“I cannot tell you how easy my PMP studies became because of the Kanban approach.”, said Vandana when I asked her to share some study insights for those preparing for PMP.
Vandana is a postgraduate in Construction Management with 4 years of experience in project planning & execution.
Outside of her work, she enjoys practicing street photography and public speaking.
Her Kanban approach was smart, I thought.
A perfect fit for studying for PMP, if you can create a series of study tasks.
I do recommend giving this approach a go for your preparation. There’s something magically simple with the approach.
Vandana scored an overall score of Above Target in her PMP exam. I hope you will find some of her suggestions useful.
How did you come to choose PMP?
I began to consider my self-learning options to enhance career prospects, and a bit of research was enough to find that PMP is the first choice.
The journey has completely changed my personality & mindset.
I have learned that it is relatively easier to manage projects but the real toughness lies in making smart decisions & performing under pressure. PMP certification turned out to be a process of self-discovery.
Through PMP study I expected to learn about the right way to manage projects.
I had exposure to tailoring processes through my work experience. The standards by PMI gave me a perspective to analyze things logically.
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What’s the main ingredient needed for PMP success?
The mindset of a project manager.
I realized during the exam that no amount of mock tests and material can truly prepare you for the real exam. It does not mean that you do not take mock tests, they are a must-do in my view.
All the effort was to develop a mindset to face circumstances on a daily basis.
While studying every concept, analyze “why”& “what can be done next” before taking any action for the problem. That’s what the exam tests you about.
That’s great insight! What resources did you use?
I took the Simplilearn training for 35 project management education hours certificate, a mandatory requirement by PMI. They provided good support for my preparation.
Apart from that, I utilized the following :
- PMBOK & Agile Practice Guide,
- Rita’s PMP book,
- Andrew Ramdayal’s Udemy course,
- YouTube videos such as David McLachlan’s 200 questions (included below)
I set aside daily time to study PMBOK, the Agile Practice Guide, and Rita’s book, chapter-wise.
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What was your study approach?
My initial plan was to complete the basic understanding of all concepts and then take a mock to check where I stand. With that I should also be able to note down the areas I was lagging behind.
To do this I created an online Kanban board.
I also kept the Work In Progress limit to be more productive. The Kanban approach was a satisfactory way to study week after week.
Plus, I created sticky notes on a chart with process flow and final outputs. This helped me to study chapter-wise – just like how work flows through a project.
Being practical-oriented this way made it easy to realize what should happen “next”.
Practicing mock questions knowledge area-wise was also helpful.
Kanban is a neat approach. Did you face any issues along the way?
My main issue was maintaining focus on the study throughout.
After a certain gap, I was back on the core learning path which was challenging.
I used to seek validation about my preparedness. As I began getting too many perspectives I used to feel the overwhelm, and would feel low.
There were times I felt like stopping altogether. But I firmly believe that if I gave up during tough times, then I won’t be able to continue with day-to-day activities due to guilt. And it would make it worse. Hence I didn’t give up at any point.
If I were to do this again, I will create smaller milestones, and reward myself as I hit them. This would motivate me to keep going.
The other strategy I recommend is getting help from specific people online.
I was able to get connected with different professionals who supported, coached, & motivated me till the end.
They believed in me more than I did and that made me feel like I really owe PMP to them because they invested time & trust in me. I will be forever grateful to them.
As they say, “your network is the net worth”, and I added this lesson to my personal repository. I gave them a shout-out after I passed the exam.
Thank you for being part of the PM Exam Smartnotes community. Was it helpful?
PMExamSmartnotes blog and community were nothing less than a treasure for me. It always helped me to be on track while having a quick run-through of the areas where I have issues.
I used to wait every day to solve the ‘PMP question of the day’. It helped me maintain study continuity even on days I’m super busy.
Indeed PMESN is one of my best finds among the resources I relied on during my PMP preparation.
How did you prepare in the week before the exam?
The week before is critical, and it was meant to assure me that I’m good to go.
- Went over the ‘issue log’ – common mistakes I did while taking mock tests,
- Understood the glossary,
- Went over the list of key concepts,
- Revised my understanding of processes and their interdependencies,
- Studied the common question types I came across various mock exams.
On the previous day, I just skimmed through concepts in Agile and Predictive approaches and tried to remain calm.
Can you talk about your exam experience?
I opted for the online mode of the PMP exam.
I took a 5 minutes off during each of the two 10-minute breaks.
My exam had more questions based on the Hybrid approach.
I had to be very practical to get the correct answer.
Be careful about the clock!
Time management was something that surprised me. At one point, I felt that I may not complete all the questions.
In the last 5 minutes, I had 10 questions in hand!
Here’s an approach I would suggest to save time on your exam:
- Read the last sentence of the question first.
- Try to know which approach is used in the scenario, what is the real issue, and check the options quickly to save time.
That’s a good one. Any study suggestions?
I have a few to share, I hope these will help someone :
1. Don’t get nervous looking at the clock, you may not be able to think clearly.
Instead, take tons of mock tests and practice your time management. As you get into a rhythm of solving questions, you will develop an internal sense of how long a question should take to solve. That sense is better than looking at the clock and feeling the pressure.
2. Keep the best interest of the team, project, company, and customer in mind.
A few questions may have options that do not show one or more of these in good light. These are easy ones to strike off. And then you consider the answer from the remaining options.
As a decision maker, you always have to think about what is best for the project to move forward unless the question mentions the word “First” – at that time, think of an action that will help you to solve the problem.
3. I cannot tell you how easy my PMP studies became because of the Kanban board approach.
If not Kanban, use Scrum, use MS Project, or any approach you enjoy. Having a plan helps you make good progress.
All the best!
Vandana R, PMP