Do not memorize ITTOs: Shawn Robison, PMP

do not memorize ittos Shawn RobisonShiv –

Thanks for all the content you provide. It was definitely a help. Here is an overview of my PMP prep.


ShawnRobison pmpI decided to start my PMP journey in October. Your content was very helpful in identifying the resources that I would use in my preparation. I decided to use Cornelius Fichtner’s PM PrepCast, Exam Simulator and the PMBOK Guide.

My PMP study plan

I followed Cornelius’s recommended approach of watching the overview sections first and then going back for the detail. I feel as though this kept me from feeling like I was drinking from a fire hose. After going through each overview I would read through each process in the PMBOK Guide and then watch the PrepCast related to that process. The sample questions at the end of each section in the PM PrepCast helped me understand what areas I needed to review to ensure I fully understood it.

I was spending about 2-4 hours per day for studying for the exam. Monday through Friday would be more like 2 hours at night and more like 4 hours on the weekends. I also intentionally took a day off from study every 10 days or so. This helped me avoid burnout.

After about 6 weeks I had gone through all of the content and started taking full length practice exams using the Exam Simulator. I did fairly well on most of them. I started scoring just under 80% and on my 5th and final exam I scored a 89%. I found it helpful to leave any questions I was unsure about “Marked” so that I could review if I answered them correctly when I got the results. This was an EXTREMELY helpful practice!

Practice exams

I took one practice exam per day for about 4 days and then scheduled my exam. I was only able to do one exam per day because I was completing them in less than 2 hours in most cases. Based on the time I had heard others were spending on each exam I was a little concerned about this.

The number one lesson I learned through the practice exams was to make sure that I read what the question was asking and didn’t rush. About half of the questions that I missed in my practice exams were not because I didn’t know the answer, but I didn’t pay enough attention to what the question was asking.

Do not memorize ITTOs

I didn’t. The only memorization I did was page 61 of the PMBOK Guide and most formulas (i.e. SV, CV, SPI, CPI, TCPI, and EAC). As far as ITTOs, I found that if I simply understood what was an input, tool & technique, or output I could answer almost all questions correctly.

Prep for the exam-day

Leading up to the exam I took the day before off from any study or review, made sure that I was well rested, and didn’t really think about it. The day of the exam I just focused on all the effort that I had put in and reminded myself that I knew the content. I just needed to RELAX!

When I got into the exam it took me a while to get comfortable. I was used to taking all the exams in the same setting and the change was difficult for me to adapt to. It took me about 30 questions to get comfortable and then things went smoothly.

Since I was so uncomfortable during those first 30 questions I decided that I would go back over all of those questions, assuming I had enough time. There were a few questions that I marked to come back to, AFTER I marked my gut reaction answer. In my experience my first response was usually right IF I read the question correctly.

Once I got to the end I went back through the first 30 questions again and those that I marked. If I didn’t find that I had misread the question I pretty much stuck with my original answer.

After clicking FINISH and going through the seemingly forever long survey I got my results….AND I PASSED!

In summary

I’ve seen many people stressing themselves trying to memorize hundreds of ITTOs. Again, my advice is – do not memorize ITTOs.

There were a few keys for me passing on my first attempt:

  • Making sure I thought in PMBOK terms (your experience doesn’t matter for the exam)
  • Making sure I understood what was really happening in each process and how it fit in the big picture (this is why I didn’t memorize ITTOs)
  • Making sure that I understood what the question was asking (this is just getting into test taking mode, but I had to focus hard on this)

That’s my journey. Good luck to all of those prepping for the exam!


Shawn Robison, PMP


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