How to Study for PMI PMP? Learn PMI-ism First!


Already updated/will be updated for PMP Exam in 2023.

Introduction: This part of my PMP exam study notes is a distillation of knowledge I have gathered based on reading the PMBOK® Guide for several times. Learn these well as these are the concepts advocated by the PMI — the governing body who directs what the PMP Exam should be about. That’s why PMI-isms is so important!

More information my PMP certification exam preparation can be found at my PMP exam journey here (I got 4 Above Target and 1 Target in my PMP Exam).

What are PMI-isms?

PMI-isms – to understand project management from the mind-set of PMI (Project Management Institute).

“PMI-isms” is a term coined by Rita Mulcahy, one of the most prominent authors for PMP (Project Management Professional) Exam preparatory materials. She defines a “PMI-ism” as “an item PMI stresses on the exam that most project managers do not know“. PMI tries to integrate these PMI-isms into the PMP examination questions to “weed out those who should not be PMPs”.

What “PMI-isms” essentially means to PMP aspirants is that if you want to pass the PMP exam, do what PMI tells you (even if you did not find these in real-world projects).

What exactly are PMI-isms?


  1. Organizational Process Assets (OPA), which contains historical information of all projects of your organization and project management policies/templates, are readily available. PMI advocates constant improvement and continuous learning from project to project.
  2. Enterprise Environment Factors (EEF), which represents all the factors not in the immediate control of the project, is something a Project Manager has to live with.
  3. Change Requests include Corrective Action, Preventive Action, Rework and changes that would affect the project configurations/ baselines/plans.
  4. Lessons Learned are important outputs.
  5. Expert Judgment is the single most important tool and technique which refers to knowledge gained through experience and/or studies. If it appears as one of the choices for a PMP question, it is often the correct answer.

 The Project Manager

  1. The Project Manager has the responsibility to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.
  2. The Project Manager should collaborate with stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle. Plans should be developed in collaboration with appropriate stakeholders and subject matter experts.
  3. The Project Manager should be proactive in identifying problems, solving conflicts and looking for changes for the better. Conflicts should be addressed directly.
  4. The Project Manager needs to tailor the PMBOK® Guide Processes to suit the scope and characteristics of individual projects.
  5. The Project Manager must carry out impact analysis should something unusual happens before asking for changes.
  6. The Project Manager may take up a stretch assignment but should first let management know that they lack the experience/expertise.
  7. The Project Manager should consult sponsors/senior management when they have to make decisions that are believed to be out of their assigned authority. However, the Project Manager to exercise his/her authority to manage the project as far as he/she can without escalating the matter to senior management.
  8. The Project Manager should not accept requests to trim down the budget (or time) while the scope and time (or budget) cannot be changed.
  9. The Project Manager is responsible for tailoring (identifying and selecting the most appropriate project management processes/activities for a particular project).

 Project Management

  1. Emphasis is placed on the planning rather than putting out the fire day in day out. Work should begin after the proper planning is finished.
  2. The Project Management Plan is approved by all designated stakeholders and is believed to be achievable.
  3. All activities, issues and risks should be assigned to designated project members for handling.
  4. Competing constraints are time, cost, scope, quality, risk and resources. Change in one constraint will affect at least one other constraints non-linearly, e.g. a reduction in 10% of cost may affect 90% of the quality.
  5. Risk Management is almost a must for all projects, project schedule and budget must take risks into consideration.
  6. Always follow the plan-do-check-act cycle.
  7. All changes must be handled through the Integrated Change Control Process, proper approvals must be sought and changes documented before work begins (except in the case of implementing workarounds during an emergency in which approval may be sought after the change has been carried out).
  8. Quality is an important consideration which needs constant improvement (through the control quality/process improvement).
  9. Project Management processes are not necessarily linear or one-off. Some processes are to be repeated more than once throughout the project.


  1. Meetings are used for idea generation, discussion, problem-solving or decision making, not status reporting.
  2. Gold-plating is derogatory to PMI.
  3. The Project Management Office (PMO) is assumed in most case.
  4. Work performed by resources (including overtime work) must be compensated. It is NOT recommended to ask resources to work overtime by sacrificing work-life balance.
  5. The goal of negotiation is to create a win-win result (problem-solving).
  6. Sunk cost is not to be considered when deciding when to terminate a project.
  7. Never tolerate sexual discrimination, even if it is customary in other cultures.


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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16 Responses

  1. I was looking for this information. I really like the way you have explained all things.

  2. KL says:

    Hi Edward thanks for spending the effort to write this down. Unfortunately i only stumbled across your website after failing my PMP. Just a few questions to check.

    For scenario where There are changes and if changes are approved, do we evaluate (impact analysis), or update risk register? i saw a lot of option of updating risk register.

    For scenario where there are changes of PM, do the new PM first refer to the project charter for all the info and is there a need to update the project charter?

    For scenario, where customer, request for unrelated new request, do we reject that?

    Hopefully the above questions arent too stupid to ask

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi KL,

      Sorry to learn you just did not pass the first try. You are now much closer to your goal!

      For your questions,

      i) To the best of my knowledge, evaluation of the changes should have already been done, so it is time to update the risk registry.
      ii) The sponsor needs to first update the project charter with the name of the PM as the PM is not authorized to update the project charter.
      iii) We would document the request and reject it with explanation that it is outside the scope of the project.

      Wish you PMP success the next try!

  3. Nancy says:

    Thank you so much for these notes!
    Reviewed them before the day of my exam and yes, I passed!!
    Your notes helped so much in providing details I had missed during my studies.
    Hope this will be of great help to others as well!

  4. raja says:

    Hi Edward
    Thanks for your efforts.
    My query is while preparing for the PMP, whether we need to study based on Process group or knowledge areas ?


    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Raja,

      I studied by the Process group which is a much clearer way to understand the structure. But others may have different views. Just find the most suitable way for you.

      Wish you PMP success!

  5. Dinesh Goel says:

    Thanks Edward for putting the PMBOK in a simplified way. I passed my PMP exam last year with all MP but just forgot to mention a “thank you” note here. Your notes were really helpful in understanding the basic concepts.

  6. nelson than says:

    I just found this website. I failed my 1st attempt. One of the question is if two workers are arguing for when to finish a task, one suggest 4 weeks, and another suggest, 10 weeks. PM step in and decide 8 weeks. What kind of conflict management is it?

    2nd question is when a customer refuse to pay after project is finished, what does PM do?
    a) refer to contract
    b) let the customer know all the tasks in scope management is done.

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Nelson,

      Sorry to learn that you have failed the first try. Keep on studying and you will surely get PMP certified very soon!

      Concerning your questions, as little info is given here, I cannot give a definite answer to them. Sorry.

      Wish you PMP success!

  7. E. Gardner says:

    Thank you for your articles. I did use your study notes and found them extremely helpful and organized.. I just passed the PMP with 4 above targets and one at target.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. Jojo says:

    Hi Edward,

    I took the PMP Certification Exam last 08/12 and passed with 3 MPs and 2 Ps. I’m happy with the results and would like to thank you for your wonderful articles and tips as it did really help me in study/review. I took Velociteach’s Self-Paced Review Class by the way. Matched with the tips I’ve gathered, it’s a potent combination I can say. Aspirants can never go wrong :). Again, thank you for your good works!

  9. Helena says:

    Hi Edward, great article! Thanks for writing about this.