AT A GLANCE
Ravi cleared the PMP® exam after several sleepless nights. Below is his lessons learned.
- I am obsessed with the PMI®’s approach to manage the projects, so I treated my PMP® exam as a real “Project” and followed the same approach to planning and executing the study preparation for the PMP® certification. Here are the details:
- Already have my contact hours
- Did a vague estimation of the efforts required
I spent a significant amount of time to plan for PMP® study:
1. Study Material & PMP® Exam Simulators
I decided to purchase two books for preparation and had a 3rd book for reference after some researches. The PMBOK® Guide and Rita’s PMP® was chosen as the primary resources and the Head First PMP® was intended for casual reference.
- PMBOK® Guide – This is the definitive book for PMP® exam.
- HeadFirst PMP® – for reference only
- Rita’s PMP® Book
PMP® Exam Simulators & Questions
- PM FASTrack PMP® Exam Simulator
- HeadFirst Practice Exam Questions
- Chapter end questions in Rita’s PMP® book and HeadFirst
- Questions on PM Study
- Questions on Simplilearn
2. Study Plan & Schedule
I planned a study schedule for 4 months with around 240 hours of serious preparation time. Here are some of the highlights of my study plan:
- I planned to take a week off just before the exam.
- I tried to read all the books 2 to 3 times.
- PMBOK® Guide is pretty dry and boring so I began with Rita’s PMP® first.
- After reading the Rita’s PMP® for the first time, I followed by reading the PMBOK® Guide and Rita’s PMP® side by side.
- I planned to attempt the chapter end questions of Rita’s PMP® this time.
- I put the plan and milestones in an Outlook calendar.
Execution and Monitoring of the Progress
The first 16 weeks
- Finished the books according to the plan and tried to attempt some practice exam questions
- Created a checklist of all items (processes, inputs, tools and techniques, outputs, etc.)
- Did not create my own notes (the biggest mistake I have made)
Weekly Progress on schedule
- I kept a close eye on my weekly progress
- I followed my preparation schedule closely
- Kept a log of ‘variances’ on every Sunday
One week of day off from work
- Skim through the Rita’s PMP® book for the last time which took 20 hours.
- Attempted quality practice exam questions and did gap analysis and focused on weak areas.
- Attempted the practice questions in various ways: chapter-wise, knowledge area-wise and process group-wise.
- Took two 4-hour full-length practice exams: worth the time and efforts.
- Read through the PMBOK® Guide Glossary thoroughly.
One day before the PMP® exam
- Planned the strategy before the exam, the time management and break.
- Ensured that I have all the ID ready
- Practiced the brain dump for processes and process groups and all the PMP® formulas
- Tried to stop revising at 6 p.m. and sleep early.
On the exam day
- Reached the exam venue about 30 minutes earlier.
- Downloaded the brain dump to scrape paper during the first 15 minutes of tutorial time.
- Completed 200 questions in around 3 hours and took 2 breaks of 4 minutes each.
- Marked around 70 questions for review (should not mark more than 30 questions).
- I wasn’t able to review all the marked questions during latter part of the exam.
- Prepare your own notes – this is the biggest mistakes I made during my study.
- Don’t wait till the last moment for taking practice exams
- Choose only quality practice exam questions from trusted sources.
- DO NOT study till last hour. Take a good sleep the night before exam or just relax.
- Do not mark too many questions for review during the exam, the suggested maximum is around 30 questions
Tips during the exam
- Have a positive attitude, tell yourself you will make it
- Utilize the first 15 minutes of tutorial for brain dump
- Don’t spend too much time on any single question. Keep your time. Mark for review if unsure.
- Make sure you read every question and also every answers carefully, don’t lose marks out of carelessness.
- Look out for the wording of the questions.
- Breath deeply if you are under stress.
- Smile as much as you can during the exam. Smile is a great stress buster.
Tips for planning and preparation
- PMP® exam is not that difficult. It requires commitment and a regular study plan.
- Book your exam date as soon as possible as possible, this will set up a realistic goal to achieve
- Do not over study. You may study for a whole year and yet fail the exam.
- Have a good plan in advance. Know what you would study every day.
- You will definitely need at least one PMP® exam prep reference books. PMBOK® Guide with Rita’s PMP® book or Head First PMP® is highly recommended.
- Check your study progress weekly and make amendments if necessary.
- The questions on the PMP® exam are very tricky as it focus on your understanding of the concepts rather than memorization
- You must have a firm understanding of the concepts.
- There is no need to memorize the ITTO’s. But you should be able to understand what they are and why they are there in the processes.
- Practice exams are the key to success. The more questions you attempted the better chances you will pass the PMP® exam.
- Do gap analysis and find out the topics you need to focus more on. Create a checklist of all the week areas and work on them.
- Practice for 4 hour full-length practice exams at least twice. This will give you an idea how you are going to feel and act physically and psychologically in the real PMP® exam.
- If you are scoring close to 75% in practice exams, you are ready for the real PMP® exam
Most Important Processes for the PMP® Exam
- Define activities / Estimate Activity Resource / Sequence Activities
- Collect Requirements
- Develop Project Management Plan
- Direct and ManageProject Execution
- Develop Schedule
- Define Scope / Verify Scope
- Identify Stakeholders
- Plan Procurement / Conduct Procurement
- Close project or Phase
~ PMP® Lessons Learned by Ravi