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TOPIC: July 9th - Passed PMP first attempt - 5ATs

July 9th - Passed PMP first attempt - 5ATs 2 years 2 months ago #14623

  • Shridhar M
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Dear Members,

I am extremely happy to share the good news that I have passed my PMP exam with all 5ATs.
There is no doubt that Prep-cast simulators is crucial in helping achieve this milestone.

Here is the story,

I have to agree with others in saying that the PMP journey in itself is a Project and instilled lot of self-discipline. Almost a year ago, when I wanted to start my PMP journey, I learnt that simply reading books won’t help achieving this coveted certification. Hence I decided to take my organizations internal certifications (which are kind of aligned to PMI) to benchmark my knowledge and to build confidence. Once after completing, I had a fair bit of understanding and knowledge, however I was sure that I have to bring myself up to PMI standards. Hence I started to take Online courses provided by my organization (Skill soft) without much planning for two reason, one, I was still lacking the mandatory PM experience required for PMP application and second, I wanted to learn and apply the skills in my day to day PM activities (this is also a critical success factor).
Note that it is PMBOK 5 at this point in time.

The long 35 hour PDU journey,
First pass:
Since I started without much planning, I jumped on to this step and I was not sure that I have made a huge mistake until recently. The skill soft courses covered all PMBOK 5 chapters and I took at least 6 months to complete all the chapters and chapter end quizzes. However I was not confident that I am moving in the right direction. At this point PMP exam got changed (based on PMBOK 6) and I do not want to rush and fail the exam. By this time PMBOK 6 released.

Second pass and lessons learnt:
I started seriously thinking about the exam and I did not want to make the same mistake of going through skill soft modules. So I started researching about the usual practice and lessons learnt from other members and I learnt I made a big mistake and wasted lot of my precious time. Then I came up with the following plan,

The plan:
1. Take PMP seminar by Joseph Phillip on Udamy ( to quickly refresh my basics)
2. Quick read through PMBOK 6
3. Read through Rita Mulachay guide
4. Take pm-prep cast simulator to gauge my stance
5. Bridge the gap by going through PMBOK 6 thoroughly
6. Take other free mock exams
7. Retake pm-prepcast simulator exams
8. Go for the big day


The reality:
I became PMI member and ordered PMBOK 6 guide. I took JPs seminar which took about two weeks. Post that I submitted my application and took some time to document my experience and verified with my Manager before submitting the application. My application got accepted and received my eligibility ID. Most of my friends suggested me to schedule the exam, however I did not do so in order to give me sufficient time for me to execute my plan (considering my professional and personal commitments). So there is no one plan that will work for all of us and hence I suggest you to make your own plan considering your constraints. Then I did a quick read through PMBOK guide (about a week).

By this time I started looking for good exam simulators and one of my friend suggested to go with pm-precast. Since I already have spent enough time going though video lessons, I subscribed to prepcast simulator only via Shiv’s website and also subscribed for Shiv’s smart notes daily e-mailer.
Took the first 4 hours exam and scored 67% and the result was failed. One thing which tripped me off was the length of the questions in the simulator. I took lot of time to read the questions (I am a slow reader) and hence I was barely able to finish the exam on time. Really I was scared at this point.
So I started going through the gaps and took the exam the immediate next week and failed once again (with 68%). So I understood I have to do something substantial to cross the bar. Then I started reading Rita’s process guide and took chapter end quizzes. Also Ritas process chart game also helped change my perspective. Also I analyzed all incorrect questions in the simulator and also the correct ones to build confidence. I started dumping page 25 daily for a week and also the EVM formulas. { It became second nature for me and I did not do a dump in the real exam}. Also I made complete list of ITTOs and started analyzing.

At this point I understood that we need to know the order in which the process are executed is very important and learnt that PMP exam content outline is the resource I need to work with. I downloaded PMP free app on my phone and started taking questions. Even though it is nothing line compared to prepcast questions, the way it enforces you to remember the key concepts is helpful.

As per the plan, I wanted to go through the PMBOK guide for the second time thoroughly and I was not really making much progress due to other constraints. Hence I kept on taking short timed quizzes(10 to 50) on prepcast and reviewing answers. My scores were sometimes (above 80) but suddenly drop to 50s. so I identified week areas from the stats and focused on those areas. My scores started improving gradually. And that week I took the second exam and got 77%. Still I was not really convinced about my results and I was sure I can do better. Hence I hit the simulator had with lots of short (10 mins) quizzes to improve my reading speed and consistency for more 3 months. Then took the first exam once again and got 82% this time. It gave me little more confidence. The key learning at this point is to improve attention and focus throughout the exam. The next week I took third and fourth exam and got 76% and 80%.
So I got confidence to schedule my PMP exam and looked for nearer dates, however I did not have any slots available till 9th July. I booked my slot on 9th July. So I have almost a month time now. From this point things did not go as expected. I got confronted with lots of issues both professional and personal and I could not allocate enough time to prepare. Even though I did spend enough time until now, we all know how critical the final few weeks are. So I started taking more shorted quizzes in prepcast simulator and also other sources to be sure. Throughout the process, I ensured I get the questions right in the first attempt. I posted my results in prepcast forum and got confidence from the moderators that I am ready to take the real exam. Overall I have completed about 1100 question in prepcast and out of which 72% of questions were correct in the first attempt. Also may be another 1000 question from other sources listed below.

My mock exams result summary:
PrepCast-1, 200 Q 68%, 84%
PrepCast-2, 200 Q 67%
PrepCast-3, 200 Q 77%
PrepCast-4, 200 Q 81%
Techfaq360, 20 Q 100%
PMstudy, 50 Q 70%
Examcentral, 100 Q 98%
Oliver-1, 75 Q 70%
PMAcademy, 50 Q 52%
BrainBok, 50 Q 80%
Whizlabs, 50 Q 68%
PMTraining, 10 Q 90%
Rita, ~350 Q, average [end of chapters] 76%
PM Studycircle, 100Q [Free] 96%


The week before exam,
I could not describe the mental state that I was in the week before the exam, lots of negative thought started playing around given other personal circumstances and I realized why the exam is challenging. I starting motivating myself and bringing me back on track. I started dumping process charts and formulas to improve my confidence (as suggested by Praizion). Started preparing mentally and physically for the exam, ensured that I do not over do my study and get exhausted during the exam. The last two days before the exam, I gave good glance at the part 1 and 2 of PMBOK and planned for the exam day.


The exam day,
No plan is perfect and it was true in my game day plan. My exam schedule was at 12:30 afternoon and I planned to start by 9:00 AM, since I have to travel at least 1 hour to the exam center. To my bad luck, traffic congestion was too high and it took 2.5 hours to reach the exam center. I could not have my lunch as planned and I had a quick bite and entered the exam hall. So please expect the unexpected on the exam day. This was kind of exhausting for me and it took an impact on my initial hour. The questions were nothing like I took anywhere else and out of the first 60 or 70 questions I marked almost 50 questions. This was breaking my confidence and started playing mind games. At this point I realized why is this certification carries much value and I understood that this exam is asking for my mental strength. Also I understood I wound not have sufficient time to review the marked questions. Hence I started to make my best choices the first time and progressed. This is the real game changer for me. I felt more confident as I progressed and questions started to make more sense. I could not take a break in between. I have 3 minutes left when I answered all 200 questions. I could not review even one question out of the 50 odd marked questions. Then I ran through the survey quickly and submitted. Really surprised to see the “Congratulations” message and I got AT on all five domains. Informed my wife and family. Could not describe my sense of accomplishment and happiness!

Key Success factors:

1. Precast forum lessons learnt
2. Prepcast simulator and result analysis
3. PMP exam content outline
4. Lots of practice
5. Apply what you learn from PMBOK in your projects wherever possible
6. Exam day planning and mental preparedness

Key lessons learnt:
1. Choose your courses wisely
2. Choose your guide wisely
3. Do not postpone exam scheduling process
4. Expect the unexpected before and during the exam
5. Be confident and trust yourself and your experience
6. Think the PMI way during the exam

Please bear with my story telling. Hope this helps somebody. Wish you good luck for all future PMP!

July 9th - Passed PMP first attempt - 5ATs 2 years 2 months ago #14628

  • Ty Weston, PMP
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5AT, that is great! Thanks for sharing this.
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