Marc Motana chose to prepare for the PMP® exam after weighing it against PRINCE2. Marc is a New York based project manager well-versed in Traditional as well as Agile methodologies. He is a specialist in project delivery balancing the constraints.
‘Confidence is key to passing the PMP® exam’, he said when asked about a one-liner mantra for PMP® success. Not just that, he also shared how to get that invaluable confidence as you prepare for the exam, in this article.
Marc shares why he took up PMP® and how he planned his study and passed the exam in 8 weeks.
What made you take up PMP®? Did you consider any other certification exams?
I decided to prepare for the PMP® exam since it was a widely regarded certification not only in my organization but also in my industry. Ever since I finished graduate school, obtaining the PMP® was my goal.
That was 5 years ago. The reason that I decided to jump on this now is that my current organization provided me with the added incentive of reimbursing my exam fee if I passed the exam. I also considered PRINCE2, but PMP® was my main goal.
I expect that obtaining a PMP® certification would be opening doors for career paths in project and program management. Furthermore, I expect that since the PMP® certification is internationally recognized, networking with other PMs is a great benefit to gain.
Which study resources did you consider?
In order to build a foundation I decided to prepare for the PMP® exam using Joseph Phillips’ online prep course through Udemy.
I then used Andy Crowe’s book, “How To Pass the PMP On Your First Try”(ad). This was critical as it really showed me how the processes flow together.
In order to get a feel of the exam and manage my time on the test mock tests were essential. For this I used multiple sources for mock exams (simplilearn, pmprep simulator, etc.) for practice once a week.
Overall it took my about 8 weeks for the preparation of the exam thoroughly.
I approached the study plan methodically by using the above sources for 1 month, and then working on mock exams every week until I scored an average 80% consistently.
Was your PMP® journey a smooth sail?
We both know smooth sailing is a rarity. 🙂 For me juggling time between study and work was difficult. Thankfully, I had the support of my wife and friends who were encouraging and assisted me with with the motivation to keep going.
There were times where I wanted to skip studying, but my wife’s support kept me working towards my goal.
How did you prepare for the PMP® exam the week before?
To be honest, by the last week I was pretty much confident about the exam.
That’s really the key, the mock tests, to gain that confidence to take up this test.
Learning all the processes, inputs, outputs, tools & techniques is great but the exam tests your ability to focus for 4 hours. It takes the run rate of a minute per question to get through all 200 with few minutes to spare with few breather-breaks in between.
So, no matter how hard you study, keep mock tests as part of your study plan to gain that confidence.
Since I had studied as hard as I could before as the exam approached I ramped down the study. Last few days I spent time doing light refresh of the processes. This helped ease the tension and anxiety that I felt occasionally.
Can you share your exam experience?
The exam staff handled the administrative support pretty smoothly. I checked in and didn’t wait too long before taking the exam.
The exam itself wasn’t too difficult, but it was more exhausting. Focusing for 4 hours can be exhausting, and practicing with mock tests help a lot in this area as well.
Another important thing. Surprisingly, there were a lot of agile-based questions, which wasn’t covered too much in depth in the study sources that I used. It was possible that they were from the 25 pre-test questions. However, they weren’t too difficult and didn’t delve too deeply into agile practices.
Anything you’d like to share with PMP® students?
1. Have a study plan that works for your daily schedule.
Yes, it takes time to work on your plan initially, but it is worth it. The benefits are many. Once you have it based off your daily schedule you will find it easier to follow. And once you follow a study plan for couple of weeks you will notice the improvements you are making, and it works as a positive reinforcement of sorts.
2. Don’t use too many study sources.
Having too many will not be the best use of your study time and efforts. Also try to have a mix of different types. For instance, a video course, a book, and a whole bunch of mock exams.
3. Use a lot of mock exams.
I cannot stress this aspect enough. Mock tests really helped me simulate exam testing conditions, especially when I used the 200 question exams. You can understand how to pace yourself during the exam, which is very important. Focusing for 4 hours on 200 questions takes a lot of concentrated effort and it must be practiced.
That’s about it. I hope this is useful for you. Go ahead and confidently prepare for the PMP® exam. Good luck.