The simplest thing you can do when preparing for a tough challenge like PMP exam, is to see how others are conquering it.
Rachna Chauhan passed her PMP exam, and I decided to pick her brains to know her approach.
I tremendously enjoyed her 11-point preparation steps. Some of these are quite unique. I’m sure you’ll find useful.
It’s almost like a checklist you can stick at your desk.
Her 10 study insights shared in the end are just gold.
Then the insights she got to increase focus of level during the 4hrs of the exam! Goes to prove that by being mindful of our own actions, we can remove many blockers to PMP (true in general as well!).
Rachna Chauhan has worked in diversified IT insurance industry for over 10 years. She believes in being a lifelong learner, and being part of a dynamic team has helped her grow.
She also gives you a rock solid reason for considering PMBOK as one of your study books.
Make sure you have a sticky note nearby.
What made you to take up PMP?
I have been in industry for 10 + years and though I had real experience in managing projects, it was time to climb up professional ladder with certification.
My seniors and a colleague suggested that PMP was the highly recommended. It is a globally recognized professional certification and highly respected.
I researched and found it to be true, including the compensation part, and took it up.
What was the core benefit you expected from PMP certification?
My expectation was industry recognition, plan and simple.
I wanted to stand out from the crowd and take my career to the next level.
Now that I have passed the exam, I see a lot of good opportunities coming my way.
PMP has certainly broadened the horizon for me.
Which study resources did you use for study?
How did you approach the exam, and what was your study plan?
First thing I did was to make sure I am 100% committed to complete this certification.
That mindset shift alone allowed me to say No to a lot of things, and make way for focussed study.
- I applied for eligibility and began researching sources I want to learn from.
- I joined LinkedIn PMP study groups. (consider this on LinkedIn and this on Fb).
- As I got approved by PMI, I made a plan for 2 months (3-4 hrs weekday and 7+ hrs weekend)
- I started watching chapter wise videos and reading the same chapter from PMBOK 6th ed and making notes.
- After this, I solved Chapter-level questions.
- Evaluated my progress from mistakes and tracked each week.
- Repeated the drill till I finished all chapters (about 4 and half weeks)
- Now it was time to select my exam date. About 3.5 week later.
- Just 3 weeks before the exam, I took the full-length mock tests (~800 questions). Elimination technique helped a lot. My goal was to score 70% + in each of the mock tests.
- 8 days before exam, I did only light mock tests from Christopher Scordo. (this and more here).
- 2 days before exam, I just revised my notes and took plenty of rest.
Want additional help?
What were some of the challenges you faced?
The first challenge was people telling me ‘PMP exam is very tough’.
I had to convince myself that it is tricky, but it’s not impossible.
All I needed was a good study plan and set of study resources.
Using these, I got over the blocker by increasing my understanding of concepts and memorizing ITTO’s.
Choosing questions from a good source was my second challenge. There are a lot of questions out with random explanations. Understanding the correct answer is very important, so I stuck to my sources.
Another significant lesson I felt was the mental preparation to sit for 4 hrs with no breaks.
I did 4 mock tests. In the first 2 of them, I was exhausted by the time I approached question # 120.
I realized I require enough sleep prior to exam day and have good nutrition.
For my 3rd & 4th mock tests, I applied this strategy, and it worked well for me.
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What was your exam experience like?
I called the center 2 days before to confirm my exam, address, ID requirements, dress code etc. The PearsonVUE center was neat, clean, very courteous staff.
The questions were wordy and if you have read PMBOK you will find the language very similar.
I did not have time for a brain dump, but thankfully I understood concepts, so it was very clearly pictured in my mind.
Questions were spread across the knowledge areas.
Elimination technique was my savior.
At the end I was left with only 5 mins, so do not count on revision time for each question you have marked.
Would you have any study tips for PMP aspirants?
I do have a few insights to share. I hope these will help.
- Planning is very crucial. Don’t drag taking up the exam for too long.
- The best strategy is to estimate time required for 2 rounds of study, add a reasonable buffer, and then go ahead and schedule the exam. You will be amazed how this step alone would change the perspective towards the exam and study.
- Even if you don’t clear in first attempt, don’t give up, it is usually 10-15% knowledge gap, you can revise and re-appear in 2 weeks.
- Choose a good set of study materials and questions.
- Make your own notes. A good technique is to explain concepts to others. This will test your understanding, and you will be able to identify gaps and focus on them.
- Read PMBOK at least twice, no matter what study resource(s) you choose.
- Practice as many questions as you can.
- Go through the glossary section of PMBOK and understand all of them. You never know which piece of learning helps you answer which question.
- Train your brain to focus for a length of time per question, by taking up 4-hr mock tests (time management, my friend!)
- Rest before exam day is very important.
All the best to you,