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TOPIC: Sharing lessons learned

Sharing lessons learned 1 year 2 months ago #5898

  • Swathy
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I began my studies for the PMP certification in May 2015 and obtained my certification in July 2015. I passed the exam on my first attempt with 4Ps (Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Controlling) and 1 MP (Closing). I found the PM PrepCast and PM Exam Simulator to be an excellent resource. I highly recommend the Prepcast and Exam Simulator as must-have study material for PMP. The daily newsletters from PM PrepCast is also extremely helpful. Not only is it focussed on prepping folks aspiring to take the PMP exam, it also keeps your motivation level up. Strange enough I used to always receive the newsletter at the right time with the content/advice that I was looking for.

My sincere thanks to Cornelius and team for providing such great study material. I love everything that you guys are doing for PMP exam preparation. The passion and zeal comes through in each podcast video. I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out which study material to use. There are a ton of them out there and it is so easy to be lost. Sometimes you don’t even know if you are spending your time and money on the right stuff. I am glad I found PM Prepcast after a little bit of research and making a couple calls to PMI. To all those out there wanting to appear for the exam, don’t think twice. You must get the PM Prepcast, it is totally worth it.

I started my journey to becoming a PMP by reading lessons learned shared by successful PMPs. It gave me an idea about study material and time required. I used this information to device my own aggressive study plan. I targeted 10 weeks dedicating 6-8hrs on week days and more on the weekends while doing my full time job. In the first 5 weeks, I studied the 10 knowledge areas thoroughly (2 per week) using the PrepCast videos alongside the PMBOK guide. I went in the order of the PMBOK guide except that I saved the Project Integration Management knowledge area to the end. Most folks say that the PMBOK guide is dry, but it was easier to understand the material using this approach. During the sixth week I focussed on completing the PMP exam application and reading the first three chapters of PMBOK guide on basics of Project Management.

The remaining 4 weeks prior to the exam was set-aside to do the PM Exam Simulator tests and a second revision of the PMBOK guide. This time I switched the PrepCast for ‘Head first PMP’ and Rita’s book. I spaced out the simulator tests in a manner to give ample time to review all the answers (right and wrong) and revise at least 2 knowledge areas. In total I did about 2500 questions. I did all the PM Exam Simulator tests just like I was doing the PMP test including brain dump sheet and breaks. By the time I did the 5th test I was so ready for the exam I just wanted to be done with it. I scored 90% and above on all the tests. I also did Oliver Lehman and scored 70% which gave me a lot of confidence as it is considered to have difficult and trickier questions. I recommend Oliver Lehman just for this sake.

I was a little nervous in the last week, but I kept ploughing through my plan. It is natural to feel nervous and anxious in the last week and that just means you are on the right track. On the day of the exam, I got to the test center half hour early. Again, I stuck to my plan during the exam. I finished answering 200 questions in 3hrs, took a 5min break and remainder of the time checked my first hundred questions (just to be sure) & all those I had marked for review. The 4hrs went by in whiff!

Based on my experience, below are the lessons learned:
- Recommended study material - Make sure you include PM PrepCast and PM Exam simulator as part of your study material. PMBOK guide is certainly a must-have. Head first PMP and Rita’s book (8th edition) is an amazing supplement to the Prepcast. It helps to broaden the scope of concepts.
- Don’t memorize the ITTOs. I had all the ITTOs for the different knowledge areas written out and pasted to the living room walls. It was the best way to visually understand and process the information. It really worked!
- Don’t memorize the formulas. Understand what the formulas are used for and when to use them. Do a lot of practice questions. The math questions are great because when you are done answering them you know if you got them right. There is no second guessing. The study material I used was more than enough to master the formulas and related calculations.
- Always keep the big picture in mind while answering the questions. Practice as many test questions as you can, you will get the flow.
- Practice writing your brain dump sheet. You don’t necessarily have to follow what is online. Your needs may be different.
- Try to make up your own way to remember concepts that you find hard to relate to – try to use a story or an acronym.
- Plan your strategy to tackle the 4hr exam. Being on the clock just makes you nervous. Although I knew the PMBOK guide well and was ready for the exam, my experience at the test center was totally unexpected. The test center was noisy – people talking aloud, on the phone and the exam administrator coming in every ten min to check. Sitting right by the door just accentuated the situation. It took me about 100 questions to settle down. My strategy was to complete 200 questions in 3hrs, then take a break, come back and review the questions marked for review. It worked fantastically well for me. I squeezed in the review of the first 100 questions as well.
- Most important of all believe you can do it. Set your target, have a plan and stick to the plan at any cost.
- Don’t forget to celebrate your achievement!
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