“How did you pass PMP in just 30 days?”, I asked her.
“PMP exam preparation differs from person to person.
I was preparing for the past 8 months, but it was on and off.
My serious attempt started just a month prior to my exam.
It took me 20 days to read PMBOK.
I read PMBOK once, for concept clarity I read Rita, and watched a few online videos of Aileen.
It took 30 days of absolute focus, dedication, and hard work.
I passed PMP with all Above Target score.”
That’s how the discussion went with Kamaljyothi Katta, as I probed questions to figure out how she did it.
Kamaljyothi works as project manager at HP. She has a 12 yrs of experience in Supply Chain domain.
Having begun in the government sector, she soon moved to the private sector, working in Insurance, Investment banking, and then making the shift to Information Technology field.
She was working as Business Analyst during her preparation for the exam, and after PMP, she was promoted as Project Manager.
In this interview, Kamaljyothi shares her exact process.
I’d highly recommend make a note of the insights she shares, even one solid advice can get you over the fence easily.
What made you take up PMP?
I was seriously looking to move out of my comfort zone, as the realization dawned that I couldn’t grow in there. I’m more passionate about managing projects, so was looking for a globally recognized certificate to learn and gain credibility.
After some research into available certifications, I chose PMP for its completeness and coverage of all aspects of project management.
Now that I am PMP certified, I would like to consider other certificates, develop more skills.
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What do you expect from this certification?
The main benefit with PMP is that it helps you stand out from the crowd, makes you unique.
I have witnessed that from the moment I took up the certificate, my thought process has changed. I have begun to start thinking in a structured manner. This helps you grow within, which will help you grow professionally as well.
People look at you and your profession with respect and your opinion matters as you are considered knowledgeable.
Doors open at global level, lots of interaction, knowledge sharing, you climb the profession ladder faster, gaining the real-time experience. PMP is a magical wand if you use in the right way.
What about the study resources?
I used a combination of books, course, and mock tests.
- PMBOK guide – this is an important reference guide I’d recommend all
- Rita’s PMP Prep 9th edition – this book helped me internalize concepts that might look hard in PMBOK
- A video study course from Udemy, by Joseph Phillips.
- Mock tests (simulators) –
How did you approach the exam, and what was your study plan?
The first thing I did was to zero down my study resources and strictly stick to them without any diversion.
There are many blogs and books, the content would be the same, but the method differs. Using too many resources is not efficient use of your time.
Preparation differs from person to person.
I was preparing for the past 8 months, but it was on and off.
My serious attempt started just a month prior to my exam and since then no looking back it took 30 days of hard work and dedication.
It took me 20 days to study PMBOK.
I went through PMBOK once and in parallel for clarity of concepts I read Rita book and watched a few online videos of Aileen Ellis.
I took PrepCast mock – all the 8 mocks, and I would analyze each question carefully after the exam and see why I got some of my answers wrong.
Yes, you can clear PMP in 30 days if you are dedicated and honest in your preparation.
Hard work never goes unrewarded, these 30 days I had only PMP in mind.
- Solving MCQs,
- reading blogs,
- studying books,
- watching videos for concept clarity,
- taking online mock test..
The first thing to ace the exam is to overcome the fear. Rest all falls in place.
Don’t go by your score in mock test, I was scoring less than the standard score of 80%, which other blogs would mention in their website.
After each exam, I reviewed my performance and knowledge level.
Read and understood the gap items before taking up the next mock exam.
If I could do in 30 days of dedication and preparation, you also can do it. Just go for it and overcome your fear.
Did you face any blockers?
To me, it was like do or die, I had to clear the exam at any condition because I was seriously looking for a big break.
Don’t listen to the voices that put you down.
Just concentrate on your self and trust your preparation, as the preparation differs from person to person. You will listen to many opinions, many suggestions, few would be negative, and few would be positive. Be smart enough to tailor the opinion and just stick to the things which makes you better.
You want to ace the exam, you want to be counted in the global standards, you want that good package, promotions, and recognition. Then just be confident you chose the path and walk confidently.
I had to undergo a lot of pressure but still maintained calmness as I had only one thing in my mind: to clear the exam on my first attempt.
I had all sort of questions and doubts in my mind: I just prepared for 30 days, mocks score was less, etc. A few friends who cleared the exam would advise me to reschedule the exam as my simulator score was less, and I wouldn’t be clearing.
But I did one thing and that is to trust my preparation, and listen my inner voice & guts to overcome the fear to pass the exam.
Did you prepare any differently in the week before the exam?
Week before exam is very crucial, the questions kept ringing in my ears:
“What if I forget the concepts which I have read for so many days?“, “What if I will feel tired and struggle hard to remember the concepts and knowledge areas, ITTOs?“.
I felt like I was losing my confidence.
I told myself to be calm and just understand the concepts and logic behind the knowledge areas and the ITTOs.
In the first two days, I went over the whole PMBOK and then watched a few YouTube PMP videos and stayed as calm as much as possible.
Because this exam tests our calmness and how we handle pressure for those 4 hours, answering 180 different types of problems. This is not an easy job, but with calmness you can do it well.
For a few questions, 2 options look similar. They actually test your level of understanding of the concepts and how you apply them in real time scenarios.
Another aspect that I consciously focused on is to sleep as much as possible and keep myself hydrated.
What was your exam experience like?
Exam center—I spoke to PearsonVUE exam center before the exam day to cross verify my name and my details so that I would not face any last minute challenges.
The exam hall was very quiet with no disturbances. Staff was very cordial. I was able to focus throughout the exam without any distractions.
ITTO questions—I felt like each question covered at least two or three knowledge areas! I didn’t get any questions that asked directly about any inputs, tools, techniques, or output.
Out of 180, I had just 2 numerical problems: on Critical Path and Expected Monetary Value. These required understanding of the concept. Through proper logic, I was able to solve these without much difficulty.
Breaks—I didn’t opt for any break, but would clam my mind whenever I felt anxious. Just imagined the success after this pressure.
I completed my exam within 2 and a half hours because of my rigorous mock test practice.
Overall difficulty—Questions were tricky, I felt. Some of them were very simple to read, but choosing the correct answer from similar looking options made it tough.
For the tougher questions, I picked the method of elimination. Where you would eliminate options that you know for sure to be not the answer, till you are left with only one option—which should be the answer.
All the questions were unique, it was hard to know which area a question was actually focusing.
After completing my exam, I reviewed all my answers and if I found any answer was incorrect as per my understanding, I corrected them.
What suggestions would you have for someone preparing for PMP exam?
- Practice as much as mock tests as possible. Understand the knowledge areas thoroughly. At any cost, do not try to mug up ITTOs, this approach is not going to serve your purpose.
- Read the questions twice, you will get the answer in the question itself so that you can easily eliminate the wrong choice and select the right answer.
- Understand process groups thoroughly and are how they play out in real project. Why a specific item as an input, what are the common difference on the similar terms, how do you use in your project, how you run your project if you encounter any problem.
- Imagine applying each process in each knowledge area on your project—this approach helps you remember the content better
That’s how I passed PMP on the first attempt, with “Above Target” in all domains.
But here’s what I’d recommend: 30 days is just a number, so don’t get hung up on that.
The idea is to give yourself a reasonable deadline (could be 4, 5, 6, or 8 weeks, depending on your other commitments) and working towards it with a plan.
Just be focused and stay calm.
You will love the journey and all the attention you’ll get after your success. 🙂