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Prasanth: Passed the toughest exam I had taken in my life …
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First of all “THANK GOD”..Thatz all what I can say after I cleared my PMP exam based on PMBOK 4 on 5 Apr 2010.I just cleared it very narrowly.”IT IS THE TOUGHEST EXAM THAT I HAD TAKEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE”.
I have my masters degree in computer application, Post graduate diploma in Operations management, Certified software testing professional and a Functional/Technical consultant with good project management exposure.
It took me more than 2 years to at least understand and assimilate the concept that PMI is focusing on. It all started with an idea, put forward by one of my friend whom I considered as my bro (Praveen) for doing PMP. As we were in a project that had a lot of things to learn and had a scope for improvement as the environment was dynamic and challenging PMP would certainly be beneficial for us. He being a more experienced professional than me chose to embark in this journey and explained the procedures and why he was doing this. Soon I also started thinking about the exam remitting the money without giving a second thought about the exam and the toughness (which happens with most of the people who fail coz they don’t understand the concept of the program and why a person is doing that and end losing money, disappointed and discouraged. Few points are given at the bottom). One thing that I felt throughout my preparation is that the more I was preparing more complicated things were turning out for me. I used PMBOK as my main reference and few PMP prep books available in market. I can very confidently say that the real exam is totally different (at least in my case).Day by day the things was getting worse and I was going clueless thinking what to do, whether to take the exam or just drop the plan and focus on technical/functional consulting bit more and make my living (Unfortunately I lacked interest doing technical stuff much as my ambition always was to lead from the front with responsibility and authority and focusing on project management areas).I had no choice by that time rather than just giving a shot as it was almost two years spent on the preparation and a large amount of money already invested for this.
Finally I determined to take up the challenge and fixed my exam on 5th April in a Prometric Center near to my place. It was 6 hours journey from my place to the examination center. Two days before the exam I didn’t study or even look at the books as I would have gone mad if I had read it again. Every time I take mock exams I either score slightly better or end up losing 10% less mark than what was actually required. The travel to the prometric center with my wife was really hard. All the way I was visualizing the life after the exam. Only assurance that I had was my confidence of doing excellent in big occasions as I always did in my academic and professional life with the faith that god will reward me. I had some brain dump and some formula sheet with me that I took along. We reached by evening at the examination center to get the feel of the situation. Took a room nearby to spend the night and appear refreshed for the exam.
I woke up at 6.30am as the exam was scheduled for 9 am. My wife accompanied me to the examination center to boost my moral and encourage me to excel in this quest. We reached by 8.00 am and waited till my name was called. I went inside, finished the preliminary process of identification and locked my snacks and water in the locker that they had provided. I was invited to take the test and the exam started with the 15 min introduction about the exam. I wrote down whatever I thought that I could forget into the scrap of paper that they provided and took a deep breath before starting the examination.
On the start itself I smelled the trouble. At times I even had six questions at a stretch which I was clueless but kept moving forward and marking whatever I felt most correct and even marked those which I felt can be review later for correction (I answered the best option in those cases too, coz in case I don’t get time in the end I shouldn’t lose that question. Luckily that I did this coz only 10 min before the exam, I finished my 200th question).Most of the questions were elaborate situational questions and had all the answer options correct. The toughest challenge was to fix one as my answer. Every question was of high quality and cannot be compared to any mock questions that I had taken. After taking 112 questions I felt my throat dry and not able to proceed further unless I had something to drink. I quickly went out took some water, had a snack and used the rest room to wash my face and head then returned quickly back to my place and continued. I was taking an average of 1 hour for every 50 questions’
Sprinted towards the end of exam as I wanted to review at least few of the questions that I had marked for review. I finished just 10 min before the scheduled end time managed to review 2 calculation questions only. I decided to just pray 5 minutes before the end of the exam closed my eyes till the official came near me and asked to click the end button. I stood up and clicked the end button while still praying and raised my both hand as if I will just walk out if I failed…the screen was flickering for a while and the result appeared “OH MY GOD..I DON’T KNOW HOW TO THANK YOU…”…It displayed “Congratulation” and I was about to howl with joy and the official face was also so happy after seeing that result. She congratulated me and told me that I have achieved something that most of the time they see other way..I requested them to let me go out and see my wife to break the good news to her. The official allowed me after the formalities and I ran out and hugged her .I was speechless and all the time my wife was asking me “MAN TELL ME IF U CLEARED IT OR NOT”…after few minutes when I was able to speak I told her that I made it..So relieved of all the tensions..collected the report from the official. Result was all moderately proficient except one being below proficient (Narrowly cleared). Not at all a worry, at least I don’t have to be sad of loosing or don’t have to go through the dilemma of whether to take the exam again or not (I am sure that I wouldn’t have the courage to take any exam if I had not cleared this one simply because of the effort that I had put).
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While coming out I heard some one telling that I was the only one who cleared the PMP exam after really a long time from that center. I called everyone who were anxious about my result and had a mix feeling of surprise and happiness for my success.
I would thank God first who has never let me down whenever I had put my effort in doing something, supporting me and my family during every hard times. I thank my wife, who was so patient, positive, adjusting, understanding, motivating and struggling with me since last year after our marriage because of my professional ups and downs and my late night preparations which was the only free time I could devote to my preparation because of my odd work timings and continues professional journey that I had to embark on. I thank my mom, dad and sis for the support that they always gave me. I thank my brothers Ayree and Praveen for continuously motivating me. Last but not the least my friend and guide Mr. Anoop who continuously assured me that my preparation was really good and gave the courage to go forward with excellent inputs.
I have been receiving queries about the exam from many. Few points that I would put for them to think about before making a decision regarding PMP is given below.
UNDERSTAND YOUR SELF:
• Why you are choosing PMP?.If it is just about moving to higher level in career, then seriously rethink.
• Do you really understand the difference between Project Management and Functional Management?
• Analyze yourself .Find the area of your interest and go by your strengths. Because “Jack of all trade ends up in nothing”. You may be good in some area which you can excel and shouldn’t fall in no man’s land by just ignoring your talents.
• Google about “Halo Effect”.
• Project management is not only about PMP.It is a blend of sofskills, personality, perseverance, communication, ethics and application of PMP knowledge.
UNDERSTAND THE PMP EXAM:
• It is not an easy exam. It requires tremendous dedication and perseverance.
• Questions in the exam unique and is not the kind of one that tests your logic as in any technical certification or your memory power.
• Questions in the exam are of high quality and more inclined towards project management situation and application of knowledge that you gain from PMI is what is required to clear the exam.
• There are 200 questions and mostly situational and descriptive. There are four options as answer. The answers are tricky and you may find all answers correct. The real challenge is choosing the most correct answer.
• Of the 200 questions, 25 are dummy questions, which means that they don’t add to your score even if you answer them correct. So there are only 175 valid questions.
• The pass percentage is unknown and PMI don’t reveal this from PMBOK 4th edition. It is a qualitative approach and the score for each question can be different.
• Don’t rely on any mock materials too much and try to map the answers against PMBOK as I have found many wrong answers in the mock exams that I took and that really will have serious impact on your understanding.
• Need to understand ITTO well.
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