Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. Not even me. If you want something, go get it. Period. — Chris Gardner
Warning at the start that this will be a long post and hope it helps at least some of you with your preparations and outlook for the PMP exam.
To be frank my experience working as a PM (mostly based on the PMP methodology) helped me a lot during the preparations and the exam. And my friends (Bhavik and Himanshu, bless you guys for that booster) did tell me that it would a fairly easy exam as I already had the experience. But you do get tensed when you read the general information about the exam and the difficulty levels on the internet.
To start off- I had been thinking of taking PMP back in 2014 and was determined to achieve it in-spite of job priorities and then my son’s arrival pushed it to the back seat.
Now that I got some time and while searching for a job here in Australia, I decided to finally put my efforts into giving PMP certification.
As a kick off I applied for PMI membership and then for a boot camp with one of PMIs accredited learning provider.
April 3rd – April 6th 2017:
PMP Boot Camp (I couldn’t get the required 35 PDUs other wise, as I was on a break since 3 years).
And that turned out to be a good decision for me, as I am someone who likes to listen and understand first.
So the 4 days of Boot camp gave me a good enough overview and insights needed for preparing for the certification.
The Boot camp success does depend a lot on the instructor too, I was lucky to have an instructor (Vidyesh Alve) who was well versed with PM methodologies and helped me throughout my studies post the boot camp (that was like almost 2 months).
Boot Camp – I would advise if you already have prior experience as PM, because it gives a concise picture in 4 days, and if you don’t already know 50-60% then it might be difficult to comprehend the class
April 7th 2017:
Went through the PMIs application process and submitted the application. The xls at the below link helped me a lot to collate my information across the work years and put it in correct context
It is actually the best sheet to compile your application data for PMP 🙂
April 12th 2017:
Received email from PMI that I could proceed to the next step of the application process – payment. However, the application is still subject to further review or audit.
Did my payment on the same day and by end of the day received email from PMI with examination scheduling details i.e. the PMI Eligibility ID which you need to book your exam date on the Prometric site.
April 15th 2017:
Booked my exam date for 23rd May 2017 and then it finally started to sink in that now I need to be regular with my studies. I only had the time that my kid was in daycare to study, so that was 5 days a week approx 5-6 hrs per day. No weekend study for me. But Vidyesh Alve (my instructor) got me into a WhatsApp group of people who were studying for PMP from India and Australia, so that helped me a lot while I was not studying to improve and build on my knowledge as they regularly post interesting and tough PMP questions, exam study plans and other exam related topics. The group has members from diverse fields so that’s an added benefit as you get broad field perspectives.
In case you are interested to join this group, please contact Vidyesh Alve on WhatsApp number +61478900264 or his co-author Vidhi Raj on +919426323499. Yes I have their consent to post their numbers here 😉
April 18th – April 30th 2017:
I decided to read a chapter from PMBOK and try and gauge my understanding of the same and then read Rita to finally clear up any gaps or issue that I had. So i went for 1 chapter each day, no rush.
I didn’t mind reading it chapter wise because I had the overall idea of how the standard was structured, but you could take up as you feel correct or as per your ease (either KA wise or Process group wise).
The main point is you need to understand what is happening in each process and once you do try and work out what all project documents would get updated in each of the process based on your understanding and experience.
There is NO need to mug up the ITTOs it’s almost impossible to do so (and if someone is able to then hats off, but that really doesn’t help) as the questions are situation based so you need to understand what process is being performed and based on the situation what would need to be updated or analysed is something that would come easily if you actually understand the process.
May 2nd – May 19th 2017:
I went for solving the questions available on various sites. The best consolidation was given by Oliver Lehmann
And even though people do look at their scores in these tests, I was looking to see what went wrong, the more mistakes I made the more I read and understood the concepts that were not directly given in PMBOK.
Don’t get disheartened if your scores are bad at the start, they are meant to be, else how would you learn 🙂
My scores improved towards the end. Along with these I also bought some books on Kindle –
Christopher Scordo PMP Exam Prep Questions, Answers & Explanations (Good quality of questions)
Practice Tests for PMP: Step 2 by Kavita Sharma (Difficulty level was a bit high but again gave me different perspective of questions)
Q & As for the PMBOK Guide – Fifth Edition by Frank Anbari (comparatively easy set of questions, but good)
And that was all. I didn’t really track my scores but towards the end I was more confident of the answers and the reasoning for them.
Also visited my exam center a week prior to the exam, so that I was not searching for it on D-day.
May 20th – May 22 2017:
Had a glance through of my notes from the various mistakes I made or the problematic areas (I’m bad at memorizing so the various motivational theories etc was something I had to keep reading to familiarize myself with the terms)
And some last minute look over at PMBOK marked points and glossary.
May 23rd 2017:
Had booked my exam for 13:30, so reached the Prometric venue at 12:15pm.
If you are ready to take the exam right way, the Prometric invigilator allows you start the exam (sooner than your appointed time) if there is a vacant seat available. So for me I went in around 13:00.
The initial screening and security check takes around 5 min. It helps if you don’t have much jewelry and accessories on you (except for your wedding ring, better if you leave the rest at home :)) and also wear something comfortable and carry a simple pullover/sweatshirt in case it gets cold inside the exam center. Also at the Melbourne Prometric center they give you four A4 size sheets for you to scribble on and also a physical calculator if you prefer one. The pmp exam application does have a built in calculator, so you have the calculator button at the bottom for every question. The exam has one question per screen and the next, previous, mark (to mark a question for review later) and calculator buttons at the bottom. The exam also allows you to highlight any words or sentences in the question, which would help if it was a long question (though I didn’t get any long worded ones). Also there is an option to strike out answers so could help while you are trying to eliminate wrong answers. But please do note – you HAVE to select the final answer, striking out is just to assist with your thought process.
The questions were not too lengthy nor were they confusing, they gave the scenario clearly. The answers for some (around 10-15) were a bit difficult to select as there were 2 answers that seemed correct. 6-7 numerical questions which were pretty straight forward and easy.
I completed my exam in 2.5 hours and reviewed the questions I had marked for another 30 min. And by approx 3 hrs I finished my exam and pressed end. The application which was pretty fast till then decided to be a bit slow 🙂 … but finally came up with the CONGRATULATIONS screen (got 3 P’s and 2 MP’s)
And lo and behold now I’ve PMP appended to my name !!!
My take at the end of it – PMP is fairly easy if you know the concepts and use it in your professional field and the standard is interesting and good for PMs.
There is NO correct way to study, just pick the one which you feel is correct or create your own study path and you would do just fine. Join a group (like the one on LinkedIn – “I want to be a PMP”) or have a study group so that the interest and learning curve is maintained through out your study time.
That’s it folks … I wish you all the best for your preparations and your exam.
Lots of Luck,