Oparah Michael's Step by Step Plan of Passing PMP Exam

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Hi Obalim, I would like to share my PMP exam preparation method and my lessons. Here’s the approach I adopted.

I first heard about PMP at my previous work place. All our projects were aligned with PMBOK guidelines. But I felt no need or urgency for PMP at that time. However I realized the need for the certification when I went for an interview in an Oil and gas firm first quarter 2014. After passing through all the stages of the interview, at the very last stage, the interviewer told me that I had the best performance during the interview stages, but that the only reason why I will not be selected is because I don’t have PMP.

1st Lesson. Better to be prepared and wait for opportunity, than have opportunity and discover you are not prepared

I took 35 Hours contact class at Ciel Consulting and decided to take the exam within 2 months. It did not happen due to various professional/personal reasons though. But by the time I decided to take the exam (6 months later) I had forgotten all the important lessons from the contact class, and I had to start all over again.

2nd Lessons : It is always better to attempt the exam immediately following the contact classes before the information you gathered starts to fade away.

During my training I remembered a particular Task where we were asked to write down one project we hope to achieve before the end of the year. I wrote passing my PMP exam and my Trainer Obalim asked me to treat it like a project using the processes taught during the training.

So I decided to apply that. I divided my preparation into 5 Process Groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing)


I gave myself a brief charter Lol and I also identified everybody that can be of assistance to me in my PMP certification journey


I divided my study-plan in two phases.

First phase: detailed study to understand PMP concepts

Second phase: exam preparation using revision and practice tests.

I prepared my PMP exam preparation study-plan in MS Project (taught in class) and strictly followed it.


First phase (Duration 1 month)

I studied Head First PMP 3rd Edition completely (like a story book) and tried to understand all the concepts. I found PMBOK guide abit difficult to digest during my first round of study, so Head First PMP really helped alot. I completed all the exercises at the end of the chapter to make sure I understood the concepts clearly.

Second phase (Duration 2 months)

I completed PMBOK guide 5th Edition in one month. Then I studied Rita Mulcahy’s exam prep 8th Edition in 2 weeks. Then I went through various training videos available in the internet. The remaining two weeks were kept for revision and online tests.

4 days before the exam I brushed through PMBOK and Rita Mulcahy’s book at least 3 times.

I went through PMBOK Glossary.

I tried to learn ITTOS by heart (even though everyone suggested not to) but found it useless and difficult to remember.

Then I concentrated on Process Charts and found that if Process chart is understood clearly then I’ll be good.

I started memorizing the Formulas, Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping (take 3-2 on page 61 of PMBOK). I practiced making the table using 2 fingers to divide the columns and thumb to divide the rows, with this practice I found I could write the complete table faster. Then I focused on concepts such as Power-Onterest grid, Risk to buyer and seller according to contract type graph (from Rita).

Understood clearly how to solve PDM and CPM problems.

I found that memorizing formulas is easy but application is not that easy, unless I practiced few question and understand how to apply the formulas.


Monitoring and controlling

I also practiced some online mock tests. These were the ones I used –

Oliver Lehmann (Online) 75Q

Head First PMP Mock Exam 200Q

PM Exam Simulator (Free 3-day Trial)

I assessed myself via online test on a regular basis and made sure that I got more than 80% in each.

I also monitored the time that I spent to finish 200 Questions.

At the beginning I was overshooting the time but with practice I learned to understand the question faster and was able to control the time I was taking for each question.


I took the Paper Based Test at JKK Ilupeju. I had sufficient sleep the night before and just looked into the process charts, formulas and charts before the exam. I tried not to take too much of stress.

After reaching the venue, I completed all the formalities and then entered the exam room and sat for the exam.

The clock started and I finished writing the formulas and charts in exactly 15 mins time. Then I started with 200 questions. I took 3 hrs 50 mins for me to complete 200 questions. No breaks in between. 8 mins to re look into marked question. I stood up and submitted my test papers.

After about a week and 3days I got a mail from PMI saying “Congratulations, you are now PMP certified.  I had cleared PMP exam in the first attempt.

3rd Lesson After getting PMP certification its good to celebrate with your family and importantly don’t forget to share your methods and experience with Obalim (obalim@cielgr.com). It’s a great way to inspire others.