How to prepare for PMP exam based on PMBOK 5! – Part-1

Dear All,

I am glad to share that I have successfully cleared my PMP exam recently in first try!!

After 3-4 months of rigorous study and putting lots of efforts, I finally managed to crack this Marathon exam..

Although there is no “One size fit all formula” to get this heavy-weight certificate in your bucket, as everyone has his/her own learning style and grasping capabilities, but below are few points I’d like to share, will be helpful to most of you.

I divide this post in 2 parts. In this part (Part-1), we will look into-

1. Pre-requisites – Things you must be prepared for before you head towards PMP direction
2. Study Resources – Books and other resources I found most useful
3. Study Plan – Strategic steps, resources and tips for preparation and clear the exam!!

In Part-2 of this post we will discuss more about the content, topics and areas that are most important for the exam.

Step 1. Pr-requisites:-

 – Be prepared for lots of study – through study of sevaral books several times! There is no short-cut!
 – Most of the things you need to understand but there is really plenty of stuff you need to memorize. So be prepared to memorize lots of stuff.
 – Be prepared to invest approx 1000$ (including exam fee) on various study resoures
 – Take PMI membership and schedule a exam date – it helps!!

Step 2. Arrange below study resources:-

1. PMBOK 5 (free soft copy for PMI members)
2. PMI’s eRead (online – free access for members) –
3. Rita Mulcahy’s exam preparation kit version 8 (inludes Prep book, PMFastrack and Hot Topics) – Costs $ 280 approx.
4. HeadFirst PMP book

Apart from above things, dont spend time and money on any other books, exam simulators, questions etc.

Step 3. Study plan:-

1. Go through whole PMBOK very quickly to have a feel of the content i.e. process groups, knowledge areas and 47 processes (focus on page 61). Don’t start your deep study from PMBOK in first run, we’ll come back to PMBOK later!

2. Start with HeadFirst PMP. Book is written in very casual language with lots of pictures and graphics. It will help to generate good interest into the topics and give very strong base. Don’t try to answer any chapter’s quiz at this moment.

3. Rita Mulcahy’s kit is the most helpful resource for the preparation, specially PMFastrack. Start reading each chapter one by one deeply. After every chapter complete all the questions of that chapter from –

 – PMFastrack (part of Rita Mulcahy’s kit)
 – Head First PMP (Questions given at last of every chapter)
 – PMI’s eRead (PMP Exam Prep: Questions, Answers & Explanations, 2013 Edition)

If your score is 80% or more, your chapter is done. If your score is less then 75%, it means you need to read that chapter again. Complete all chapter one time and keep identify the chapters with less then 75% score.

4. Now lets come to the bible – PMBOK 5!! Read page by page of this book, by paying special attention to the chapters identified above. Make sure you do a through study of PMBOK, even if you scored well above. Reason is, there are lot of information you will not find anywhere other then PMBOK like flowcharts, integration of processes with each other. Also, lots of questions in exam are directly picked from the sentences in the PMBOK.

5. It’s time to test you final preparation by taking sample tests!! Remember, its very important to practice as many questions as you can. Its good way to test your preparation and very effective way to identify the gaps in your knowledge and fill them.
Use below resources to take sample/mock exams.. 

  – 200 question mock exam at the end of HeadFirst PMP book.
  – PMFastrack’s Super PMP – good questions and answer with detailed explanation.

Also, below are few good tests available free on internet..

 – (1000+ Qs) –
 – PMstudy (1 free test of 200 Qs) –
 – free pm exam simulator –

No need to buy anything apart from above, as there are plenty of free questions/resources available!

If you are consistently getting 70-75% in all these tests, you are in good shape! If not, reschedule your exam and spend some more time!!.

Few important points..

1. don’t refer too many study resources, it will only confuse you. I made this mistake and tried/purchased some other resources, but its really not required.

2. Few things you must have on tips. Memorize these few things

 – Name of all 47 processes (with knowledge areas and process group) – page 61 of PMBOK 5
 – Output of all processes
 – Formula’s (most on page 224 of PMBOK 5)

3. Inputs and T&T (Tools & Techniques) are good to memorize (if you can!) but outputs are MUST. Make sure you memorize all outputs of all the 47 processes.

Hope this helps!! Best of luck to all of you!! 

Click here for Part-2


  • Name/Feedback on any book/forum/website mentioned in this post are based on my personal experience with no intention to sell/promote/criticize any study resources.
  • “PMBOK”, “PMI”, and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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