I wanted to pick his brains to understand things that worked for him, so others can try the techniques themselves.
What impressed me is how he handled the whole PMP goal.
Not overly surprising considering how much he loves project management.
When not dealing with project management challenges, Manish likes to travel, and has a goal of visiting all the major cities across the globe.
Manish passed his PMP exam with all Above Target score. But not without a scare.
Two important aspects of the online exam, as luck would have it, hit his exam.
In this article, he shares how he went about preparing for his exam and managing risks.
A good example of thinking like a project manager, treating the PMP goal as a project, and managing timelines & risks.
👇 In a hurry? Watch this short video 👇
What made you take up PMP?
It was 2013 when I was approached for another project and the project manager who contacted me had PMP in his email signature.
Honestly speaking, I didn’t know what PMP meant back then.
On one of the coffee break chats, I asked about this to one of my senior colleagues.
He explained the significance and importance of structured learning in project management. And how PMP helps one achieve that.
This had created a desire in me to accomplish this later in life. Fast forward to this year. When I started PMP preparation and passed on my first attempt with all Above targets, I remembered back that moment.
I’m certain now that with this credential, I can progress through my career faster.
Which study resources did you consider and eventually used for your exam preparation?
One thing that I was clear about was to not go for too many study materials. That would take more time than necessary to go over the study content, which is more or less similar as covered by all top materials.
I chose the following –
- PMBOK guide,
- Rita Mulcahy’s book,
- Agile Practice Guide,
- Random YouTube videos,
- A lot of practice questions & mock tests (check here)
A good simulator for taking mock tests is essential, in my view.
How did you approach the exam, and what was your study plan?
The approach is more of a mindset, in my view.
Think like a project manager. Treat your PMP like a project.
In terms of execution, I took it slow and steady.
Beginning with an hour or so every day.
I slowly built the habit of studying every day, almost like a routine along with other work.
Once I hit the tempo, overall, I studied for almost 5-6 hours every day for 2 months.
No sooner that I began studying, I realized that trying to remember such a vast content is a bad idea. My PMP study approach was to understand the concepts, and to relate it with the real-life situation.
Like this, it was easy to recall and helpful in tackling a range of conceptual questions on the exam.
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Did you face any issues along the way?
Unfortunately, I was not well for a week, running 104 degree fever. And I had to try really hard to study at least an hour a day.
I had set a target date considering for some buffer time for ‘unknown unknowns’ 🙂 So, that one thing, the target date, kept me going during that period.
The week before the exam is crucial, right? Did you do anything different?
Nothing too different, actually.
Basic revision and a few mock tests.
My exam was in the evening. And I gave a full-length mock test in the morning of the exam day as a last minute preparation effort.
Although, I never planned for this type of preparation, considering my short duration I had no other choice but to be Agile. 😊
What was your exam experience like?
I opted for online proctored exam from my home. Honestly speaking, I had a very tensed feeling during my exam.
This pressure was not due to the exam questions, but due to other factors as following:
1. I always had the habit of speaking while reading the questions, but I wasn’t aware that it is not allowed in PMP.
I got two warnings for this and have been told that the exam will be cancelled if I found speaking again. This has reduced my speed and hence created a pressure on me.
2. Power failure during the exam.
We usually don’t have power cut in our area but that day I had power-cut, right during the exam, not once but 5 times!
To add to the agony, I was taking the exam using a desktop and not a laptop.
It was a very unpredictable experience.
PMP teaches us about RISK management, and I implemented the same before the exam – I had spoken to the generator attender at our apartment in advance.
I had requested him that if power goes off during my exam duration, then he had to turn on the backup power within a minute, and he did the same. Later, I rewarded him for helping me. 🙂
What’s your advice for PMP aspirants?
PMP is a very important milestone, sure. But it is not the end of the world.
Have the right perspective to the exam, and that helps your mental health.
Be positive throughout your PMP journey. Chances are, you’ll come across the bends where it seems things are going nowhere. Be persistent with your efforts, and be positive.
I found it easy to study better by merely having a deadline.
Use the agile approach to your study.
- First, lock down your study resources.
- Next, get a sense of how much is there to study.
- Then, guestimate the time required to study for 2 rounds.
- If required, add contingency buffer (known unknowns) and management buffer (unknown unknowns).
This gives you a tentative timeline.
Mark the date on the calendar, let it motivate you to study consistently.
And remember, think like a project manager while approaching your PMP goal.
As you study, things will change, and you refine the plan along the way.
All the best!