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I thought I was coming of age into a dynamic Project Management industry thus decided to give it a go for the highly regarded PMP certification. I did however, gave myself targets to hit for this exam as I am a fan of efficient hit-and-run strategy.
Some of the targets and constraints I had at the back of my mind included the following.
Target 1 -> Obtain certification in 3 months;
Target 2 -> Minimal study, maximum results;
Constraint 1 -> Incur the lowest possible costs;
Constraint 2 -> Safeguard my time outside of PM (Work) and PM (Study).
you can see, the strategy that I would need to get me to the other side of the PMP world is radically shaped by the targets and constraints. I pretty much settled with my Go-Live date, cost/schedule/quality/resource constraints from the get-go. In essence, I was a cheapskate and a lazybum.
Mobilisation Phase -> 1 Week
I opted out of all classroom courses rather quickly due to Constraint 1. It was another 3 days before I chanced upon Cornelius' PM Prepcast and another 2 days to find Rita's PMP Exam Prep 6th Edition. After glossing product reviews extensively, I was pretty clear that I will stick to these 2 resources for my dear life in the coming months. Officially exited this Phase after committed payment.
Operations Phase - 2 Months
Downloaded PM prepcast into my phone and have Cornelius repeat and repeat to my ears while commuting. To ensure that I wouldn't be too bored by overexposure to PM topics, I mixed it up with some upbeat music in between PodCast(s) to keep me alert. My goal was to ensure that I could rattle off key topics like a parrot 1 month before the paper.
Scanned through Rita's book like a hunter with clear objectives that included the following.
1. Sussing out the skeleton (structure) of the contents;
2. Have a clear sense of the heavyweight topics;
3. Perform topical analysis in terms of deviation/coherence to real-life PM experience I have.
So far, there was no overtime on Sundays in the months of April and May.
Testing Phase - 1 Month
I deliberately withheld all testing until I had the materials clear in my mind. At this point I was focused on having a firm grasp of the topics without committing memory work. Lazybum at work.
I took one week away from PM contents and focus on testing such as sample questions on the net and back of chapter tests in Rita's book. My results were pretty consistent across the various sample tests at 80% plus overall. Armed with the paper diagnostics, I started searching for the additional 10% by focusing on my weaker links such as Risk Management (not that surprising), Communication Management (whooping surprise!?) and etc.
So far, all Sundays in the month of June are spared.
Cutover + Go-Live
I ceased revision 2 days prior to the exam as I had sufficient faith that effective osmosis is going through my head while sleeping. I had to ensure I wouldn't panic.
Arrived 1 hour early at the exam site to see folks biting fingers and flipping papers furiously. Went for coffee instead as I didn't want to be affected by the nervous energy all around.
Entered the exam hall and seated myself between 2 candidates. A big round clock was right in front of me. Perfect.
Started the paper slowly to test the waters. Surprisingly calm and cool. Conceptual questions, application questions, calculation questions, funny questions, "Are you smarter than a 5 Grader" questions poured into the unsuspecting HD TV monitor in front of me.
Slotting Cornelius's podcasts in between Maroon 5 music clips is starting to take its effect. I can't seem to tackle Procurement and Integration Management questions without humming the music. Hopefully my neighbours are fans of Maroon 5.
An hour into the paper - Crossed the 50th question mark. Neighbour on the right has been sighing profusely since the start of the paper.
It was pretty surprising that only few calculation questions surfaced. There were also questions that would require an eternity to finish reading, with multiple smokescreens and red herrings. Reading again and again and again isn't uncommon. Maybe there should be a word count limit for questions?
2 hours into the paper - I think I was at 110th question when neighbour on the left threw his mouse on the big screen. Understand, understand. I dropped my 1023th strand of hair too.
By the 2.5 hour mark, I was incredibly drained when a complicated spider-web diagram appeared on my screen. Exercised my pee-stop option for a breather. My profusely sighing neighbour on the right has started staring out of the window for possible lunch options upon my return.
3 hours into the paper...... and I was totally bumped. When I checked the answer box for Question 200, all I wanted to do was click submit and teleport home. I mustered my last source of energy to browse through all questions that baffled me once more. 15 minutes later, I was cooked. And done.
I hit the "submit" button.
Closed my eyes.
Peeked through opening of my fingers.
I was ushered out of the room.
All targets met and constraints satisfied. Personal satisfaction at a high.
Thanks to Cornelius and Rita for the "support" rendered!
This interview with Simona Fallavollita (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the magnificient Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. We discuss the how, what, why and when of the changes that are coming to the PMP exam.