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TOPIC: Passed PMP Exam on Mon, 14th Dec 2015

Passed PMP Exam on Mon, 14th Dec 2015 11 months 1 week ago #7114

  • Narendra Karambelkar
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Date of Exam : 14th Dec 2015

Time : 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Examination Result : PASS

Scores :
• Initiation : Moderately Proficient
• Planning : Moderately Proficient
• Executing : Moderately Proficient
• M&C : Moderately Proficient
• Closing : Moderately Proficient

Study Time: 6 Months (Started in Mid-May 2015)

Background :

• I sat for PMP 1st time in early 2009 and did not pass. The fault was with me for many reasons but want to list the main 3 below :
o I read PMBOK guide 2 times & did TAKE ANY NOTES
o I was maybe overconfident that from late 1990s I was in Project/Program/Engagement/Account Management or similar or higher roles, so I can easily pass
o I did not feel the need to go thru’ additional material, free or purchased, as I felt PMBOK guide is more than OK. I did not even take any free sample tests floating on the web.
• When I did not pass, I was bit shocked & ashamed too. After that incident I wanted to re-study and give the exam but with project, travel & personal commitments I was not able to give.
• From Jan 2015 I really gave it a serious thought and re-evaluated the above 3 points.
• End of Jan 2015 :
o I restarted my PMP membership which I had discontinued for couple of years
o Was able to throw the thought out of my head that now for nearly 15+ years I am in PM or related or higher roles and I should preparing for exam holistically w/o any previous baggage
o Downloaded PMBOK guide & started reading but gave up as it is too mundane, verbose and really abridged. (At this point again I started doubting whether I should proceed or not but crossed that thought out)
o Scoured the Web for best study material and sample tests
• By end of April 2015 I had shortlisted 2 sites/references for study :
o RMC Learning Solutions
o PM Prepcast
• I finalized on PM Prepcast as it has better reviews regarding video/podcast medium & also I wanted something which I could listen/watch/learn offline when I am on the road and also the ability to get the 35 hour certificate
• Based on the various feedbacks I read on web regarding study I decided :
o I need to get the 35 hour certificate by May 2015 which gives me 3-4 months of time to prepare
o Study at least for 2-3 hours on working days & double that on weekend
o Forgo as much as family together time, personal time or socializing or even my 2-3 times a month golf 
o Take exam sometimes in September 2015 as my 1st try and if I don’t pass then attempt 2nd try end of Oct 2015 before PMP exam changes (of course this got pushed to Jan 11, 2016 sometimes in Aug/Sep 2016)
o My in-laws decided to visit us for few weeks from India in from late June to early Aug. That plus my project timelines/issues made me realize that Sep Exam is extremely ambitious.

35 Hour Certificate & PMP application :
• I started with the PM Prepcast videos mid May and after 2 weeks I decided I should attempt the relevant certificate
• I passed in the 1st attempt and uploaded the 35 hour certificate to my PMP exam application.
• I got confirmation about my application in couple of days and I was ready to schedule the exam.

Study Pattern followed :
• 2-3 hours a day religiously
• 5-6 hours over the weekend
• Started by reading the PMBOK guide thoroughly in the month of Jun 2015. Had started watching PM Prepcast videos but stopped as sometimes I could not co-relate the videos with the guide effectively
• Once I finished the 1st pass of the book I started earnestly my study in the month of Jul to Sep 2015 :
o Read a Chapter from PMBOK guide
o Make cheat sheets
o Watch all the PM Prepcast videos associated with that Chapter. I used to download the videos for the chapter which I was studying so that I could study/watch w/o the need for internet connection.
o The video list is very comprehensive for each chapter. I used to plan the watching in such a way that for the 1st pass I don’t want to be disturbed by anything and used to watch the full video from start to end.
o My 1st pass of watching video was just to watch and then during the 2nd pass watch & also ready the associated section within the PMBOK guide. I used to go back & forth if things were not clear.
o Made notes during the 2nd & subsequent passes only.
• The above exercise was still not complete by end of Aug and I made a decision that about taking my exam Oct 2015 end. I was taking a risk here as from Nov the exam was going to change. But it was worth taking a risk. So I scheduled the exam for Thanksgiving Mon 23rd Nov. But then again PMP moved the switch to Jan 11, 2016 so rescheduled exam for Mon, 14th Dec. This was my last chance as I was going abroad on vacation from 16th Dec for nearly 4 weeks.
• Study pattern for Oct 2015 was same as that I had followed in Jul-Sep 2015 but towards the latter part of Oct 2015, I took my first sample test containing 50 questions and I scored 48%. This was a bit of dampener as I felt that I had studied adequately. But then I realized I had made some errors in really reading few of the questions. But even I would have got them right it would have pushed my passing to just 56%. Many Formula questions I got it wrong but then not all formulas were in my head.
• I decided that I should learn all formula’s by heart and go thru’ the sample formula questions from PMP Prepcast. There were 105 questions and I tried solving without time constraint. I could get only 28 right which were really the simple ones. I then decided that I will just read over & over again the approach & the answers to all the 105 questions. This helped me a lot as I got to know how to read the formula questions, ignore some fluff planted in the questions, pick the right phrases/sentences and then use the correct formula. With this I think I must have got all the formula questions right in my PMP exam. From end of Oct I decided that I should go thru’ all these formula questions at least 3 times a week.
• From Nov 2015 onwards I just concentrated my study on the following :
o Cheat sheets created
o PMP Prepcast Formula Questions
o Sample Exams (There are many sample exams sites on the net both paid & unpaid)
• Initially I took only 50 questions to solve in 1 hour. I used to turn off cell phone, keep landline phone far away and tell family members not to disturb me for next hour. It was difficult for 1st few tests but then slowly I got used to it and then I moved to 100 questions in 2 hours and after a few of them I jumped to 200 questions in 4 hours. I just took 2 tests of 200 questions because finding chunks of 4 hours was only on weekends and I barely had 2 weekends.
• I took all the tests on my desktop the way it is for actual exam. I even used the Windows calculator for the formula related questions
• Taking 2 hour tests you realize that time management is key. You have to quickly read the questions and at times mark & go forward if you can figure out. You can come back to the marked ones at the end.
• My passing percentage started moving up from 48% till the last sample test I gave where it was 76%. On many sites folks have stated that you are ready for PMP when you get more than 90% in your sample tests. I did not have a choice as the last sample I took was on Sun, 6th Dec.
• Last week of study :
o No sample exams taken to lessen any negative stuff accumulating if I get less correct
o Concentrated only on the cheat sheets
o Going thru’ printouts of the following Tables from PMBOK 5th edition :
 Table 1-1 Comparative Overview of Project, Program & Portfolio Mgmt
 Different Organization structure (Matrix, Projectized, Balanced, etc.)
 Table 3-1 Project Mgmt Process Groups and Knowledge Area Mapping
• Last weekend before Exam : Study by going thru’ the cheat sheets but barely for 2 hours each day.
• Day on the Exam :
o Exam time : 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm ET
o Center was 40 mins drive from house
o Relaxed when I woke up with the knowing that even if I don’t pass it is not the end of the world but I had enough confidence that I knew I am not going fail
o Just glanced at the cheat sheets in the morning
o Left my house at 10:30 am just to be sure that if there is any road delay then I still can reach before 12:30.
o Reached center at 11:15 am. Checked with the front desk whether I can take the exam earlier but she said no workstation available and I have to come back at 12:15 pm.
o Sat in the car listening to music/news and occasionally glancing at cheat sheets
o At 12:15 pm I entered the center & showed my 2 photo id’s (Driver’s License & Bank Debit Card). You need 2 pieces of identification which have your photo. The lady checked for all my info and told me to empty all the pockets of cell phones, wallet, papers, pens, etc. Since the exam hall is cold I had a sweater which was ok. Guard checked again with metal detector for any objectionable stuff. Nothing was there. All my emptied stuff I put in a locker and I could keep that key with me.
o I was given few rough pages, pencils and a calculator. Using calculator is always better than Windows Calculator as we are used to it.
o You could take any number of bathroom breaks but that does not stop the clock and also no food/drinks inside. (I had good brunch earlier in the day so was not hungry). There was a small water fountain with disposable small cups near the restroom if anyone wanted water. I refreshed myself before entering the hall hence I did not require any bathroom or water break during the exam.
o I was given noise cancelling headphones so did not hear any unwanted noise & could concentrate on the exam.
o Lighting was adequate on the workstation & cube which I was given.
• Actual Exam :
o Once you fire the exam there are some instructions which you can go over but once you start the exam you cant go back to any of this or stop the clock. So before you press the start be very careful. Check whether the pencils are sharpened good and all the calculator buttons are working and some basic functionality.
o I started exam at 12:28 pm knowing well that I have to answer all 200 questions by 4:28 pm
o I must have marked around 40 questions where I felt it was taking more time then necessary to answer.
o I answered all the remaining questions
o I answered the marked questions once I was done with other. Please unmark once you answer a marked question. Exam has a option to display only the marked questions. This saves you time.
o Actually I finished answering all 200 questions by 4:10 pm
o The in next 10-15 mins I rushed thru’ all the 200 questions to check for answer
o And I finished by 4:27 pm once satisfied by pressing the submit button
• During Exam :
o There were around 3-4 questions which I really could not come up with a good answer which matched the choices so I just checked something and not left blank
o 5-6 questions on critical path, float, etc
o Many situational questions which tests your ITTO knowledge. This is where the sample tests & cheat sheets helped me
o Around 25 questions where on formulas. (especially TCPI, CPI/SPI, CV/SV)
o Some peculiar/odd questions on Organization Culture, Project Orgs, Life cycles & PM role (Mainly Chapter 1 & 2 of the PMBOK guide I guess)
o HR Knowledge area was the least asked i.e. maybe only 2-3 questions. All other areas had good amount of questions
o Project Time/Cost/Risk Management areas had the maximum question I thought
o I felt the exam more easy than the sample tests. So in short do any many practice tests as possible & take the times ones
o At the end I was pretty confident that I am not going fail but was anxious about the pass proficiency level.
o Damn happy when I saw on the screen that I have passed
• After Exam :
o Collect all your belongings from the locker and go to the front desk.
o I was handed the result sheet. Now I can enjoy my ride home and then vacation !!!! Yaaaay !!!!
• PMP certificate :
o Received it in 3 weeks after my success

Vielen Danke fuer Herr Fichtner :
• His material & the samples exams were great. Worth the money spent.
• PMBOK guide is mundane so having someone talk with slides is great.
• Additional supporting material on the slides is a real plus as the PMBOK guide does not have such stuff.
• Finally a shout out to Justine 

Good Luck to all those who will be taking the PMP Exam !!!!
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