PMP Exam Lessons Learned by Prasad Salunkhe (Dec 2015)
Prasad Salunkhe passed the PMP Certification Exam around the end of 2015. Below is his detailed lessons learned covering his study plan, study resources and most importantly his exam strategy. Thanks Prasad for your sharing!
My PMP Experience
My PMP certification was long due. Seven years ago I got 35 PDU online for cheap and studied Andy Crowe. But my plan slipped away, got busy with my newborn.
This year I promised that before my birthday in Dec, I needed to get certified. Without any second thoughts I joined a PMP class starting mid-Oct on every weekend. I needed to digest what I learned in class for the whole week that followed. All Sunday’s and during week days about 3-4 hours I was studying for exam. My wife took care of all the house errands and our 2 kids.
In class we got exam tips which you can also find on Edward’s or other blog’s. Classroom instruction helped to get your question answered immediately, and get timely help in filling application. Luckily I did not get any audit requests, application got accepted in 1 week, booked the exam date one month from the last day of the class i.e Dec 8th about four weeks to go.
Studying material: My class provided Andy Crowe book, online videos, and class PowerPoint. By this time I have read Andy 3-4 times, finished all the tests after each chapter (Got 75-80% right on them). Went once through the PMBOK® Guide online version. I should have read PMBOK® Guide multiple times and Andy once. But in my class and on the blogs I heard folks referring to Rita’s book. Initially I was hesitant but then I immediately bought it, and also I bought a quick reference guide with all important topic from each chapter (just 4 laminated pages). Rita’s process flow really confused me but I had already mastered our PMBOK® Guide 47 processes flow (on YouTube they have good video, I combined tips from them). As I read Rita’s process many times later it became clearer, don’t get stuck on it. On Rita’s chapter-end tests I was getting 70%.
Meanwhile I found Edward blog, very useful, it has good problems, and notes on every chapter. Don’t read any online chapter notes as most of them are based on old PMP versions. Once you have done good studying (which you feel is never enough) start doing full test.
Now with only 2.5 weeks to go, I started looking for free full exams. ON PMI website, they have a free exam prep by Christopher Scordio, I started with this set of 50 questions (notes: not available now). I used to get 75-80% on this. And then came the Oliver Lehman questions, they are the toughest (it uses many sources other than PMBOK® Guide for its questions). I could never complete all the questions on time, I got 55-60% on his 75 set questions. But I did realize based on the attempted questions for 150 question set, I still got 70% which was some solace for me. I then took full test from Andy, I got 88%. I felt his questions were easier compared to Oliver. Wanted to know my real strength in real time, and everyone suggested to go for simulation exams. At home I used to take one break during the 4 hour exam which was not going to be the case in the real exam.
Another 7 days to go, I went ahead and bought PM Exam simulator by OSP. LLC. Got a good holiday coupon too. In next 6 days I did 5 test, I was getting between 75-80%. It also had processes related 200 question, got 85% on it. On the last weekend (my birthday) I again did a full revision. Last day before exam went to work, in the evening I reviewed EVM questions on Edward website, glanced on all the 47 processes, for the last time I practices all the exam dump, and went to bed early as my test was early in the morning.
On the D-day I reached early as my exam was at 7.30 am, they didn’t allow me to wear outdoor jacket, good that I had sweater on. As the initial pre-PMP 15 min screen time began I completed my brain dump, and had 3 minutes left. I felt like using the restroom, I just rushed out and came back quickly, the exam center folks performed their routine body scan on me, and you have to sign in. So keep in mind the extra time you will lose if you take a break during the exam. Meanwhile my screen was just waiting for me to click start PMP exam.
My plan was to do about 25 questions for every half an hour, i.e. 50 questions in 1 hour. As the exam started I got situational questions “what you will do as a PM” which took some time. Till 1.5 hours I was keeping up my pace, time spent on tough question were compensated by easier questions. But then I started slipping back with about 10-15 questions. As while solving question I used to look at the watch which made me nervous. Negative thought started peeping in my mind — O again 2nd time, again PMP A to Z.
So I just meditated for a few second and said in my heart, lord you are the one who makes my questions. I stopped looking at the watch, fun part began lots of mathematical problems started coming. In last 45 minute I was again keeping good pace, basically neck to neck. Throughout, I used to mark tough question but I always selected answer for them. Till the last minute I was doing my test. No break.
Finally the clock stopped & the exam ended. I was relaxed, stayed in the meditative mood, I kept faith in myself. Survey questions came up, I happily completed the survey, and then the waiting period BIG PAUSE, and boom Congratulations. Thank God. I came out, and conveyed news first to my wife, and then my PMP teacher and my Senior Manager/mentor.
To summarize in short: First read Andy Crowe, it gives quick essence but I felt it doesn’t go deep. So read PMBOK® Guide carefully and understand it. Rita book has good explanation (too much) with good hands-on exercise. Make quick notes or have ready-made concise notes. All the 47 process flow as you read more & more, you will learn to connect different process inputs and outputs them, but memorize 47 process matrix. Print them out, and go through them daily. Practice EVM questions.
Once you have understood all the material start doing question exam as much as you can. Practice REAL SIMULATION EXAM if you want to pass PMP.
All the best,
To Prasad: Thanks a lot for your inspiring sharing; To all Aspirants: Wish you success!
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