I have this mantra, “If I can do you it, you can do it; If you can do it, I can do it.”
And the same held me in good stead when it came to preparing probably one of the toughest exams of one’s professional career – PMP.
In this article I’d like to share my PMP exam tips, tricks & lessons learned.
I was keen on earning this most coveted credential in the Project Management world. It all started around June 2016 when I started researching ways to kick start my PMP studies. Soon I learned that it demands lot of commitment, concentration, dedication and hard work.
Actively, I spent 4 months with 2 to 4 hours of preparation everyday. Here is my study plan, resources I used, tips & tricks I learned in during the course of my PMP study.
Study Material and Study Plan
- Head First PMP – I spent about 3 weeks to finish this book. This book explains PMP concepts in a pictorial and a fun way, using many memory aids. If you need a light reading of PMP and a fun start, I would recommend you begin with this book.
- PMBOK – This is THE book to consider for your PMP study. Majority of questions appear from this book so as much as possible try not to ignore this. It took me 1 month for first reading; took less than a month for 2nd reading; and took about a week to skim through the book for the 3rd time.
- Rita Mulcahy – I’d suggest reading this book after reading PMBOK for the second time. This book is gold for Quality Management, Procurement Management and Human Resource Mangement. Actually, I started reading only the pointers for tips and ended up reading the whole book. It is so interactive that you feel this book talks to you in person.
- Saket Bansel’s Videos – I watched his free videos for the concepts I felt I need more explanation. His white board sessions are awesome.
Resources used for Mock exams
Mock exams are a great way to prepare for the real exam. They not only helped me identify gaps in understanding concepts, but it also helped manage those 4 rigorous hours of the PMP test.
Here are my recommendations for mock tests –
- Christopher Scordo (1000 Questions) – This book is a savior for PMP aspirants. With clear explanations referring to PMBOK is one of the main highlights of this book. I highly recommend. This is the only paid resource I used.
- Free Mocks –
- SimpliLearn 20
- Oliver’s 75 and 175
- Head’s first 200
- Izenbridge free 100
- Whizlabs free 50 and
- Rita’s chapter-end around 400 questions
(Shiv: This page lists free mock tests, many of which are listed above)
PMP Tips & Tricks I learned that worked for me
1) Never memorize ITTOs
When I was going through the 15 mins instructions in the test center, I felt as if I forgot all that I did in last 4 months!
But believe me, once I started reading the 1st question, everything simply flowed through and fell in place.
I believe this will happen only if one understands how all the inputs and outputs are connected.
I used to create mind maps for self-study, and explained process to myself by picking a process at random.
2) Be it right or wrong, check the explanation of all the answers when you practice
This is where I spent most of my time. I checked all the right answers to validate if my thought process when I answered the questions was correct. Did I select my option for the same reason as given in the explanation? – This approach will streamline and align your thought process with PMBOK.
3) Extra reading while checking the answers
If I got a question wrong, I checked PMBOK for the explanation and I end up reading the whole page.
For instance, I got Risk Acceptance question wrong, when I read through Risk acceptance, I ended up reading Risk Mitigation, Avoidance and transfer as well. I know this takes lot of time but it will stand in mind forever.
4) Practice managing those 4 hours
I’m a slow test taker. During mock exams, I ended up reading the question more than 4 times. So I always took few extra minutes and in the end ran out of time.
After few mocks, I practiced reading the question only once and infer the information the very first time. Instead of rushing, I took extra 30 secs in reading the question slowly, but only once. This helped me a lot in the real PMP exam.
I took 3hr and 50 mins to finish all the 200 questions. But I had the confidence that I will pass the exam, because I knew I had read the question carefully and selected the best answer.
5) I actively participated in PMP forums
Every day I woke up to see a question in Facebook forum- PMP Exam notes, Tips and Resources. Thanks for inculcating the PMP’ ism right from the morning. Also, I enjoyed posting a question/doubt on forums and discussing with other PMs. By this means I have learned a lot about project management.
6) Stay Positive
Give positive energy to your thoughts. It is like nurturing a plant. I even thought of preparing a write-up about my PMP journey to post in this very blog.
Also Read: Murali’s Myth-busting PMP experience.
Last week of my preparation
I made a detailed study Plan for last 10 days.
Being a busy mom of a 4 year old and 2 year old, I was able achieve only 75% of my plan. But I felt confident on my preparedness to take the exam.
I regulated my sleep during the last week of my preparation because I scored well in all the mocks I took during the day time than during nights. Dressed up comfortably, I had a good brunch reached exam hall around 11 am, finished all the formalities and started my PMP exam at around 11.45 am.
As I planned and practiced, I read every questions only once slowly and steadily, and at the end of the 4th hour I was confident that I have correctly answered more than enough to the pass the exam.
Give back to the community
I feel this more important – To give back to PMP community. If any part of this post helps you in your own PMP preparation, it would be of immense satisfaction for me. I have earned more well wishers and friends after I started my PMP journey. Sharing is caring- for yourself and for others. Many Thanks.
Ramya Manickam, 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.