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


Introduction: This part of my PMP® exam study notes is a distillation of knowledge I have gathered based on PMBOK® Guide. Learn these well as these are the concepts advocated by the PMI. More information my PMP® certification exam preparation can be found at  my PMP® exam journey here (I got 4 Proficient and 1 Moderately Proficient in my PMP® Exam).

What are PMI-isms?

PMI-isms – 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 author for PMP® (Project Management Professional) Exam preparatory materials. She defines an “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 PMP®s”.

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 an 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 request to trim down the budget (or time) while the scope and time (or budget) cannot be changed.

 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 believe 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 constrain 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 a 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 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).


  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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3 Responses

  1. 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!

  2. Helena says:

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

November 12, 2013