If you thought having all the necessary study resources for the PMP exam is enough, this article may surprise you.
With over 15 years of experience as an IT specialist working in the Information Technology & Service Industry, Emma Oguda recently got PMP certified.
Emma is from Nairobi. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Information Technology.
I had a chance to talk to her and understand how she prepared for this exam and got all 3 Above Target results.
She had all the hesitations and issues you and I typically face preparing for PMP. And she had creative ways to overcome them.
What was impressive in the discussion was how she understood the basic traits required for PMP. When I asked about one thing necessary to succeed with PMP, she didn’t mention anything related to studying at all.
And what she suggested was indeed the common factor I’d seen in most of my students that worked hard for their PMP.
What I discovered was pretty interesting. And I’m sure you’ll have something to take away if you are gunning for PMP.
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What made you take the PMP? Did you consider any other certification?
I needed to stand out and set myself apart from the crowd as a qualified project manager.
Also, I wanted to learn critical management skills that could help me with my projects.
The only way was to train hard and pass the PMP exam.
As you know, PMP is Industry recognized and gives you credibility in the market. Also, most companies require PMP credentials for the project manager post.
Last but not least, PMP would give me larger networking opportunities, and an opportunity to earn more.
Apart from PMP, I did consider PRINCE2.
But then I realized it’s only a project methodology and may not help me with my goal of becoming a well-rounded Project Manager.
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Now that you are certified, how do you see PMP helping you?
Industry recognition, increased credibility and a higher pay, definitely.
The process of preparing for PMP exam has increased my knowledge as well as confidence. It has widened my general corporate outlook as well, I can see my career going to greater heights.
And my professional network is expanding!
I view this as the starting point as I look to the career goals such as learning Program and Portfolio management.
To maintain my PMP certification, I have to earn PDUs (Professional Development Units). Meaning, I have to attend webinars, read, volunteer and give back to society. All these are the natural ways of keeping myself up-to-date with the new developments in the project management field.
These are all benefits that have come with my PMP certification.
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According to you, what is the one thing that a PMP aspirant should have to prepare well and pass the exam?
A must-have personality trait, I would say, is discipline & focus.
At the beginning of preparation phase, first, you must put in place an overall schedule & detailed timetable that will guide your studies and also set timeframe for completion.
You can use the PMBOK Guide, Agile Practice Guide and any other book that is recommended like Rita Mulcahy. And if you like learning from videos, do some research and go with a video based course. I enjoy learning from books and thus chose those.
A PMP exam Simulator will also help, especially in terms of answering exam questions by taking multiple mock exams.
PMP can feel like a lonely journey at times. So, if possible, join study groups & discussion forums. I found them to be extremely valuable.
Finally, to grind through and come a winner on the other side, you must have a positive mindset & perseverance.
It’s good to challenge yourself to do PMP in a certain time frame.
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Can you talk about PMP exam study resources used?
During my exam preparation, I used the following :
- The PMBOK Guide 6th Edition
- Agile Practice Guide
- Rita Mulcahy PMP Exam Prep
- The PM PrepCast Simulator by Cornelius Fitchner
- YouTube Video from Aileen Ellis
- Mock Exams from Andrew Ramdayal
These study resources gave me the insight on how to prepare for the exams and ace it.
There are quite a number of resources on the internet, and I encourage you to explore and research as much as you can and then lock down the ones you need.
Once you lock ’em down, don’t go fishing anymore. You’ll only increase the overwhelm or frustration. Stick to your resources and double down.
What was your approach and study plan?
I tried to keep it simple and workable around my work schedule.
- I put a high-level plan with achievable target date based on a forecast. For instance, how much time would I require studying the PMBOK guide completely covering all the Knowledge Areas.
- I went for classroom training to have 35 hours contact training with a PMI accredited institution.
- After my training, I ensured I completed the exam preparation guide.
- Next, I went ahead to registered for the exam at pmi.org.
- Once I received the go-ahead from PMI, I began on the mock exams using Simulator.
- During the mock exams, I discovered gaps and went back to my study notes and materials.
- I repeated the mocks until I got around 75%.
I must admit that the Simulator exams were much harder that the actual exam itself.
But this helped me to dig deeper and read thoroughly, so it was a good experience.
Did you face any challenges along the way?
Yes, I did in fact. Quite some.
1. One of my biggest issues was finding time to study for the exam.
It’s not just time to study, but enough time to thoroughly analyze, revise, and prepare. Being a mother, a wife, and working full time, this proved to be very difficult.
I had to go the extra mile of having to study at night when everyone else is asleep. I even had to reschedule the exam because I felt I was not fully prepared and that cost me the rescheduling fee.
2. Fear of failing the exam.
The PMP exam is not easy and the one that has to prepare thoroughly.
I overcame my fear when I joined discussion forums where people shared how they passed their exams. This gave me the confidence that I too can take the test and pass.
3. Choosing the right PMP simulator.
As a PMP candidate, I got confused with too many choices.
And after doing thorough research, I settled on PM PrepCast by Cornelius Fitchner, and I would recommend it for anyone aspiring to take the test.
4. Costs involved with Exam Preparation and Registration.
I had to spend quite some amount of money to help me with preparations like purchasing the simulator. Exam fee itself is expensive and one might find it easier to procrastinate due to this factor.
However, when I looked at the benefits that the certification would bring into my life, I realized they outweighed my fears. And so I went ahead and invested into this.
5. Documenting the project experience for PMP application, and the fear of being audited.
This was an issue for me because I did not want to be audited. I really did not know how to document my experience in a manner that would not attract auditing.
Then I came to know that audit is a completely random exercise and does not depend on how you have filled your application. Don’t let such fear hold you back from applying for the exam.
I also had to request PMI to extend my eligibility period, which thankfully they did.
The week before exams is crucial, how did you prepare?
During my last week I focused more on the exam simulator doing the tests, timing myself and strengthening knowledge areas, Domain areas where the score was not good.
I panicked just before the exam, and I purchased another Simulator, thinking that the one I had purchased earlier was not good enough.
Then a day prior to my exams I was feeling like I was not fully prepared, so I just prayed so hard to God.
How was your exam experience?
I took my exams from an exam center.
The experience was pretty good, I got good support from the staff there.
I did take the optional breaks. They are important because sitting for 4 hours is not easy, especially when you are doing a difficult exam like PMP.
Managing time on the exam was challenging. There is no point in spending much time on a question if you are not sure of the answer. Just flag it and review it later. This gives you time to answer the simpler questions faster. Then you can check the difficult ones later.
The questions I got on my exam were a bit complex. Because I had studied well and used a simulator, it was easy for me to quickly identify the correct answer.
I would advise candidates to thoroughly prepare and not take any chances. For the PMP exam, you may never feel like completely ready. So use the thumb rule that if you are hitting 80% on mock tests, you are ready to take the exam.
I got Above Target in all the three domains!
Would you like to share any specific study tips to PMP students?
- Study the PMBOK Guide, in spite of any other study material you use. The PMP study resources you choose will make all the difference.
- Study the Agile Practice Guide (part of PMBOK if you download the soft copy from PMI members area).
- Use an additional PMP prep material of your choice, personally I used Rita Mulcahy.
- Take advantage of PMP exam simulators. They are worth the investment because they give you a preview of what the real exam is. They will assist you to know your weak areas, so that you can work on improving them. Exposure to mock exams will help you with time management in the real exam as well.
Hope my PMP preparation journey and my experience will help you have a well-balanced and well-rounded preparation.
All the best,