Lessons Learned by Srinivas Reddy Nalla (New PMP Exam 2016)

PMP Exam Experience Sharing

A very detailed lessons learned for the PMP Exam from Srinivas Reddy Nalla who passed the exam with 4 proficient and 1 moderately proficient.

Srinivas Reddy Nalla Passed the New Exam

Below is the sharing by Srinivas who have recently passed the new exam:

Exam Preparation

I have taken my exam on 27th June 2016 at Prometric center in Charleston, SC – USA. My exam was scheduled at 8 am and I reached the center by 7:30 am. I was immediately attended by the staff, given a locker to store my belongings. The only things that they allowed inside were my ID and locker key, apart myself. Sorry, that was a bad joke.

I was allowed inside after verifying my ID, security scan and sign in. I have quickly scanned through the tutorial in 5 minutes, taken 5 minutes to write down EVM formulae (which proved to be not at all useful). I have started the exam 15 minutes ahead of my scheduled time and completed within 3:30 hours. I completed the survey after the exam and Congratulations message appeared almost instantaneously. I have to admit, it was a great feeling considering the extensive preparation one goes through for the  exam.

Given below is summary of my preparation, materials I have used and my experiences. Hope this helps someone in their preparation.

Study Material (Books & Course)

  1. PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition
    • Read once, referred few times for specific topics based on mock exams
  2. Rita Mulcahy’s Prep Book
    • Read once, referred few times for specific topics based on mock exams.
    • I have to confess, I skipped most of the exercises at the beginning of the chapter and skipped to the filled in tables.
    • But I have done all sample questions at the end of each chapter and scored between 70 to 80%.
  3. Edwel Prep Book – Free
    • Read once and done all the sample questions at the end of each chapter and scored between 70 to 80%.
  4. Udemy’s PMP Course
    • This course gives your 35 contact hours required for the application.
    • Decent quality for the price, but I would have taken PM PrepCast™ if not for the bargain.

Study Material (Online)

  1. Edward Chung’s blog (https://edward-designer.com/web/pmp/) – It was of great help. His study notes, list of practice exams, other concepts / topics were very useful, especially to review a day before the exam.
  2. PM PrepCast™ Newsletter – subscribed to the newsletter, which provided sample questions over email and some concepts overview as well. They also send some sample Prep Cast videos for few topics, so that was helpful.
  3. http://www.brainbok.com/ – This website has some great resources on some of the exam topics including a comparison / difference between some of the often confusing terms.

Length of Preparation

  • I have started preparing as early as December 2015 but couldn’t spend enough time consistently due to work and other commitments.
  • Scheduled the exam on June 9th, 2016 and I was started to get more serious about it. During first week of May I assessed myself and thought I would need some more time, based on my free mock exam scores.
  • I then decided to follow a rigid study schedule and also bought PM Exam Simulator. For the next 7 weeks, I followed the below schedule most of times:
    • 2-3 hours during week days
    • 4-5 hours on Saturdays and Sundays
  • I recommend 3 months’ time with the above schedule for having a fair chance of passing the exam.

Practice Exams (Free)

  1. Oliver Lehmann (online) – scored 68% first time
  2. Headfirst PMP Exam – scored 75% first time
  3. PM Exam Simulator Free Trial – 72% first time
  4. Oliver Lehmann (PDF) – 62% first time
  5. Edwel Mock exam – scored 71% first time
  6. PMCAMPUS – scored 74% first time
  7. EXAM Central – scored between 75% to 82% in multiple exams
  8. PM Study – scored 81% first time
  9. PassionatePM – they have 3 mock exams of good quality – scored around 80% in these exams
  10. PreparePM has some good quality mock exams.
  11. MyPMLLC (http://www.mypmllc.com/project-management-resources/free-pmp-exam-questions/) has some good quality questions.
  12. Tutorials Point (http://www.tutorialspoint.com/pmp-exams/pmp_mock_exams.htm) has some good quality mock exams.

Practice Exams (Paid)

  • PM Exam Simulator – scored between 82 to 88% in the first attempt in 8 exams. Scored only 75% in the first one. Scored 86% in the ITTOs exam that gave me lot of confidence going into the exam.

Some thoughts on the actual exam

  • I thought the PM Exam Simulator mock exams are a good indication of our preparation. Since I was scoring 80+ in those mock exams, I was very confident going into the exam and thought I have good chance of getting 4 Proficient. My actual result confirmed my forecast: I got 4 Ps (Initiating, Planning, Executing and Closing) and got MP in Monitoring & Controlling. Strangely though, I was getting MP in Executing in my PM Simulator exam most of times and was scoring Ps in others.
  • I have not seen even a single “not one of these”, “not in” kind of questions. All were straight forward.
  • There were 3 questions on PERT Beta distribution estimation and these were the only questions I had to use the calculator.
  • There were 3-4 EVM questions, but none of those involved any calculations. They either gave EV, PV and AC or gave SPI and CPI and asked how the project is doing in terms of budget and schedule.
  • There were couple of questions asking about creating network diagram and to identify critical path. One of them had circular references where critical patch cannot be determined.
  • I got only 1 or 2 questions asking about ITTOs directly.
  • There were quite a few questions on Risk Management and Stakeholder Management.
  • I have answered the 200 questions in 3 hours and taken 20 minutes to review the marked questions. So, I was out of the exam center with my result within 3:30 hours. I took more time to answer the first 100 questions, compared to the next 100. I have a taken 5-7 minute break after the first 100 questions and that helped to relax and regain the composure.
  • I completed most mock exams between 2 to 2:30 hours and I felt that was long every single time. But, surprisingly for the real exam, I was more excited and didn’t feel bored at all.

Final thoughts

  • If you are scoring 75% or above consistently in good quality mock exams, you have a high chance of passing the real exam with at least few Ps.
  • Don’t practice every mock exam that you come across by Googling. Quality of some of the mock exams is bad and some have glaringly wrong answers. So, some of these exams may pull you back rather helping you.
  • Don’t spend too much time memorizing ITTOs, it’s not worth it. If you understand the flow and purpose of these ITTOs for each process, that is good enough even though you may not answer each ITTOs. Without memorizing ITTOs, I could score 86% on the ITTO exam of PM Exam Simulator.
  • PM Exam Simulator is good if you are not tight on budget and want to go with solid confidence into the exam. The host of mock exams I listed above may be sufficient enough, if you can wait to take them until you think are well prepared. I have taken most of the free exams before I was fully prepared, so I had to do some mocks afresh after I felt that I was fully prepared.
  • I started writing my own study notes but stopped after a while as there were lot of online references and lessons learned I could use. But, I would still advise to prepare your own study notes that can help identify weak areas.

Thanks again Srinivas. Wish you PMP success!


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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