I wanted to take PMP exam some 10 years back but somehow could not do so. Then I finally decided to take the plunge journey last year. In 10 years, I had gathered good project management experience and had become passionate about project management. This helped me appreciate PMBOK.
I enrolled in a boot camp training where the overview of the Knowledge areas & process groups were covered. My application, luckily, was not selected for an audit. 🙂
I then studied the PMBOK and Rita’s books, however, could not keep up a study plan continuously due to family & work pressures. Finally, I did complete my study and took few mock tests. I was scoring 80%, so decided to take the PMP exam.
My first attempt
I took PMP exam in Feb 2016 – just after the updated syllabus came into force. Unfortunately, at the end of the exam the Screen Showed “Failed”. I was very upset and was not sure where things had gone wrong. The positive aspect of that failure was that I became accustomed to the new format (Shiv made me aware of this – Thanks Shiv).
I decided not to give up and to try again.
Different approach for the second attempt
It was during my preparation for second attempt that I got in touch with Shiv online. I downloaded his books.
This time I decided to do something different.
I studied for 4-6 hrs a day (all at work since I was in-between the projects). I studied the PMBOK thoroughly – paying a lot of attention to data flow, the definition of each process group, the key benefits, and the documents and plans that get updated at the end of each process. I found that this approach was very helpful during the exam. I’d recommend that you try this as well.
I studied process group-wise and not in the traditional knowledge area-wise. In parallel, I went thru Shiv’s notes (all his notes are linked from the menu > “SmartNotes…” on his blog). Also, I purchased izenbridge’s PMP classroom courses. The teaching is excellent by Saket Bansal. Helped me understand concepts more clearly.
Every morning I revised the data flow for each of the processes for about an hour. This too proved very helpful on the exam.
I also purchased PM-PrepCast, Simplilearn tests & pmzest.com. I took about ten full-length 4-hour mock tests across izenbridge, pmzest, PM-PrepCast and Simplilearn for 3 weeks prior to the exam, and kept revising the course content. I was scoring 80% and above consistently.
Then I decided to book my exam slot.
I stopped taking tests 2 days before the exam, and did not touch any PMP related stuff.
The exam day!
On the day of the exam, I revised the data-flow again and went to the exam center. I kept telling myself that I will pass. The exam was not very difficult – but not easy either. From my first attempt, I knew what to expect so this kept me calm.
I did not get many EVM questions – just few simple questions. Most of the questions were data-flow related, documents to be updated and change requests handling.
I completed all the questions and marked few for review along the way. I had about 20 minutes to complete the review questions. For many questions, I decided to stay with my initial choice and not change.
Another important aspect of taking a multiple choice exam, don’t change your answer at the last minute unless you are absolutely sure of the answer.
Finally, I was relieved to see the “Congratulations” on the screen!
Yes, PMP exam was a big investment – in terms of money, time and effort – but it paid off very well.
Since I was determined to clear the exam this time, I did everything to make it happen.
My PMP tips
Now looking back, I suggest the following for PMP aspirants (esp. attempting after the failure),
- Book your exam ahead of time – give yourself about 3 months. This will get butterflies in your stomach as it is big money and you don’t want to risk that.
- Study (not read) PMBOK thoroughly, you should know the data-flow and what each process group does. Refer Shiv’s notes. Write /draw the data-flow every time you revise. Ensure you also study the appendix at the end of PMBOK. Every line of the PMBOK is a potential question.
- You can read Rita once (I personally did not like Rita), I found Kim Heldman’s book is better though. The lesson-end tests in both Rita and Heldman are good for revision.
- Enroll with inzenbridge , if you want/like someone to teach you (optional). The mock tests that come with the course are good.
- Pmzest.com mock tests – really good/tough questions.
- Simplilearn 5 mock tests – good mock tests. But you need to buy the complete course (here’s a review).
PMBOK + Shiv notes + an additional book + as many 4-hour mock tests as you can, should help. Understanding the PMBOK well itself gets you close.
Study for not more than 2 hrs a day and try to mentally go over all that you studied to gain deeper insights. The exam is not a test of memory; it tests how well you know the concepts from PMBOK and how well you can apply them to the scenario given in the question.
Most importantly, begin your journey with a positive mindset that “I WILL PASS”. This makes a big difference.
Sita Sharma, 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.