PMP Certification : Study plans & Lesson learnt

Since many of my friends have been asking me my study plan and how I went about getting certified in my first attempt thought of writing this post about it. 

Study time: 2 months  [Studies happened over 2 and half months. Out of those, 3 weeks were on a zero study break]


  • Rita Mulcahy (Twice)
  • PMBok (Once ) 
  • Head fast [Didn't read beyond the first 2 chapters since it was very basic. If you have experience in Project Management this isn't required to be read.]

References: PMP Books and references in PMI Knowledge center [Dry info but helpful to understand the tough topics]

Mock exams: 

Study groups:

  • Discussion with other PMP aspirants -  It helped me in discussing my understanding of concepts with others
  • Linkedin groups - I want to be a PMP® and other PMP groups - help us to see the exam questions and get a go at it before the exam.

I started off with a crazy frenzy to study in the 2nd week of May and give the exam by June end. I used to study for close to 4 hours after work on weekdays [Thanks to the US work culture for making that possible] and close to 10 hours on weekends. I had to take a break of 3 weeks due to some reasons. So almost after 3 weeks of break time I jumped back into studies in the last week of June. I had a week long vacation planned for the 4th Jul long weekend and made sure I had stuff to take with me to read while travelling in the train or in flight.

Yes my long weekend trip of 4th July was spent partly enjoying in NY and in reading study material be it in flight or while travelling to my friends place from airport in train. 
I wonder how they let me study while at their home :) 

During my long weekend vacation I got to know one of my friend who had exam on 4th did not clear the exam. This was a shock to me as I was expecting him to clear the exam. That kind of lit the fire that was required for me to give in my 200%. After that day the moment I got back home from my vacation I started studying like crazy. 

My schedule changed
  •  8:00 AM - 5:00 PM  - work
  • 5:00 PM - 12:00 AM - stay back at work and study [My office drawers were full of stuff I could eat :) I was practically living in my office and surviving on fast food, wraps, s/w. 
  • 12:00 AM - go back home and sleep [I stay 10 mins drive from work]
  • Repeat the cycle again. 
The unfortunate news of my friends exam result gave me the kick that was required for me to give in more than 200% to the studies. I would be listening to videos while commuting, reading books where ever I could

My weekend video calls of couple of hours with parents back home reduced to 10 mins normal calls while I was commuting to study. They always supported me in giving my all for the exam. They never complained that I was talking less with them :)

Questions were mostly in the areas of EVM calculations not simple but complex ones, also based on S Curves, risk management, time management, scope management, NPV calculations. 90% of the questions were complex and not straight forward. Fortunately having understanding of the concepts and using combination of knowledge, reasoning and logic got me through.

I did take a lot of time to complete my exams - I finished answering all 200 questions by 3:40 mins. It was much more than what I had anticipated based on my usual time of 3 hrs in mock exams. I reviewed the marked questions without worrying about completing all the questions, my goal was to make sure the ones I reviewed were correct than completing all the marked questions.

The result was 4 proficient and 1 moderately proficient score card barely after 3 weeks by end of July! I guess hard work really pays off :) Can't even pen down the feeling I had when I saw those magic words on the screen. Just could not stop smiling and giving myself a virtual pat on the back :) 

Score card image available at the below location

Have put in some Exam day tips in the following post.

Have decided to get back to blogging and write more posts on PMP and Project Management.

Will be writing a post on tips on studying from my point of view, if you are interested stay tuned!

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