Shiv, I’m extremely happy to tell you that I aced my PMP exam. I would like to share with PMESN community what I know about how to pass PMP exam with all 5 ‘Above Target’ score, because I just did exactly that.
There was no magic bullet, it was just well-planned approach with few smart techniques. I share all of that in this post.
Here’s my PMP exam report card
The PMP Trigger
I had heard several managers speak highly about PMP and that it is one of the prestigious certifications. Although my initial trigger was the aim to increase my credibility with “PMP” against my name, I began loving the concepts and saw the potential it had to mould myself as a better project management professional. I could clearly see myself delivering successful projects with the knowledge from PMP exam and the project management experience I already had.
Thus my PMP journey began.
My Guide to how to pass PMP exam with all 5 ‘Above Target’ score
To be honest, I did not do anything new for this exam! Just customized the available plan from Shiv’s 4-week plan book (I actually got the ‘Ace Your PMP Exam’ series book, of which this book was already part of) to match my own schedule, that’s it.
Here is my overall PMP plan.
Step 1: Narrowed down to 4 study resources
a) PM Prepcast from Corneilus Fichtner – Watched twice. This made PMP study quite enjoyable.
b) PMBOK – I found it a bit dry to read. Therefore I skimmed through this book first time and the second time around I read in detail.
c) Shiv PMP concept notes (ACE Your PMP Exam) – 1st time I skimmed through it, 2nd time I read in detail, and the 3rd time I read it the day before my PMP exam.
d) Exam Simulator from OSP International – I took as many exams as possible (get this free but smaller version of the simulator if you want to test first. I found the paid version to be very useful in getting the result I got).
Step 2: Estimated the required time to accomplish each activity.
Since the time I could get from work was very limited I had to manage it well. Therefore, just like we do for a real project, I broke down the entire effort into various study activities and estimated required time for each.
Step 3: Estimated the time I could allocate to achieve each activity.
Again, just like the real project, there are risks and unknowns around each activitiy. Hence, I went over each activitiy and assigned the time I can actually spend on it, with a bit of buffer.
Step 4: Improved my Reading & Comprehension skills
I am not a fast reader. Moreover, PMP exam content is not something you understand by reading fast. Therefore I went over Google and YouTube and learned how to comprehend a bunch of text quickly. I figured I needed this skill to complete the exam in allotted time.
Step 5: Locked in the exam date.
Once you fixed the date your approach towards the exam changes completely. Now there is a firm, time-based goal in sight, and this increases your energy required for study.
I enjoyed this anticipation of the exam and the joy I would get if I could manage it to pass. This itself acted as a motivation and helped me hit my timelines better.
Step 6: Put my honest effort tp prepare as per the plan.
I tried to keep myself as honest as possible. At any point of time I don’t think I had over confidence or under confidence. I took stock of remaining effort each day without bias and treated my estimates with respect. Many people do the mistake of belittling their own estimates adn thus miss their deadlines. I stayed committed to my study plan.
My PMP Exam Experience
Brain dumping is no longer allowed during the pre-exam 15 minutes timeslot. So I did something close to the actual act of writing down the brain dump.
I completed the Instruction tutorial under 3 mins and used the remaining 12 minutes to meditate first and then visualize the Formulas, Charts & Success. Meditation helped me calm my mind and then I visualized my Success of ‘Above Target’ in all the 5 domains.
I know that the visualization alone didn’t gave me the all 5 ‘Above Target’ result, it was the result of many factors – planning, right choice of study resources, coming up with a plan and schedule, and above all, sticking to it day in and day out and studying.
But I have seen people that are prepared well end up throwing the result by being in a wrong mindset during the exam. The meditation and visualization exercise truly put me in such a heightened state of mind that I thoroughly enjoyed the exam and the got the best possible result – All 5 ‘Above Target’ score!
After the exam time started, I used the initial 10-15 mins to plot the chart & formula on the sheet of paper – which was the brain dump. This 10-15 minutes was actually the best investment of my exam time because this greatly helped me in solving several questions.
When I saw ‘Congratulations’ and the result was out, I was ecstatic! This was a perfect end to my PMP journey.
PMP Exam Tips I’d Like to Share
PMP exam is difficult for sure, but if you approach it methodically it would be a joyful experience. And this helps you get the best result out of the exam, without any stress. Here’re few points I’d like to share with you.
1. Create your own PURPOSE of why you wanted to do PMP, bigger the purpose surer is your Success.
2. Don’t memorize ITTOs – instead visualize & understand why you need them.
3. Start practising formulas and solve formula based questions as early in your study journey as possible. Many make the mistake of pushing them towards the end. At the end this looks more difficult and your confidence takes a beating.
4. Don’t underestimate the difficulty level of PMP exam by looking at free sample questions available over the Internet. They may look simple and your actual exam questions may be more difficult. This is why using a good Simulator is so important.
5. Tell your family, friends, and colleagues that you are preparing for PMP. By doing this you will feel more responsible towards its accomplishment.
6. On the exam start solving known and easier questions first. Mark all the calculation-based, difficult, & lengthy (verbose) questions to solve later.
7. Pace yourself to solve 60 Questions in 50 minutes. Then take a break after 1.5 hours. Take another break after 3 hours.
8. During the break, you can stretch, take deep breaths and relax. If you need to step out for visiting rest room or drink/eat know that you will lose few more precious minutes while entering the exam room due to the security check.
9. Keep water and eatable outside of the locker as you are not allowed to open the locker during the exam duration.
9. Don’t cram during last few days. You should follow a systematic approach in your PMP preparation.
10. Watch motivational videos every day and stay focused on your GOAL. Never Ever GiveUp.
And that is how to pass PMP exam with all 5 ‘Above Target’ score, as I have done it.
Good luck for your prep and the exam.
Manoj Ponnuswamy, BE, PMP