This time around I decided to get a Skype interview of PMP experience and Harine readily agreed. Here’s the gist of her NEW PMP exam preparation experience.
Shiv: Hi Harine, thank you so much for taking time to share your PMP exam experience. First of all, can you share a little bit about your background on project management?
Harine: I have about 9 years of experience, and all these 9 years I worked in the SAP field. I was in an IT consultant and I was a lead for around 7 years and I had been managing a couple of project. I’ve had exposure on how project management works, so this was helpful for me in taking a PMP.
Also I have had experience in the knowledge areas required by PMP I spent most of my time walking on areas like Resource management, Schedule management, Quality and I was involved with Closing processes as well. My experience was peripheral in certain areas like Cost Management when I was involved like an assistant PM so I had a little bit of hands-on experience there as well, so all of that helped.
Shiv: Great! When did you exactly pass your PMP exam?
Harine: I took up the exam after the new pattern was introduced, I tool the exam on February 18th. I had the plan of taking up my PMP exam around 2 years back. There is a funny story behind it – back in 2013 I promised myself an iPhone if I passed PMP.
Unfortunately had due to the hectic schedule, professional and personal commitments that never happened. So towards year end of last year I was on the maternity break and I decided to use this time and I told myself this time I should do it. And I was able to clear it on my first attempt and now I have a shiny you iPhone 6s!
Shiv: Wow. That’s quite a motivation you had. So can you take us through your PMP journey.. like, when did you started planning and how long did it take for you..
Harine: My first step was to read through experience of different people. Your site provided with very good information and guidance.
It was certainly overwhelming at the beginning with so many sites on the internet giving information, and some of them were contradictory. Almost everyone emphasized on reading the PMBOK and taking the PM PrepCast mock exams, so I decided that I should go with these resources. To get access to PMBOK guide I enrolled into the PMI site as member.
I also purchased the PM PrepCast videos and the Exam Simulator from a link that was there on your site, and thanks for providing the valuable books as bonuses, the sample questions and Question-types. They helped me a lot.
I got these in late November-2015 and in December I started studying for about 2 to 3 hours a day. I went through the PM PrepCast videos – I would watch around 2 to 3 sessions at a time. Sometimes I listen to the lectures at 1.5x speed. I found this technique was useful because I could a cover more ground quickly. And it also kept me glued to the videos and helped improve my concentration!
By end of December I decided to apply for the exam and I decided to fill the application on PMI.org. It took me to one whole week for filling application! [Note from Shiv: Here’s a quick & step-by-step way.]
My suggestion to exam takers is to start this a bit early just in case they get audited. Fortunately my application wasn’t selected for audit so this major distraction was not there in my path.
In January I started with PMBOK but I found it to be very dry, so I went back to the PM PrepCast again – the videos were a lot more fun. I frequented some of the PMP forums again and I want to see like what other people are using. I came across Rita Mulcahy’s book, many people were referring to the this. So I purchased this book and I covered the whole book in 8 days. I would to work very hard during these 8 days as I wanted to complete it.
Then I took a mock exam and I scored above 75% so that give me confidence. I went ahead and booked the exam – for Feb 18th. After that I started taking couple of tests and my score was about 80%+ consistently.
Next, I allocated 4 days for PMBOK and I was able to cover 75% of the book thoroughly, and the other 25% I covered during the gaps I had between taking mock exams.
Shiv: Overall how many weeks did to spend on studies?
Harine: It was closed to 2 months, between taking care of my baby and other work. I spent 2-3 hours a day in Dec, and about 4hrs a day in Jan.
I read through Rita, PM PrepCast and PMP simulator for mock tests. I also took mock exams from Oliver Lehmann. I scored around 72 to 73% in that, and when I refered to the different forums online I found that it was a good score for Oliver Lehmann – so this improved my confidence.
I took ITTO exam from PMP Simulator during the last week I scored around 92%! I did not use any flash cards for ITTO preparation. I developed my own technique of grouping logical inputs and outputs between processes – and it made it easy for me to remember.
Shiv: So tell us what was the real exam like?
Harini: I must tell you that I found the simulators pretty easy. I used to complete the exam 1 hour ahead of time. I found these questions kind of direct and this gave me a good training to take the real exam. The real exam was way more difficult than mock tests but I was able to manage it. The questions were situational and I had time constraint – but I took two swipes through the exam questions and got through.
I took first pass at first 100 questions and then took break for around 7 minutes. Then went ahead with next 100 questions. I was so tense that my mind was blank for the first 50 questions or so. Out of 50 questions I had marks around 30 questions for review. The last 45 minutes I was able to keep for review. In the end I left 3-4 questions.
I had prepared my brain dump – comprising of process chart from PMBOK and Rita’s book. I also added formulas to it. I took about 15mins to write down, which helped me to refer back to formulas during the exam.
Shiv: Now the question that everybody is trying to figure out – what is new in this new PMP exam?
Harine: Frankly speaking I was not sure what was the difference. I started taking mock exams after pattern change – so I didn’t do anything special. I heard from others that number of ITTO questions were reduced. I found the same on my exam as well. The ITTO knowledge was tested based on familiarity of the process. There was no direct questions on ITTO as such.
So, in essence – I just had to study the updated content (PM PrepCast, which was updated for the updated syllabus) and simulator and just take the exam at face value. Nothing specific in terms of studying for the new PMP exam.
Shiv: Harini, that’s pretty much I had in mind to ask you. Did you have anything else to add?
Harine: I can tell you that it was my notes that helped me the most. I feel that whenever we study we should make our own notes. It helps us grasp things clearly. I read on some forum that if we read something thrice the material sticks to mind. I found referring back to my notes time and again helped (I read Rita only once).
I also recommend to stay calm as much as possible. I know its easy to say than do, but it really helps.
Passing the new PMP exam isn’t hard. Hopefully my experience is going to help students appearing for the new exam now.
Shiv: Thanks a ton Harine, it’s been absolute pleasure talking to you. And I am sure our readers will have picked up a tip or two from this that will help in their own exam preparation. Good luck!
Note from Shiv: I’m super stoked to let you know that my Kindle book ‘Crack the New PMP Exam (2016) in 4 Weeks – using Simple, Proven, Step-by-Step Approach’ hit #1 Best Seller spot in ALL the 3 categories that it was listed in!
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However, this is available for just 2 days – till 25 Feb. If you’d like to grab a copy, I would appreciate if you could leave an honest review of the book on the Kindle page. Thanks a ton!
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