“My 2-step PMP prep approach wasn’t developed as I progressed through my study”, says Lijin Thomas, during a conversation to share his PMP prep strategies and study tips.
Lijin is a Certified Project Manager with 10 years of robust experience in Physical security systems and delivering a wide range of integrated electronic security and communication solutions.
1. What made you to take up PMP? Did you consider any other certification exams?
The desire to gain PMP certification was ignited by my previous Line Manager at Amazon, who took the effort to motivate and encourage me to pursue this course.
I was undecided between PMP or CSMP (Certified Security Management Professional) certifications, initially. Upon doing a thorough evaluation on the adequacy of both certifications, I looked at the prevalence and application of the concepts of both certifications to wide range of industries and domains.
Based on this I decided to give first preference for PMP.
How do you see this certification helping you going forward?
I was confident that getting a good grasp on the concepts, knowledge areas and related ITTOs would definitely equip me to manage medium to complex projects with a high degree of success.
With the certification as well as knowledge I’ve gained now I’m seeking a role that complements my skills and expertise within a matrix organization where project management function is given due importance.
The PMP certification has given me the extra firepower and resilience to position myself as an project management specialist/expert within my domain of expertise. It would also enable me to exert a significant level of influence on the senior management during critical project related decision making process.
Can you share the study resources you used?
I started my preparation in February with a PMP course from Simplilearn (detailed 5000+words hands-on review here) and took the PMI membership at about the same time.
The self paced learning course got over by August and I used PMBOK guide (ad) as a secondary source of reference.
Following this I decided to focus on PMBOK guide and began reading the guide on a daily basis targeting to finish 2 knowledge areas per day.
In parallel, the study notes and techniques from Simplilearn (ad) came as handy for quick brush up.
What was your PMP prep approach?
My approach was simple and not time bound. Keeping it time-agnostic I could focus on the study without feeling the time pressure, and this approach helped me tremendously.
Note – If you want to begin your prep this way, please keep in mind that this is prone for complacency to set in. 🙂 There has to be some event or goal to help us keep making progress. Otherwise you may end up with a false-start.
As it turned out I based my PMP prep approach on 2 areas.
My major focus was to first get familiarized with all concepts, knowledge areas and related process ITTOs. Then move to mock tests and use them for these –
- discover areas (knowledge areas, processes, or concepts) that I have not grasped thoroughly
- practice the art of quickly moving through questions answering them in least possible time (200 questions / 240 min = 1min 12 sec / question)
Was PMP a smooth ride all along?
Not at all. The major hurdle I faced was to get accustomed with ITTOs for each process and how to correctly identify the process in which the questions were based upon.
The study process got bit smoother and comfortable following numerous questions being attempted and comprehensive evaluation of the wrong answers.
Access to multiple good quality question banks are the key to mastering the PMP concepts and acclimatizing with real exam questions.
What was your exam experience like?
It was a wonderful experience that I could think of and staff exhibited professionalism with politeness. Questions were not as complex as I had expected them to be, although one needs to be competent enough to identify the process on which the questions are based upon.
Once the process is identified and related IITOs it is quite easy (in my view) to chose the best option among likelihood of other options. I attempted 199 questions in 3 Hrs 30 min without any breaks and utilized the left over time to review the questions I had ‘marked for later’ review.
My desire was to score ‘Above Target’ for all Domains but the results came out to be ‘On Target’ for three domains, ‘Below Target’ for one and ‘Above Target’ for one – which made me wish I had prepared more intensively. But again we all make the best possible efforts given our unique circumstances, so I am happy.
Would you like to share any study tips?
My advice to the exam aspirants would be to come up with a PMP prep approach that suits their unique circumstances. What worked for me is to focus on 2-areas distinctly, one at a time, as I’ve explained above.
Get familiarized and comfortable with concepts, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs (ITTO) of all processes, terminologies, and connection between processes in a holistic manner. This understanding should enable you to gauge the questions correctly.
In addition, try to attempt as many question banks as possible to understand the flow of questions and how to chose the best option upon identifying the correct process.
No matter how it feels right now, know that you can do it.