Dear Shiv, here is my PMP exam prep experience. I’m hoping that it will help other PMP applicants.
My PMP journey was a difficult but an interesting one. I work as a Civil Engineer and my work schedule includes eight hours a day, six days a week schedule, which leaves me very little time for PMP study. Moreover, I had just three years of project management experience but I was determined to get certified once I met the minimum requirements PMI has mandated for eligibility.
Classroom beginning to my PMP exam prep..
I started with classroom training last October and for about a month I studied what I learned daily in the course, but managing work and studies was difficult at the beginning.
I started studying right after the training. I planned to study for three to four hours a day but it did not pan out that way on most of the days. However, this act of planning helped me keep my study momentum.
I ended up studying for two hours during the weekdays and managed to study very well on weekends (my one day-off); this day was a great time for me to study well. I managed to clock in five hours (sometimes more).
During this period I couldn’t set a date for the exam as my study plan didn’t work well for the first month, and I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough time. So I decided to set my exam date after some more preparation till I could get a better sense of my progress.
My PMP study resources
I first studied the PMBOK guide along with the notes I made during my classroom training – it took me 2 months to completely study the book once.
It took me this long because I was at the beginning of a new construction project and work was consuming most of my time.
I also went through the content on PMSEN blog during these first two months and made notes.
After the PMBOK guide I started studying Rita’s PMP book and.. what a great resource for PMP preparation! The book clarifies each concept in sufficient detail and in simple English – which was a great advantage to me as English is not my native language.
After going over each chapter of the book I would solve the questions of that chapter. This was of invaluable help for me to identify gaps in my studies and helped me to understand the nature of PMP questions.
Setting up the exam date
I finished Rita’s book and set my exam on 2nd May.
I had enough time to study PMBOK guide and Rita’s Book all over again.
I started with the Rita’s Simulator which is a very useful and close to the real exam’s level of difficulty. I was clocking an average of 65%-80% but not with the Super PMP exam that Rita offers, which in my view is a very difficult exam.
I found Oliver’s tests very useful and the free HeadFirst questions as well. I solved the PMZEST exam which is also a very difficult exam.. I found it more difficult than the real exam but found some good ideas about questions to consider.
The day before the exam: was a rest day for me and I spent it with the family, clearing my mind of everything and made sure I slept well.
On the exam day: I woke up early and revised my study notes and felt confident that things will work out well (and they really did!). The exam environment is very convenient but you need to eat and drink well before getting to the exam since you are not allowed to have anything with you apart from your passport. That’s another reason that you should take enough 4-hr mock tests during your preparation to get used to the conditions of the exam.
The new exam focused on the project charter a lot and the life cycle of the project as well as some difficult mathematical questions.
One thing I could have done better
I made the mistake of not giving myself enough time to solve mock exams, which could have helped me prepare more efficiently. I started with the mock exams two weeks before the exam and I realized I required more than just two weeks.
What I am really happy about is that despite having a busy schedule, setting a goal for myself was the best step towards realizing my dream, followed by 7 months of preparation.
The same could be true for anyone taking PMP Exam – setting up a goal gives you direction.
A good PMP exam prep plan to reach your goal and plenty of hard work will be worth the “Congratulations” message you’ll see at the end of your four-hour exam. 🙂
My best wishes for those who are preparing for their exam and keep the motivation high and remember that the harder you work the happier and satisfied you’ll find yourself in the end.
Dima Haddad, PMP