8 year long PMP dream.
4 rounds of study using books.
2 hours of study per day during weekdays + 8 hours of study during weekends.
1 mock test after completing every chapter.
Failed PMP exam.
Replaced one of the study resources with a video course.
Worked through health issues.
Took the second attempt.
Passed the PMP exam!
PMP exam can be full of surprises. That’s why it is recommended to understand how successful PMPs are doing it.
And replicate the strategies that resonate with you.
This week, Vijaybabu reveals his strategies.
Vijayababu has over 13 years of professional experience as an Engineer in the Medical Devices, Food Processing & Defense industries. He is an avid reader and practitioner of principles of self-development, Business Strategies, Finance, & Spiritual domains.
Let’s find out how Vijayababu did it.
What made you take up PMP?
In 2011 May, I completed my first 4 years of professional journey as an Engineer.
This experience had enabled me to get my hands on a complete project life cycle, some spanning a few weeks to more than 10 months.
As I joined my next company I decided to pursue my studies towards Business Administration & took up my MBA in Project Management.
During this time I came across information about the PMP certification exam on pmi.org. The details provided there were not much help to me as I could not understand the basic requirements mentioned for PMP certification, honestly, I had never heard of it till then.
In 2015, I played a major role in one of the flagship projects for my company, during which time, one of my colleagues suggested that I take up the PMP exam to pursue a Project Management career.
Then I began to watch YouTube videos on Project Management.
All the processes explained there looked the same to me & frankly, I got bored listening to the same words for different processes per PMBOK. PMBOK guide was not so helpful for me to continue my studies.
In 2018, I decided to change my career as I moved to a different city, with one simple goal: getting PMP certified within the next couple of years.
Now that I am PMP certified, I am considering PgMP certification in near future from PMI.
Now that you are certified, what benefits do you see now?
I have started to implement processes of PMP in managing projects based on project needs in a small way to good effect.
My Project Management fundamentals are stronger.
I have a clear understanding of project phases from initiation to closing. I actively focus on stakeholders, risks & communication needs identification in the early stages of the project.
All these have been giving me better results at work. I wonder how much better it could have been if I’d done PMP much earlier!.
My PMP certification has invoked confidence in me by my new employer and clients alike.
I can say that PMP has made me a better project manager at work, given validation of my project management skills, and recognition among my hiring managers and customers.
Which study resources did you use?
I initially started with YouTube videos, PDF books from different authors, and finally PMBOK guide.
Then I enrolled in InfoCareerIndia for their 35-hours of classroom training.
Next, I took up Rita Mulcahy’s book.
As part of the training, we were provided course material, video recordings, and weekly online training. Also, utilized question banks based on level of difficulty – basic, medium, and high (more free PMP question banks here).
During my second attempt, I used PM PrepCast by Cornelius Fichtner.
My employer provided multiple courses as part of our professional growth plan. I had access to PMP sixth edition video training by Barb Waters.
How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?
I had to take 2 attempts at PMP.
My study plan for the first attempt –
I was suggested to take the exam within 100 days of completing the classroom training by the institute that provided us with the training.
A template with all chapters from both the books & test matrix was provided to us in an Excel file to help us prepare for the exam. During training days, based on my schedule, I had decided to take the exam on a date that was a bit beyond 100 days.
My study schedule was –
- 2 hours of study per day during weekdays + 8 hours of study during weekend, holidays & during leaves
- Read each chapter from both the books (1+1) PMBOK & Rita’s
- Take a mock test after completing every chapter.
In 2 months I had completed reading both the books 3 times & completed about 95% of the tests with results ranging from 50% to 90% passing results.
In the subsequent week I initiated my PMP application process and my application was approved. I was ready to schedule my exam date.
During these days, I read the above books once more, with overall 4 rounds of the study books.
I would connect my laptop to TV & play videos from skillsoft website every day morning from 7 am to 10 am. I would be listening to all the time, sometimes looking at the screen to understand what is explained in the concept.
In hindsight, this set of resources probably weren’t the best ones for me, and I had to take the second PMP attempt.
My study plan during the second attempt –
I scheduled my exam with sufficient buffer time with the confidence that I can complete as many mock test questions as possible.
This time I changed my study materials.
I accessed video tutorials from YouTube, and more importantly, invested in and studied course videos from PM PrepCast course, by Cornelius Fichtner.
Again, I continued with the practice of watching the video lessons on my TV every morning.
I also attempted sample questions on daily basis from smartphone apps, websites, LinkedIn etc.
At this point, I realized the importance of researching for the right study resources ahead of time. I liked PM PrepCast because it is a video based course. I liked watching videos and learning, as I am a visual learner.
Take time and put in the effort to find your learning style and research available material to find what you like. Once you select 1-2 study resources, study for PMP exam using only these.
- Bookmark this free PMP YouTube playlist for brain-friendly videos
- Elena shares 3 key focus areas every PMP student must focus on
- How Madhusmita cut her prep time by 50% using one shift
- Stefan’s 8-week 3-part plan to Above Target score
Did you face any specific challenges?
I did not find any issues or face difficulties while preparing for the exam due to my prior experiences in managing real-time projects.
I could relate what I was learning to my project experience.
All I had to do was to relate PMP processes to the projects I had undertaken earlier, reflect on how I would have done differently applying these processes.
This approach helped me enhance my understanding of PMP guidelines to manage projects.
How did you study for the PMP exam in the week before the exam?
I took up 1 mock test each day, a senior representative from the training institute was in constant touch to oversee my performance in mock test.
I was asked to score >70% passing result from each test out of 5. However, my results started diminishing from 1st test to 5th test.
4 days before the exam another exclusive 4 tests were assigned which I took one each day.
My results stayed between 60% to 70%.
By this time I had completely stopped reading any of the book content, except go through guidelines shared with us during our classroom trainings. A day before the exam, I was told about the atmosphere in and around the exam center and the instructions on how to approach the exam.
The previous evening, I watched a movie to relax, went to bed early at 9 pm.
However, I could not sleep till 11:30 pm. I woke up at 3:30 am without an alarm, could not sleep, hence started to recap the study material for next 2 hours.
As soon as I lost my first attempt, I started working on my plan to appear for the next exam.
I came back home, started to collect online mock tests from multiple websites, and saved them as PDFs into my local drive.
Every day I would attempt to answer questions, and then watch videos.
This time I wanted to study for the PMP exam without stressing myself.
In the last 5 months during my preparation for the exam, I had put on additional weight & some health issues started to appear, hence decided to take a step to resolve it to enable myself to better prepare for the exam.
I worked to strike a balance in my study activities 2 months before the exam as I focused much on improvising my health. As the day of my exam neared, my confidence of clearing my exam also diminished.
2 days before the exam I relaxed well and recapped all the contents of the PMP study material.
Worried about all the formulas needed for the PMP exam? Use this complete PMP exam formula guide, and learn easy.
How was your exam experience?
At the test center
I reached the exam center 30 minutes before the scheduled time.
There were 5 other candidates and we were provided instructions to read regarding the exam center based on our tests. Later, our photo ID as mentioned during PMP registration step was verified, the photo was taken, a digital signature was recorded.
I was provided with a locker to place all my belongings, then called into a room to provide further instructions about the exam process.
I was asked to empty my pockets, roll up my sleeves to visually ensure we are not carrying anything with us. We were instructed to leave wristwatches in the locker. Instructions were provided on etiquettes to be followed in the exam hall.
By this time, a PC was assigned to my name, the instructor logged into my PC. The first 5 minutes (not part of 4hours) were for the instruction on the PMP exam software interface navigation.
During the exam
First Attempt: The first question was so complex, it took more than 2 minutes to understand what is asked in the question, from here on every question till first 10 were in a similar pattern.
At question 50, I began to think I should have taken more mock exams before appearing for the final exam. However, I continued hoping to clear the exam rather than giving up, because deep down I knew my preparation was up to the mark. Took my first 5minutes break after 120 questions & continued till the end of the allotted time.
I attended all questions in the first 30 minutes ahead of time and used that time for review. After the time ended, there was a survey regarding PMP exam experience, after the survey result was out.
Alas, I did not clear the exam. 🙁
Second Attempt: I did not worry much about the exam. Just decided to trust my preparation of the past few months to answer all the questions & not to give up mentally midway.
The first 10 questions gave me confidence that I will be able to clear the exam!
I took 2 breaks. By this time I knew that at least 80% of the questions I answered were correct.
I completed all the questions with 30 minutes to go and spent that time on review.
After submitting the exam & the survey, the final result came congratulating me for clearing the exam.
I rechecked every word on the result page to confirm that I had indeed cleared the exam and was not reading it the other way. 🙂
- Learn how to remember ITTOs for the exam
- PMP FAQ – Discover the nuances critically needed for your PMP exam!
What insights would you like to share with PMP aspirants?
Study for the PMP exam with utmost sincerity. I cannot overstate this.
Here I would like to suggest a few tips for each phase of the study –
- Keep the mindset: you are the Project Manager with responsibility & authority to make decisions in the best interest of the customer & the project
- Project Manager is a Problem Solver
- All the processes are interdependent
- Study PMI Code of Ethics, you may find a few questions from this
- Do not memorize any process, remember it by applying the process to your own project in your mind
- Do not use too many study materials, research and choose 1-2 study materials
- Remember, you are becoming part of a global community of Project Managers, so any difficulty is worth the gains in the end
- Answer each question keeping in mind PMI guidelines (‘thinking like a project manager’)
- Remember Project Management Process flow as suggested in the PMBOK guide
- Give yourself a minute for each question (this is where practice tests help)
- Do not read questions for a long time, if just understanding a question is taking time then just mark it and move to next one
- Relax during exam and keep a calm mind, this will help you recall easily
- For the questions you have understood but not sure of the answer, select the option that seems like the answer & mark it for review
- Review time is crucial, needs to be attempted with a clear mind & you will select the best answer
- During review, if you have no clue about the right answer, go with the initially selected option (many a time, the gut feeling would be right)
- Some of the questions in the exam seem inter-related or you will find the answer for 1 question in another question, read every question carefully
- There are no negative marks, so don’t leave any questions unanswered
Study for the PMP exam with 100% effort and you will find success on the first attempt. I wish all PMP aspirants ‘Best of Luck in becoming part of a global community of Project Managers”.
Master all concepts for easy PMP management exam prep, study for PMP exam in an easy-to-understand and smart way.