My PMP Secret? No PMBOK, and Plenty of Mock Tests – Pratim Ghoshal, PMP

pmp no pmbok lot mock tests exams pratimMy PMP journey started about year and a half ago when I attended a PMP classroom session for the 35 PDUs. After the training, I was excited and planned to study hard and pass the exam asap. But in an IT professional’s life things keep changing and planned things take a backseat when priority tasks step in unexpectedly.

Things didn’t work well on the study front and my PMP plan slowly faded out for almost a year. Even though PMP took a lion’s share of my 2016 resolution list, it was not until July 2016 that I planned again to sit for the exam.

PMP Preparation

pmp lessons learned pratim ghoshalThis time I planned in a more methodical way and was determined to get my PMP certification in a 3-month time period.

I started off with Rita Mulcahy and Head First PMP books from August and studied end-to-end twice. I decided to focus more on the Initiation and Closing domains as I wanted to get the 20% of questions correct at first go. Moreover, these are simpler process groups and with their individual thresholds for passing the exam I could not risk being less prepared.

Also read: How I got my PMP certification without PMBOK – by Jackie Gibbs, PMP


Many people say that PMBOK must be used as the primary study guide.

PMBOK was not one my reference books until the last couple of weeks before the exam (I used it for only Glossary and Appendix) as I could not sustain studying long hours of PMBOK .

On an average, I studied for around 2-3 hours on weekdays and around 5-6 hours on weekend. I took chapter-end questions of Headfirst (scored around 80%).

In Rita’s book, I took the chapter-end quizzes 2 times -once after finishing each chapter, then once after completing all the chapters but before starting the mocks (I scored around 65%). In my view, this is crucial as you can start doing SWOT analysis of your skills.

Also read: PM PrepCast and Simulator in-depth review

Making use of mock tests

I decided to start taking the mocks from the beginning of September. I began with the free mocks available on the internet every Saturday morning – HeadFirst, PM study, Izenbridge, PMZest and so on.

My scores were in the range of 60-70% here and I started doing the analysis of my answers (both correct and incorrect) on Sundays. I collected a lot of online materials (here’s a collection) and used it for revision of each chapter during the weekdays.

PMExamSmartNotes helped a lot during this time period with the exam study notes (start here and move along other sub-menu pages) and the planning and concepts books.

Then I started searching for some good paid mocks and after doing some research picked up PrepCast around the beginning of October. This was also suggested Shiv in his posts. I took around 7 -8 full-length 4-hour mocks of Prepcast simulator and scored around 75- 85%.

The questions from this simulator were really helpful with a very good blend and variations. Indeed the PMP exam had questions in the same lines.

As I was gaining confidence I thought of trying some different mocks which were a little harder and less heavy on the pocket – I took PMZest. I took around 5-6 tests there and scored around 60-70% – the questions were on the tougher side w.r.t other mocks and real PMP exam. But the test/analysis helped me deal with tough situations – like getting 15 consecutive questions where I was not confident of my answers (Out of control).

Sitting for 4 hours and giving mocks is really important and best if you can test last few mocks in the same time-slot as your actual exam.

Also read: How I prepared for my PMP exam in 3 weeks – by Swami Popli, PMP

My thanks to..

Lastly, I would like to thank Shiv for PMExamSmartNotes; “I want to be a PMP” LinkedIn group; Cornelius for PMPrepcast; Anmol for PM Zest – for their help throughout my PMP journey during this 3-month period.

My tips for PMP aspirants

1) Set up your exam date asap

Fix your exam date after analyzing your level of preparedness and considering any potential events that may derail your prep. If you are not sure about this at the beginning of your PMP journey, plan for this exercise when you are 50% in your preparation.

Setting up a date will get your mindset to another level. Once you cross 50% prep stage then you will get the confidence of crossing the line pretty quickly. If you can’t put an exam date on the wall, things will keep on getting extended. Don’t let that happen to you.

2) Invest in good mock test simulator

Take a good mocks test series where you can get an overall analysis of your results – both from the perspective of knowledge areas and Processes. This self-analysis helps you identify and strengthen your weak areas, gain confidence and get the trial run of the real PMP exam. You will see the benefits of this approach during your exam.

Best of luck to all the future PMPs!

Pratim Ghoshal, PMP

Also read: 5 P’s in PMP Exam With Just 4 Months Preparation – by Surbhi Sawardekar, PMP

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