Shiv, I got my PMP after what I consider one of the memorable study journey. I believe that PMP prep is made out to be an arduous task, while in reality it need not be so. Yes, the content is vast but as I discovered, if you can make it enjoyable the overall effort seems lesser and the PMP experience much enjoyable.
I’d like to share how I approached this exam and cleared it, in this article and hope PMESN readers will find something of value.
I played the role of a project lead quite early in my professional career. Project management knowledge areas were so interesting that I worked towards gaining as much knowledge as possible by going through various books. In addition I loved researching for best practices followed by expert project managers so I can use them for successful execution of my projects.
It became clear to me that I was looking for certification that was recognized globally and also to learn the best practices in Project Management. Hence I decided to take up PMP with a goal of learning and to formally train myself as a Project Manager.
Study Resources and Study Plan
I had started researching about the certification back in 2016 and since then I had many false starts of the exam preparation. Finally the bolt hit me – Exam was changing in March 2018! This indeed was the trigger to ramp up my prep and pass the exam before it changed.
My serious preparation started from February. I had close to 6 weeks for the exam. I was skeptical about the possibility of getting prepared in such a short duration. This is when Shiv’s 4-week PMP prep plan gave me confidence and I set out for the preparation following the structure mentioned in ‘The Complete ‘Ace Your PMP® Exam’ Series: Essential PMP® Concepts Simplified’.
My study resources
- Cornelius Fichtner’s PM PrepCast and PMP Exam Simulator – This is a very good study resource if you enjoy learning from videos. Cornelius touches upon every aspect of the exam. The exam simulator is highly recommended as it gives an experience of the actual exam and boosts your confidence and makes you ready for the real exam. I also got my 35 contact hours of formal education from here.
- Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep – This is a very detailed book and is highly recommended if you want to get good hold of PMP concepts.
- PMBOK Guide – Many people say this is a very boring book but I liked the way the book is structured. This book helped me to study in a structured way. By the way, you can get the soft-copy for free by becoming PMI member. Being a member also reduces your overall exam cost.
- Shiv’s Facebook posts & daily sample PMP questions – I followed these every day. They helped me in quick revision of concepts and I gradually started getting most of the answers correct. It boosts your confidence.
During the first week of preparation I worked on the PMP application along with studying. This week was really crazy; I had to work close to 8 hours just on this. I got my application reviewed with Shiv and it was accepted by PMI in 5 days.
Also Read: Getting over exam fear is key to PMP success – by Camille Dingle, MBA, PMP
I went ahead and scheduled my exam!
My first round of studies took me about 15 days and I covered all the knowledge areas. My primary study tools were PM Prepcast and PMBOK guide.
I did quick revision in next 2 days and then took 2 mock exams. I scored 81%. Then I went over every question and answer and this helped me uncover my weak areas.
Next, I did another round of complete study for 1 week and took 2 more mock tests. My score improved this time as expected and I scored 91%. This boosted my confidence. 1 week before the exam, I revised, filled the knowledge gaps and took more mock exams.
Initially the syllabus seemed overwhelming but it gradually got better. You have to keep up the pace and trust your ability.
The exam day
The day had finally arrived and I was fully confident to crack the exam. I did a quick revision from my study notes for an hour. Reaching the exam hall 1 hour ahead of my exam slot, I was allowed to take the exam immediately.
I started the exam and one by one the questions seemed very tricky and I was marking almost every second or third question to answer later.
To be frank I began to freak out and I was losing my mind, it was getting difficult to understand the scenarios in the questions.
I stopped and relaxed for few minutes and told myself I can do this. In few minutes I completely relaxed and went over the questions calmly.
It started getting better and soon I was in much better position. I began to recognize the unwanted sections in the question and targeted only on the required section. This helped to solve many questions in a shorter time.
By the time I completed first round of 200 questions, I had around 45 minutes to review the marked questions. Thankfully even those started to make sense during the second round.
- Exam Application – Be very specific and clear on the activities you performed in your projects and also use Project Management terminologies as much as possible while writing the application. The ‘project management professional exam outline’ (available on PMI) is a good reference for this.
- Study Resources – Refer at least 2 study resources other than PMBOK guide. Try to gain as much extra knowledge as possible by surfing the internet for blogs, articles and Wikipedia.
- Mock Tests – Invest in a good exam simulator and take as many mock tests as possible. I took 10 4 hour mock tests. This way my mind and body were prepared for the 4 hour action!
- Make study notes of your own. I made notes of description of certain project documents, certain tools and techniques which I was failing to remember. This helps in quick revision.
- Real Exam – The questions are all real life scenarios and the exam was difficult for me. There were less than 4 direct questions. Be prepared to read the questions quickly and understand what they are really asking. For problem questions, try to prepare as many indirect questions as possible. Lastly it is very important to stay calm and be able to concentrate for full 4 hours. Have a good night’s sleep the day before and stay hydrated.
- Lastly, you have to trust yourself and your ability to remember things as you study. Initially it all seems very vast and difficult but things will fall in place and you will start enjoying the journey.
I hope my PMP preparation journey will help you in some ways in preparing for the exam. Enjoy studying and crack the exam!
Best of Luck!
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