Master Knowledge Areas PMP®: My 3-Step Approach – Giovanni Ricohermoso, PMP

One of the secrets every aspirant discovers is that by mastering knowledge areas PMP® exam can be conquered. Giovanni Ricohermoso from Manila, Philippines figured a formula for this, and used it to pass the exam recently.

Giovanni has been working in banking and financial industry for 14 years, with the last 6 years in Project Management.

In this week’s article, he shares strategies and study approach he used to get PMP® certified.

Why PMP®?!

PMP prep by Giovanni RicohermosoI felt that as a Project Manager I must know the standards being used by best projects all over the world. With that, it will be easy for me to talk to other project managers using the same language.

Being a certified PMP® helps me enhance my skills as a project manager and manage challenging projects efficiently.

Yes, I also considered other certifications but I found out that PMP® is more holistic.

I will admit that this certification will open other opportunities but personally this will help me assess whether I’m running my current processes well and if we have right standards being followed.

The processes that I learned from PMP® will truly help me correct the misses from any knowledge area in project management practices.

Since I have this certification now I already feel more confident about my ability to manage any challenging project going forward.

Which study resources did you consider, and eventually use for the exam preparation?

I started to read the PMBOK 6th Edition (soft-copy one gets as a PMI member), then I eventually bought the hard copy of the book.

Since I am not really fan of reading, I ordered PM Prepcast of OSP International with PMP® Exam Simulator and their PMP® formulas.

PM Prepcast is really helpful since all the training are on videos which you can watch anytime you want.

So my primary resource is the PM Prepcast from OSP International with PMBOK.

Also read: 5-Phase study plan that got me overall Above Target score, by Mohana Ekambaram, PMP

How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?

I had 4 months preparation for the exam but my first 2 months were spent on reading PMBOK and other materials online, I did not have any concrete plan being followed.

Then for the remaining 2 months I became serious, and created and followed a study plan.

I studied 1-2 hours per day during weekdays, and 3-4 hours per day on weekends.

Since I am working, I would study for 1 hour each morning and 2 hours before going to bed.

Although I have more time during weekends, I did not over-study, to avoid information overload and to work on some personal errands at home.

At its core, PMP® exam preparation consists of mastering each of the 10 project management Knowledge Area.

Here is my 3-step strategy to master all Knowledge Areas in PMP® exam (for you an alternative sequence of these steps might work too):

  1. First read the knowledge area chapter in PMBOK, overview and processes involved
  2. Watch PM Precast videos for this knowledge area – along with my notes from PMBOK as reference.
  3. Take a mock test in PM Exam Simulator, analyze wrong answers, refer to PMBOK (to make sure that I understand why I was wrong)

Some of the important aspects I considered are :

  • Definitions of important terms – Project, Program, etc. (PMBOK glossary is a good place for this)
  • 5 Process Groups/10 Knowledge Areas (from the knowledge areas PMP® chart)
  • 49 processes and how information flows across these processes in the form of inputs and outputs

Again, it is important to understand Process Groups, Knowledge Areas, and processes and how they integrate with the data flow.

I think that for the study plan to be effective, one should have the discipline to study every single day and manage any slippage on the weekend.

Did you face any issues along the way?

There were no major problems during my journey as such. I think the only concern I had was the way I managed my time since I am a father for 2 daughters, and a husband.

I had to sacrifice family time for study. Fortunately my family understood and supported me along the way.

I would advise all the aspirants to include everyone in your life on this journey because getting support from your loved ones will have a huge impact in your success.

Also read: This exam practice helped me pass the PMP® exam, shares Ashish Gupta, PMP

The week before the exam is crucial. What was your approach to study during this week?

Agree, the week before the exam is crucial. I evaluated all my exams in PMP® Exam Simulator then focused on the process groups which has a lowest score.

And I also took couple of full-length practice exams and quizzes not just in the Exam Simulator but also using questions posted in PMP® groups in Facebook, YouTube and others. I made sure that I get correct answer and understanding on the questions.

How did you manage time on the exam?

I took my exam online, so there was no need to travel or go to exam center.

Although it is convenient I felt nervous that I might have an issue with my internet connection. I was also worried about a noisy neighbor 🙂  Thankfully I completed my 4 hours exam without any glitches.

Since I practiced many 4-hour mock tests, I was able to manage my time on the exam well. My plan was to make sure that I answered as many question as I can under 60 seconds.

If I realized that a particular question will take longer to read, analyze, and answer then I immediately marked it and extended another 40 seconds for that question.

An important insight – you cannot rely on your PM experience in answering the questions, because the questions are situational, guided by PMBOK.

But I was cautious on the time that is why I submitted my first 90 answers in 100 minutes remaining. This way I could have 140 minutes for the remaining 110 questions.

Then I took the 10-minute break before continuing with remaining 110 questions.

Marking tough questions ‘for later’ is important since we can spend time and review them before submission.

I would agree with other project managers saying that Project Management Processes based questions are the most difficult ones. There were Procurement and Risk questions – which for me were challenging. And I got just 2 or 3 questions with Earned Value computation.

I finished my exam with only 5 minutes remaining from my time then the next message I got on my screen was congratulatory message, it was a big relief and I am happy that I got certified on my first attempt!.

Pass PMP exam before the new & harder exam rolls in..

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What are some of the study tips you’d like to share with PMP® aspirants?

Here are few I points I made note of during my preparation, which might be helpful –

  • Get PMP® training material aligned with PMBOK guide
  • Make a study plan that suits your daily work schedule
  • Follow that plan (Discipline yourself) This involves sacrifice and compromise personal leisure.
  • Do practice exam as many as possible
  • Thoroughly understand all the knowledge areas PMP® content has to offer
  • Be confident and pray (prayer is my personal lucky charm ever since – others might have different opinion)

Good luck to all PMP® exam takers!!

Giovanni Ricohermoso, PMP



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