Monday, July 21, 2014

PMP Success Story - Understand the Process flow in PMBOK Guide Clearly, Plan Properly and Stay Calm before Exam

Abhishek Srivastav felt exhilarated after being certified as a PMP.  It was his first try and he aced the exam! As I have seen, Abhishek put in a dedicated effort and was in touch throughout till the final day of before the exam. As they say – sincere effort never goes in vain.

Abhishek had met me personally post the 35 PDU program. During the subsequent discussions after a few weeks when he asked me about his preparedness,  I would put some random questions and check his understanding on the desired subject. He asked me quite a few times during our discussion - mostly during weekends. And I was certain he would clear the exam. 

Below, Abhishek shares his journey in getting certified as a PMI-PMP. 


Hi All,
Cleared my PMI-PMP exam on 24th May, 2014 and what an experience it was! You feel exhilarated after the exam!

Just wanted to share my experience of the entire journey with you guys. I’m sure a lot of you might have actually gone through a lot of such blogs or articles, however I am just adding my two cents towards this and I hope that it helps you – even if a little bit – to attain your certification. 

35 Hours of Training – Mandatory

Had registered for the training on 5th September and had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Satya Dash at the venue. Truth be told, I was at the training just to see how it’d help me and the initial certificate towards project management. However, I must confess, the 4 days of training with Mr. Dash was an eye opener.

He, of course, walked us through the nitty-gritty stuff of the PMP course material but the real value add was the extra efforts he took to take ALL our questions with a lot of patience and then the follow up questions with the same patience ! Cheers to that. Plus he facilitated a lot of discussions to happen naturally in the sessions which allowed us to share our experiences and practices from various backgrounds as well. He made the class interesting with his activities and the session was thoroughly engaging as well as interactive peppered by occasional discussion on topics ranging from projects in real life and in current affairs.

A point which is often lost to a beginner and was made abundantly clear to us throughout the entire session was that the PMP framework does not have a specific flow for the entire 47 processes in a fixed pattern and often the flow could change depending upon the situation or the context. This helped me a lot when I was studying on my own. Another thing which we as a group were afraid of our ability to recall all the 47 processes and this was taken care by him thoroughly so much so that every member of our group could recall the process chart individually by the end of the session.

We were made aware of most of the important inputs and outputs, study material to be referred, degree of difficulty of the exam questions, key terms and practices and most of the commonly type of questions appearing on the exam. Hats off to him!

Preparation for the exam: 

The first step, post classroom session was to go through the material. A thing to remember here is that while you come out of training, you may recall most of the important stuff and are in a momentum towards the PMP exam. The instant you let your job and other priorities take over, all the benefits of the training are wasted. This was informed by Mr. Dash to us as well but to no avail. I had to take up another training with Simplilearn™ later. However the trainer wasn’t even half as good as Mr. Dash and all it helped me was with a refresher. 

Material I referred to: 
  1. Rita Mulcahy – Eighth Edition – RMC
  2. Head First PMP 3rd Edition
  3. PMBOK Guide 5th Edition
  4. Question banks from the provider
  5. Oliver Lehmann website – question bank
  6. PM-Fast Track – RMC – question bank
  7. HyperPMP app on Android platform – Very useful!! 
  8. Certchamp™ and Lehmann question bank on Android Platform

I had taken a 60 days leave without pay for this and had ample amount of time to prepare. If you are following this approach, you can adjust the timeline as per your study schedule. 

A word of caution: For people attempting to study along with work should try to achieve about 10 hours of study per week and about 6-8 hours of study on the weekends. PMP exam prep may require you to sacrifice some family life / personal time. Make sure you are mentally prepared to do that for about 3-4 months before investing time, resources and efforts into PMP. 
  1. Started with the Rita Mulcahy and completed one chapter every day – 16 Days
  2. Started with PMBOK and completed each chapter every day – 12 days 
  3. Revisited Rita and PMBOK (only the important stuff) – 7 days
  4. Tried about 3 question papers, one from Headfirst and two other from PM-Fast Track – Scored about 83% in HeadFirst and 72% and 71% in PM-Fast Track – 6 days
  5. Took a break for 2 days 
  6. Got Headfirst PMP and read the book end to end as a revision. – 10 days
  7. Tried another two sample papers – Simplilearn™ (questions are good quality) – 4 days
  8. Constantly revising during odd hours with the Android apps. Just go through the ITTO’s or some 10-20 questions whenever you get some free time. 

Exam Tips and Tricks: 

Prior to the exam: 
  1. HeadFirst is a good book and so is Rita Mulcahy. 
    • However, HeadFirst is a much better option for those who like interactive learning and the approach is more of a illustrative one rather than the text. It’ll keep you interested throughout the book. If you’re someone who cannot keep up the focus too much, then I’d suggest the HeadFirst book. 
    • Rita Mulcahy has the best content of the lot. However, it is comprehensive and on the dull side. If you’re properly motivated and can keep the focus high for a long time, I’d recommend the Rita Mulcahy in that case. 
  2. Try to get an exam slot for a time of the day when you are at your best focus. 
  3. If somebody is taking an exam in Bangalore, the centre would be the Prometric® Test Centre at Prestige Shantiniketan off Hope Farm Signal at Kadugodi. 
  4. Stop reading about a day prior to the exam – Trust me, this helps! 
  5. Try to get some proper sleep one day prior to the exam. 
  6. Don’t try and cram for the exam one day prior to it. No use and only increases the nervousness. 
At the exam centre:

  1. You are not allowed to take breaks during the exam and there is usually no time to take them as well. You have about 80 seconds for each question! 
  2. If you are using the “brain dump” technique, I’d suggest making a good use of the paper and pencil provided and getting it over with during the first 10 minutes and using the next 5 minutes to get used to the system provided to you. I did not use the ‘brain dump’ technique. 
  3. You do get ear mufflers at the exam centres which are pretty useful things to block out at disturbance from the other candidates in the room taking the exam. 
  4. While attempting the exam, make it into multiple passes. I took three passes to complete the exam. 
    • First pass with the easiest questions with little or no calculation or analysis. 
    • Second pass for all the other questions which did not require too much of analysis or I had no confusion with.
    • Third pass for all the confusion-riddled questions. 
  5. On the first pass, you get a lot of confidence. By the second pass you are pretty much in a smooth mode. This helps in the third pass. 
  6. There is a ‘mark for review’ option. Use it for the above step. 
  7. Get a copy of your report signed and sealed by the test centre. 

 -- Abhishek Srivastav, Team Lead, KPMG


Brief Profile: Abhishek Srivastav is a management professional and based out of Bangalore. He holds a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from Liverpool John Moores University and a Bachelor of Engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University. Currently he works with KPMG, Bangalore, India. His online PMP profile is available at PMI Online Credential Registry. 

Abhishek informed me that he has been certified as a PMI-PMP the same day.  In life, it is one of the few moments you feel happy about – helping people in  their journey which they earnestly want and when they share it with you on their success. It was one of those moments. 

I am thankful to Abhishek for sharing his experience. I believe his experience will guide and enrich others.

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