Garima is a Technical Project Manager at IBM with around 10 years of experience in IT industry. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Post graduate certificate in Business Management from XLRI, Jamshedpur. She’s equally adept in Agile project management and IT service delivery. She loves to travel to explore new places, cultures, and cuisines.
Don’t miss the 10 insightful tips Garima shares about what to do and what not to on the exam. You’ll find these in the last section of this post.
What was your PMP trigger?
During a decade long career I have been in various project management roles and learned a ton along the way. It was only natural for me to want to give myself a well-rounded exposure to project management knowledge.
What better certification than PMP when it comes to learning the real-world, best project management practices?
Plus, the PMP credential is valued globally and helps landing into good job opportunities worldwide.
Early in my journey I realized that preparing for PMP certification exam along with personal and professional commitments was never going to be an easy thing. And that it required dedication and efforts, but outcomes were going to be worthy.
Once I prepared myself mentally to give it what it takes, the path suddenly became clearer and straight forward.
What were the study resources you chose?
Some amount of research is needed to choose the PMP exam material that suits your unique style of learning.
I studied the PMBOK book first.
It sure isn’t an easy read. So I followed it up with Rita Mulcahy’s book. I found that Rita’s book has comparatively easier language.
To tackle this exam I felt that one should clearly know the sequence of processes and flow of information through them. And to understand it, the best way I figured is for me to go across the Process Groups.
The PMBOK book follows Knowledge Areas sequence. One can refer to Ricardo Vargas video to clarify process flow concepts.
I invested in mock tests by Christopher Scordo and PMFastTrack Simulator by Rita. Both of these have good quality of practice questions.
Awesome! What was your study strategy?
Coming up with day-wise schedule was essential – to keep what you study fresh in mind and to maintain continuity.
One of the first things I did is to prepare a ‘knowledge areas and process group mapping’ chart. I pasted this on my study desk wall and looked at it everyday.
Soon enough I had this picture in my mind and it helped me while answering situational questions in the exam.
My approach was to be consistent with studies so even on days that I was occupied, I tried to continue study momentum by doing some online quizzes or free online mocks while my daily office commute. Or I would sit still and try to recall concepts.
I attempted ample mock tests which helped me gain confidence with each passing day.
Did you face any issues?
Generally every professional finds it hard to balance work and personal life, and on top of that it is not easy to take out study time for preparation.
I knew that PMP exam preparation was a ‘short term project’ and so I needed to make it happen. I had awesome family support so I persevered through those times when the progress seemed difficult to make.
Right attitude, perseverance, and focus – these 3 played a big part in my success.
What was your study efforts in the week before exam?
I used to make study notes throughout and it came handy the week before my exam.
The cheat sheets and hand-written notes were all that I referred to during this time.
Tell us about your exam experience!
Here are the simple 2 rules I had in mind.
- Answer every 50 questions in less than an hour.
- Hydrate yourself well but not too much (avoid restroom break!)
It is good to try completing 50 questions in less than an hour – so that in the end you get some time to spend on questions marked for review. I followed this rule during my exam, and I was can complete my exam in time and review the marked ones as well.
Consider the time taken for exit + activity (eating/restroom/water) + security check while reentering the exam room. Then it takes few minutes to get into rhythm of answering questions.
You don’t want to waste time like that.
The best way to relax would be to stretch your legs and take deep breaths every 50 questions or so.
Also Read: Copy the study strategies of Neetu Bodhi, and her 9 study tips.
That’s truly helpful! Any specific study tips?
Here are few tips for PMP students that I consider rather important –
- I’ve already said this, and this is so crucial I’m going to repeat it: Research PMP exam material that suits your learning style!
- Very important to understand how processes flow (refer to above suggestions)
- Take as many mock tests as possible to gain confidence (free as well as paid mock or simulator tests)
- Take finals mock tests with 200 questions only (not 100 or 50) and practice with a timer
- The quality of practice questions is a main consideration while evaluating yourself. All too easy, or all too difficult ones may impact your confidence.
- It is good idea to take a note of wrong questions done in mock test and read/clarify those topics again from your study resources
- Consistency with studies is the key in PMP exam success – make it a point to study every day
- Once prepared, scheduling exam with just enough right buffer for yourself – if you give too much of gap you may forget what you have learned
- Join PMP study groups to discuss/clarify weak areas
- Don’t miss to make your own notes. Making notes is a great way to learn.
Last but not the least, relax. Put your best efforts and keep a calm mind during the exam.
I wish you good luck,