‘The Last Mile Is Crucial, Plan For It Right ‘, says Beverly Wong who passed her PMP exam recently. She has over 10 years of project management experience in managing cross functional projects in the health care and software technology industry.
What Beverly loves most about managing projects is that she gets to learn something new everyday. She finds it rewarding to see the impact of hard work from the entire project team contributing to business goals and delivering value for the organization.
In this post she shares everything she did as part of her exam preparation, because she says that going through other successful PMPs’ experience helped her tremendously.
1. First up, why PMP?
Getting a PMP certification has been a professional goal of mine. Taking this exam has been a fulfilling and confidence-boosting experience for me.
Now that I have attained my PMP, I am interested in pursuing other certifications such as Lean Six Sigma, Data Analytics, Agile.
2. What was the core benefit you expected from PMP certification?
My expectation is that PMP would help increase my marketability as a Project Manager as well as open doors for advancement of career opportunities.
I have no doubt that I will realize the benefits of having a PMP as it is a global industry-recognized certification for project managers. Also with the PMP knowledge that I have gained while preparing for the exam, I can immediately use the learning in managing my day to day project work.
4. Which study resources did you use?
I used a selective set of resources, mostly based on what worked and what did not.
During this process I realized something – more than just learning the content, what is more important from exam perspective is what you do as part of ‘last mile’ of prep – the part where it all comes together and prepares you to tackle those 4 hours on the exam to answer 200 questions with confidence.
You need to prepare for that. Right from the beginning.
Here are the study material I used –
- Initially I took a 6-week virtual PMP online training class with a live instructor.
- I read through the PMBOK reference guide 2 times. (#ad)
- Then I used Rita Mulcahy Study book, Flash Cards, and Exam Simulator. (#ad)
- I supplemented my study with FREE online materials from Shiv Shenoy’s PM Exam Smart Notes & the free PMP Launchpad course
- Also went through Ricardo Vargas elaboration of the PMBOK® guide processes flow
- To further enhance and reinforce my understanding of the material, I enrolled in Shiv Shenoy’s PMP Exam ‘Last Mile’ Prep course. This course was instrumental for my exam success. The online videos using mind maps to explain PMBOK processes worked for me as opposed to watching other power-point slides based training.
- For each topic, I would watch the mind map based video training. As I watched I would make my study notes – this process helped me understand the concepts better. Then I would take the 2 mini quizzes to validate my understanding. Next, I would watch the video explanation on how to solve the mock exam questions and verify my approach and learn those that I missed.
- This approach helped me build my confidence level on how to approach each type of question and to discern the best answer choice on the exam.
- The student support group gave me direct access and surefooted guidance till I passed the exam
Also read: Why a brand new PMP, Colette Coleman, thinks that process chart is the backbone of exam prep
5. How did you approach the exam, and what was your study plan?
After I went through the virtual online training course, I postponed my PMP study to a year later due to work and personal events that came up.
My study plan was as follows –
- Created a calendar to track my study plan progress. Study 3-4 hours on weekdays and 6-8 hours on weekends.
- Complete Rita’s study guide book- chapters, exercises, mock tests, flash cards. Made my study notes.
- Read through PMBOK guide
- Took two 4-hour practice Rita exam simulators
- Read through PMBOK guide
- Watched Shiv Shenoy’s mind-map based online training videos in the PMP Exam ‘Last Mile’ Prep course, read mastering concepts, short cuts, simulators, flashcards and other bonus resources. Updated my notes as I consumed this training.
- Took many practice mock exams and exam simulators in the PMP Exam ‘Last Mile’ Prep course
6. Did you face any challenges?
Completing the PMP application – I had to set aside some time in my schedule to gather all the project information from current to past projects in a separate spreadsheet. I can then easily copy and and paste the project info into the online application.
Keeping up with my study plan schedule – I had to go back and reset my study plan as it was too aggressive given my work load and personal events that came up. I had to reset and come up with a more realistic schedule. If necessary, I was ready to move out my PMP exam date, but that was last resort.
Lots of material to learn – 49 processes, 10 Knowledge Areas, 5 Process groups, ITTOs (which felt overwhelming initially).
I made a point to have a study material using different learning methods to help get the information across in my mind, such as reading study books, taking notes, watching online training videos, doing exercises in the books, and taking as many mock exams & simulators as possible once I went through the material.
7. How did you prepare in the week prior to the exam?
After completing the final online video training, I started reviewing my study notes, refresh on formulas.
I practiced my brain dump.
I also took 4 to 5 different 50-question exam simulators.
8. Tell us about your exam experience.
My exam was scheduled at 1:15 pm as I preferred the afternoon time to relax and focus. I used the 3 hours in the morning for final quick review of Process table, formulas, terms and definitions, and key concepts.
I also practiced my brain dump one last time.
Having arrived at the test center 30 mins prior to the exam time, I found the facility was inviting and spacious. The support staff was nice.
At the exam desk, the monitor to take the exam was large and made it easy to read the long questions. They gave me a calculator, white-board sheet and pen.
I was nervous going into the exam. I said a quick prayer right before I started the exam.
During the exam, I read each question two or three times before answering it. It helped me to stay focused. I completed the first pass of questions at 3 hrs 20 minutes mark.
With 40 mins left, I did a second pass to go through unanswered questions in 10 mins, and third pass I went through questions marked for review in 25 mins and had 5 mins left to spare.
Then I submitted my exam and hoped for the best. I was very excited to see the congratulations message on the screen that I passed!
9. Any specific tips for PMP aspirants?
I believed that when you have a goal you desperately want to achieve, it is possible to reach it by putting your mind to it and having perseverance.
- Go through PMBOK material at least two to three times.
- Use supplemental materials to help with understanding the concepts.
- Get as much practice as you can taking mock exams and exam simulators.
All the best,
Beverly Wong, PMP