Monday, May 16, 2016

PMP Success Story: Understand the Concepts Well to Succeed

Saneesh Sukumaran achieved his PMP® credential in a short period of time – in just over one month! He was part of my class in March 2016. The day he was certified, he informed via mail, as he was then at Singapore. The happiness on being a PMP was palpable in his mail. I share his happiness.

Saneesh is an entrepreneur. He is the founder of an online start-up I remember him to be very attentive in the class. He will ask questions only when he has thought through all the possible options in his mind. During lunch, I came to know more about his journey as an entrepreneur and also he had a number of questions on how to be a PMP.  

Today, he is a successful PMP. Go on and read his unique experience.


It was a friend of mine who recommended Satya Narayan Dash’s course while discussing about PMP and that is how I attended his training session end of March 2016. I am happy to have taken my friends advice as Satya’s coaching proved to be a great asset. Even while preparing for the exam a month later I could recall the specific points he taught in the class.

PMP Coaching Experience
Satya was great in explaining concepts. While going through the course content, he gave lots of tips and tricks for understanding the concepts better. He kept reminding how important it is to spend few minutes recapping the class contents on the same day (which I regret not doing). The batch was a bunch of good people and had lots of questions. I believe being attentive in the class helps.

Own Study

Two week after the class I quickly recapped the contents that was taught at a high level, spend time with the online videos. I wanted to write the exam sooner and did not want to drag on. I used the course materials that was provided so that it helps me refresh my learnings from the classroom session. Then I applied for the PMP exam. 

Simultaneously, I also researched the study books and made a plan. I checked out Rita and after few pages, I realized it may not work for me. I checked out Headfirst and found it to be of my taste. The plan was to go with Headfirst along with PMBOK® and then skim through Rita, and then take practice questions and exams available. I also fixed the date for exams on 10th of May.

Any plan rarely works out the way you plan it. Due to various other commitments, I was left with little time to prepare. To be specific, 1st of May was the start of my second or real first stage of preparations. During my research earlier, I had realized that I did not have to remember all the ITTOs (Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs) by heart. As long as I have a good understanding of the concepts, I stand a chance in cracking the exam.  With little time left I dedicated the rest of the days for preparations almost full time - full time here involved other unavoidable errands. However, the priority was to study.

In the end, I went over the Headfirst book doing almost all the exercises and the questions and referenced PMBOK thought out. Many times I read full chapters from PMBOK. Next, I took the first 100 questions at the back of Headfirst, then another 100. I was able to score more than 80%. Later, I went to Rita’s book and did all the questions available at the end of each chapter. I took as many practice tests as possible. In the meantime, I also kept revising important concepts, tools used during this period, which helped me to form a strong base on the things I learned.

My PMP Exam Experience (At the Exam Centre)
During the practice exams I was doing 100 questions in around 1 hour and 20 minutes. But I saw a pattern in my way of answering the questions, i.e., I missed something that was obvious or sometimes I mistook a word. 

I realized I need to read the questions more carefully and decided to read every questions twice before answering the questions during the actual exam. I wanted to try this approach in one practice test before the exam. But I had just one day left (already scheduled for 10th May) by that time and hence could not do that. Rather on the penultimate day before the D-day, I decided to revise what I have learned.

In the actual exam, I applied the approach of reading the question twice before answering. But I knew it won’t leave me much time with this approach. Hence to be on the safer side, I decided to answer all the questions in one go, marked the ones for review on which I was doubtful and proceeded till the end in just one iteration. 

I knew it was going to take more time than the practice tests. But it actually took longer than expected. I finished all the questions with only 20 mins left. I took a 5 minutes break, came back to exam seat and revised the questions marked for review with very little time left. I think I only changed the answer of one question during the review – the only review I could have. Fortunately for me, it worked!

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • The most important thing to crack exam is to have a clear conceptual understanding on how project management works as outlined by PMBOK Guide. Then you practice questions and revise your concepts to validate your understanding.
  • Initially I spend few hours researching/reading on what are best checklists/notes/formula books etc. It was overwhelming. Hence, I read about people’s experiences on this blog on what they did and what they referred, which all lead back to the 1st point: understanding the concepts well. I didn't spend any more time for those checklists/formula book/notes et al; Rather I honed my understanding on the topics.
  • In retrospect, one thing I would have done differently. I should have revised the classroom’s learnings the same day during my training and prepare a little for the next classroom session – as the session was spread over 4 days in weekends. I believe it would have helped me more.

Brief Profile: I am Saneesh Sukumaran, working with an online startup Before launching the startup, I was a QA Manager with


Saneesh’s online PMP profile is available at PMI®’s online credential registry. 

I am thankful to Saneesh for sharing his experience. I do believe it will help this blog’s readers, who aspire to be PMP, in reaching their goal.