I passed my PMP exam successfully at an exam center in Paris, with 2Ps and 3 MPs. Here’s my PMP study plan and some of the valuable lessons that I learned, and I hope this article will ease your PMP journey a bit.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my well-wishers who supported me on this wonderful journey towards PMP certification.
With a lot of personal priorities, I had finally decided to have my certification completed by 2016. In fact, I did my 35 hr boot camp with PMGS in the beginning of Jan 2016 itself.
I took it as a challenge to achieve this milestone at least before Feb 2017. Your PMP application once validated allows you to take your exam within 1year from the time it has been accepted and validated for taking exams. You have 3 trials to clear the exam.
My PMP Study Plan
I settled for a 13 Weeks schedule. I had already read RITA’s prep book and PMBOK once.
I had completed my bootcamp with PMGS before the schedule started.
I also used the guidance notes from 2 PMP specialists (Shiv and Markus) who gave away resources for free. Their weekly planning along with their quick notes helped me grasp the topic essentials and let me dig deep into the PMBOK content.
My advice to you as a PMP aspirant is to make a schedule that suits you. Be realistic in your approach. Build in some contingencies in the schedule, as things always do not go as per the plan. As a project manager, you already knew that I guess. 🙂
PMP Prep Resource Used
These were the study resources I used primarily –
- PMBOK 5th Edition
- Rita Mulchy PMP exam prep book
- PMPrepCast (video course) – OSP international (Click for review and free books here)
- PMP Exam Bundle by Shiv (Excellent quick notes, Formula pack, Mnemonics and Mind maps on PMP process)
- Markus Klein’s (projectmanagement.plus)
MOCK EXAMS RESOURCES
Mock tests are an important part of one’s PMP journey. They help you weed out study gaps and identify the gray areas easily.
Moreover, you can practice how to manage your four hours of examination time efficiently. I also understood variations of questions to expect on the actual exam.
- PM_Exam_Simulator (Cornelius) – OSP international
- PM challenge in Projectmanagement.com (PMI member access is free)
- Oliver Lehman online exam and LinkedIn forum (I want to be a PMP)
- Other mock exams from PMGS, Shiv’s PMP questions bundle
My Blockers/Excuses and Workarounds
1. FINDING OWN STUDY TIME
Carving out time for PMP study is a challenge that many PMP aspirants face.
Since I spend about 4 hours in commuting to work every day, I used Cornelius’s PM Prepcast podcasts to assimilate the PMBOK content.
For those who commute just like me, the best investment would be in these podcasts. I would simply listen to them over and over again on my way while driving to work. It provided me the flexibility that I had never imagined before. The podcasts content are of high quality. I made it a routine and part of my PMP study plan.
Once back home, I would go through the topic on the PMBOK and attempt sample questions. I didn’t have a study buddy as Shiv suggests in his free PMP Study Blueprint email course, though, I had enrolled in different online forums and followed discussions there.
Before the exam date, I read the PMBOK acronyms and Annexure topics (Wrap-up and Interpersonal skills). And to my surprise, I had questions based on them! So please pay attention to detailed nuances in the topics.
2. STUDENT SYNDROME
I had this habit of postponing the d-date because I felt that I would not have the chance of clearing the exam even when I was scoring between 68% till 75%.
Unless you have a date for your exam you will not prepare for the exam in all your Earnest. So I finally booked my date, in advance, and this changed my whole approach towards the exam and I locked down my PMP study plan.
3. CONFIDENCE LEVEL
It is always best to strive for perfection, but sometimes you need to realize when you feel confident and can take the plunge.
I was scoring well in PM EXAM simulator mockups and on my last attempt, I hit 80%. After which I started concentrating on taking more random questions. This is when you will have to make final push, schedule for the exam.
My PMP Tips
1. SCHEDULE YOUR EXAM DATE
Set your exam date once you have your application confirmed by PMI. This is one of the best advice that I followed from Shiv’s notes. Setting this exam date really made me to come up a realistic PMP study plan to achieve my objective. Again, please build in some contingency reserves.
In fact, this helped because I had my exam preparation window planned from Nov 2016 till Jan 2017. During the Christmas holidays, I had to have a break of 1week. On top of this, I was down with fever just 2 days before my actual exam date.
So, be prepared to face real time adversities.
2. PERSIST ON YOUR SCHEDULE
I made several small plans and a schedule to hit those plan. Once I have my schedule confirmed, I would make it a habit of persisting on this schedule.
For instance, I would spend 4hrs of Podcasts (during my daily commute) and then 1 hr on PMBOK in the night for the corresponding chapters.
3. PRACTISE SAMPLE QUESTIONS REGULARLY
I used to practice sample questions on each chapter, regularly.
I did on daily basis (10 questions at random or by knowledge area). This helped me to know my strength and weakness on the KAs.
4. MOCK EXAMS & TEST STRATEGY
Taking complete Mock exams is a must. At least twice before the actual exam. I did them to know my tempo.
It helped me in many ways: How to keep your answering tempo; Monitoring time with respect to the questions answered and know where I would need a break in the real exams.
It also helped me to pre-plan how I would go about in the actual exams. Inf act, I set apart last 2weeks only on Mock exams and question reviews.
I started in phases (20 Qs, 50 Qs, 100 Qs and 200 Qs). I used PM Exam Simulator for this purpose.
I decided to take at least 4 full-length mock exams before my deadline.
5. REVIEW ANSWERS
I reviewed all my answers after each mock up exams (correct and wrong ones).
This took like an hour or two but helped me tremendously. This acted like a crash course learning. I highly recommend following this practice.
Exam Day & Exam Center
The center I chose was in Paris and the people at the center were so helpful. I didn’t visit the Centre beforehand, but I made it a point to reach there earlier than needed. In fact, I was 1 hr earlier and that calmed my nerves.
BRAIN DUMP NOT ALLOWED DURING TUTORIAL /INSTRUCTION PERIOD (15m).
The Prometric center guy informed that I should not do brain dumps during instruction period. So if you are planning to do a brain dump, you would have to do it as you start your original exam time.
Personally, I didn’t do it though I had prepared. I just planned to write the formula when I had the questions pop up. This approach helped me.
It might not be the case for you, though. But please be prepared if you want to do dump your notes.
Although I did not try this (as I came to know about restriction at the exam center) you can do this –
Practice writing down brain dump during your 4 hr mock exams and practice managing your time on the exam. This ‘dry run’ should help during the exam.
Regarding the exam itself, I felt the questions mostly situation-based.
- You will have to know which process you are in to answer what you would do
- Questions on how we could have avoided being in such a state
- Stress on integration aspects and nuances between the acronyms used
I completed my exam in 3 hr 40 minutes and I had marked about 20 questions (for which I had already chosen an answer).
The idea was to verify at the end whether I would be keeping my choice or if I found it wrong as there could have been others questions. I had marked those question numbers and highlighted the text if I had some doubt. When you are unsure of the answer right away, usually the first choice you make tend to be the right one. So do not second-guess yourself.
At the end, when you complete the exam there would be a survey (about the test center and test condition). You can skip them or answer them. I answered them. Those last minutes before the result were so incredible.
As I said in the beginning, it is better to be late than never.
I had started this PMP journey in Jan 2016 and completed it Jan 2017.
Thanks to one and all for your support. If you wish any personal suggestions, please feel free to email me at vkandanathan@
I would like to convey my special thanks to Pascal Bohn (PMGS mentor), Shiv Shenoy’s PMExamSmartNotes.com (click for free signup) and Markus Klein for always being there when I needed.
I would be happy if this article outlining my PMP study plan helps you in your own prep. All the best!
Visuvanathan K, PMP
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