With 55 days of PMP test prep, I passed the exam. In this article, I’d like to explain my 5-step process to succeed in PMP quest. If you are preparing for your PMP exam, your approach may differ from mine, but my hope is that some of this will be useful for you as well.
The intention of writing this article is to share the lessons learned from my PMP journey along with the tips and tricks that could help you get over any inhibitions.
Each one has a reason to pursue a relevant certification. For me personally, the Project Management Professional PMP is one of the most valuable and sought after certifications among the project managers. Yet, this can also be the most dreaded endeavor to pursue. An endeavor that often gets postponed and eventually abandoned or compromised with some other ‘equivalent’ certification.
The reasons are many. But most commonly, lost focus due to unexpected workload and demands of professional, family and personal needs.
My PMP test prep approach
I got my 35 contact hours of PM education early in 2014, but it was not until quarter-1 of 2017 that I felt the burning need to put together an effort that would earn the three sought after alphabets next to my name. In the meanwhile, I had had few false-starts and had almost come to a decision to pursue another certification instead of PMP.
Now that I have got my certification, here’s how I look at it from a systematic process perspective.
Mindset and Commitment plays an important role in maintaining the focus throughout this stage, remember that giving up is easy but pursuing towards the goal reveals your true inner strength.
Hence, I have further split the PMP study plan into two phases:
Phase 1: Mindset and its alignment with the PMP framework
What is the purpose of pursuing PMP?
- In PMI terms: what is my business case to pursue PMP certification?
- If the purpose lacks passion then it is easy for the mind to procrastinate or give up.
- Tricking the mind with a carrot for pursuing PMP can also work
Connect your purpose to an emotional reason and it will be easy to not give up.
How to pass PMP?
- In PMI terms: Planning, Execution, Monitor and Control processes are iterative throughout the project lifecycle
- PMP course study is also an iterative process
- Mock exam is a classic example to influence this continuous process
Enjoy your PMP journey
- PMP is a very holistic framework that can serve as a reference guide for any new endeavor
- Hence it is highly recommended to understand the concept and enjoy the learning curve rather than limiting the whole purpose to just passing the PMP exam
Phase 2: XX-day study plan
I took 55 days, you may plan for something that is suitable based on your work and family needs.
I believe these 5 steps (barring #1 of course) should take about 75 ~ 90 days –
- Project Management Work Experience as per PMI’s eligibility needs
- Project Management Education 35 hrs (an awesome guide here)
- PMP Application Acceptance
- PMP Study Plan
- PMP Exam
You’d, of course, want to start from the eligibility standpoint for PMP exam. Here’s a guide you can use for it.
Here’s how this phase was for me –
I read through Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep Book – 8th Edition. I skipped the practice questions at the end of each chapter during my first reading.
Then I read through PMBOK 5th edition.
- PMI members can download a free digital copy of the PMBOK guide
- Remember that PMP exam questions are based on PMBOK Knowledge Areas
Attempted chapter-wise practice exam questions from Rita’s book. I also reviewed all my answers and compared my scores (KA wise).
Next, I re-read the PMBOK and Rita’s book with a specific focus on Knowledge Areas that I had to improve upon.
Created my own notes for each knowledge area for quick study and also pinned print outs of all 47 ITTOs near my study desk.
Attempted mock exams within the stipulated time limit. I took two 100 questions & five 200 questions = total 1200 questions.
After each mock exam, I repeated the practice of reviewing all my answers and updated my notes.
Revised my handwritten notes and glanced through PMBOK’s glossary section on a daily basis.
I also referred to Ricardo Vargas’ simplified process chart. My days started with learning concepts and relating 47 processes on a sheet of paper.
I kept my study light on the previous day of the exam, patted myself for maintaining the focus and made up my mind to give my best the next day without worrying too much about the exam result.
The exam day. Went very well and I passed my PMP exam!
Hope this PMP test prep plan serves as a decent reference in drafting your own PMP study plan, Good Luck!
Raghu L K, PMP
Also Read: The Complete PDU Guide (free)