PMP Debrief - a Brutal, Simple and Cheap Path to 5AT

May 23, 2020 |  Categories:  PMP  

I took the PMP exam in late February 2020 with 5AT results. There does seem to be a level of anxiety and overthinking of this exam, which i definitely felt setting out too. And online a lot of sponsored promotion of tools and books, which you don't need to crush this thing.

Based on my experiences, below is the PMProjections minimalist plan for PMP success:


  1. Try to identify and let go of your fucked up emotions around this, if you're still having vivid nightmares where they realise you didn't actually finish highschool, take away your engineering degree retrospectively and send you back to calculus over a decade later... I get it. Accept that there is a chance you might fail, if you do it's ~US$275 to retake it, you are not an unworthy person if you fail.

  2. Accept your limitations. Realistically you can only do a maximum 2-3 hours of focused study a day - your brain is going to be fried beyond that. You can sprinkle in more passive learning methods around that. As much as you can stay healthy, get enough sleep, exercise etc etc. .

  3. Read ActualSentence's 'how to squeak by the PMP exam' . While not a pleasant four hours, it's just a multiple choice quiz.

  4. Application form is a pain to fill out. When describing your experience develop a boilerplate text you can slightly alter for each project that directly answers the questions they have, keep it simple and repetitive they accepted my app no questions asked with descriptions like this:

"Objective: Demolition and rebuild of supermarket. Outcome Rebuild completed and store opened Role: Clients project manager Planning: Prepared project execution plan and issue to team, update at each stage.prepare master programme. Executing: instruct design team and contractors, procure design team, contractors, chair design and site meetings Control and Monitoring: author and issue monthly pcg reports. Closing: prepared practical completion certificate, review and approve close out documents."

Study and Exam

  1. Watch the Vargas video to get the big picture into your head. I watched this 3 or four times. Choose a cheap course (circa $10) on udemy for the 35 hours, people seem to like Joseph Philips, I used another one which wasn't that good.
  2. Once you're a few hours in to the udemy course buy a practice exam simulator, is good and cheap. Do at least one 50Q practice exam each day. Aim to get your average over 80% and complete the exams in under 40 minutes (60 minutes is allowed). PM Training is slightly easier than the real exam so you need to be doing these in your sleep. Study what you got wrong in whatever textbooks you have, or google and repeat. I spent a total of 4 weeks studying, after 2 weeks I booked the exam - using my practice exam results as a benchmark that I was ready. . These were my scores: Responsive image

  3. When doing practice exams get used to reading the last sentence of the questions first, then the answers, then skim the whole question and answer. Pretty soon your brain will get good at filtering out the fluff, maybe 1-2% of the time there is some detail in the fluff you may miss resulting in a wrong answer - the trade off is worth it - there is no way you will comfortably finish the real exam in time actually reading and comprehending every question.

  4. Focus on in this order 1. change control 2. stakeholder management 3. communication management. Also get clear on the delineation between stakeholder management and communication management. They are constantly trying to trip you up on this. The above points felt like 70% of the exam.

  5. Exam day. You will be slower in the real exam than in practice exams, aim to answer a question a minute. I took one break around the two hour mark. This was just enough - I was having a very hard time focusing for the last 25 questions or so - a second break might have been a good idea. You won't feel great during the exam, just answer each question and reset - as much as possible don't dwell on past mistakes or try to add up where you think your score is at as you go. try to mark as few questions as possible for review (you won't have time to review 70 Questions at the end anyway), I marked about 15 questions and changed maybe 3-4 answers.

  6. Click submit, get congratulations message, feel wave of relief, cast mind to the 20% pay bump for your future roles.

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Leave a comment:


On June 17, 2020  WM wrote:

Really appreciate the score infographic along with the detailed study outline. Planning on spending a few weeks studying before I take it and following this almost exactly. Thanks again!

On June 24, 2020  WM wrote:

Really appreciate the score infographic along with the detailed study outline. Planning on spending a few weeks studying before I take it and following this almost exactly. Thanks again!