I would like to share my experience on passing PMP exam. I will divide it into 4 parts: preparation, self study, exam, and after exam.

  • Preparation


As a prerequisite, an exam candidate must have certain eligibility prior to enrollment, i.e. bachelor degree, 4500 hours in lead role in project(s) and 35 hours of project management education OR high school degree, 7500 hours in lead role in project(s) and 35 hours of project management education.

In my case, I have a bachelor degree, more than 4500 hours in lead role in projects but lacked the 35 contact hours. I filled the gap by taking a PMP preparation combo by DCOptima, arranged and supported by the company I’ve been working to, PT. Mitra Integrasi Informatika (arrangement and certain agreement about this gap fulfillment is not discussed here)

I spent a 5 days course starting with 3 days project management essential knowledge plus 2 days exam preparation. The course gave me ways a PM can look and manage projects as well as the downside of overlooking a project. Furthermore, the course also gave me a glimpse of PM roles in many working background such as offshore mining, banking, telecommunication, and general back office (administrative) management. These roles were shared by other candidates taking the course for the same exam preparation purpose.

I felt the time passed so fast when I was in the course yet many concepts were not covered in the course such as negotiation skill, influence in a project, change request simulation, and team building simulation. After the 5 days course, I will have to prepare further by self study and this topic will be covered next.

  •  Self Study


The first week after completing the 5 days course were the most ineffective days which I spent nothing on exam preparation. Felt a little bit guilty at that time, but enjoyed the moment as it passed by. Back to the preparation, I gathered myself some eBooks about passing the PMP exam and further reading materials. I got Project Management Body of Knowledge by PMI (PMBoK), PMP In Depth by Paul Sanghera, and HeadFirst PMP 2nd Edition. Next I spent some time making my study plan.

In self study, I got help by a senior that is already a PMP; he is also the owner of this blog, Mr. Athar Januar. He conducted many sessions for knowledge sharing in which gave me some practice questions and tips and tricks to answer the tricky questions I might find in the real exam. I joined his sessions with other candidates as well but since I was targeted as the first to pass the exam amongst other candidates, he extended his time and availability to help me explore ways to cover all knowledge.

As it turned out, compared to sessions answering many practice questions, I enjoyed more about knowledge discussions, i.e. process of recalling what I have had in mind, concepts I have learned, and then construct mnemonic words to relate those concepts into rhythmic words I thought amusing and easy to recall later in the exam. I believe it would have turned differently ugly if we kept the sessions into answering practice exams all the time. Those sessions helped me keep track of what I must remember, what might raise challenge in the exam, and which part to focus, e.g. brain-dump material: 5 process groups, 9 knowledge areas and the 42 processes covered within

  • Exam


I scheduled the exam at July 24, 2012 which is approximately 2 months after the 5 days course. Prior to get exam eligibility, random applications will be selected for audit and lucky for me I didn’t have to go through such audit; I automatically received exam eligibility and was grateful about it.. J

I took the exam in the Indonesia International Education Foundation (IIEF), Menara Imperium 28th Floor. I followed the usual exam drill, i.e. the exam rules, signature on the some papers, put my belongings to a secured locker and was directed to my seat to take the exam.

I used the 15 minutes to do brain-dump on given papers; the 15 minutes was supposed to help me get used to the exam application.

The exam was timed decreasing from 04:00:00 (4 hours exam) and I began my exam keeping in mind that I might not be able to answer all the questions and there were some questions specifically designed not to be marked whatever answer I gave;

Well, I spent 4 hours doing 200 questions exam, the longest time I have spent stationed on a desk so far (for an exam). The time given was adequate, but I would have complained that the unscheduled breaks should have been taken as a factor to the total time.

I only had enough time to answer the questions including visiting marked questions which answer I doubt. I did not have enough time to revisit all the questions just for the sake of making sure I didn’t answer it incorrectly. I spent 3 hours and 45 minutes including unscheduled breaks.

  • After Exam

Taadaaa… 3 hours, 45 minutes has passed, judgment was due, and there was one more step to complete before I got to know my exam result: a survey. The survey was about overall satisfactory level I had experience taking the exam, the exam application performance, and the IIEF location, seat, exam arrangement, and some comments I might add for possible improvements

There it went, I submitted the survey and… and the result was shown on the screen;

CONGRATULATION on passing PMP Exam bla bla bla.. Almost gave me small heart attack though, but I was happy, my effort didn’t go to waste, and expectations from people around me fulfilled, although negative expectations went unfulfilled of course.. J

I got a paper showing which process groups I am proficient based on answers given in the exam. I had only 1 proficient in the Planning and the rest stay on Moderately proficient level; no process group below proficient level. It meant my score was around average compared to other PMPs

I passed the exam, and would like to recite a phrase used in the movie “Mechanic”: Amat Victoria Curam (Victory loves preparations). The same works for exam preparation and I personally will tell other candidates to prepare it well too, hoping they might perform a better result compared to mine