His areas of expertise include pre-sales, proposal development, competitive insights, and pricing intelligence. Apart from work, he spends whatever free time he has in photography, biking and reading. Abhishek can be reached here.
In this post he shares his approach to PMP exam, his strategies, and study tips.
The professional world is a never-ending journey. One needs to constantly grow, evolve, learn, and re-learn. There is a constant need to present and prove yourself as capable enough in this ever-changing environment.
With this in the background, I set out to get myself a certification which would show my current and prospective employers –
- that I have the required subject matter knowledge in project management
- that I have the resilience and perseverance to stay the course
- that I am competitive and can justify the given role
Project management being a subset of the entire business management field excites me a lot. Its application finds use far and wide across the industries and firms at a global level.
More and more companies are understanding the value of carrying a good chunk of their work as projects or programs or as a portfolio of projects.
Having a sound knowledge of the principles, theories and practices of the project management field is thus an attractive proposition even for an experienced professional like me.
I actually started my PMP certification exam efforts way back in September last year when I joined Simplilearn’s live online classes (detailed review here).
Although I could take the classes any no of times within 6 months, I could seriously start attending their sessions only in November. Afterwards, I had to go abroad for an assignment for a couple of months, thus breaking my prep momentum.
In the meantime the PMBOK version also changed from 5th to 6th. This meant that my earlier preparation wasn’t fully valid, and I had to start afresh.
I finally managed to obtain my 35-hour requirement fulfilled in May. Apart from attending 80% of Simplilearn’s classes, I also needed to score 80% in their exams (multiple attempts allowed) and provide solution to a few case studies and questions.
Filling my PMP application form
Once the PDUs were done away with, the next step was to fill in the dreaded PMP form.
For that, I first had to create an excel sheet and list all my projects and assign hours to their breakup as per the PMI terminology (Initiate phase, planning phase, execute phase etc). This helped me to have a clear view of my application and increased my self-awareness as well.
A few days after filling and submitting the form, I got a message from PMI that my application was accepted and that I could now schedule my examination.
Audit is random, and don’t worry if your application is selected for it – just make sure you share all your application details with your previous managers – who you have mentioned in the application.
Scheduling the exam
Now the big question in front of me was – when to schedule the examination?
Too late and I might lose my motivation. Too early and I may not be prepared.
After some research and deliberation, I concluded that scheduling the test between 4 to 6 weeks is the most appropriate and optimum way. I thus embarked on a 5-week schedule and started the final and most important leg of my preparation.
My PMP study plan
I finished reading the PMBOK closely enough. Then I completed the PMI’s book on PMBOK Q&A – this book has 277 questions, but they are very basic, and the answer segment merely reproduces the words of the relevant section of PMBOK6 relevant to the answer. I wasn’t happy with this book, but I used it to get a basic feel of the subject.
Afterwards I went through Rita Mulcahy’s Guide-9th edition (not very deeply) and did its chapter Q&As. I scored about 75% there.
RM’s questions are very good. I did not have access to its question bank but as far as I know, that is very good as well and at times, people have claimed a few questions in the actual test were from there!
The week before the PMP Exam
The last week before the exam was devoted to revision and taking practice tests.
I took 3 exams- Simplilearn free test in which I scored 72%.
Then I spent the next 3 days revising the PMBOK6.
Then I took Oliver Lehmann free test (100 Qs) and scored 75%.
After a day’s revision, I took PMStudy free test and scored 78%. Now I was feeling reasonably confident but of course, there is always some fear of the unknown!
My exam day experience
In all the practice tests, I was taking less than 3 hours. So, in the actual exam, I spent the first 10 mins preparing the brain dump (formulae plus process matrix).
However, what surprised me thereafter was that the test took a lot more time.
I could finish it only after taking another 3 and a 1/2 hours.
I spent the remaining time going through the marked questions reviewed some other ones as well. I did not take any break – there simply wasn’t any time. I have no way to tell if the examination that I had got that day was any difficult or not.
The situation inside the exam hall is quite different than taking practice tests in your home system and setup.
The font size, screen, atmosphere (and of course, pressure!) are totally different. I guess that is why it took me more time.
Anyway, all is well that ends well.:-)
I had heard that taking the PMP certification is not just an addition in your resume but also alters you as a professional in some ways.
I surely hope this would be true and I will become not only a better professional but a better, more organized and more effective person overall!
I wish you all the best for your PMP certification exam,
Abhishek Thakur, PMP