Wednesday, November 11, 2015

PMP Success Story: Remove Your Mental Block, Open Up and Think in Terms of PMBOK’s Best Practices

Aswin Krishnan H is a proud PMP today. His success is not only due to sound preparation, but also handling stress during the exam. He names it as the “smile” factor, as he has told below so uniquely. 

Aswin was part of my class in May, 2015. He is a very lively person and participates fully. In fact, I remember few instances where his enthusiastic participation were bringing surprised looks on some faces. In my view, enthusiasm is a great quality in any team member. But, unfortunately, it is highly underrated. I believe, enthusiasm is contagious and brings many into the fold of discussion. He called me after he was certified and I asked – “How does it feel to be a PMP?” He had a sense of happiness, relief and immense satisfaction. 

Below, he has outlined his experience in preparing for it, going through the PMP program and finally cracking the exam. Go on and read his experience.


Introductory – Why I decided on it and how I started?
I was motivated to do PMP as part of my job and wanted to understand properly the Best Practices and how to use them with confidence in day to day activities as far as possible.

Three of my friends were equally interested in doing Industry standard certification and when we began our search we had PRINCE 2 and PMP in our mind. Finally, we settled down with PMP which has huge demand in any industry. We then started our search for Training provider, found that it’s the Coach and his approach that help a lot in this kind of Certification, though online and word of mouth reviews.

One of my friend had a successful experience in securing his PMP within a month after training with the Coach Mr. Satya Narayan Dash, He was really impressed by his practical approach, knowledge and personal commitment. He has previously attended PMP trainings from various centers but never could understand the concepts clearly, and failed in the exam miserably. He came from Chennai to do the course in Bangalore, just for the Coach.

My PMP Training Experience:
The training was very precise and covered all Knowledge Areas from the 5 Process Groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing. Satya was very kind and use to share his personal experiences with certain problems which helped to see insights of approaches and reason why or what suits best based on the PMBOK Guide. He always helped us think about all the process and why each Input is given and what is the output of each process and why it is important, often in many of the companies we don’t practically use all the process or tools but the Coach’s insight in all tools and approaches was very helpful in understanding the Input, Tools and Techniques and Output (ITTO) for each Processes.

We had classes on Weekends, the coach was very punctual and kept his timelines very strict. He was very happy to help even after the classes and he would stay back for us even if it was raining just to make sure that we get the idea of what is happening or why it is happening, He use to explain ‘Change Request’ or ‘Deliverable’ Flow by drawing pictures as it goes through each processes. These insights really helped in understanding the concept and the interrelationship between each process and ITTO.

In the entire class there was fun, all were active and were participating which the coach always managed to make it interactive. Lot of things we need an actual physical person to explain to us rather than just going through hours and hours of Videos. I understood that having a real person standing in front of us will build that physiological effect, which will help me learn more and get motivated easily.

My Own Study:
I really wanted to complete the exam within 2 months after completing the class, but due to personal commitments it got extended to 4 months. Every-day I use to spend at the least 2-3 hours reading PMBOK 5th Edition, Rita Mulchay. This really solidified my understanding that was gained in the Classroom training. 

In the last one or two months I use to keep on giving Mock Tests in the early mornings (4 -7 am) and then review them after coming back from work (7 - 8 pm), I kept on giving mock test from various places and was not be very subjective in selecting the source for exam. I felt that giving these mock tests really boosted my confidence and triggered to schedule the exam. While doing the mock tests most of the times I was in panic and I didn't read all options and selected the wrong one. Rita Mulcahy's recommendation helped. I read the options from D to A instead of A to D. This really increased my hit percentage.

My PMP Exam Experience:
I became a member, filled in my application, got my references and waited for a week to get it approved; luckily it was not selected for any audit. That was half way done, second challenge was to schedule the exam. I kept on giving mock tests until I had the confidence and was hitting 75-80% in mock tests. This triggered me to schedule an exam, at this time I just wanted it to get over at the earliest; luckily I found a date that was within 10 days and scheduled the exam on that day.

I had formulated this strategy of completing 70 questions in an hour so I will be done within 3 hours at the max (200 questions) this I kept on applying while taking the mock tests and this strategy was quiet successful for me.

On the Test day, I was faced with a flurry of Mathematical questions (20-25) from Question No#1 with all confusing stuffs and very wordy; I was very stressed, then I remember reading somewhere that even if you are stressed and if you manage to keep a smile on your face you can beat the stress. I applied the same and was able to get over the initial surprises in the exam. There were lots of situational questions, I was confused in lots of places; I marked them and kept on moving forward without worrying about the lengthy or wordy questions and kept on answering whichever I could. Finally, by the time I was done with 200 questions, it was like 2:30 hours; so I went back and selected all the unanswered and marked ones and slowly went through each one of them, now ‘smile’ factor worked and was able to easily and clearly read the questions and answer them. I completed all left outs within 45 minutes. Now I started reviewing again from beginning and just kept on speed reading questions and selected answers just to make sure that I did them correctly. The PMP really puts a toll on you with all sorts of Mathematical, Situational, and Tricky Questions, the initial impact of the questions is really intended to create stress, if you overcome that then you would be able to score very easily. During the exam I read the answers from D to A instead of A to D, I found this to be very helpful against panic answering due to stress.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants:
- Dos
  • Please read PMBOK at the least twice, it is very helpful and answer to PMBOK and not to your personal experiences.
  • Please take any book like Rita or Andy Crowe or Head First and complete them once before kick starting the mock tests.
  • Please keep a smile on your face, even though you are stressed, this will help relieve stress and get back to your senses while taking test, if you are in panic answering mode read the answers from D to A than from A to D this will improve your hit rate, these helped me.
  • Please do take 10-15 mock tests before attempting the exam, this really helped me understand where I stand and what my weakness is and helped to motivate and improve.
  • Real life PM experience helps a lot while answering these questions during the exam.
- Don’ts
  • Don’t waste time prolonging the exam, use your time wisely and complete it at the earliest.
  • Having too many materials won’t help as you will be confused when to complete them, don’t get overburdened.

After earning PMP I am much relived, I can see the fruits of hard work getting paid off. Whenever you say that you are PMP, there is a peer respect, because all of them know how much committed you need to be to earn this prestigious qualification. I now see what things at work do work and what not and how they are interrelated. PMP is not just a one-time process, you can apply this leanings in each every aspect of your life which you are doing unconsciously. Finally If I CAN DO IT ANY ONE CAN. You just need to remove the mental block and open up and think more in terms with best practices put forward by PMBOK, and your personal commitment.

Brief Profile: 
I am Aswin Krishnan H and am a Project Manager with Hewlett-Packard, India. I have 9 years of experience in Telecom, Retail and Security Domain with .NET Platform. 


Aswin’s online PMP credential is available at PMI’s online credential registry.

I am thankful to Aswin for sharing his journey in achieving the PMP certification. I believe it will help you – the PMP aspirant – to have your own. 

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