PMP Online Certification: How I Aced It – by Abhishek Sen, PMP

pmp online certification tips abhishek sen

In this article we shall see the trials and tribulations of Abhishek Sen as he went about getting his PMP online certification. Abhishek works as a Project Lead with an overall experience of +12 years in IT Infrastructure and IT Enabled Services (ITES). He is passionate about learning new things in life. He loves reading and and an avid sports lover, specially Cricket. Abhishek lives with his wife and their lovely daughter in the beautiful royal city of Mysore in South India. 

You are welcome to reach Abhishek on LinkedIn here or email him at

-Shiv Shenoy, PMP

Really, why PMP?

PMP abhishek senI have been into Project Lead role managing Projects in IT infrastructure for some time and a bit tired of not having a good ‘system’ of managing projects effectively.

This made me look to upgrade my knowledge and understanding the project management, which would eventually help me manage projects better. After my initial research in industry and discussion with peers I realized that PMP online certification would fit my bill better than other certifications available.

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My study materials

First thing I did was to enroll myself for the PMI Bangalore chapter and take their prep class. It consisted of 4 full day classes on 2 consecutive weekends. These classes were useful in understanding the PMP contents and types of PMP questions to expect on the exam, through mock assessments.

On advice from the faculties, I referred to Rita Mulcahy 9th Edition and PMBOK 6th Edition for my studies.

The study approach I followed

abhishek-sen-pmp-credentialAfter completing my mandatory classes through PMI Bangalore chapter, I planned to appear for the exam in 6 months.

I decided to go easy the first time and read both books at a pace that it takes me to understand the material. This no-pressure strategy helped me get the most from the first pass.

After completing both the books the first time, I planned to refer to PMP exam mobile app to refer every day during weekdays and office breaks. In parallel I went over the two books for the second time while grasping concepts that were hazy to me.

Also refer: Recommended list of PMP / CAPM study resources.

Mock tests

Mock tests are most critical aspects for succeeding in PMP online certification.

They help you learn how to manage those tense 4 hours on the exam, as well as discover your grey areas to focus on. In addition, you of course can get a feel of what the real exam is like.

Overall I took  approximately 2400 questions in 5 months’ time.

Here’s a free PMP simulator you can use. And here is one more!

The last month before the exam I dedicated myself to attempting to as many as mock tests from a reliable source/ simulator as I could.

Also, I planned my leave from office for a week’s time just before the exams.

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Challenges galore!

  • Understanding critical concepts: In particular I had trouble with in Cost, Risk & Procurement management concepts. I would approach “I want to be a PMP” group in LinkedIn and seek guidance. Also referred to few videos on the Internet.
  • Availability of study time: This is a common problem with most of PMP students. Devoting everyday 3 to 3 1/2 hrs every day was quite a challenge. I got around this issue by spending about 9-10 hrs a day during weekends.
  • Need for entertainment: With crazy schedule at work and PMP study I needed to unwind. However, in the best interest I took a conscious decision to stay away from favorite TV shows, movies, and sports during 6 months. This eventually helped me to complete my studies on time.
  • Relating ITTOs across processes: After my 1st round of reading of both the books I could not quite relate all Inputs & Outputs of all processes in different Knowledge Areas & Process Groups properly. I began to take printouts of processes and stuck to my study wall at home. This visual help along with my practice of making short notes against each of the Inputs and Outputs helped me internalize ITTO relation. I kept on refreshing all the processes at regular interval so that I do not forget any one of the points. This eventually helped me a lot in answering most of questions on the PMP exam.
  • Selecting the right simulator: This was a challenge for me. Everything comes at a cost (time and money), hence selecting the best simulator depending on your budget and the time left for exams is very important.
  • With mock tests quantity matters: I targeted to attempt 10+ full length mock assessments and scored above 85% on an average. I made study notes on weak areas and focused on refreshing those portion through PMBOK for one final time before appearing for the exam.

My PMP exam experience

I found that time management was the key to succeed in the real exam. I was slower in first half and took more than 2 hours to complete the first 100 questions. Then somehow I managed to recover the same in 2nd half.

I did not take any breaks for the entire length of the exam. After answering first 100 questions I did few simple head and neck exercises sitting at the desk to release the stress. I took deep breaths to calm my mind and focus again on remaining questions.

Also read: Former Air Force personnel’s amazingly gritty PMP story

My tips for getting PMP online certification

Although not comprehensive, here are top 3 tips I would like to share with you –

  • Focus of understanding the relationship between different inputs and outputs of different processes right from the beginning of your study. This approach helps in unexpected ways to deduce answers to those questions which you are not 100% confident about.
  • Don’t spend time in memorizing all inputs and outputs. Instead try to logically understand why an input / output appears in a process and how it connects with it’s previous or next process.
  • Sleep as much as possible and relax just before the day of the exam. Do not burn yourself out on the exam day. It’s a nerve game and better you tackle this, more you can score.

All the best and cheers,

Abhishek Sen, PMP



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