Preparation time: 4 months
- HeadFirst PMP (I read this before PMBOK),
- RITA Mulcahy, 8th Edition (read along with PMBOK)
- Shiv Shenoy’s chapter-wise notes (Excellent source for revising the chapters quickly)
- PM PrepCast Simulator (9 tests) & EPMC mock tests (5 tests)
My PMP exam study plan
- I started the journey with classroom training at Effective Project Management Consultancy (EPMC) for 35 PM contact hours. It’s very important that you select an institute with a good trainer. I was fortunate to get trained under Mr. Sateesh Kamat.
- Since I was working, I could only manage to spend 2-3 hours for studying (during weekdays) which got me worried in the beginning on whether I would be able to do sufficient revisions to pass, but I promised myself to be persistent.
- During free time, I used to solve questions for practice from http://www.projectmanagement.com/questions (PM Challenge) and http://www.examcentral.net/pmp/pmp-exam-questions. I also used some Android apps like PMP Exam (Free), PMP Exam Prep.
- I read PMBOK and RITA’s book twice, took down notes while studying and revised only those notes and Shiv’s notes for filling the gaps.
- After reading the books, I started giving mock tests from PM PrepCast Simulator, wherein I was scoring between 80-90%.
- Alternately I took mock tests from EPMC. These tests were way more difficult than the main PMP exam, because of which I could prepare for questions with higher level of difficulty. I was scoring 70-75% in them.
The Exam day
I reached the exam venue an hour before my exam, to get myself comfortable. I have always been a nervous test-taker, but I still tried to be very calm before and during the exam.
There were many situational questions on the exam related to project charter, business case, lessons learned, managing stakeholders and communication. I had very few numerical questions on EVM, PERT and EMV. I was fortunate enough for not getting many essay type questions.
No straight forward ITTO questions, but given a situation, questions were asked on what would be the most appropriate tool & technique or input to be used.
The exam indeed reflects the new changes of the exam content outline, so it’s better to prepare these topics thoroughly.
Overall I found the questions easy to solve except for some questions whose answers were actually tricky and hard to make a choice from the options.
During the exam I felt confident that I’ll pass, but proficiency in all the 5 domains came out as a pretty big surprise.
PMP study & exam tips
- Schedule your exam as soon as you complete your training course, and prepare a study plan. Try to follow it and be persistent.
- Do not rote memorize anything, understanding the concepts is the key. Try to relate the concepts with some crazy examples which aids in remembering things better.
- For example, Stakeholders are like Chameleons, their views are dynamic and change with time as per circumstances, so PM’s strategy of engaging them should also be dynamic.
- Try to make your own templates and formats for Project documents. This will help giving you a clear idea of its contents and why it’s being used as an input or output.
- Create your own acronyms for remembering lists of things. I followed Shiv’s brain dump for that and added some more of my own.
- Read PMBOK glossary at least twice.
- Learn all the formulae by heart, and practice all types of numerical problems.
- Practice writing brain dump every time before you take the mock test.
- If possible, take 4-5 days leave before the exam so that you only concentrate on your studies and not get distracted by work.
- Try to remain as calm as you can while taking the exam, this was one of the lessons I learned while I was taking the mock tests. I was under the pressure of scoring more than the previous test but eventually ended up scoring less.
- Even if some tough questions come through, be focused and don’t let the pressure of passing the exam distract you in any way.
One of the myths about PMP exam is that you should have years of experience for passing the exam. In my case, I applied for the exam just after I completed 3 years of my work exp (since that is minimum eligibility criteria for the exam) and still passed. So the main point is that you should answer the questions from PMI’s perspective.
A note of thanks
I wish to thank my trainer, my mentor who guided me in the right way & my family who always supported me. Their contribution was invaluable in my success.
Good luck to all future PMP exam aspirants.
Surabhi Sawardekar, PMP
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