Multiple reasons to celebrate this week! One of them, most important for me, being that Ashish Kumar Lall – student of PM Exam Last Mile Prep program passing the exam.
Ashish works as a Delivery Head with an MNC, and has 14+ years of rich Project Management experience.
As we sat for this interview, his exam experience gave me goosebumps. Probably one of the closest calls I’ve seen with the exam. But then as they say, all is well that ends well!
By the time you finish this story, I’m certain that you will have got at least one rock solid study tip, technique, or insight to use in your own PMP preparation.
Why PMP?! 🙂
Oh Shiv, you have no idea what PMP meant to me. When it comes to knowledge + credibility + continued PM knowledge updation, nothing comes close to PMP certification.
My dream of acquiring PMP certification started 7 years ago. But I could not pursue it very seriously because of family commitments, business requirements, business trips and a couple of times losses of my very close family members. And it always got pushed out. But this time by God’s grace I was able to pursue it until the very end and to finish it on a successful note.
I am a constant learner. In the past I have taken ITIL and Microsoft certification exams. In the future, I would continue to keep this learning spree going with other relevant certification exams.
What was the benefit you expected from PMP?
Working as a Project Manager, this credential has always been a coveted credential and I always aspired to achieve this feat.
PMP will not only have given a thorough understanding of all-round Project Management areas (initiation to closing, and all the knowledge areas – in PMP language) but also help me to be recognized within my team, organization, clients, and industry for Project Management work.
This will also help to lead more critical and strategic projects in the organization and grow up for higher responsibilities.
Which resources helped you?
I used the following –
- PMBOK for reference
- Rita Mulcahy (ad)
- Simplilearn (review)
- Shiv’s PM Exam Last Mile Prep program extensively for the preparation
How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?
It took me close to 3 months to prepare for this exam, this period can be shorter if one can give more time on a daily basis.
The first round of the study was just to get a hang of all the complex content and to get a general understanding.
the second round was to solidify the understanding and gain a grip on the material. This is the time I signed up for PM Exam Last Mile Prep program which helped me a great deal. The cheat sheet was most effective before the exam.
My weekly one-on-one calls with Shiv kept me motivated to go through till the end. Thanks to you Shiv for being so cooperative and prompt in helping me – be it on weekly calls or emails. This truly helped me keep going till the very end.
Did you have a smooth journey all the way?
It has been a very long journey for me especially (as I mentioned my first go at PMP preparation was 7 years ago). To do PMP while working was the biggest challenge as the work requirements and schedules are always hectic.
This whole study is very cumbersome and at many occasions, I felt I was getting distracted and thought of giving up. I told myself that it is very important to not look back on what is lost and focus on what is ahead, and this kept me going. My family was extremely supportive of me during this whole course, I can’t thank them enough.
The journey was full of ups and downs for me, first of all, I had gathered enough courage to try again after many discontinued attempts. After so many years I took up this test again and started preparing.
And then COVID happened.
This impacted me because all this while I had been preparing to write this test at the test center. But with the introduction of online mode of the exam came new challenges and new ways to prepare. For instance writing brain-dump was out of question for online test.
So I changed my mindset to write this exam online and then too I had to reschedule my exam twice.
But what happened in the was something no amount of preparation could have helped me with.
I had run PearsonVUE’s pre-check to validate my computer few times in previous weeks, which went well. My exam was scheduled for 5 in the morning, and the previous night at about 7 pm I decide run the pre-check one more time.
And the pre-check on my computer failed!
It was not able to identify internet connectivity on my computer, although all other websites and email were working fine!
Finally, in the night I had to cancel the exam again and opted for a test at the testing center. And you won’t believe – with an awesome twist of luck I was able to get an appointment at the testing center next morning at 9 am!
Wow! That just gave me the goosebumps. Can you quickly talk about the prep in the previous week?
I had planned to study extensively during the last week, and as it happens with plans this did not work out. But I was able to spend some time studying and that helped me complete the last lap of preparation.
I would suggest the exam aspirants to take the last week away from work and focus on revision. You will need to manage risk around the exam as well, like how PM manages risk on the project!
Another important point – I had studied earlier chapter wise (knowledge areas) but in the last week I did the preparation according to the process group-wise and this helped me too.
How was your exam experience?
I had taken about 10 mock tests but my experience in the exam was very different. My set of questions were very long! Almost 90 – 95% of the questions were very long and wordy. Thus reading through them itself took a lot of time!
This time crunch during the exam was my greatest challenge.
I was given the choice to take a break after 89th question and to review them before moving forward.
Just keep in mind that whether you opt for the 10-minute break or not, we cannot review the questions attempted before the break again. Consider you are taking TWO exams!
Would you have any specific tips for PMP exam aspirants?
Few pointers from my experience:
- We need to be consistent in our preparation plan. There will be many days or even week when we would not be able to keep up to the study plan due to various reasons. At times we would feel that we are lagging behind, but again it is important to look ahead and try to make up for the lost time.
- Prefer giving the exam from the test center to avoid last-minute hassles. This is just a precautionary advise because of my bad experience. Of course there are many who have done an online test seamlessly, so it appears like when things go well online test is great. Please think what works out best for you, ensure that there are no last-minute surprises.
- I made a lot of handwritten notes and stuck them on the wall. This helped me to go through and revise important topics and points even on the go, without opening the book (attached two images for sample)
- Do plan to attempt a few mock tests, this will help to get habituated to sit for 4 hours during the exam.
- Plan one round of study process group-wise and also, go through Exam Content Online document, this will help us to cover the material holistically. I failed to do it and realized it after the exam this would have helped me to answer a few more questions correctly.
I would wish all the best to the exam aspirants on their PMP journey.
Best of luck to all exam aspirants,