My score: 3 Above Target + 2 Target.
My background in project management
I have been doing project management for a long time. Since I concluded my Engineering graduation and initiated professional life in 1994.
I always worked for multinational companies from the Electronics to most recent in the Automotive business area.
All the Companies were Balanced Matrix organizations, where I could find good Enterprise environmental factors and very good Organizational processes assets.
This was an important factor for the continuous improvement of my behavior, skills and performance.
What made me choose PMP
– Jorge Goncalo, PMP
I was introduced to the PMP certification program while I was attending a Project management training in Belgium way back in 2003.
Immediately, I was impressed by its relevance for a Project management professional.
I only brought the hard copy of PMBOK a couple of years ago, but after reading some pages I gave up…
Please note: nowadays I see this book amazing and very interesting! The issue is that it is difficult to start with it.
During my recent appraisal process, I targeted this certification as a personal motivator. I needed to learn more about project management. To put my knowledge and experience in confrontation with PMBOK.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I felt I was at the self-actualization level.
I agreed with my boss and HR manager to achieve this goal. They both supported me in this decision.
Of course, the Project management team also supported me a lot. It is very important that you have a group of people helping you with their availability, resources, motivation, etc.
I will never forget my family, specially my wife always pushing and never let me think about giving up.
Many thanks to all of them. Without their support I could never have archived such tremendous feat.
Once I really decided to obtain the PMP, I became PMI member.
This is important and beneficial. For example, you will have a free digital copy of PMBOK.
Beginning of August I started to study, followed by four months of hard study, while balancing time with work and family. Then I booked my exam at Prometric, but due to professional duties I rescheduled twice (at no cost).
In the end, I had the exam scheduled for two weeks in advance to my initial plan.
Also Read: See my recommended study resource list here.
My study resources
I started with the Free 11-day PMP Study Blueprint Course By Email, from pmexamsmartnotes.com
Then I chose few study resources,
- Head First PMP book
- PMBOK (both hard copy and pdf version from PMI) – PMI publication
- PMP Simulator – Shiv Shenoy
- The complete PMP formula guide – Shiv Shenoy
- Premium PMP exam simulator – Cornelius Fichtner
- 2 good mobile apps for everyday sort questions: “Pocket prep” and “Edu hubspot”
My advice is to first decide which study materials you want to use, and then start your studies. This saves confusion and overwhelm later.
My study plan/approach/strategy
During this preparation process the key word was Focus!
Continuous study… as much as possible, every day.
The fact that I am working far from home and I only go on weekends to be with my family. This gave me important time alone to focus 100% on the PMP exam. On top of that, also on the weekends I made ‘light’ sessions of book readings (while sharing time with my two daughters).
If you have a long work commute, and if you are not driving, that time can be productively used for PMP study.
It’s a lot of stuff to study. Not difficult, but a lot.
I have been on Summer vacations, at the beach, with my books! I have skipped my anniversary and many other social activities in order to maintain the FOCUS and get additional valuable study time.
Point is, some amount of sacrifice is needed to maintain the intensity of study, which will reward you handsomely.
How I prepared during the week ahead of exam
During the ‘golden’ week I studied my own notes and only took Cornelius’ 9 mock exams (including ITTO based).
The one page brain dump was part of my notes (unfortunately I was not allowed to write it down during 15min time to read the exam tutorial).
Exam day experience
The Prometric center in Portugal is in Lisbon. My exam was scheduled in the morning. As I was coming from the north of Portugal I traveled the day before by train.
I took the day before off as well the exam day and revised my notes – how important is the support of your Company here!
I took this opportunity to stay at my friend’s place and spend some time with them at the dinner. This was very good as I could release my anxiety.
After dinner I went to the couch for a good night sleep (I had to put their Cat on the corridor to not disturb me!).
I woke up early and my friend dropped me at Prometric.
I arrived one hour prior to scheduled time. Time for a second breakfast and coffee. After that, everything moved extremely fast…
Security check at Prometric is really ‘severe’ on the protocol, but on another hand it feels like you are attending a very important event.
The PMP exam
I went directly thru 150 questions and then I took a break to eat some cookies (maybe it took me 5 minutes). Then I completed the 200 questions in 3hr 20mins.
But I had 16 unanswered to go, which were the ones with calculations and long possible answers – I did not find any verbose questions.
I had 10 minutes to go when I started looking at the marked ones. Changing the first few I thought to myself that if I went like this I would be in a mess. I immediately clicked the End Exam button with just 2 minutes to go.
Couple of minutes later, I closed my eyes, took the survey, closed my eyes again,…and finally opened.
I saw the “Congratulations” message flashing on the screen.
What a great feeling!
But then I had few blockers too
When I first scheduled the exam I had requested for the Portuguese aids.
I never thought how this would be presented in the exam scenario.
I was very surprised when I saw the screen divided in two areas!! Because of this I had to use the scroll function several times…
Another issue that happen during the exam was that a fellow candidate next to me, doing a different exam, was using a very noisy keyboard.
I was safe by the headset, but again, I had never tried them before, and I had to reset myself to use it and avoid the noise.
I took the opportunity to give my feedback about this noisy keyboard on the final survey.
Last, but not least, my wristwatch was not allowed inside the exam room. I was used to plan and manage time on the exam with it and now I was missing it… another thing for my brain to get used to.
Few study tips I’d like to share
- It is really important to practice lots of mock tests. This will give the endurance to get you prepared for the exam day. I should have done 12 in total as planned. So plan for as many mock tests as you can, and actually allocated time to get them done. Each exam takes about 6-7 hrs of your time (including going over the answers to understand them better).
- Take mock tests at your exam time slot. I could never done any mock test at same time slot as per the exam day. This was never possible due to my full time job. If possible, try to take mock exam during the same time slot as your exam.
- Complete your study resources at least twice, and to go thru mock exam corrections (even the right ones).
- If you have hard copy and soft copy of PMBOK, prefer the soft copy. It is full of links for a fast reference between topics (much faster then moving page to page on the hard book).
- Write down your PMP objectives and go after them with full gusto!
Last word: Be positive and apply as much as possible of what you study to your daily work projects. You will understand faster and see the results quicker.