Dear PMHUB Friends,
I am privileged and very excited to let you know that I have cleared the exam with a pretty good score (85%) on 23rd June in my first attempt. I had been a regular viewer of this forum since last few weeks before my exam and was able to collect lot of useful information and tips.
I had been thinking of PMP certification since long however due to my tight schedule I was not able to get a chance for going ahead with this. It took just one and half month for me to crack it.
The exam whether it is easy or tough…. I am not going to this debate because I think Easy and Tough is a relative term, depends on person to person. I saw lot of others’ LL before where-in they mentioned in the very first line, it’s an easy exam or it’s a very tough. That will send wrong and confusing information to the PMP aspirants. However I can surely say this exam really needs a planned, systematic and strategic planning and this is a 100% real test for Project Managers.
When I first planned for this exam I tried to get ideas from as many as possible specifically who failed either in first attempt or cleared after subsequent attempts. Being a strong believer of “Failure is the pillar of success” I always try to explore the reasons of failure first for any activities in my life.
Let us summarize the Reasons of failure
1. If you are too confident: I know a successful Project Manager who failed 4 times in a row who had been so confident that in his first 2 attempts he had never seen PMBOK.
2. If you are too nervous, that you are not ready to handle day-to-day situations in a project.
3. If you are tensed and not relaxed that you paid a lot for this and you have to clear it in the very first attempt, no choice.
4. If you think this is like a copy book exam, just read and memorize hard and that’s it. This is not a test of memorization. A friend of mine never failed in a single mock test and he consistently scored more than 90% from Rita’s PM fast track, he studied till 2 AM previous night in his first attempt and he failed. He then realized he grasped memorizing habits and cleared in the second attempt with a great score after understanding.
5. Loosing focus and concentrations during exam while reading questions
And the reasons of success
1. An attitude towards reaching goal; Will do it now or never.
2. Attack (that’s the right word) it in a planned and sequential way. Make a routine and follow it. Maintain consistency and homogeneity in studying. What I mean is, if you would study 4 hours a day maintain it. Studying 10 hours a day and no hour at all next day does not mean anything.
3. It does not hurt to postpone some of your important works which comes in the way of preparing for 1-2 months.
4. Collect information, documents from experienced ppls as much as you can. A group planning or studying is very important although I did not get a chance and had to plan by my own.
5. Start working like a perfect PMP for these 1-2 months in your work. Plan a job in a PMP way, use network diagrams, techniques, root-cause analysis, simulations etc. etc. as much as you can. Apply conflict management, contract negotiation and management styles and strategies as you learned.
6. Get as much mock exams as possible and take all the exams as if you are taking a real exam. Be prepared with scrap papers, pencils and a calculator, create an environment and never follow books in the midway. After exam explore what mistakes you did in your understanding for wrong answers. Never memorize the answers.
7. Real exam consists of lot of known unknowns and unknown unknowns. You must be prepared to judge the situational questions for which you must have a fresh mind and brain and for that you need to have a minimum 8 hours of sound sleep in the previous night.
8. Take real exam like any of your mock exams that you used to take quite often during the preparation cycle. Tell yourself “It does not hurt for me to come back here again, if it requires”, it’s the certification which matters.
9. Be completely relaxed, focus and concentrate to maximum for each question. Close your eye for few seconds, breath deep or walk around a bit if you think you are not perfectly focussed.. That’s why it’s suggestive to take break after every 50 questions.
10. Don’t panic on lengthy questions, read word by word. Don’t attempt to answer just by reading the last line or last paragraph. Sometimes earlier paragraphs provide good clues.
11. Understand the real problem in situational questions and select the choice accordingly like for questions what is the best thing to do, what is the next thing to do, what is not a correct thing to do etc. A good project management experience helps in it.
12. If you are not sure of one fixed right answer use the process of elimination technique, even then I found in lot of questions 2 choices are very close.
13. If there is hardly any link between the question and choices (very less chance though), select the choice which sounds most justified and reasonable.
14. For calculation questions, learn which formula to use specifically under any given condition (like EAC and ETC). Don’t get confused with irrelevant data.
1. Studied first Rita’s PMP Exam Prep (added by PMHUB admin – click for more info here http://tinyurl.com/33b6kv ) each chapter followed by PMBOK and then answer questions from each chapter from Rita’s book. Completed the forward pass.
2. Studied skillport courses (paid by my employer) and started taking mock tests
3. Read Kim Heldman’s book and took questions for each chapter. The questions are really great although I had an old version.
4. Took 4 mock tests of pmstudy.com. Learned to study PMBOK properly, I failed with 54% when I took the first test and while reviewing answers I saw 90% are direct hit from PMBOK and then I started a complete backward pass of PMBOK and Rita’s.
5. During my work I used to spend 2-3 hours everyday in taking mock tests either from skillport or from any free sites wherever I can. The link had been of great help,
6. I realized the importance of PM FAST Track ( added by PMHUB admin – click here for more info: http://tinyurl.com/2m85od ) ordered immediately when I booked the exam however due to Amazon’s delay I received that just 16 days before the exam.
7. My first score with PM Fasttrack mock test was 73.5%. Every other day I used to take one mock test and sometimes in the weekend 2-3. I noticed slowly my test scores are getting better. I took all chapter tests and super PMPs as well.
8. In the final week I focused more on studying PMBOK and Rita’s ( added by PMHUBadmin click http://tinyurl.com/33b6kv _(3rd round forward pass) although I used to take mock tests quite often when I used to feel that I am tired of reading.
9. I made concise notes on general management and scopes out of PMBOK or Rita’s. Skillport mentors had been of great help in guiding me with the proper link or source. Important sources are listed below (For in-depth knowledge on IRR, NPV, PTA, EVA, EPV, WACC, NOPAT, ROCE, Capital Employed etc.)
i. Management Skills for New Managers by Carol W. Ellis for delegation and related concepts.
ii. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page searching with any keyword from this link.
10. For ITTO, I did memorize by understanding. I spent one complete weekend to understand each and every ITTO for all knowledge area and their specific significance. I took 3 copies of just ITTO pages from PMBOK and used to keep always one copy with me anywhere I am. In the final week I spent at least one hour everyday on them. That really helped and I did pretty well in ITTO questions.
11. Off and on I used to listen Eric Nielsen’s lunch time lectures to refresh my understanding. Jim Owens columns had been of great help as well.
12. My prior RUP (Rational Unified Process) certification and knowledge helped me a lot in tackling process related concepts (like Inception, Construction, Elaboration, use case, artifacts etc.)
Night before Exam
1. Came back from work an hour before and spent lot of times with my kids and wife.
2. Did watch a good movie and took diner early.
3. Went through Rajesh_Rani’s note that I downloaded from pmhub.net for an hour before going to bed at 10 PM. This is really a good summarized document of PMBOK and Rita’s.
1. Just glanced over ITTOs for an hour.
2. Reached Prometric before an hour although I visited the center one week back.
3. The center coordinator asked me to keep everything inside the locker and just with my ID she let me go in the exam cubicle with the scrap paper, 2 pencils and a calculator.
1. Did the memory dump for 4-5 minutes.
2. First 5 questions were very straight I was happy and praying God to continue in this mode. 6th question was lengthy and then at a stretch I saw 20-25 very lengthy questions they took lot of time for me to read.
3. I marked differently for questions out of blue (completely unknown), lengthy questions and calculation specific questions.
4. After every 50 questions I took 3 minutes break, closed my eye and had a deep breath.
5. I did finish the complete pass in 3 hours and 10 minutes; I answered all the questions with ~60 as marked for review.
6. Went to rest room and had a small walk for 5 minutes inside the center. Came back and reviewed all marked questions in the order, Calculations, lengthy and out of blue. I changed 5-6 questions during review
7. I used up all 4 hours and when system popped “out of time” I clicked OK and I saw a completely white blank screen for 1-2 minutes, I was a bit nervous and thought probably something is wrong. Thought of calling the center coordinator and finally the system came with a feedback page on test and center. I finished that real fast.
8. Most agonizing 10-15 seconds, I was confident though of making it.
9. Finally, CONGRATULATIONS!!!, I saw I made it. A great relief!
Thanks a lot to all the PMHUB members who earlier contributed their LLs. It’s my greatest pleasure to write the lessons learned and I am so proud to see those three letters after my name.
Heartiest wishes for all PMP aspirants,
Bilas P Palit, PMP
Boise, Idaho, US