“With PMP® you can excel at tech project management role”, says Ponmani Tamilselvan, who aced his PMP® exam recently, he has been quite active in our LinkedIn and Facebook community – helping other PMP® students as well! I requested him to share his prep advice, which he happily obliged.
Ponmani has around 9 years of experience in software industry. He is working as Senior Designer in Visteon Corporation, and is part of management team setting up processes to support software project development teams in the organization.
1. Why PMP?
I believe I have good management and leadership skills as I am able to guide project teams to successfully deliver time and again. However I felt the need to learn from a globally acclaimed certification to enhance my capabilities.
The necessity of standard certification program and the knowledge it helps me gain motivated me to take up PMP® certification exam.
Moreover, for most of us who started our career in technology domain, PMP® certification is a good step towards excelling in tech project management role.
2. How do you think PMP® will help?
The immediate impact I see is that now a days I am able to think of lot more probabilities and scenarios than earlier whenever I am faced with a challenging project situations.
I am sure in the long term PMP® will help me grow in my career faster than without it.
I intend to do couple of more certifications which would add lot of dynamics to my profile. This broadens my ability to contribute in different types of projects. And I believe I can accelerate my professional growth this way.
3. Can you share the resources you used?
Also, my focus was to pass PMP® on the first attempt by being 100% prepared.
So I researched little bit more. I saw many successful peoples talking about PM PrepCast, Joseph Philips courses exam sets, and Shiv Shenoy’s PMExamSmartNotes. I referred all these three resources.
4. How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?
My plan was simple. Not to study too many materials. But to practice as many style of questions and simulators as I could.
I don’t know if this sounds odd, but I never used PMBOK guide to study. PMBOK was a reference resource for me. When in doubt I would go to PMBOK and clarify.
Rita’s 9th edition and PMExamSmartNotes Shiv’s notes were my study primary materials. If you ask me honestly Shiv’s study notes are fantastic. It covers all aspects of the exam. Special hearty thanks to Shiv.
Coming to simulators, this is the order I felt would be best for me –
- PM PrepCast (read detailed review here)
- Oliver Lehmann (and more here)
- Joseph Philips exam sets
- Simplilearn simulator (detailed review here)
I practiced lot of questions from these sets.
I would have completed around 10 full exams from this bunch before I took the exam.
5. Did you face any issues?
The main issue I faced was that I did not study after my application got accepted.
There was 3 month gap. And it took me time to recover from gap.
I felt like I was starting afresh. But I did not give up. I felt that 4 months were enough for me.
So once you apply do not relax or take it easy.
Another issue was I was unsure whether the simulators I tried were enough.
The fact that no matter how many mock tests you take, it never feels good enough. I stopped looking for more and more materials. Instead I gave it best shot with what I had with what I had researched already.
6. How did you prepare in the week prior to the exam?
I think the key part of PMP® preparation is not to burn yourself by preparing too much in the week before the exam.
I slowed down.
My focus was to refresh ITTOs. Answer the daily questions and discussions in Facebook groups. And taking Oliver Lehmann free exam. That’s about it.
7. What was your exam experience like?
The day before exam I had good sleep.
Got up early.
Reached exam center 2 hours ahead of time. The exam center staff were very helpful.
This is how I ended up spending my 4 hours –
- By the end of 40 mins – finished 50 questions ( excluding marked ones and skipped ones)
- By the end of 80 mins – finished second 50 questions ( excluding marked ones and skipped ones)
- By the end of 120 mins -finished third 50 questions ( excluding marked ones and skipped ones)
- By the end of 160 mins – finished last 50 questions ( excluding marked ones and skipped ones)
In 2 hours 40 mins I completed all questions excluding the ones I marked for review or skipped. Next 20 mins I answered the skipped ones.
As there are no negative marks, I decided to answer all the questions even if I wasn’t sure of the answers for a few.
In the final hour of the exam I reviewed the questions marked for later. And few that I was not sure about.
My exam was done in 3hr 40mins and I cleared it with Above Target in 3 areas.
During the exam I took 3 breaks. They frisk every time we leave hall and enter. Keep aside about 10mins per break, if you plan to take. The clock won’t stop for the break.
Some people plan not to take break as it break their rhythm. But I found it gave me time for a breather, which helped better to concentrate.
8. Any study tips?
Just one: spend more time practicing mock tests than what you spend studying for the exam.
During mock tests always analyze why the answers are right and why the wrong answers are wrong. Reason your thoughts about why did you choose the option you chose. This type of preparation helps you attempt the exam with more confidence.
If you are like me – being a techie looking to take on additional project management role and responsibility – PMP® is an excellent vehicle to grow into a tech project management role. Which by the way gives you more options to grow in your career. I wish you all the best!