What good start to the week than hearing from my students that they passed the PMP® exam! This week I’d like to share the interesting journey of a student of my PMP® program, Jayant Jha, who scored a super 4 Above Target score. He is one of the few ones I know that did the exam in 3 hours! 🙂 His PMP® test practice strategy is worth copying.
Jayant Jha has a good mix of techno-managerial qualification with an Engineering degree in Electronics and Communication engineer with MBA in Finance. He has close to 12 years of experience in Information Technology and currently working for a top Financial institution in Middle East as a Project Manager.
Jayant hails from the city of Calcutta and has obsessive interest in History. He has a penchant for visiting historic places and see the evolution of Humanity through these travels.
First up a simple question – Why PMP®? 🙂
I read from one of the recent reviews from PwC survey which stated that certified PMP® project managers get an opportunity to handle almost one third of all the complex and high performing projects.
They formed the creamy layer among the PMs and are held in high regards in the project management community. Of course my mentors with whom I had worked for almost 8 years inspired me to get into the community.
The difference is very visible when you interact with a PMP® certified project Manager with another PMs.
Being from technical background and involved in executing numerous technical projects I did appear for multiple certifications in the field of Scrum, CSM, CSPO, RPA, Six Sigma, ECM etc., however PMP® was my first choice among the pure Project Management certification.
The vocabulary, discipline and the big picture which I learned in the course of my PMP® preparation is going to help me in my future projects. I must admit that I have stated using quite a lot of it. However, I do wish to tailor it in future with different project requirements.
Which study resources did you use?
I chose a variety of resources to aid overall understanding, while making it easier to prepare – Books, Course, and Simulator.
- PMBOK – being the official reference guide, I wouldn’t want to keep this out
- Rita Mulchy’s PMP(ad) book
- HeadFirst PMP – for their fun ways of learning
PM Exam Last Mile Prep Program from Shiv Shenoy – for the brain-friendly resources like mnemonics & mind maps, and of course the one-on-one weekly calls I get to have with Shiv.
Mock exams from PM Prepcast – more important as the exam inches closer, to aid time management on the exam and practice various types of questions. An awesome PMP® test practice tool.
What was your PMP® test practice strategy?
My approach involved creating a 40-day, 3-phase plan and sticking with it as much as my work allowed (and of course being flexible with it, as the PM should be. 🙂 )
- I read 2 iteration of Rita Mulcahy
- 1 Iteration of HeadFirst book
- I referred PMBOK for references and going through the glossary and abbreviations.
I went through the videos and mind maps from Shiv’s PM Exam Last Mile program and it became a very helpful as the exam approached. During the last week of the revision cycle and Exam Day revision it was a great tool to build my confidence.
I solved 7 full length Mock Exam and was scoring in the range of 65% to 78%. I understand that people talk about 80% as thumb-rule, and as I discovered it is not an absolute rule.
You were part of the PM Exam Last Mile prep program (thank you!). Could you share how it helped you?
The Mind maps and explanations are great tool during the exam preparation and are really brain-friendly.
I really feel that these leave a greater impact on brain that usual PPT based bullet-list materials.
Also, one to one strategy calls with Shiv helped a lot as he discussed the Exam strategies and kept me motivated.
Any trouble along the way?
PMP® exam requires great deal of dedication and the aspirant must follow the plan consistently.
During my preparation, I did encounter couple of unknown unknowns, which posed challenges to my baseline plan. I had to re-baseline my plan couple of times to be ready for my planned exam dates. As my projects at work kept me busy, I tried my best to stay on track on my plan. I realized that reviewing it every day because I could make small modifications and get back on track.
The issue I faced was to really know whether I was ready to take the exam. The biggest help I got was through 4-hr mock tests. Solving these full length mocks helped me a lot (with the strategy to increase score from Last Mile’s PMP® Exam Secret Strategy course) in increasing score and improving my speed in the real PMP exam.
I must confess I was able to complete my PMP® exam in approximately 3 hours.
I used a specific way to challenge myself to confirm the right answer, that I will explain in a bit.
An insight I gained during this exercise is that it is important to not second-guess our answers, because then we may end up changing the already correct option unnecessarily.
Also read: “This one practice helped me ace the PMP exam” – Ashish Gupta, PMP
The week before the exam is crucial. What was your approach to study during this week?
Last week of exam is crucial and this is the time when I needed to get into the monitoring and controlling phase of the exam preparation. I needed to keep confidence levels high and go on easy during this phase.
Few Important things which I did was as below –
- I did a SWOT analysis of my preparation based on the mock rest reviews and score analysis and lessons learnt. This gave me the understanding about where I was standing and which areas I needed to brush up again. I understood that Risk, Cost, Quality were my weak areas, and I needed to give special emphasis. I went through Shiv’s mind maps on these areas and revised up my concepts again.
- Next, I revised all the Process charts and the ITTOs again & tried to create mnemonics pattern that I would be using in the real exam.
- I started working on brain-dump – memorizing important mnemonics and formulas which were used most frequently during the mock exams. Although mine was online exam and I was not allowed to write the brain dump, the act of creating this helped me recall on the exam quickly!
On the day before the exam I just glanced through the ITTO chart, prayed and prepared myself for the exam.
I feel that these area just the basics needed to sail through the exam.
What was your real PMP® exam experience like?
I appeared for Online proctored exam and the experience was unique. As I had gone through enough rehearsals before the exam I did not feel any real difference in acclimatizing with the exam condition on the D-day. I was confident and wanted to execute my exam strategy as below.
- I dedicated first 90 mins for part 1 and 150 mins for part 2.
- I was able to complete part 1 hour 18 mins and used rest of the time in reviewing the question. I used a strategy of challenging myself by saying that I chose the wrong option and had to convince myself that I was correct to choose the answer that I chose. This way I was convinced that, nothing could be a better choice than the one I had chosen.
- After utilizing 4-5 mins of break I continued with the second part and was able to maintain my momentum. I was able to complete my next section in close to 90 mins or so. Then I followed the same strategy of reviewing the questions in part 2 also. This way I was sure that I can use all the learning during my last 40 days of preparation getting utilized for the real exam,
The complexity of the real exam was easier that the real exam, however you must be very careful in reading the questions and the wordings as these would sometime be confusing and would prompt you to make mistakes.
Shiv: Join me today and get PMP® certified comfortably before Thanksgiving!
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Any specific tips for those preparing for their PMP® exam?
- My first suggestion is to have a clear understanding of the process chart. By this I mean to say that you should be able to logically plot all the processes across the Knowledge Areas. Trust me, if you practice it for 10 days these would be in your mind and it really helps on the exam.
- You need to visualize the question and link it with the process chart and try to understand the flow of the question and I am sure you would be able to answer all the questions correctly.
- Be careful of the verbose question as these are heavily worded. However if you would be able to grasp the PMP® vocabulary I am sure these set of questions would be simplest of the lot.
- Once you are done with your study, please do lots of PMP® test practice using simulators.
- One critical advice would be to choose the right preparation tools for the PMP® exam as there are many deflectors which would make your path the preparation complex and confusing unnecessarily.
I wish you all the best. Choose a good PMP® test practice strategy, stick with it as much as possible, and pass the exam.