This week one of my PMP program students, Vijay Chatlani shares his PMP® exam preparation steps and study insights. Vijay is a Civil Engineer by profession with 7+ years of rich experience and currently working in Oman. In this article, Vijay answers the most pressing question: How to study for PMP® exam.
Vijay has been through the grind and has come up triumphant bringing along with it few tips that, hopefully you can use in your exam preparation.
What made you take up PMP®?
I only had PMP® in mind since one of my seniors had told me about it a few years back. My primary goal is to understand all aspects of Project Management and learn the approaches, tools and techniques to manage projects the right way.
Now that I am PMP® certified, I’m looking to progress in my career to take up challenging projects. I am positive to come across better opportunities during this pandemic situation. I would also like to be a mentor like you.
Which study resources did you use for your preparation?
Well, it was a tough task to research and choose the right study resources for my preparation. Below are the ones I used along with the reason for choosing them out of many alternatives.
- PMBOK Guide – I read that many questions on the exam can be traced to this book, so I chose this although this could be a hard to read.
- PM Exam Last Mile Prep Program – I chose this for the ease of learning, and end-to-end support. I simply loved the mind mapping approach to video trainings.
- Rita Mulcahy – I needed a book to get another perspective, and end-of-chapter questions to test my knowledge.
- PrepCast Simulator – This is a simulator that is mentioned about on forums to have questions similar to the exam.
- Aileen’s Question and Answer videos in YouTube.
- I had a bunch of PMP® aspirants like me, with whom I used to discuss the concepts.
And how did you study for PMP®?
I followed the study plan from PM Exam Last Mile prep program – it really helped me streamline the timeline based study sequence that I would follow for my preparation.
I scheduled my study for 3 months – which included PM Exam Last Mile prep course videos revision 3 times.
Next, reading PMBOK main points/ITTOS/daily Excel sheet entry of the processes.
Also, I made my own notes based on the concentrated Knowledge capsules from PM Exam Last Mile course.
You have been part of PM Exam Last Mile Prep Program. Could you please share how it helped you?
First of all I would like to thank Shiv for giving us the confidence and support whenever we felt like giving up.
I had been planning to give PMP since last several years and had been referring to PMBOK 5th edition without realizing that PMBOK 6th was in effect. I felt confused and felt I was late in identifying the issue and I had no mentor to guide me and overall the syllabus was going to change. That is when I happened to see reviews of Last mile prep course and signed up.
This course really helped me in my situation since I had just a few months and lot of concepts to cover.
The mind map driven videos helped me understand PMBOK & exam content very easily. The mind mapping techniques were new to me and it really helped understand concepts effortlessly.
Revision was easy, I could even print or take screenshots for concepts I needed on my phone and revise during breaks. Overall, this program really made PMP possible for me.
Also read: Former Air Force Sergeant reveals how to study for PMP exam..
Did you face any issues during your preparation?
My first challenge was the pandemic itself and all the negativeness around it. But I used the additional time I got due to lock down for my studies.
I happened to have few health issues which reduced my focus, I had to work out through this as well.
There were times when I could not make time for PMP® study on a daily basis due to work load, and began slipping on schedule. I would spend 15-20mins to brainstorm the KA/Processes/ITTOs (only important one’s)/Formulas/Important concepts to ensure I’m being consistent on the study and staying on track. This really helped.
Also, continued conversations and Q & A with my group of PMP® aspirants helped me keep the momentum going.
Finally the biggest challenge was to sit for 4 long hours to take the mock exam from PrepCast Simulator. But this practice helped me manage time on the exam efficiently. During this I realized that I needed the 10 mins break and I definitely needed water and snacks to keep my focus for the 4 hrs.
How did you study for PMP® exam in the week before?
I did the following tasks in the week prior to the exam –
- rechecked my schedule with the test center and visited it to make sure I understand traffic conditions, security arrangements etc.
- focused on revising what I learnt and did not try to learn anything new that I may have missed
- reduced conversation with friends on PMP® to stay relaxed
- focused on improving health by maintaining right diet and sleep
- took one last PrepCast Simulator practice test 2 days before the exam at the same time as the exam
- last 2 days I just relaxed since I wanted to be in my best shape on the day of the exam
Basically, I wanted to stay as cool and calm as I could.
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Can you talk about your exam experience please.
Well, I had few doubts with the examiner that I asked straight forward and they were really helpful. They allowed water and during the break I had a snack even in between I was allowed to go to the washroom.
Questions were within the PMBOK6 syllabus – reasonably tough since I was losing my focus in between due to less energy.
I realized that understanding the question is very important rather than considering that one of the option that you might have seen in your prev practice test would be the answer. So my complete focus was to read the question at least twice and elimination of options to select the best answer.
Any specific study tips for the aspirants about how to study for PMP® exam?
Of course, a few.
- we definitely do need a mentor, so seek one for yourself
- focus on reading and understanding what the question is REALLY asking about – which solves half of the problem
- practice a healthy lifestyle – sleep and diet. This helps a lot at least for the last 3 months of preparation – helps focus better on the exam.
- The biggest advice I have is this – first build the foundation and then only begin the preparation. By foundation I mean – finding a mentor, choosing study resources, getting a study plan etc. Once these are figured out then you will not have any surprise during the preparation period, and your steps will be more concrete. This increases your odds of passing the PMP exam.