“You used just 2 PMP study guides?”, I asked Sivaram. I just wanted to be sure I heard it right.
If you are just starting your PMP journey you may be tempted to collect as much of information as possible from the internet.
This can be a bad move.
Too much information leads to Information Overload and Analysis Paralysis (though these are buzz words, they indicate exactly what the words suggest) – two traps that may get you overwhelmed and/or not let you make steady progress.
It happened to me when I started out, I kept collecting information like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter, and eventually kept on jumping from one information resource to another – mostly judging their quality and usefulness than studying anything seriously.
[That’s one of the reasons I decided to create this blog, so ALL the necessary information, tools and techniques required for PMP prep is available in ONE place. That’s another story.]
Anyways, to cut to the chase, few days ago Sivaram wrote to let me know that he completed his PMP exam, and I requested him if he’d be interested to share his PMP prep advice on the blog. I was glad to see so many great tips he had for a PMP student, and noticed the fact that he had used just 2 PMP study guides.
Here’s his story!
Oh, and by the way Sivaram is an accomplished flute player of Karnataki style. If you are into music you’ll love his stage performance here.
Hi Shiv, I am happy to inform you that I am a qualified PMP now!
I started my preparation on 2nd of June. I searched the market and was bit confused about which route to take and which study material to use.
Initially I found it pretty hard to grasp the concepts from PMBOK. But after listening to PrepCast videos and immediately studying the relevant chapters in PMBOK – all concepts started to make sense.
I then decided to go over all the PM PrepCast lessons once and read PMBOK 3 times. I completed my studies by end of June and started appearing for mock exams from Cornelius’ PMP Simulator.
I took 8 full-length mock exams in all.
Initially I used to score 75% and within couple of weeks my score steadily rose to 85%.
I felt confident enough to attend the exam and booked my slot on 20th July. I felt pretty confident during the exam and cleared my PMP with ease.
Few points I’d like to share with PMP aspirants
1. Have confidence that you will clear the PMP exam.
I find that self-belief is critical. There will be times when we question whether our preparation is adequate, but keep reassuring yourself that you are doing the best of your ability, and you deserve to pass the exam. This will keep you in a positive frame of mind.
2. Study everyday.
I used to practice and study for 4 to 6 hrs /day, and realized early in my prep that if I have to succeed passing my PMP exam then I need to study daily.
Be regular with your studies, even if it just 1-2 hours – never skip. And if you do have to skip for some reason, make up for lost time immediately – either next day or in the weekend. But don’t let it get to be a habit.
3. Don’t use too many PMP study guides
I did this and it confused me a lot initially as I came across many PMP study guides. I would suggest to go for one more study material along with PMBOK – such as Rita Mulcahy, HeadFirst PMP, PM PrepCast or the one that you feel comfortable studying from.
It is more important to understand the concepts and application of them to a given situation than going through too many PMP study resources.
The main intention of going over multiple study material is to reinforce the same information through various means. This helps understand the content faster. But too many resources will be a drag on your precious study time.
4. Practice mock tests
Practice a lot of mock questions with a timer. I attempted over 2000 questions for my preparation.
Mock exam is extremely important as it will help to know if you are ready for the exam. It is better to buy a simulator and get yourself in the mindset of attending real exam.
I took mock tests at different timings – in the morning, afternoon and in the evening to understand how my mind and body will react in the different situations.
5. Create your own strategy to answer the questions
I used the strategy of answering all the smaller question at first and then moving to all verbose questions.
This approach helped me finish the exam in 3 hour 15 minutes. This was the average time during my mocks as well.
Try different strategies and evolve your own to tackle the exam. Shiv suggests multi-pass approach here (search for ‘proven strategy’ on the page).
6. Do not neglect any Knowledge Area!
Prepare well for all knowledge areas. Although PMI gives how many questions from each Process Area are expected in the exam, since we do not know how many questions will come each knowledge area all knowledge areas are important.
I had very few math/formula based questions appeared in the exam. This was surprising. But I’d suggest not to neglect formula based questions, it is not certain how many questions you may get.
Exam day tips
1. Cut distractions.
I switched off my mobile on the day before the exam to cut off any distractions. I kept playing music and tried to be completely relaxed. I suggest doing something similar – be relaxed. Keep in mind that PMP is not the end of the world.
2. Get a good night’s sleep.
This is essential. Be calm and cheerful and tell yourself that you are going to become a PMP today. It will boost your confidence. This attitude helped me get into positive frame of mind, and attempt the exam enthusiastically.
3. Drop expectations.
Suspend any expectations on the type or format of questions you’ll get on the exam.
Don’t be surprised/tensed during the exam if you get questions that look strange. I got many ‘bouncers’ in the first few questions. These were entirely different from what I had practiced. I tried to be as calm as possible and analyzed the questions. You will soon get into a flow, and pick up pace. Just don’t allow your focus to waver.
I completed the exam in 3 hr 15 mins and got 45 minutes for revision.
Finally after many anxious moments, I saw the magic word CONGRATULATIONS on the screen.
I am very thankful to Shiv for his wonderful service to the PMP aspirants. I used his study notes on the blog, and again as reference during the final revision.
All the best!
Sivaram Gurazada, PMP
Note from Shiv –
If you enjoyed this PMP prep advice you may like these –
- I aced PMP with just PMBOK and PMESN notes, Nikhil Talgeri (another instance using just 2 PMP study guides)
- How Swati Popli passed her PMP exam with just 3 weeks of preparation.
- A non-traditional approach to PMP approach, by Krzysztof “Kris” Filipiuk from Bulgaria
- How to get your PMP certification for free!, by Karen Kinsman
So, what’s your story?
If you want to share your PMP prep advice please write to me at shiv[dot]pmexamsmartnotes[dot]com, along with the date of passing the exam.
You may refer to a few here to get a sense of how to structure your content. No worries, I’ll help refine it. But in short, share as much as you can 🙂
Shiv loves to help start-ups build software products, PMP aspirants ace the exam and shine at work, and help individuals and SMEs get most out of their internet presence (read 'earn massive money' 🙂 ).
Shiv lives on the picturesque suburban Bangalore with his wife and two lovely kids and in his spare time he plays flute and paints.
Reach him at these social networks and say Hi, he'd love to connect with you.