Guide Guide and Rita’s PMP® was chosen as the primary resources and the Head First PMP® was intended for casual reference.


PMP® Exam Simulators & Questions

2. Study Plan & Schedule

I planned a study schedule for 4 months with around 240 hours of serious preparation time. Here are some of the highlights of my study plan:

  • I planned to take a week off just before the exam.
  • I tried to read all the books 2 to 3 times.
  • PMBOK® Guide Guide is pretty dry and boring so I began with Rita’s PMP® first.
  • After reading the Rita’s PMP® for the first time, I followed by reading the PMBOK® Guide Guide and Rita’s PMP® side by side.
  • I planned to attempt the chapter end questions of Rita’s PMP® this time.
  • I put the plan and milestones in an Outlook calendar.

Execution and Monitoring of the Progress

The first 16 weeks

  • Finished the books according to the plan and tried to attempt some practice exam questions
  • Created a checklist of all items (processes, inputs, tools and techniques, outputs, etc.)
  • Did not create my own notes (the biggest mistake I have made)

Weekly Progress on schedule

  • I kept a close eye on my weekly progress
  • I followed my preparation schedule closely
  • Kept a log of ‘variances’ on every Sunday

One week of day off from work

  1. Skim through the Rita’s PMP® book for the last time which took 20 hours.
  2. Attempted quality practice exam questions and did gap analysis and focused on weak areas.
  3. Attempted the practice questions in various ways: chapter-wise, knowledge area-wise and process group-wise.
  4. Took two 4-hour full-length practice exams: worth the time and efforts.
  5. Read through the PMBOK® Guide Glossary thoroughly.

One day before the PMP® exam

  1. Planned the strategy before the exam, the time management and break.
  2. Ensured that I have all the ID ready
  3. Practiced the brain dump for processes and process groups and all the PMP® formulas
  4. Tried to stop revising at 6 p.m. and sleep early.

On the exam day

  1. Reached the exam venue about 30 minutes earlier.
  2. Downloaded the brain dump to scrape paper during the first 15 minutes of tutorial time.
  3. Completed 200 questions in around 3 hours and took 2 breaks of 4 minutes each.
  4. Marked around 70 questions for review (should not mark more than 30 questions).
  5. I wasn’t able to review all the marked questions during latter part of the exam.


Lessons Learned

  1. Prepare your own notes – this is the biggest mistakes I made during my study.
  2. Don’t wait till the last moment for taking practice exams
  3. Choose only quality practice exam questions from trusted sources.
  4. DO NOT study till last hour. Take a good sleep the night before exam or just relax.
  5. Do not mark too many questions for review during the exam, the suggested maximum is around 30 questions

Tips during the exam

  1. Have a positive attitude, tell yourself you will make it
  2. Utilize the first 15 minutes of tutorial for brain dump
  3. Don’t spend too much time on any single question. Keep your time. Mark for review if unsure.
  4. Make sure you read every question and also every answers carefully, don’t lose marks out of carelessness.
  5. Look out for the wording of the questions.
  6. Breath deeply if you are under stress.
  7. Smile as much as you can during the exam. Smile is a great stress buster.

Tips for planning and preparation

  1. PMP® exam is not that difficult. It requires commitment and a regular study plan.
  2. Book your exam date as soon as possible as possible, this will set up a realistic goal to achieve
  3. Do not over study. You may study for a whole year and yet fail the exam.
  4. Have a good plan in advance. Know what you would study every day.
  5. You will definitely need at least one PMP® exam prep reference books. PMBOK® Guide Guide with Rita’s PMP® book or Head First PMP® is highly recommended.
  6. Check your study progress weekly and make amendments if necessary.
  7. The questions on the PMP® exam are very tricky as it focus on your understanding of the concepts rather than memorization
  8. You must have a firm understanding of the concepts.
  9. There is no need to memorize the ITTO’s. But you should be able to understand what they are and why they are there in the processes.
  10. Practice exams are the key to success. The more questions you attempted the better chances you will pass the PMP® exam.
  11. Do gap analysis and find out the topics you need to focus more on. Create a checklist of all the week areas and work on them.
  12. Practice for 4 hour full-length practice exams at least twice. This will give you an idea how you are going to feel and act physically and psychologically in the real PMP® exam.
  13. If you are scoring close to 75% in practice exams, you are ready for the real PMP® exam

Most Important Processes for the PMP® Exam

  • Define activities / Estimate Activity Resource / Sequence Activities
  • Collect Requirements
  • Develop Project Management Plan
  • Direct and ManageProject Execution
  • Develop Schedule
  • Define Scope / Verify Scope
  • Identify Stakeholders
  • Plan Procurement / Conduct Procurement
  • Close project or Phase

~ PMP® Lessons Learned by Ravi


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Notable Achievements

5 Proficient Pass 2nd Try