PMP Lessons Learned 2019: 80% Questions on “What would the PM do next?”

PMP Exam Experience Sharing

We have another Aspirants who just passed the new PMP Exam in 2019! Thanks and congratulations to Amer Djulbic who took the time to write a very detailed account of the PMP Exam journey!

Amer took the new PMP Exam recently based on the current PMBOK® Guide 6th edition. The lessons learned from this new PMP Exam prep project is included below:

Here is a brief back ground through the journey of obtaining my PMP. First, I should mention that I hold an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering (graduated in 2010) and also a master’s degree in mechanical engineering (specialization in HVAC Systems – obtained in 2015). However, I must say, that the PMP was one of the hardest exams I had written.

Back in January 2019, I decided to pursue my PMP. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the PMP exam and its difficulty, but I knew several colleagues who had their certification and they encouraged me to pursue it. I reached out to one of them and she recommended I take a prep course ( I took her advice and I began the course in mid January. The course lasted about 6 weeks, and I completed around end of February. Classes were on Monday and Wednesday (of each week) from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

Once completed, I took a week off to go on Holidays (did not focus on studying during this time). When I came back, I started reading the PMBOK® Guide and finished reading it after about 3 weeks or so (reading every other day). Part of the course, we were given access to 19 Mock Exams that would test our knowledge on the material (each exam was 50 questions). They recommended scheduling for the real exam once you were scoring about 75% consistently. The first 6 exams, we were required to take in order to obtain the course completion certification. I did those and scored between 70-75% on 5/6 exams. On one, I scored 66%. As such, I knew I was not quite ready write the real exam. However, in early April I decided to schedule my exam anyway. I scheduled it for May 25th (thinking I have just under 2 months to get ready). I then started reading the course notes over again and started doing more exams. After each exam, I would review the exam questions and would focus on the questions that I got wrong. The mock exams were great in that they would tell you which section the questions came from so that I could review that section. I also started monitoring my progress based on the process groups and knowledge areas. Here are my results for the last 12 exams:

Exam / PGInitiatingPlanningExecutingM & CClosingAverage


ExamPM FrameworkIntegrationScopeScheduleCostQualityResourceCommunicationRiskProcurementStakholderEthicsAverage

As you can see, I was making progress and felt somewhat confident but still struggled with the Execution Process Group (I knew majority of the questions came from this PG and I was hoping to score in the 80% range). In any case, I kept studying and taking practice exams. In early May, I discovered your website and started reviewing your notes (in particular the EMV section). I focused on studying, understanding and memorizing the formulas. I wrote the last practice exam on Thursday May 23rd (so two days before the actual exam). On Monday, May 20th, I wrote 4 exams in a row to simulate a real exam. The day before the exam, I just briefly glanced over the course notes, looked at the equations and practiced my brain dumps (I wrote down the equations that I memorized, brief description (say if SV is <0, than the project is behind schedule) and the whole Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping table (page 25 of the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition).

Finally, the day of the exam came. I was nervous to say the least (I barely slept the past few days). I scheduled the exam for 8:00 am. I arrived at the test site at 7:00 am (as per recommendation). After checking in and going thru security, I was able to start the exam about half hour early (so 7:30 am). The first thing I did was the brain dump (wrote all the formulas and the PG/KA Table). I then started the exam. In the first question, I noticed some numbers so I skipped it (thinking it was a calculation question). I started going through the questions marking the ones I wasn’t sure about or if they were calculation questions. After about 3 hours, I completed the exam and had about 10-15 questions marked. I still had one hour so I decided to start at the beginning, reviewing each question and answer any remaining questions I had. I looked at the clock and had only 16 minutes left and I was only at question 50 or so! I started to rush, skipping through the questions that I had answered and only focus on the questions that I did not answer. I finally reviewed everything and had 3 minutes left on the clock. I then submitted and hoped for the best. I did complete the survey and clicked “End”. I then saw a blank screen that said I passed and it gave me a print out of my score.

I received the following

  • Initiating: Above Target
  • Planning: Target
  • Executing: Target
  • Monitor & Control: Below Target
  • Closing: Below Target

Overall: I would say somewhere in the ~73% range.

All in all, I was very glad that I had passed and could focus on different things. I do recall being very frustrated towards the exam and even vowing to not write it hahaha. I’m glad I did and I’m glad it’s over. For anyone writing, I strongly recommend taking the course. The content was great and the practice exams are a great tool to test your knowledge and readiness for the actual exam. The questions were somewhat similar but also different. I found that 80% of the actual exam were questions that asked “What would the PM do next, or what could the PM have done to avoid a situation”. The remaining 20% or so were knowledge type questions and math related problems. In addition to taking the prep course, I strongly strongly consider candidates memorize the exam outline (the 5 process groups along with each task and in correct sequence).

I hope this information suffices, I’m sorry for digressing but I figured detailed information may be beneficial to some candidates. Please let me know if I can assist further!

~ Amer Djulbic, M.Eng, P.Eng., PMP

Thanks Amer for the very detailed PMP Exam lessons learned! The detailed mindset helped a lot during the PMP Exam journey by understanding what to focus on, what to study next. And this is indeed the project managers’ way of thinking: “what would the PM do next”!

Wish you PMP success!

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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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