Student Profile: Meena Kumar, PMP
I live in Sacramento, California where I have spent all of my adult life. Currently, I work for the California Department of Technology, but I have been employed for approximately 25 years with the State of California. My biggest enjoyment is writing so I am always tasked with writing impact analyses, concept documents, project documents, and requirements. Once upon a time, I also worked in drinking water so I wrote permits, inspection reports, and issued citations. In my private life, I own a solar business where I have really been able to use my project management skills. During the course of my studies, I spoke to several others looking to take the PMP exam. My first recommendation was always that they purchase the PM PrepCast through OSP International, LLC., which also comes with the PM Exam Simulator (a 90-day subscription). Not only are the podcasts with Cornelius Fichtner amazingly helpful and engaging, but the price for the entire purchase is so economical! Along with the podcasts, I also purchased the PMBOK Guide, Fifth Edition. I also purchased Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep Book, Eighth Edition. In my opinion, these are helpful as a foundation for one’s PMP studies.
Before I began to really study, I created a study plan. Although the study plan was somewhat fluid as I made adjustments along the way, it was quite helpful and kept me focused. I read both Rita’s book and the PMBOK Guide simultaneously, reading one knowledge area in Rita’s book to then reading it in the PMBOK Guide. Since the exam is somewhat random as far as knowledge area and process group, I studied each area in that manner, as well. For instance, I studied Project Time Management in both the PMBOK Guide and Rita’s book and did not immediately jump into Project Cost Management. Instead, I jumped to Project Procurement Management. I also listened to Cornelius’ podcasts while walking at lunch or after work while walking my dog. Then I would take a sample exam after completing a knowledge area and process group. In doing this, I was able to find my gaps, which I wrote down. Then, as the exam date neared, I read each book to strengthen my weak areas and filled the gaps in each knowledge area. If I did not score well in Integration Management, for instance, I would read the books and take about 20-25 sample questions. By doing this, I found the gaps and studied so I knew the subject. I remember listening to the podcasts and took tons of notes. I also revisited my notes, which further solidified my understanding.
A month before the exam, I would go home every night and create an Excel spreadsheet to build Table 3.1, the Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping on Page 61 of the PMBOK Guide. I did this right before beginning my studies. What this did is boost my memory of the processes and knowledge areas without stress. In fact, I did not even need to build the table on my brain dump sheet. Rita also has a game to help with learning the table and I used this, too. About two weeks before the exam, I started taking more and more sample exam questions and started learning the formulas. I also started adding formulas to my brain dump sheet. I also watched many YouTube videos on Earned Value Management, Schedule Network Diagramming, and other project management videos during the last two weeks.
First, I recommend taking either the entire week of the exam off or take a few days off so you can find your knowledge gaps and manage them. During the last three days prior to the day of the exam, I took a full 200-question exam, then identified gaps and filled those by reading, watching YouTube, or listening to the specifically related podcast. I studied all the way up to the day before the exam. On the actual exam day, however, I decided to spend a little bit of time writing my brain dump, then studied some stuff on the theorists, and then stopped. I spent the rest of the afternoon with my mom and sisters. My exam was at 5:00 on Friday evening so I left around 3:30 in case of heavy traffic. I managed to get there about 3:35 and the lady said she had a few spaces open so I eagerly accepted. At 3:50, I began my exam and finished around 8:00 p.m. As soon as I finished the survey and submitted it, my results came back, saying, “Congratulations on passing the PMP Exam!” There is no greater feeling after something like this. For about three months of my life, I committed to studying every day after work for 2-3 hours and up to 8-10 hours on the weekends. I did not do much else during that period. It was well worth it!
Meena Kumar, PMP