Lessons Learn From: a PMP Test Experience

By: Yohara Salinas S.

I have been a project manager for a while now but did not take the certification exam until last December, 5th 2015 and thanks God passed it on my first attempt. Let’s cut to the chase, the test was very very very HARD! Take the preparation for it very seriously and study twice as hard as anything you have done in the past.

I have a family, a job, and hobbies that I love, so I had to balance my time spent in other things very efficiently while studying for the exam. I used a lot of information already posted on the internet with lessons learned and recommendations for preparation for the exam before I started to study so I did not waste time later in the process. Plan very carefully what, how and with what tools you are going to prepare for the test and follow through with your plan. This step is your very first test of your PMP abilities. There is no right or wrong recipe to sturdy for the test, each one of you should try what is best for you. However, learning from others is usually a very good first step. These were my resources:

Study documentation:

• PMPrepcast Newsletter with free daily questions

• PMPrepcast Exam formula guide (this was a must for me!!! You need to be very clear with all the formulas for the exam and when to use them)

• PMBOK 5th edition

• PMTRAINING exam simulator

• Rita Mulcahy PMP Exam Prep book 8th edition

• Edward Chung site for passing the exam ( , this site has test questions, links to free test

• exams and other documentation very helpful during your preparation

• PMChallenge questions from the ProjectManagement site (

The steps I followed to study and be ready for the exam were the following:

1. I read the PMBOK once without reading anything else. Don’t worry about not understanding all at once. It will be much better later on.

2. I read the PMBOK a second time now reading first a chapter from Rita Mulcahy prep book and then the same topic on the PMBOK. This time around, the information that I did not understand on the first round, became a lot clearer. I began to grasp and retain the information better. Remember that the test is about how the PMI establish the standard to be not how you do it at work. Sometime it is not the same and it will cost you if you do not set your mind on it.

3. After each chapter, I did several quizzes on each topic to start leveling my knowledge and understanding the areas in which I needed to improve. The quizzes questions came from the sources mentioned above.

4. Once I finished reading all topics, I dedicated 2 weeks to just do full length practice exams on the simulators and close all knowledge areas that were not clear enough to obtain a good grade on the quiz.

5. Make notes on the most relevant information especially ITTOs. I had made flash cards with this information and I had them in my purse so in case I was in a traffic jam or waiting for a manicure or in line to pay groceries; I was able to retrieve them and review the information. It also helps you to quickly review the information the day before the exam if needed. Yes, it sounds nerdy, but it worked!

6. Make sure you pass your full length practice exams with 80% or more before you take the real one. This will give you the confidence and knowledge needed to pass.

7. Make sure you review every wrong question you had and look for the right answer.

8. Practice to dump the formulas and information you are most likely to forget in a clean sheet of paper and do it at the very beginning of the test. With the stress and time constrain, you can quickly access to the information and finish the test on time.

9. Try not to memorize the information you are studying but to understand it. This certification is about situations so you need to understand what they are asking you and identify what you need to do in order to answer the questions appropriately.

10. Have a watch with you (where I presented the test did not have one) and check your progress with the time. Try to keep up to speed so you don’t have to catch up later in stress mode. I had some of that!

Have faith in yourself, you can do it!!!

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