PMP Exam Lessons Learned by Sohani Hanchinamani (New PMP Exam 2016)
I cannot agree more with Sohani’s comment: “When you see consistent scores between (70-80% in mock exams) it’s time to take the real exam. Do not delay beyond this point because I believe everyone has an inflection point beyond which the law of diminishing returns comes to play.” Getting over 70% in mock exams is often a clear indicator of whether one is ready to take and pass the real Exam.
Fortunately, the new PMP® Exam does not have much changes and Aspirants can still make use of the available free or paid mock exams to check on their exam readiness.
Sohani Hanchinamani Passed with 6 Months’ Preparation
Below is the sharing by Sohani who have recently passed the new exam based on the 2016 exam content outline:
My journey started six months ago and I got my certification two days back in my first attempt! My journey spanned across 2 continents where I moved 4 times! However my geographical challenges apart, there are many more challenges a PMP® Aspirant has to face. Firstly, it is important to remember that it’s a certification and not just a credential, which means it not only acknowledges your knowledge on the subject but also your ability to apply that knowledge to get work done, which comes with experience. So having a Certification validates your knowledge as well as skill. If you are on the fence and still contemplating if you should take up the PMP® endeavor or not, I would definitely recommend going for it. That is because advantages of having a PMP® are not limited to just having that prestigious registered trademark (®) or statistically proven post PMP® salary hikes alone. In addition to the fact that having a globally recognized credential fortifies your resume, the intangible benefits that spring from the grueling preparation, are far more. You will have lots of questions, in case you are studying for your PMP® or intend to start. From my experience I have tried and answered a few below.
1. Am I eligible?
Your eligibility for the exam is decided by 3 factors – Your Educational background, previous project management experience and your project management education/training.
2.When should I apply?
Once you have confirmed your eligibility the answer to this question is really left to you because it depends where you stand currently with respect to your project management knowledge. But as a thumb rule, taking the test within 3 months of completing your mandatory 35 hours of formal training would be beneficial. There are many good online as well as classroom providers for training. Depending on your budget and flexibility you may choose any one of them. I would recommend going for a classroom training because an interactive session is the best and fastest way to catalyze your learning. It could also help you build a collaborative study network and share learnings and resources. I used the classroom training by Simplilearn and found it extremely effective.
I also suggest taking a PMI membership and then registering for the PMP® which will give you access to a lot of online resources and make you eligible for a discount. The exam fees for members is 405 $ USD while it is 555 $ USD for non-members. The membership costs USD $ 129 so you end up saving if you have a membership.
3.What should I study?
PMP® tests your understanding in 10 different management knowledge areas namely – Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human resource, Risk, Communication, Stakeholder and Procurement management. On registering with PMI you get an access to the official study guide for the exam or the PMBOK® Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge). This guide provides an excellent framework for study however does not suffice as the only source. There are ample books available for study that you may choose from. However here is the list of resources that I used –
- PMBOK® Guide guide, 5th Edition (can be downloaded from PMI website for free if you are a member)
- Rita Mulcahy, PMP® Exam Prep, 8th Edition – Cover to cover with chapter wise exercises (This is my personal favorite as it greatly helped me in understanding the concepts clearly)
- Christopher Scrodo, PMP® Exam Prep: Questions, Answers and Explanations – 1000 questions including chapter wise tests and mock tests (This was also extremely helpful since the level of questions is aligned to the exam standard)
- Online training material from Simplilearn – Very well organized chapter wise quizzes and explanatory slides. They also provide you 5 mock tests with good quality questions.
- Excellent collection of free resources at http://www.oliverlehmann.com/
- Great chapter wise notes and resource list at https://edward-designer.com/web/list-of-free-pmp-exam-questions/
- 5 Challenge Mock Tests – Are you Ready? By Mohit Arora (I found this book in the library and decided to give it a try. I found the mock tests excellent and tougher than the actual test. But solving tougher exams is a great way to build confidence!)
4. How long should I study?
This again depends on where you stand on the learning curve and how flexible your schedule is. After registering for the exam, PMI gives you one year to schedule and complete the test. So I would recommend after you have finished reading at least one reference resource and the PMBOK® Guide, take a test and identify your knowledge gaps. Then go for a third iteration and concentrate just on the gaps. The last few weeks for me were just mock tests and revisiting weak areas. When you see consistent scores between (70-80%) it’s time to take the exam. Do not delay beyond this point because I believe everyone has an inflection point beyond which the law of diminishing returns comes to play. That means any preparation beyond that point will not result in substantial improvement.
5. What if I do not have enough experience in few knowledge areas?
PMP® study material is a comprehensive guide for all aspects of project management. However your real life experience in few knowledge areas could be limited. Identifying gaps and concentrating efforts on those topics is crucial for exam success. PMP® does not test facts. But it tests your knowledge and how you would handle certain situations in the project. Majority of the questions on the real test are heavily worded and verbose you must be able to imagine yourself in the situation described and make a well thought decision. For example, with the latest changes effective from Jan 2016, the focus on stakeholder management is very high. If you have not handled stakeholders in large projects then focusing on the knowledge area will help you.
6. Anything else I need to know?
Yes! Maintaining unwavering focus for 4 hours and answering 200 questions can be quite a test of mental and physical stamina. So practice, practice and practice! I planned a timed break for 5-6 minutes after 2 hours which helped me stretch and retain my focus for the rest of the duration. I completed the test in 3 hrs 45 min and used the last 15 min for reviewing the marked questions. Finally after a 15 sec pause when I saw the message “Congratulations!” , it was worth all the effort and hard work!
Thanks again Sohani for the detailed account of your PMP® exam success story and your generosity of sharing the lessons learned with Aspirants. Wish all PMP® success!