PMP: Once Bitten, Second Time Successful – By Sita Sharma, PMP

pmp prep tips sita sharmaBackground

I wanted to take PMP exam some 10 years back but somehow could not do so. Then I finally decided to take the plunge journey last year. In 10 years, I had gathered good project management experience and had become passionate about project management. This helped me appreciate PMBOK.


pmp lessons learned sita sharmaI enrolled in a boot camp training where the overview of the Knowledge areas & process groups were covered. My application, luckily, was not selected for an audit. 🙂

I then studied the PMBOK and Rita’s books, however, could not keep up a study plan continuously due to family & work pressures. Finally, I did complete my study and took few mock tests. I was scoring 80%, so decided to take the PMP exam.

My first attempt

I took PMP exam in Feb 2016 – just after the updated syllabus came into force. Unfortunately, at the end of the exam the Screen Showed “Failed”. I was very upset and was not sure where things had gone wrong. The positive aspect of that failure was that I became accustomed to the new format (Shiv made me aware of this – Thanks Shiv).

I decided not to give up and to try again.

Also Read: My PMP Study Tips & 2-Month Blueprint- By Vishal Gupta, PMP

Different approach for the second attempt

It was during my preparation for second attempt that I got in touch with Shiv online. I downloaded his books.

This time I decided to do something different.

I studied for 4-6 hrs a day (all at work since I was in-between the projects). I studied the PMBOK thoroughly – paying a lot of attention to data flow, the definition of each process group, the key benefits, and the documents and plans that get updated at the end of each process. I found that this approach was very helpful during the exam. I’d recommend that you try this as well.

I studied process group-wise and not in the traditional knowledge area-wise. In parallel, I went thru Shiv’s notes (all his notes are linked from the menu > “SmartNotes…” on his blog). Also, I purchased izenbridge’s PMP classroom courses. The teaching is excellent by Saket Bansal. Helped me understand concepts more clearly.

Every morning I revised the data flow for each of the processes for about an hour. This too proved very helpful on the exam.

I also purchased PM-PrepCast, Simplilearn tests & I took about ten full-length 4-hour mock tests across izenbridge, pmzest, PM-PrepCast and Simplilearn for 3 weeks prior to the exam, and kept revising the course content. I was scoring 80% and above consistently.

Then I decided to book my exam slot.

I stopped taking tests 2 days before the exam, and did not touch any PMP related stuff.

The exam day!

On the day of the exam, I revised the data-flow again and went to the exam center. I kept telling myself that I will pass. The exam was not very difficult – but not easy either. From my first attempt, I knew what to expect so this kept me calm.

I did not get many EVM questions – just few simple questions. Most of the questions were data-flow related, documents to be updated and change requests handling.

I completed all the questions and marked few for review along the way. I had about 20 minutes to complete the review questions. For many questions, I decided to stay with my initial choice and not change.

Another important aspect of taking a multiple choice exam, don’t change your answer at the last minute unless you are absolutely sure of the answer.

Finally, I was relieved to see the “Congratulations” on the screen!

Yes, PMP exam was a big investment – in terms of money, time and effort – but it paid off very well.

Since I was determined to clear the exam this time, I did everything to make it happen.

Also Read: PMP Success Guide for ‘Old School, DIY Project Manager’- By Tom Harvey, PMP

My PMP tips

Now looking back, I suggest the following for PMP aspirants (esp. attempting after the failure),

  1. Book your exam ahead of time – give yourself about 3 months. This will get butterflies in your stomach as it is big money and you don’t want to risk that.
  2. Study (not read) PMBOK thoroughly, you should know the data-flow and what each process group does. Refer Shiv’s notes. Write /draw the data-flow every time you revise. Ensure you also study the appendix at the end of PMBOK. Every line of the PMBOK is a potential question.
  3. You can read Rita once (I personally did not like Rita), I found Kim Heldman’s book is better though. The lesson-end tests in both Rita and Heldman are good for revision.
  4. Enroll with inzenbridge , if you want/like someone to teach you (optional). The mock tests that come with the course are good.
  5. mock tests – really good/tough questions.
  6. Simplilearn 5 mock tests – good mock tests. But you need to buy the complete course (here’s a review).

Also Read: PMP Certification: How I Earned Mine Without PMBOK – By Jackie W. Gibbs

In summary,

PMBOK + Shiv notes + an additional book + as many 4-hour mock tests as you can, should help. Understanding the PMBOK well itself gets you close.

Study for not more than 2 hrs a day and try to mentally go over all that you studied to gain deeper insights. The exam is not a test of memory; it tests how well you know the concepts from PMBOK and how well you can apply them to the scenario given in the question.

Most importantly, begin your journey with a positive mindset that “I WILL PASS”. This makes a big difference.

Good luck!

Sita Sharma, PMP

Also Read: How I Used Just 2 PMP Study Guides To Pass PMP Exam – By Sivaram Gurazada, PMP

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Anna November 8, 2016, 5:45 am

    Congratulations! What an accomplishment! I just passed last week. It is hard to study when you have work and family obligations. Thanks for sharing your tips, they are spot on!