I am very happy to share with you all that today I have passed the PMP exam after 2.5 months of sincere effort. Except closing, got proficient (Above Average) in all areas, in closing I got moderately proficient (average). Here goes my project story,
Initiation(D-Day- 90 – D-Day – 70)
Started with browsing internet for resources and very soon got overwhelmed by the information overload. However started with PMPrepCast by legendary Cornelius Fichtner (http://nanacast.com/vp/104860/238442/13335/) Though I had gone many internal PM trainings and also lead upto 18 member teams, I was not sure whether those will be counted for 35 contact hours, so didn’t want to take any risk. More than the contact hours, the style of Mr. Cornelius motivated me a lot. I used my Blackberry to listen to the PrepCast on my way to office and home. Applied for PMP and application was approved.
Planning (D-Day- 70 – D-Day – 60)
i.Enrolled in few high quality Forums like PMZilla, PMHub and DeepFriedBrain. I am sincerely thankful to all the excellent and kind people who have given valuable suggestions in these forums, those were real eye openers. I read a lot of lessons learnt, specially from those who have failed, hats-off to these brave-hearts who wanted to fight back again.. I have read somewhere our life is not enough to learn from our own mistakes, so I tried to understand what I can plan better. I guess that’s what LESSON LEARNT are for. Specially, Rajesh Nayar’s note from PMZilla was an invaluable gift!
ii.I also enrolled for two good newsletters. Considering these are free, those were of high quality. http://www.cornelius-fichtner.com/ http://www.pmplessons4you.com/
iii.Enrolled in yahoo groups, PMHUB@yahoogroups.com, PMPExamForum@yahoogroups.com
Execution (D-Day – 60 – D-Day – 30):
I started reading books now, the books that I have used are:
1. Andy Crowe – Excellent for Initial Confidence Build Up. To the point.
2. Rita Mulcahy Rita’s PMP Exam Prep – Bible for all PMP aspirants, I agree the tone is a bit negative, but who cares if you have such excellent tricks-trade, PMISMs and Situational questions.
My technique was read a chapter for Andy Crowe and read the same from Rita to build on it.
3. PMBOK – Read Only once – I know many people have told it is a bad idea, but I have got very few things extra here (like forecasting techniques etc.). But I think this book has too many negative publicity which Is not justified. I am not sure what people expect – a crime thriller? This is a standard written by experts mostly by volunteering, it is also a good reference, go through the glossary twice¦ you will notice few interesting definitions like Elapsed Time and Duration.
Monitoring and Controlling (D-Day – 30 – D-Day – 10)
Now it was the time for mock exams. I knew very well I have to work very hard here as this will make or break my PMP dreams. So I have started with free exams with the below sites,
Oliver 75 + 175
Headfirst – 200
Pmstudy – 200
pmzilla – 25
And few other sites which I will not mention here because very soon I realized those are not adding any value! Either those are very straight-forward or have a lot wrong answers. I needed process improvement. So, I started searching for good paid exam sites, after a little research.. my qualified seller list stands like – PMStudy, PMPerfect, PMExam Simulator (Cornelius) and Rita’s Fast Track. All these have very good reputation in market. But my selection criteria being the lowest price for the first try I went with PMStudy and PMPerfect. (Trust me, my fallback plan included buying for the other two if I had failed today).
I must say, mock exams(paid or not) really helped me a lot. You must appear for as many good exams as possible, those will clear your concepts. In real exam you will never get any question exactly same, but if you build on your mistakes, analyze why you are wrong, the final exam will be much easier.
I will also advice you to must mark those answers which you are guessing, as next time you may guess wrong!!!! Also, you must make notes of your mistakes for ready reference which you can revise a day or two before the exam.
Closing (D-Day – 10 – D-Day):
I started revising the books, notes in last 10 days, and the skimmed through them again. Stopped appearing for any more exams, partly because I was getting bored and also didn’t want to loose my confidence. When you are ready, you are ready, it doesn’t matter if you get 75% or 85%, judging PMP preparedness based on percentage is not wise. The day before the exam, I didn’t touch any book, saw some science-fiction movie and my all time favorite TV Serial – “Wonder Years” in Amazon kindle. It was a great break. On the day appeared in the exam hall 30 mins before with my passport (currently I am in USA). Here is the exam experience,
1. Put the headphones on
2. In initial 15 mins wrote down PMBOK – Pg -43 and all EV formulas
3. Promised myself I will not get excited and skip an important word in a question or in an answer (which I had often done in mocks), will read each Q at least twice (Qs were not that wordy)
4. Initial 30 Q was a bit confusing, I marked 14 of those, but gradually questions seem easier, there was a time I answered 40 consecutive Qs without marking anyone and that ws the time I became confident that I will pass
5. Questions seem quiet easy to me.. trust me.. I am not exaggerating , if you read Rita cover to cover understanding the concepts and not just memorizing ITTOs and Practice so many questions you have to be familiar with the concepts, they can not create concepts out of the blue after all -), will somebody need to tell you there is a diff betn crashing and fast-tracking/QA-QC/Scope-Statement and Charter? You should be confident enough to apply these concepts based on the situation given?
6. For the situational questions, the page-43 was really handy, you have to think where you are and you have to decide your action mostly based on the next logical process
7. There were few questions on ITTO which I can easily answer, I have never memorized those, and I will advice nobody to do so, if you understand the process and TT why should you waste your time?
8. Finished 200 Q in 2hr 40 mins, had gone through the marked Qs (around 35) in next 30 mins,
9. Took a break and in last 40 mins again quickly browse through all Qs, this time I have changed around 7 answers, and I am sure most of those are for good.
PMP is a tough but an interesting exam, but not scary at all. You need to have a good plan and discipline to follow the plan. May be you have to postpone some personal activities for few days. But the final outcome can give your career the needed boost. This should be enough motivation for you to prepare yourself for PMP. All the best.
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