I recently passed my PMP exam with the highest ‘Proficient’ rating in all 5 domains. Here is my PMP preparation experience, along with few tips that you may find useful for your PMP exam.
PMP study materials I used
- Rita Mulcahy’s PMP preparation book – I read this twice, along with chapter-end questions
- PMBOK 5 – read this just once
- Full mock exams (4 Nos. – all free resources) as suggested in many other posts in this group
- Analysis of ITTOs from PMBOK guide
- Video of Ricardo Vargas on PM Processes
- Small mock exams (max. 50 questions – Total approx. 300 questions) from Christopher Scordo
Understanding concepts by making notes
I wanted to start with a simple PMP book and so took up Rita Mulcachy’s book to completely understand concepts in detail. I figured that going with each process group will be easier for me. I started with Planning process group and as I went over the chapters I took the chapter-end questions to test my understanding.
Then I memorized the sequence of processes in Planning process group.
This way I was able to get a firm understanding of concepts of all process groups.
I find it easier to understand concepts when I make my own notes, so I took my own notes while going through Rita’s book. These notes would come in handy as a revision tool as well.
Next, I went through PMBOK-5 to know the terms and flow of processes throughout the project lifecycle.
I paid special attention to ITTOs by going over the processes in PMBOK-5, twice. My notes were enhanced during this swipe through PMBOK guide.
Mock PMP tests
While there are many mock tests available I shortlisted 3 full mocks –
My score was in the range of 80% to 90% in each of these.
Here’s a tip I would like to share to get more out of your mock tests. After each mock test, I studied questions that I answered incorrectly to understand what was the right answer. This approach consistently helped me increase my understanding of PMP syllabus.
Took few simple mock tests from Christopher Scordo’s book randomly.
I was confident enough to pass the exam but was scared to take the real exam as I felt all the mock exams that I took (but for Oliver Lehmann’s) were easy.
I finished all the full mock up exams in under 3 hours, except Oliver Lehmann’s, which took me 3 hours 20 Mins.
Other PMP preparation study tips
1. Participating in discussions or attending PMP quizzes from ‘I Want to Be a PMP’ group helped me enhance the concept knowledge. Another of such groups is PMESN, where you get to answer a sample PMP question each day. This approach also helps you keep study momentum alive on those days when you cannot take out time to study for the exam.
2. I manually created a handwritten ITTO mapping for each process. I mapped the inputs and outputs, and understood the flow of project documents and other outputs across processes within the project life cycle.
I prepared my own the ITTOs in excel inspired by the chart prepared by Ricardo Vargas. I took a printout of this so I could go over regularly to get more familiar with the ITTOs and PMP processes.
Aiming for 5 Ps
My aim was to get Proficient in all the 5 domains.
My exam was scheduled for 16 April 2017. I went over PMBOK-5 glossary to get familiar with the terms and glanced through PMBOK randomly.
Going over my own notes multiple times helped to understand the flow of outputs and project documents across the processes. My handwritten notes and the self-made ITTO charts were really helpful during revision.
My final stage of preparation lasted over 4 months. During this period I spent a minimum of 15 – 20 hours a week.
My PMP exam
The real exam questions were of high standard. I admire the way PMI tests the knowledge and real world experience by giving a situation and asking us to apply our knowledge and answer the question.
I expected mathematical questions in the real exam and felt sufficiently prepared for them. But I hardly used the calculator in the exam. Only 4-5 questions needed mathematical calculations to answer.
Most of the questions, even those related to Critical Path and Earned Value were comprehensive situational questions instead of straightforward mathematical calculation based questions.
PMI checked the real understanding of the concepts and the knowledge and usage of Tools & Techniques. I found very few direct questions and that is why most of my time was spent in reading the questions again and again.
I went on marking questions that I was not sure of, but not without marking one of the four options as my answer.
I completed all 200 questions in 3 hours 20 mins and went through the marked questions to review again.
My entire exam was completed with just 10 minutes to go.
I clicked End Exam button, took the survey. I was thrilled to see ‘Congratulations’ on the screen.
I was a PMP with Proficient in ALL 5 domains!
In the end,
PMP certification is certainly achievable, but not without sincere attempt to understand concepts and application of it to real world situations.
I feel that if you are passionate in project management and committed to obtaining PMP, you feel pushed to move forward even when faced with hurdles during your PMP preparation.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone that helped me in exam preparation as well as in application process.
All my best to your PMP exam.
Selvaraj Ramasamy, PMP