Shiv, I have around 15 years of experience and handled quite a few projects of various sizes. I had plans to complete PMP examination, started many times but dropped in between due to some or the other distractions.
Finally I made up my mind to complete this examination last November. I tried to complete before the updated exam but couldn’t do it. So with many advice from many others I thought of not to worry about the new pattern. And finally had the big success and would proudly say that I am a PMP certified.
Some of the tips and how I did this.
I started to read PMBOK, and one of my friend who is a PMP certified acted like a mentor and used to take classes whenever he found time. I too made it a point to read 1 hour a day.
I started seriously during December and completed first round of Rita Mulchay, Head first and many other articles, blogs which I could read it through internet.
From January onwards I started attempting sample questions every day, looking at one knowledge area at a time.
Then finally I started writing full-length mock exams. I took about 13 mock exams. My scores were low in the beginning and started improving over time. These mocks were all based out of the old pattern.
One advantage on taking as many mock exams as possible is that I could get to manage the time. Even when you review the wrong answers you can master on that process. If you have the mock tests with the new pattern, it would be a lot better.
Final days of examination
Visit the examination centre – By this you will get to know where is the centre exactly located, so that you don’t search the place. Then which floor it is. How is the parking facility there etc. Anyways I was not allowed inside, but I could see the place.
Book the exam in the morning slot – I thought I would be fresh in the morning, so that I can give the maximum.
Don’t over-study during the last 2 days – I better advice not to study more than 2 hours in the last few days. I took couple of days leave and took a good rest, watched few TV channels and played with my son, to relax myself.
Have a good overnight sleep – I strongly recommend this, but I couldn’t sleep due to examination worry. But it makes lot of difference, if you have good 10 hours sleep the night before examination.
Day of the examination
I started early, had a good breakfast and reached the examination centre by 7:10 AM, my appointment was at 08:00 AM.
I got the lockers, Prometric staff advised me to keep the mobile phones switched off and asked me to put everything in the locker, including wrist watch, wallet etc. Nothing allowed inside the exam hall apart from the ID proof.
Security check is pretty strict. They check all your pockets, collars, socks etc and with metal detectors and these were recorded.
I was given 4 sheets of papers, couple of pencils and erasers.
In the 15 mins given to go through tutorial I started writing down my braindump. I would suggest you do this in only one side of the paper. If you ask for additional sheets, the older sheets will be taken back.
Another point is, if you wanted to take breaks for having water, to go for restroom etc, the security check will be done again and this will leave with at least 10 to 12 mins. So my advice is not to take breaks at all if possible. Better go to the restroom and have enough water etc to last for 4.5 hours before the security check in the beginning itself.
I started with a positive frame of mind, however the difficulty level was pretty high right from the first question.
But slowly the difficulty level reduced a bit once I progressed with the questions. I don’t know whether this was a psychological feeling for me.
I found the examination was much difficult and the pattern of the questions was completely different from any mock tests I had seen.
All the questions were scenario based and none of them was straight forward. I’ve hardly seen any questions which was straight forward.
I encountered very little formula based questions. I was very confident on all the formulas like EAC, BAC, ETC etc. But nothing was useful from the exam view point.
Even the ITTOs questions were not straight forward and were situation based.
With all the difficulty I could manage to complete in 3 hours with around 60 questions marked for review. I could complete the exam in 3 hours 40 minutes. I just took 5 minutes to check if any last minute changes could be done. I was elated to see the ‘Congratulations’ message as it appeared on the screen.
I found that during the review of the marked questions the answer I chose the first time tended to be correct, so I left it as it is instead of breaking my head.
Beware of the trap questions – they will consume more time, be smart to pick those questions and move forward.
Final round of suggestion and advice
Read the PMBOK for at least 3 times, if possible memorise important areas.
My set of papers were filled with lot of questions on Stakeholder and Procurement knowledge areas, I believe it was due to the random selection of questions. You may get a concentrated set of questions on any one or two KAs, so please focus on ALL KAs equally.
Try mock tests only with situational questions. Straight forward questions are of no use. The new pattern had 100% situational questions.
You may find the real exam much difficult than what you imagine so mentally be prepared for it, and stay as calm as possible.
Finally attempt lot of mock tests – practice alone can get this exam passed.
Karthik Ganesan, PMP