Thursday, March 10, 2011

My experience with success in PMP exam


Last Monday (March 7, 2011), I passed the PMP exam at prometric centre (Gurgaon), and it was much relieving for me when I saw "Congratulations" at the end of exam confirming me that I have cleared it successfully.

It took me real 2 aggregated months to feel little confident before my exam. How I prepared for it is a long story, but I definitely want to share with you my learnings during the course. That may help you in define your roadmaps who are preparing for same title.

I primarily read Rita Mulcahy's PMP EXAM PREP book (Edition 6), overall I referred to below listed useful references:
  • Rita Mulcahy's PMP EXAM PREP book (Edition 6)
  • PMBOK 4
  • JOSEPH PHILIPS' CAPM/PMP book
  • Comprehensive notes on PMZilla
I also tried below listed mock tests:
One thing to motivate you regarding the mock tests is, my average score of all mock tests was less than 60% which is much lesser than to qualify real exam. It was highly demotivating factor for me but I kept trying with a vision to develop my approach to think for right answer while in exam mode. My main motive was to understand several PM processes and groups by their need/timings of required actions. I didn't crammed ITTOs but just got thru them to understand them in such a way so I can identify the right answer from options. I always did my gap analysis for wrong answers during mocks, this was really helpful to improve my knowledge.

Although it was difficult for me, but I always tried to think of correct answer based upon my understandings before looking at answer options (during mocks) so I can do the gap analysis during the preparation.

I'd say if you study 2-3 hours a day, it'd take max 2 months time for good preparation. Longer duration may divert your mind and make you tired. Daily study is an important factor for sure and 2 months are enough.

I planned my scope in 3 portions, and divided to study for 3 days on each portion:
Portion 1: PM framework, integration, scope, time, cost management areas. (most important part of book)
Portion 2: quality, hr, communication management areas.
Portion 3: risk, procurement and ethics/social areas.

I read all 3 portions thoroughly once, and then quick reviews 2-3 times. 2 days for one revision, and cycle goes on until exam. Between every revision I read other materials also (such as mocks, pmbok, wiki pages etc. for additional knowledge).

Also, one important thing: specially in last 10 days, every day 2-4 times, practice writing below items as fast as possible, it'd help you to create your cheatsheet during initial 15minutes on the big day.
  • process areas/processes matrix (page 43 of pmbok4)
  • organization matrix types and roles/responsibilities (page 28 of pmbok4)
  • all formulas etc.
  • 1,2,3,6 sigma %
Last one week is crucial - do overview full book every day. All should be on top of your mind during those days. Leave giving mocks during these days, as it always demotivated me with less scores :(

Plan 2 months for hard study and leave every other work that you do to keep you busy. Give your full mind to it only. I did no evening jog, no product development, no partying, no extra activities after my office, whatever takes my mind away from my PMP plan. Spend 2-3 hours a day to study (morning is better) but do it regularly every day to not break the momentum. Try to memorize all the headings in your book while driving the car/walking/before sleep/nature call times etc., discuss about exam and its advantages with spouse/family as much as you can to maintain interest, be positive, and get it done.

I'd be feeling lucky in case I can contribute to your success in PMP exam, please add comment here with your questions, and I'll be replying as best/early as I can.

The excitement during last 2 minutes drive you crazy coz you are very much done with your exam and survey feedback, and left with waiting for result only. The moment of fingers crossed, eyes on screen without flickering, can listen only heartbeat... and much much better when you see CONGRATULATIONS message on your screen. This was the time when I was hanged to see my computer continuously for 2-3 minutes before I realized I have done it. Then prometric issued me my scoresheet. PMI would be sending my certificate in next few days. I gave a call to my wife immediately I came out of the prometric centre, and I loved that reaction.

I wish all of you see the same message on your screens after your exams. Good luck guys.