How often have we seen gritty people using a setback to catapult to the next level? Janice Bryant used her layoff experience to motivate her towards PMP® certification preparation, and passed the exam!
This week is special, a good number of my PM Exam Last Mile prep program students passed their PMP® exam! Also, Janice Bryant, one of my top students to have passed on first attempt, is sharing her exam experience in detail.
Janice is based out of Texas. With 9+ years of experience in the Retail Merchandising arena (Omni-channel buying + PM experience background), Janice says, “earning my PMP® has created legitimacy for the skills sets required for the opportunities I am seeking and makes me an advantageous, highly desirable candidate in today’s job market”.
What made you take up PMP®?
Upon a permanent layoff in the retail arena (buying) in Feb ‘19, I decided to take control over the next phase in my career journey, mind-mapping the many avenues I could transfer my skill sets.
In narrowing my selection, the most important self-investment that stood out to me was to focus on sharpening my project management skills.
In doing more PM research, I also noticed that many of the roles listed the PMP® certification as a “plus” qualification.
I knew that this was the best step I needed to take, and quickly.
In the midst of my PMP® studies, I was also suggested to look into the CSM certification. Although, earning both could target “leveling-up” on skills, the PMP® was my main focus.
Now that I am proudly PMP® certified, I realize that this certification carries verifiable knowledge, and enhanced skills.
The fact that we need to earn PDUs to keep the certification valid, given an indication to the industry that we as project managers continue to strengthen and gain more knowledge. This aligns well with my strategy of learning constantly.
What study resources did you use for the preparation?
Choosing the right set of resources was a challenge in PMP® certification preparation. I did not want to overstretch among too many of them, neither struggle with less than optimal ones.
Based on research and first hand experiences I used the following –
- PMBOK guide – the official reference guide
- PM Exam Last Mile Program by Shiv Shenoy – for easy-on-the-brains way of learning PMP® content & the weekly coaching with Shiv to fast track progress
- Continuing Education courses covering all knowledge areas – so I an well versed with all aspects of project management
- The PMP® Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try by Andy Crowe, Aileen Ellis Program (ad) – for filling potential gaps
- PrepCast simulator & PMI Simulator – as a dry-run for the exam with time management
With these I could proceed confidently, without getting overwhelmed with the enormity of this exam.
How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?
There were few resources I throughout my study plan phases.
Before I reviewed the PMBOK guide, I joined the Last Mile Program by Shiv Shenoy.
In reviewing his basic course (PMP® Launchpad) to get a glimpse of what the full program was about, I felt this was a step in the right direction. I utilized the study plan worksheet template to keep me on track and accountable throughout the journey to PMP goal.
Then I read the PMBOK guide, and later, decided to join a CE (continuing education) program that went through all knowledge areas (PMBOK reference).
I was feeling comfortable with my PMP® certification preparation at this stage.
As I progressed I decided to add another study resource, and ordered The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try by Andy Crowe & completed/reviewed all end of chapter questions + explanations. In completing the above, to me, this aligned to reading the PMBOK Guide (3Xs).
Aileen Ellis’ 5-week program was the last resource of my PMP® certification preparation. Her program clarified any open thoughts, confirmed my gained knowledge and ensured all open-ended dots connected for me.
With three weeks left to exam date, I begin taking mini-exam quizzes via PrepCast simulator.
Every day, I answered questions and reviewed explanations for questions I missed.
Throughout my study journey, I maintained a strict schedule and tried my best to keep my momentum on “high”. Of course, not every day was perfect, but I persevered knowing that I only wanted to take the exam once……..and pass it!
You have been part of PM Exam Last Mile prep program (thank you!). Could you please share how it helped you?
In the beginning stages of my PM study journey, my mind was cluttered.
Well, I didn’t have a straight-forward idea on what my study plan needed to look like, and coming across the Last Mile Prep program, it helped me tremendously, specifically with what this journey was going to look like for me.
I was able to create a study plan on paper and discuss it with Shiv for feedback. I am grateful for his prompt responses (given the time difference) and shared knowledge very early on in the process.
Especially I cannot forget his mind-maps.
As a visual learner, they were perfect for me, and the weekly coaching calls where I could get his feedback on my progress and study strategies.
Can you please share about issues you faced along the way?
I think I can speak for most entering the PMP® journey, the “time-consumed” was a challenge very early on.
As soon as I targeted the best route that fit my schedule – time was managed much easily, especially during this pandemic.
I will also like to use this time to give a HUGE shout out to my husband for his overflow of support and parenting our toddler in overtime while I maintained a very strict study plan ?.
Towards the end of my journey, I started a study group, joined a few Facebook study groups, and was held accountable throughout. In the end, this was ALL worth it.
The week before the exam is crucial. What was your approach to study during this week?
I mainly targeted the process groups that required more attention.
Through PrepCast simulator, I was able to select the quiz format according to what areas I needed to focus on.
I knew I was on target with my exam day, as my brain had reached capacity – I was beyond ready and prepared to sit for the exam.
What was your exam experience like?
I decided to sit for the exam in person.
At first, I was rushed with extreme caution because of the pandemic but reading over the precautionary steps the facility had in place, put my mind at ease.
Arriving to the facility on exam day, I was absolutely ready.
The staff was pleasant, all stations were kept to the highest cleanliness of standards, and after completing the check-in process, I walked in to my station.
I did experience a few minor computer glitches, but nothing that distracted me from completing the exam.
Completing the PrepCast & PMI practice exams had prepared me for the 4-hour sitting time.
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Any specific study tips you’d like to share for people in their PMP® certification preparation?
My PMP® journey officially started in June ’20 – early Oct ’20. Along the way I discovered few insights, which I hope will be helpful for you.
- Build a study plan worksheet (talk to Shiv if you don’t have one), and revise throughout your journey as needed. The plan is to keep you accountable, and make adjustments as you see fit.
- Study and write down the process chart daily until you fully understand and familiarize yourself with the order (worked wonders). Additionally, repeat with the ITTOs (specifically the commonly used tools & techniques and outputs).
- As I’m a visual learner, manually creating flash cards was key for me. I created over 300+ study cards that traveled with me on short or long trips and was available whenever I had a moment to study on-the-go.
- Take as many quizzes as possible to keep track of where you are, always review the explanations and spend as much time on the explanations as you do to study (this is key).
- If you find your study niche early on, try your best to hold on to that momentum throughout the process.
There is a vast amount of information, and we also know that we may face obstacles, but hold tight to the reward at the end of your journey, PMP® certification, and continue to press on!