“5 Proficient grade (5Ps) in PMP exam with only 8 weeks of preparation”, is how Saravanan Baskaran describes his PMP prep journey. Saravanan is the owner and Principal SAP Consultant & Architect at Universal Technology Solutions, LLC. In this article he reveals the strategies and techniques he used to ace his PMP exam.
Taking several mock exams and reviewing sample questions helped me in clearing the exam successfully. More importantly, reviewing all the incorrect answers by going through the relevant chapters one more time helped me in clarifying my doubts, and understanding the core concepts well. There are numerous materials available in the market. However, I would strongly recommend to just pick and stick with few sources that you feel comfortable with.
Primary PMP prep material
I took the remote training offered by MPROI for 2 weeks. I took the exam 6 weeks after I completed the training.
I figured that reviewing MPROI material and taking several mock exams would be sufficient to prepare well for the exam.
After reviewing MPROI material, I was able to understand the PMBOK well. My rough estimate was 4 to 6 weeks of preparation time.
I spent around 2 to 3 hours during the weekdays, and 6 hours on weekends to prepare for the exam. So you could say, overall I spent about 150+ hours of prep time.
My PMP prep tips
First tip I would like to give is that there is no need to memorize Input, Output, and Tools & Techniques. In the new format (introduced in Jan-2016) all the questions are formed around some project management situation. If you understand concepts well and take practice tests, you will be able to apply them to a given situation and come up with answers.
Secondly, I didn’t do the brain-dump when I took the exam. I don’t think it was necessary. Also, it appears that Prometric does not allow the pracrice of writing brain-dump anymore. So, it would be better to check with your exam center in advance if this is allowed.
Just relax and review the instructions in the first 15 minutes. If you review Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping -Table 3-1 in Page 61 every day for 2 weeks and understand the flow and concepts, memory dump and memorization is not required at all.
Third, try to stay relaxed and calm during the exam. Just be confident that you will clear the exam. This does a world of difference to the outcome.
Fourth, after taking the mock test go over and study every answer – both the right and wrong answers. Reviewing right answers gives you a confirmation that the logic you applied during answering the question was right. Reviewing incorrect answers will help you analyze where you went wrong during the exam.
Mock tests help you identify which topics need more study. During mock tests if any topic seems difficult, make a note of it and pick it up for study after the exam. Go over your chosen study materials and understand them. If you follow this practice, you’ll see gradual improvement in your mock test score.
While I was able to complete most of my mock exams in less than 3 hours, I used the entire 4 hours in the actual exam.
My PMP Study materials & Mock exams
I made a list of all study resources (books, material, mock tests and so on) before hand so there is no confusion or overwhelm when it is time to dig my heels and get to study.
- PMBOK Guide -Fifth Edition
- Christopher Scordo’s PMP exam prep questions
- Head First PMP -Third Edition
- Rita Mulcahy PMP Exam Prep – Eighth Edition
- iZenBridge.com – Saket Bansal
- Praizion Media – Phill C Akinwale, Mock exam and sample tests
- Cornelius Fichtner PM Exam simulator (review here)
- Shiv Shenoy’s PMP exam series concept pdf books of all knowledge areas
- Exam Central: PMP Exam Questions
Benefits of each of these..
In terms of the text books, just PMBOK and any study material alone would suffice for the exam.
Rita is helpful to understand some of the concepts well and is an interesting read.
HeadFirst is good for visual learners.
Shiv Shenoy’s PMP exam series concept pdf books available in Amazon Kindle, provides a pretty good summary of high level concepts.
Also apart from ITTOs, knowing what is there in each of the subsidiary plans, and all the project documents is key as well.
There are also lots of free videos available on Youtube. In terms of quality, I would recommend Saket Bansal and Praizion media-Phil Akinwale videos.
When you are tired of reading, watching the videos will help you to strengthen your understanding. Memorization is not required anymore including Earned value formulas. Actually, Saket Bansal’s video will help you to understand the formulas without memorization.
Phil Akinwale’s video will help you to master ITTO’s without memorization.
Last but not the least, scheduling the exam well in advance will help you in setting a target and pace your preparation accordingly. I scheduled my test 4 weeks in advance.
PMP is indeed a difficult exam. But with a proper study plan, adequate preparation, and a strong desire / belief to clear the exam in 1st attempt you will be able to ace the exam with ease.
Best of Luck to all the future PMPs,
Saravanan Baskaran, MBA, PMP
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.