PMP Exam Lessons Learned by Rameshwar Khenat (Nov 2015)
Rameshwar Khenat passed the PMP® Certification Exam on 30th November 2015 with 3 Proficient and 2 Moderately Proficient. He has written an extremely detailed lessons learned article for his exam preparation and study. He has kindly agreed to share his lessons learned with fellow Aspirants. Thanks Rameshwar!
Cleared PMP® Today… Wasn’t that difficult 😉
Feeling happy and proud to say today I cleared my PMP® on my first attempt with 3 P’s and 2 MP’s. Thanks to my wife, family and colleagues who encouraged me.
The journey started in June 2015 when I attended PMP® preparation course over 2 weekends. It gave me the required PDUs to qualify for PMP®.
I did not create any detailed plan but rather modified it as per my progress. I started study in July. Apart from PMBOK® Guide, I referred Head First and Joseph Phillips’ Study Guide. I simultaneously read Head First (1 time), Joseph Phillips Book (1 time) and then PMBOK® Guide (4 times) chapter by chapter. This helped me in understanding the PMBOK® Guide concepts.
After first iteration I read PMBOK® Guide again (now I think I should have started solving mock exams). Following are my scores for all free mocks I have tried:
- Scordo (~80% in first attempt) and (~85% in second attempt)
- ~400 Questions from Joseph Phillips CD (~75%)
- PM Prepcast (~65%)
- Oliver Lehmann 75 questions (57% in first attempt) and (66% in second)
- MockExam4u 200 (81%)
- HeadFirst 200 (80%)
- PM Study 200 (77%)
- Simpilearn 200 (72%)
- TechFaq 200 (85%)
- Exam Central 200 (85%)
- Exam Central ~800Q (~80%)
- Rita Chapter End (77%)
- Sean Whitaker 120 Q(68%)
- PrepartPM (83% in fist attempt) and (73% in second attempt)
- Izenbridge 100 (73%)
- Heldman CD (I tried 20 questions average score was 80% but decided not to continue with this as I found few answers with unconvincing explanation)
Initially I was reading the explanations for wrong answers without referring PMBOK® Guide or other books for details. My PMP® trainer Sameer instructed me to read the entire section related to the wrong answers and I feel this helped me a lot.
My observation on Mock Exams
I feel Sean Whitaker and Oliver Lehmann were way too difficult compared to my exam. I felt Rita’s chapter end questions were also tricky but they helped me to understand PMI-ism. Out of the above mock exams, I found Exam Central (My PMP® questions were close to these), Simplilearn, PMStudy and HeadFirst good.
Try to solve as much as mock questions but keep watching on the quality of the questions. I found lot of issues in the explanations / answers mentioned on MockExam4U and questions from Heldman.
My initial plan was to take the PMP® Exam around the end of October. But due to some issues I postponed it to end of November. My plan was to gauge the process of mock and based on that to take the actual exam. In the week of Diwali (9th November 2015), I gave 4 full mocks (HF, PM Study, Exam Central and Simplilearn). I did not get more than 80% in 2 tests but I was happy with my score and found that I did lots of silly mistakes (most of them related to NOT reading all answers, neglecting NOT, EXCEPT in questions). Based on these scores I booked exam on 30th November 2015.
Other Study Materials
Apart from Books I gathered useful information from IzenBridge forum and linked in group “I want to be a PMP®”. Also referred few videos from Saket Bansal.
I bought 2 ebooks:
- A Roadmap to Cracking the PMP® Exam: A PMP® Exam Preparation Study Guide
- Demystifying The PMP® Exam: PMCampus Performance Training Manual: From Kickoff to Final Sprint: How to Pass your Project Management Professional Exam with Confidence and on a Budget
Note: I did not read these books on second day after purchase.
Week before Exam
I took off for the entire week to study and read PMBOK® Guide once, Glossary Twice. Also solved Rita’s chapter end questions, Scordo (~500 Questions) and TechFaq360 full exam. Edward Chung’s chapter-specific notes once.
Two days before Exam
My exam was scheduled on Monday and my plan was to study till Saturday night. But on Saturday evening my brain gave up and I was not in the situation to read further. So instead of stopping studying 24 hrs before exam (as per my plan), I had to stop study 36 hrs before exam. On Saturday night due to tension I managed to sleep at 3:00 AM and woke up at 8:00 AM on Sunday.
Day before Exam
Day before exam I travelled to Mumbai and as decided (and boycotted by my brain) did not touch any study material. Rather I read Success stories on Izenbridge forum. That worked very well for me. My mock scores were in line or better than few who cleared the PMP®. I took it as benchmark and after that point (Sunday evening) I never felt single time that I may not be able to crack the exam. However I did not get any sound sleep on Sunday night.
As I did not get good sleep, I did not need alarm to wake me up. I actually checked mobile at 3 AM, 4 AM, 5 AM and finally woke up at 5:30 AM. I reached Prometric center at 7:00 AM, it was crowded with GRE candidates and instead of 8:00 AM, my exam started on 8:35 AM. As soon as the timer started I dumped 47 processes and formulas in 10 minutes and started the exam after reading instructions.
Overall, the PMP® Exam questions were easy. No silly point (NOT, EXCEPT) type of questions. Good number of questions on Integrated change control. Few questions on EVM, 3 on Tuckman ladder. No quality guru question. Few on Decision tree, Contract types and Risk. One large network diagram was provided to calculate float of critical path activity. Most importantly, only 2 ITTO related questions and those were straight forward.
I took 2 breaks, one after 1 hr and second after 3.5 hrs. I managed to complete all 400 questions in 3 hr 40 minutes. I changed ~4 questions marked for review. Allow system to finish my test, due to anxiety completely filled the survey and at the end most awaited message appeared on screen.
For Exam takers
Based on my experience I would like to suggest following to exam takers
- Do not stick to the rule of 80% or more in mocks. It’s desirable but may not equally applicable for all mocks. Rather use mock specific benchmarking. I feel getting 70% is also good provided you are working on wrong answers afterwards.
- Do a lot of mocks as early as possible
- I did not create my own notes as I never felt it’s required. However I was relating each with my project work. Rather I used notes from Edward.
- Do not push till end. Last minute revision, mugging won’t help in PMP®.
- Meditation (deep breath) helped me in keeping cool during exam, I used it before exam, in between whenever I am anxious.
- Be confident and appear the exam with attitude “ I will pass PMP®”
At the end it was good experience, serious study after 11 years is not easy. I was just wondering where I would have been if I would have had studied similarly in my engineering.
To Rameshwar: Thanks a lot for your enlightening sharing; To all PMP® aspirants: Wish you success!