Yay, finally I cleared my PMP! It was long and stressful journey. But during this I figured a better path and followed it to my PMP success. Let me share what I learned in this post.
I enrolled into PMP without even actually doing any homework. My suggestion is to study to whatever extent you can to before taking up the after the 35 contact hours contact study course, which is a requirement by PMI to appear for the PMP exam.
PMP Success step 1: Must do’s
- Create a PMP charter. Clearing PMP itself is a project. Ensure your charter has objectives, the purpose, milestones, risks, budget and stakeholders (For ex: in my case the stakeholders are my parents, wife, kid, relatives and friends.) & create study plan (planned v/s actual).
- Join “I want to be a PMP” in LinkedIn group for nuances of PMP discussions. It is really motivating as every day there will be at least one person who would post their success story.
- Visit pmstudycircle.com by Mr. Fahad Usmani. The concepts are in simple English and understanding is easy.
- Enroll with Shiv Shenoy. He will email you easy notes after enrolling. He motivates and guides us well to crack the exam with ease. He disciplines your approach to PMP by asking you to make a study plan, arrange your study space, gather materials etc.
Hi Shiv: I’ve been a manager in the healthcare industry for over 25 years and managing projects in layman fashion as most overworked functional managers do.
That all changed in 2014 when my employer initiated a multi-million dollar project where 9 full-time PMs (6 from the seller, 3 PM SMEs hired specifically to ensure internal interests were being met) were assigned to compress a 24-month project into 10 months.
Tempers were high, patience was short and my staff and I were introduced to the language and processes of formal project management: “that’s out of scope, you’ll have to present that to the Change Control Board, that sounds like gold plating to me, looks like we need an Ishikawa Diagram pronto!” and other foreign terminology could be heard emanating from the war room on a daily basis. I felt a bit out of my league.
After a focused effort of 2 months I passed the PMP exam with 4 Proficient rating, on my first attempt. Following is a brief account of how I achieved it, and some of my PMP study tips that I hope will help those preparing for their PMP exam.
PMP study resources I used
I chose a limited number of study material so as to avoid a sense of overwhelming.
- Head First PMP (3rd Edition)
- Cognitel Training material
- Few chapters of RMC‘s book and PMBOK 5th Edition
- Notes from Shiv’s blog
My Study plan
I discussed with some of my friends and those that have passed PMP exam already and come up with a basic study plan. However, I had to refine this as I went along and this is what I ended up doing –
My PMP journey started almost 3 years ago, when one of my manager recommended it to me. I did some research on this exam and PMP study material then, but couldn’t plan much due to work commitments.
In Nov 2014, I enrolled to a PMP prep classroom session, which provided me insight into what PMP was all about and how to approach the exam. But, I hit another road block and had to drop my plans for PMP exam.
Then, in the middle of 2015, got to know about the change in syllabus for PMP exam. I wanted to complete the certification before this happened, so started preparing again with a plan to take the exam in Dec 2015.
Primary PMP study material I used
I studied them simultaneously, reading one chapter from PMBOK and then the same from Rita’s book. With this approach I could understand the concepts better.
After I passed my PMP exam many people have asked me to share my PMP exam tips and study resources. I hope these points will help.
1) Study Resources
We have so many resources available online – free as well as paid ones. Select just one or two more resources along with the PMBOK. Don’t take too many books and study, you will not have enough time for your preparations, and worse, you may feel overwhelmed and not make progress.
I have not used Rita Mulcahy’s book and HeadFirst PMP book, but I’ve heard that they are worth including in one’s study arsanel. I found PMESN notes are very useful. Some of the reference materials I used are,
2) Practice the PMP Essentials
Practice the 47 processes thoroughly and daily at least once, for last 10 days before the exam date. This is very important to pass the exam. The ITTO’s will be easy if you have thorough idea of the processes and how they are related to each other. Don’t try memorize the ITTO’s, rather just understand the concepts. For the first few times you may not get it, it’s okay. Just continue reading the flow (use Data flow diagrams given after each process in PMBOK).
My PMP certification journey was an eventful one. After an initial unsuccessful attempt, I had to re-plan carefully. I first defined the quest to pass the exam as a Project, listing all the resources I would require as well as working out a schedule to guide me through my study.
I wrote the exam after about 2 months of dedicated preparation. Please note I have been reading and practicing for about 8 months intermittently.
First, locked down study resources
I selected a few authors in order to avoid conflicting paradigms as the internet is replete with so many resources. Therefore I stuck with Rita Macaulay, Cornelius Fichtner (Shiv’s review & bonus books here) and Shiv Shenoy.
This helped me focus better as it cut down information overload.
Shiv, I took my PMP PBT (Paper Based Test) and passed!
Thanks for your informative blog posts on PMP and specially “The Complete ‘Ace Your PMP® Exam’ Series: Essential PMP® Concepts Simplified” books that I had bought on Amazon and went through as a final revision to everything that I had learned for my PMP exam. The material is very useful and covered the concepts in a precise way!
I took my PBT test (Paper Based Test) in my home city Pune, and came out with flying colors. I scored “Proficient” in 3 and “Moderately proficient” in 2 domains.
Exam experiences and advice of others really helped me gain insights into preparation for the exam. More importantly they helped me gauge where I stand and gave me confidence to take the exam head on without procrastinating any further (I had been planning for it for about 2 years!)
“You used just 2 PMP study guides?”, I asked Sivaram. I just wanted to be sure I heard it right.
If you are just starting your PMP journey you may be tempted to collect as much of information as possible from the internet.
This can be a bad move.
Too much information leads to Information Overload and Analysis Paralysis (though these are buzz words, they indicate exactly what the words suggest) – two traps that may get you overwhelmed and/or not let you make steady progress.
It happened to me when I started out, I kept collecting information like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter, and eventually kept on jumping from one information resource to another – mostly judging their quality and usefulness than studying anything seriously.
[That’s one of the reasons I decided to create this blog, so ALL the necessary information, tools and techniques required for PMP prep is available in ONE place. That’s another story.]
Anyways, to cut to the chase, few days ago Sivaram wrote to let me know that he completed his PMP exam, and I requested him if he’d be interested to share his PMP prep advice on the blog. I was glad to see so many great tips he had for a PMP student, and noticed the fact that he had used just 2 PMP study guides.
Here’s his story!