My PMP test preparation started in 2014, and then it took its own incubation time to bear fruits. If you did start your prep sometime in the past and you are yet to give your exam, know that most of us go through a similar experience.
A Slow Start to PMP Test Prep is Quite Okay!
PMP exam is an important milestone in a project manager’s career, and for most of us it is not smooth. Preparing for a certification exam along with a busy work schedule and family to manage is often tough balancing act.
Do not stress about the delay, if that’s the case with you. As long as you are on the right path and are making progress, it will only be a matter of time before you reach your PMP goal.
All that you need to do is prepare a plan based on milestones – which you may never get to follow 100%, and this is okay 🙂 – refine and rework it as you go along and reach the goal.
This is definitely possible. In this post I am going to show how I did it. I hope you will find a pointer or two that may help in your own preparation plan.
PMP Test Planning
I began my preparation towards the end of year 2014 and got my PMP certificate a month ago. This was my first attempt and I was quite elated when I saw ‘Congratulations’ on the screen.
I did my 35 hours of PMP training in the end of year 2014 and early part of year 2015. Although I was strongly advised by our PMP trainer to attend the exam inside of 3 -4 months, my workload did not allow this to happen.
Since my job involves traveling and being at job-site most of the times, it would leave me too exhausted by the end of the day to focus of anything. At one point I had almost given up the thought of getting certified.
But then something in me told me to hang in there.
Great things were happening at work. I moved up in my career ladder, taking up senior level responsibilities. Interestingly I could delegate the work properly and carve out some time and energy to spend on PMP preparation in the evenings.
In Jan-2016 PMP underwent few changes, and I reworked my study resources to align with the latest content.
Turn to Jan-2017
My PMP test preparation picked up steam in January 2017 and I submitted my PMP test application at PMI.org. I dusted offf my study resources (PMBOK and Rita’s prep Book) and got started with new vigor of the new year.
For many people PMP test application is a huge hurdle.
I have seen people procrastinating their study just because of the need to fill in application. Maybe it is the work involved in putting together the required information for PMI, or maybe it is the fear of audit, or simply lack of guidance I’m not sure what.
Filling up the PMI application form is an easy exercise if you have jotted down your experience well enough, in a way that PMI expects. This may also help you avoid your application getting rejected.
You don’t need to detail the experience of all overall career, just put together your experience in terms of PGs to qualify your candidature. Feel free to connect with me should you require any guidance on that.
My 7-Step PMP Test Preparation Plan
Here is a summary of the steps that I took for my PMP studies. It worked beautifully for me and hopefully can work for you as well –
Step 1 – Completed 35 contact hours of project management education.
This can come in various forms – college courses, internal training at your company, a one-on-one training, classroom training, or online training. Just make sure you get the MOST out of this experience. With online course you get to go back to whichever KA or PG you wish to study based on your time schedule and from anywhere.
Step 2 – Started studying with my chosen study resources.
I chose PMBOK and Rita’s books as my primary study resources.
I’d suggest choosing 2-3 study resources before you commence your studies. This itself will be a huge head-start for you can give yourself, as you avoid information overload or overwhelm.
Just a simple google search how to calculate early start will give you a 47,90,000 results – enough to spend next 2 hours swimming through endless spaghetti bowl not knowing where to start. And the search query does not even have the word ‘PMP’ in it!
Bottom line – if you are short of study time start by first fixing your study resources.
Step 3: Started making my own study notes.
I would study a chapter and then make my notes in my own words. This exercise was a huge help in internalizing concepts. Of course it helped me revise notes before the exam and gave me a crash course.
Also, I solved all the questions at the end of Rita’s book. They are very good to question your implicit (mis)understanding of what you just learned. Don’t skip them!
Step 4: Subscribed to PM PrepCast newsletter.
You can grab free access to their simulator, and sign up to get questions and information on a regular basis for a certain period. I found them to be quite useful.
Step 5: Made sure I didn’t ignore the PMBOK!
Because you get most of the questions straight from PMBOK.
But here is a technique I followed. Since I first studied Rita’s book – which is arguably easier read than PMBOK – going through PMBOK was like a breeze.
You can understand the concepts in PMBOK very easily after being through Rita’s book just once.
I simply went through each process one by one and strengthened my notes further just by adding the important inputs, tools and techniques and outputs (ITTOs) for each process.
Step 6: Started with the mocks three weeks before the exam.
I would say doing this in the week prior to the exam is more advisable.
Mock tests are a way to understand the real exam, pretty much like running on the track before the real exam. I got to plan how I want to spend those 4 long hours on the exam.
Step 7: Got some supplementary study material.
Get end-to-end study plan with necessary resources on this site. Start from here.
Got some good notes and links to Mock Tests at Edward Chung’s website.
Try the mock at Simplilearn. It’s a good Mock with some tough questions.
Revision on the Eve of PMP Test is Crucial
Last week before the exam, I went through all my notes. I went over the the explanations of the answers which I got wrong in the mock tests.
I took final 2 mocks with PM Fast Track PMP and Super PMP. I found it to be the best simulator with good explanation of the answers.
Finally I gave the exam and cleared the exam. This was my first attempt, which made it special.
Again, I would like to remind that you can get access to hundreds and hundreds of forums, groups, apps online for PMP prep. The more you explore, the more confused you will get with the varying suggestions, advice, tips and what not.
No doubts some of them would be very good, but you are the best person to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and you have to decide what suits you best! I limited my exploring to the minimum and have briefed them in the links above.
Lastly, stay relaxed before the exam day and try to spend some time with your near and dear ones.
The day before the exam I spent a good amount of time with my family and even watched a nice comedy movie. 🙂
Wishing you nothing less than a perfect 5P score in your PMP test!
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.
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