Sunil Unde works with NICE as Program Manager. He has a masters in Business Administration and Project Management experience of 10+ years. When not solving project management challenges Sunil loves to act on stage, go for long drives, or listen to spiritual discourses.
This week Sunil shares his experience of PMP® exam preparation and what he discovered along the way.
What made you take up PMP®?
Managing challenging projects has been my passion. And this goes back my school days. Whether it was arranging the school\collage annual events, cultural activities, sport week, or planning wedding in family, friends or festivities in my town.
PMP certification was my goal for the last couple of years.
When I came to know about PMP®, my spontaneous reaction was that I wanted to be certified.
The benefits of learning project management in a systematic way, focusing on all aspects of it – from vendor management, to the big 3 (scope, schedule, cost), to the most crucial one, communications – is pretty exciting.
The work kept me away from diving headlong into PMP® study. It is only recently that I have been able to manage to carve out study time for this certification, and get it done.
Now that I am certified, I believe that PMP® will help me to ‘executive lounge access’ in the project management world. I now understand the ‘hot spots’ in a project and potential slippery areas.
I will be able to take on more challenging projects, proactively managing risk and other challenges.
Which study resources did you consider, and eventually use for the exam preparation?
As soon as I began looking up for study resources I was hit by information overwhelm.
I had a tough time studying off the internet, for almost 3 months I didn’t get much of clarity and didn’t feel confident. It took me some time to get into the research mode and choose only those that I want to totally stick with.
To be honest I was struggling to understand the concepts and was referring to various videos from YouTube to understand what they are. while searching on YouTube one day I saw Shiv’s video and Resource smoothing and Resource leveling, and that really clicked in my mind and heart…saying ‘yes this is what I am looking for’.
Immediately I purchased Shiv’s PM Exam Last Mile prep program (I call it ‘LMP’). All the videos and mind maps were simply awesome to understand.
My study resources were –
- The PM Exam Last Mile prep program from Shiv Shenoy – a video based program with mind-mapping approach, plus bunch of supplementing resources created with mnemonics (techniques to be able to understand and remember complex information)
- The PMP® preparation book from Rita Mulcahy – the book for ready reference and end-of-chapter mock questions
- The PMBOK guide – the catch-all resource. Dry and hard read, but essential, in my view.
Incorrect or difficult resources will increase overall study time and might even necessitate an extra round of study. So to avoid this, do your research and shortlist top 1,2, or 3 study resources like I did. This will avoid moments of uncertainty and self-doubt later.
How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?
I focused on going through all the mind-map based videos from LMP, followed by Rita’s book reading, and then PMBOK – twice.
For the 3 days before exam I studied LMP mind maps every day.
Biggest draw for me was to follow Shiv’s strategies & tips – not more than 50 sec for each question, ‘pick low hanging fruits first’ approach etc. from his bonus course PMP Secret Strategies.
I had been studying for 3 months but what I was struggling for is conceptual clarity and this is what I got from LMP. I passed only because of LMP, that’s it.
Any issues you faced along the way?
Well, there were few, expected ones.
Such as conceptual clarity, understanding of information flow, what each ITTO is?
These were transitory, I’d say. As I studied along things became clearer.
Just one example, I knew before there was a correlation between the same ITTO across different processes. For instance, Expert Judgement T&T: the role of expert is different in different processes based on the context, and I came to get this insight only because of LMP and the way Shiv explained in the videos.
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How did you study for the PMP exam in the last week?
I made it a point to not study something new in this week, and dedicated only for revision.
- Going through the mind maps,
- Running LMP videos at 2X speed
- Finishing 3 KA each day from PMBOK
- 50 questions on each KA
..was how I spent the last week.
You may be interested to know: how to remember ITTOs for all processes?!
What was your exam experience like?
I went to the exam center (didn’t want to take online exam). It is a new facility so the infrastructure was very good.
The level of complexity of the question was moderate to difficult, I would say.
The first 40 questions were very tough and I was not so confident while answering, images popped up in front of my eyes (like I was preparing for my second attempt of PMP ?) .
I began deep breathing and things began to settle down in my mind (thanks for my wife, and Guru). I regularly practice breathing techniques since the past one year, which really helped me to maintain my energy level up throughout.
Soon I got into a rhythm and didn’t realize how the time flew.
Finally, as I submitted, after what seemed like eternity, I saw the ‘Congratulations’ message.
That moment made it felt like all the hard work was worth it.
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Any specific study tips for PMP® students?
Many people tend to ignore or avoid PMBOK guide. I know it is not easy read, but don’t skip it. For the new exam, the Agile Practice Guide that comes along with PMBOK (soft-copy) is quite critical too.
Don’t waste your time to search free and cheap resources. Instead, research the ones that you will like to study from and invest in them.
All the best to you!