My PMP Journey with WinningPMPlan – Step towards PMP Success

Hi everyone I am Mohammed Irfan, have got my PMP certification with 4AT and 1BT on 23-Jun-19 by PMI, I have also done engineering from Civil and MBA from Project management.

First of I would like give a big thank you to everyone who have contributed in PMP preparations, starting with my seniors Mr. Shariq PMP, Mr. Mudassri Iqbal PMP, Mr. Videyesh PMP, and Mr. Tridib Roy PMP,

And very special thanks to my mentor my booster, Mrs. Khaleelah PMP who has really pushed me and helped me get going with preparation.

And I would like to extend my gratitude to study partners Ahmed PPMP, Khumudha PPMP, & Poorni PPMP, (PPMP: Potential PMP’s)

I planned for PMP long back, about seven years ago, but was never able to get focused and encouraged due to lots of obligations (both personal & professional) and distractions.

Nevertheless I really got focused this time and got going in the month of Mar-19 and planned to appear for PMP exam in 3-4 months

Preparation Plan (If you cannot plan it, you cannot do it):

Unlike others who actually prefer or recommend to read every day 3 to 4 hours daily, a different strategy worked for me. We have 49 process in PMBOK in all KA, accordingly I have planned to complete each process in or combination of process (according to volume or content) in each process. E.g. scope baseline & schedule baseline, which will give me forecast for completion dates and later I have used the same as performance tracking purpose.

Mentioned below is my approach for studies

  1. First Go (Rita, PMBOK & Videos)
  2. Read each KA from Rita completely according to my plan and gave quick reading KA from pmbok, and in from pmbok I was reading only tools & techniques and excluded the Inputs and Outputs & completely ignored OPAs and EEFs.

Lesson Learn:  should have been reading Inputs & Outputs, EEF and OPA

  • In parallel my reading I would be listening to audios from
  • After completing reading each KA I use to solve the chapter end questions from Rita, Headfirst, Joseph & PMI questions. Then I would be reviewing wrong answers from each source
  • However, the above procedure took me about 45 to 60 days
  • At the same I was on and off in some of the wonderful WhatsApp group
  • PMP Aspirants, Mr. Tridib Roy (Group admin)
  • WinningPMPlan, Mr. Vidyesh, Mrs. Vidhi (Group admin)
  • PMP Certifications Mr. Mudassir Iqbal (Group admin)
  • Testudaan Mr Sanjay (Group admin)

Although, I was never able to dedicate myself to get involved fully with the WhatsApp groups and I was on & off with them

  • After completing all the KA in very rush way, I have even forced to skip some days (due professional & personal obligations) I was completely away from PMP books for 1 week.
  • Later, I gave the full mocks from Tridib Roy (udemy), Joseph, Fahad Usmani, Oliver Lehimen, scoring was not appealing at all (63% to 70%)
  • I have revised my strategy for second go
  • Second Go (Only PMBOK) ( this approach took me 15-20 days)
  • I gave in depth reading of the pmbok for each KA definitions, ITTO’s including EEF and OPA’s, I used to the highlight the important points & also I have wrote the summarized text boxes in the pdf to get back to it on my final reading
  • I gave again KA questions from prepcast after reading pmbok and scores are satisfying (76% to 88%)
  • After completing all KA again I gave the full mocks from prepcast and scores were satisfying (78% to 78.5%)

Note: I use to review all the wrong answers and check with explanation with PMBOK guide ref

(My preparation plan sample shown below), link is also provided to download.

  • Third Go (Review Only PMBOK) (2 days)
  • A day before exam, I just went through the highlighted and side notes what I have during my 1st and 2nd go.

Lesson Learn: keep two days for review one day wouldn’t be enough

  • Sources I have used
  • Rita for Understanding concepts (read through once and then use to refer back to now and then as needed) but I hardly used in my 2nd go preparation
  • Headfirst, just for solving questions
  • PMI questions for solving questions
  • Joseph Philips for solving questions
  • I have solved questions from different WhatsApp groups I have mentioned above

Full mocks I have attempted

  • Prepcast simulator (gave four full mocks)
  • Fahad Usmani (pdf format)
  • Oliver 200 questions (pdf format)
  • Joseph phillips (udemy)
  • Questions I have got in the exam, almost all the questions were situational and many was asking what PM should do, what PM should have done to avoided, what PM should next
  • Estimates to be used (Analogues, Three point and Bottom)
  • Couple of  questions on agile
  • Questions on CPI and SPI very basic
  • Question for Total float
  • Lots of questions were on change request as many as more than 50
  • Got on RAM, RACI & Audits
  • Most of the questions were combinations of process like SH, Communications and Resources
  • You will need a deep understanding of the following concepts well to pass the PMP exam.
  • RACI Charts and Resource Calendars

You will see a few questions on your exam from the RACI chart and resource calendar, so be sure to familiarize yourself with these topics

  • Histogram, Resource Calendars, Control Charts

It is essential for you to understand histograms, control charts and so on.

You should be able to differentiate control limits and specification limits and be able to determine when a process is out of control.

  • Earned Value Management

You need to know how to compute EAC and what it represents.

For example, does it represent the original budget or revised budget? Understand the SPI and CPI, including calculations and be able to interpret the results. You should know what could be done to address the situation if the project is behind schedule or over budget.

Know the difference between variance and trend analysis.

  • Project Selection

You should understand and be able to apply project selection techniques.

If you have many projects to choose from, what criteria would you use to select the best? Is it a costs schedule, meeting business objectives, or another determining factor?

  • Stakeholder Management

Your stakeholders are very busy and have precious little spare time. You should know how to manage your project’s stakeholders. Stakeholder management is a pivotal part of success.

  • Lessons Learned

Lessons learned is another important topic, and you will see a few questions on it. You should know when to capture lessons learned and when to use it.

  • Closing the Project

For closure, you need to understand the inputs to the process and how they are used to generate the outputs.

What are the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs of this process? You should know them well.

  • Critical Path Method

Aspirants should also understand total float and free float, what the float of activities on a critical path, etc.

When it comes to a network diagram, you should know if an activity is on the critical or non-critical path. Know how to manage a situation when you are behind the schedule.  Understand schedule compression techniques. A clear understanding of resource optimization and schedule compression is also important.

  • Change Requests

You should know when and how change requests are raised and approved.

Scope creep, gold plating, and control scope are vital concepts to grasp.

You will find many questions on change requests on the exam.

  • Risk Management

You should focus on risks; for example, you need to understand identification, prioritization, of risks and development of risk response plans.

It’s also important to know how to manage risks, including secondary and residual risks, and how to follow through after a response plan is implemented.

Know how you would select a particular risk response strategy, for example, insurance, or transfers.

What are the different risk categories in the PMBOK Guide? Make sure you master the grid.

There will be questions that will ask what could you have done to prevent a certain situation (or what have you failed to do)? You will also need to identify the authority as a risk or as a stakeholder.

  • Contract Types

You should know contract types and be able to recommend which type should be used under which conditions.

  • Quality

Will your team be safe from an audit? Can you ensure compliance with the methodologies?

You should know the difference between corrective action, preventive action and correction, as well as how and when each is executed.

  • Other Topics

You should also study process analysis, tools, and techniques of continuous improvement, because you may see a few exam questions on these topics.

Know the whole process sequence, from developing the project charter to closing the project. If you understand this order, you will be prepared for any tricky questions.

These are my lessons learned for the PMP exam. I hope they will help you with your exam preparation.

Thank you so much for reading..


Mohammed Irfan, PMP

BE Civil, MBA Project Management

Email: Phone +966501297184

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