Swathi Anantharama resides in Berlin and manages projects in the Finance field. A strange PMP exam online experience made her double down on the efforts and ace the exam on her second attempt.
Swathi feels that she was born to do project management. That’s the level of passion she has for it. When she picked up PMBOK, she says she fell in love with Table 1-4 (you probably know what’s in it already!)
Traveling, listening to music, and writing are among her favorite pastime activities. But doing them together is what she loves the most. She also loves to read PMBOK when bored!:-)
Swathi aced her PMP exam, but not without a few tense moments – primarily because she did it in countries (yes, plural) where English is not spoken en masse.
Let us hear from her, chances are, you may get a helpful pointer or two.
What made you take up PMP?
I worked in Operations for many years. The pain of doing a monotonous job didn’t give me any satisfaction. I was on the lookout for a role that would challenge my abilities.
Soon enough I gravitated towards project management as this is something I was naturally good at.
When I came across a PMBOK from a friend, I was captivated by the Process Table – it was like a million dollars. The various knowledge areas and processes that help would get one particular job done for the project manager – this was like the jigsaw puzzle of project management put together in front of my eyes.
I wanted to be someone that excelled at all these processes – and deliver a project within the constraints.
This fuelled my desire to take up PMP.
Now that you are PMP certified, how do you think this would help?
More than the benefits, I feel that this has enabled me to follow my passion.
It has opened up opportunities, helped me expand my network, and learn from my contemporaries.
That’s great. What were the study resources you used?
I used just two –
To practice the tests, I used a simulator.
What were your study plan and strategies?
I followed the strategies from the PMP Secret Strategies course, to which I had access as part of the Last Mile program. Most of the strategies really resonated with me and helped on the exam (such as reading the last sentence of the question first, for verbose questions, etc.).
OMG, this one thing is the best thing I ever did in my PMP preparations. I listened to the audio module from the Last Mile program more than any music, all the time whenever I traveled or while doing my job.
Also, I went through your course while reading whenever I had a doubt, I used to listen again and again, for example, while practicing in a simulator I scored less in the risk area, I must have watched/listened to the Risk Management videos 4-6 times.
Getting started? Here’re Shiv’s recommended PMP resources –
– Get ECO, PMP Handbook, and PMBOK (for free as PMI member)
– Use this PMP guide
– Begin your top-down preparation using this course
– Use this best-in-class video course
– Sign up for this simulator
– Leverage successful PMPs’ experiences!
– Master your PMP concepts on the go
Did you face any issues during your preparation?
There were few. But what impacted me was my exam more than the challenges during the preparation phase.
I took the online exam from home. And my PMP exam online experience was strange, for lack of a better word.
Halfway through the exam, there was a technical glitch on the test screen and the exam stopped! The proctor could not resolve the issue and there was nothing I could do to fix it either.
Sitting in front of the screen, time ticking by, not knowing what would or should happen next, I had forgettable tense moments – only for the proctor to tell me that I’ll have to schedule the test again.
After this experience, I took a 2-month gap.
I couldn’t get over whatever happened on the first attempt. I was frustrated, disappointed, and also mad at the situation.
This made me opt for the Test Center mode for my next attempt.
I was also fired up. Doubling down on my efforts, I went deeper into my studies. Also, I began using mock tests to enhance the quality of my preparation – and deep-dived in each wrong answer to master that particular concept.
In all I would have practiced over 1400 mock test questions.
And finally when I was ready, I couldn’t find any exam slots in the test centers in Germany!
I looked at the test centers across the border and traveled to another country to write an exam.
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Did your study pattern change as the exam approach?
I prepared so well before one month that I never felt the need to re-read.
In the week before my exam, I revised one Process Group per day.
In addition, I watched my favorite web series for the 2nd time. I know it’s sort of insane, but I did it to relax, and it paid off well.
Can you talk about your exam experience?
On the exam, I used highlighter/strike-out options to help me choose the right answer quickly.
My plan was to keep 15 minutes or so to review the marked questions, but I couldn’t do it halfway through the exam, I fell back on managing time.
At the last question, I had just 47 seconds left.
Throughout the time, I went ahead without second-guessing my answers and finally hit the submit button.
The result made me so happy. It was a perfect end to a long preparation, especially after my interesting PMP exam online experience last time around.
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Any specific study tips for PMP aspirants?
- Choose limited study resources (1-2 are enough in my experience), but be sure to go for the best quality resource (book/course/mentoring).
- If you choose to go with PM Exam Last Mile program, be sure you take your weekly sessions with Shiv. These calls are invaluable and help you make steady, rock-solid progress towards your exam. Make him your best buddy.
- Practice mock tests – as many as you can.
Whether you take your PMP exam online or in the test center, a good set of resources, a good study plan, and consistent effort can get you the top score. It is much easier than you’d imagine.
Go surprise yourself. I wish you all the success,