PMP certification exam was the first big exam I took after a gap of 18 years, after my college. I had to overcome my own doubts and self-imagined limitations and prove to myself that this is possible. I took up the challenge with a couple of thumb rules and it all worked out well.
I’d like to share my PMP journey, what worked for me and what did not, hoping that this will help PMESN readers prepare for their own PMP exam with some insights.
In my view, PMP journey itself is a learning experience, so enjoy this and you will find it much easier to pass your PMP exam.
My study resources
My entire PMP prep duration was 12 weeks. I did not want to include too many study resources as it only made me get overwhelmed. So, the first rule was to stick with 1-2 main and 1-2 ‘gap’ study resources. I chose the following after some research –
For detailed study –
For ‘last mile’ preparation –
My PMP certification exam study plan
Initially, there was no plan, to be honest.
I simply wanted to get the concepts right by reading the two above-mentioned books. Once I finished two reads of both the books, then I started exploring various blogs and materials online.
I had to figure the core areas that form the backbone of my PMP study. I realized there are 3 core areas that I need to focus on for my PMP certification study –
- Inputs, Tools & Techniques, Outputs of each process
- Understanding of the flow of project management processes and information across Knowledge areas and Process groups
- Thorough read of PMBOK guide, to pick up nuances of project management
Making my own study notes
Once I planned my study and came up with a schedule, I started making my own notes on each topic. I realized that this will help me a lot during the last stage of preparation and for revision before my PMP exam.
I actually made charts for each knowledge area with their ITTO and notes on each. While making notes, I discovered few patterns. For instance, Expert Judgement is a tool used for almost all of Initiating, Planning and Executing processes and a some of the Control processes.
Likewise, I made a mental note of the tools used in all estimating processes in Cost and Time Management. I also discovered that studying Stakeholder management and Communications management together made a lot of sense as there were quite a few commonalities between the two. All this made it simpler to get the concepts right. Trust me, with every read of PMBOK you will discover more.
All this made it simpler to understand the concepts right. Trust me, with every read of PMBOK you will discover more!. Hence I made sure I completed at least 4 reads of PMBOK guide.
Another important tool for PMP certification study is the mocks and simulations. PMP mock tests are very helpful to get a sense of the real exam. You will also be able to plan how you want to spend 4 hours on the exam.
Pros & cons of my PMP study plan
For me personally, the plan evolved as I dived deeper. My plan of making charts for each knowledge area was realized much later. I wish I could have done that earlier.
Since I was taking PMP certification exam – any serious exam for that matter – after almost 18 years from my college days. I had a huge mind block about my ability to get my focus back into studying and taking PMP exam. But I took it up as a challenge. My two daughters helped me a lot and encouraged me to go for it.
I was very skeptical of the timeframe, and sitting for 4 hours to complete 200 questions seemed difficult. In reality though the 4 hours just flew by and I actually ran short of time! 🙂
I had only five minutes to attempt the last 10 questions. It is all about staying focused during those crucial 4 hours of the exam.
My PMP study tips for your exam
PMP certification exam is not easy but at the same time not impossible.
As per my experience, I figured that the last three to four weeks before the exam is the most crucial prep time. So plan to cut down all the distraction from work and family during this time. This planning has to be done at the beginning of your study itself, considering major events in your family/work. Keep in mind your travel plan as well if your job requires you to travel to client place and so on.
During prep planning, factor in your travel plan as well if your job requires you to travel to client place.
You would also need to fix with certainty the amount of time you would spend every day. Plans do go awry sometimes, and the little buffer you build in here will come in handy.
Also, plan how you’d want to spread your time and efforts between reading and taking mock tests.
Good planning and flawless execution – just like in a project – is key to our PMP success.
All the best to the aspiring PMPs!
Shalima Jain, PMP
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