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.
I had also applied for the exam and my application got approved without any audit. Then came my 3rd roadblock. I had to drop my plans to take the exam due to personal and work commitments again!
My PMP study plan
In June 2016, I got an email from PMI that my one year time period to take the exam is about to end. Not wanting to give up, I booked my exam appointment in mid August.
I completed reading PMBOK and Rita’s book. I complemented my PMP study material with some more at this point – I brought Shiv’s ‘Ace your PMP Exam Series’ and Aileen Ellis’s ‘PMP Simplified‘ books from Kindle app as the exam syllabus had now changed.
These helped me fill in the gaps in my understanding. They were very convenient to use as I had the free Kindle app installed both in my phone as well as my laptop.
In mid-July, I felt I had not progressed well and rescheduled my exam to end of Aug. I spent at least 2-3 hrs on weekdays and about 4-6 hrs on the weekends during this time.
Earlier, based on the Shiv’s recommendation I had purchased ‘PMP Exam Simulator‘ for preparing using PMP practice exam. In the week before the exam I started taking the mock exams. And then spent 2-3 hrs reviewing both answers I got wrong and the ones I got right, to check if my understanding is correct.
This really helped boost my confidence before the exam. During the exam I realized that the level of difficulty of PMP questions were at par with that on the actual exam. I also attempted Oliver Lehmann’s online and pdf questions and found them to be difficult. But these helped me get better at answering difficult PMP test questions.
My PMP exam experience
Day before the exam, I was very nervous and could not sleep well. I also had my exam early morning, so got up early and took a cab to exam center. I managed to reach 2 hrs before my exam, so again went through the notes I had made and all the items I wanted to include in brain dump.
There were many test takers that day, but Prometric was happy to let me start as soon as I went in. Once I went through after all the checks, I started the tutorials, completed my brain dump within 10 minutes and started the exam.
First 15-20 questions were very tricky and confusing. I marked many of them for review. But, I continued without losing hope. Soon I picked up my pace and completed the first round in 3 hrs. I had marked about 30-35 questions for review.
Started with the formula based questions in this round and then attempted the lengthy questions in the last. I was able to finish 15 mins early.
I quickly completed the survey and waited for sometime before the screen showed the ‘Congratulations’ message. It was a huge relief after putting all the hard work.
Learn more about this approach from this page, increase your score and save at least 20 minutes on the exam!
Few PMP study tips for you
- Take a lot a full length mock exams. This will build your confidence and also will help you concentrate for 4 hrs.
- Practice your brain dump as many times as you can. I created this for every mock exams I took with a stop clock and ensured I completed this within 12-13 mins. This included the formulae, all 47 processes and Quality/HR theories.
- Don’t panic even if you are stuck on some questions in the exam. Tick the one which you feel the right answer is, mark the question for review and move ahead. Sometimes questions and/or options in further questions can help you answer these marked questions later.
- One useful feature in the exam is the option to ‘Strike out’ the options which is not correct. I did not know about this earlier, but it was in the tutorials before the exam. This helped me in saving time during my 2nd round.
- Do not memorize the ITTOs. Instead, understand relationship between processes. There were very few questions on these and I could easily answer them.
- Focus on the data flows for the exam. Someone in a PMP forum had mentioned creating a mind-map keeping ‘Control Quality’ process as the center. I tried this and found it very helpful to understand both change and deliverable flows.
- DO NOT ignore Initiating and Closing processes. These have very less questions, but you have to do well in them to clear the exam.
- For the lengthy questions, first read the last line to understand what is being asked. Many times this will help answer quickly.
Hope what I have shared above in terms of my PMP study material, approach and PMP exam tips will be useful for your prep. All the best!
Thanks Shiv, for creating this blog and helping many like me with the books you have written for PMP aspirants.
Anantha Chethan, PMP