Monday, December 19, 2016

PMP Success Story: Learn with Data Flow Diagrams, Must Read the PMBOK Guide and Have Fun While Learning

By Uday Satapathy, PMP

I had a thing in my mind that the syllabus for PMP® is too dreary and the only way to clear this exam was by mugging up stuff, with loads of coffee in between.

Fortunately, as soon as I began my training with Satya, I realized that studying for PMP can be fun as well.

PMP Coaching Experience
I decided to opt for PMP training in October 2016. Satya was our coach. I knew scarcely about him and expected the classes to be grim and serious. On the contrary, the classes were fun and enjoyable – they had to be – else the going would have been tough for us to listen to only the theories.

In the first few hours itself, Satya ran us through all the Process Groups, Knowledge Areas and Processes in a unique and interesting way. A way I believe, which makes the concepts difficult to forget. He promised that by the time the training ends, each one of us will be able to sequentially write down all the processes on the whiteboard. It was hard to believe initially, but eventually it turned out to be true. Suddenly, with Satya's help, the PMP monster appeared less daunting.

Own Study
In the last hour of the training, Satya asked the class to take a test which had predicted how much preparation we would need before we take the PMP exam. I didn’t score that well. Satya suggested that I should prepare at least for 3-4 months before I write the big exam.

I got a bit scared, because I’d aimed to crack the exam with a month’s preparation. That was almost laughably aggressive a deadline, but I’d other constraints in my life and hence I'd no other option. I decided to add 15 more days to my schedule and gave myself 45 days to crack the exam.

I took up Head First PMP book initially, but somehow it didn’t suit me, because I wanted to try out more difficult and thorough books. Rita Mulcahy's PMP Prep worked best for me. I devoured it completely. Every time I completed a chapter from Rita, I would complete the corresponding chapter in PMBOK® as well and take a test. My scores were OKayish.

I finished both Rita’s book and the PMBOK guide finished by November-end. I did a quick revision of PMBOK in 2-3 days and decided to start a marathon of tests, targeting the 3rd week of December for the exam.

I completed all the questions and chapter-end quizzes from the following books:
  • PMP Exam Prep Questions, Answers & Explanations by Christopher Scordo: Lot of questions, most of them easy. But, important for building concepts. Should target 80-85%.
  • PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide, Kim Heldman: Good questions, but a few of the answers are debatable. Target: 75-80%
  • The PMP Exam How to Pass on Your First Try, Andy Crowe: Generally easy ones. Target: 80-85%
  • Oliver Lehmann online questions: Tough and a lot of questions are out of syllabus. I barely managed to scrape through. I guess just passing is enough.
PMP Exam Experience
After the first week of December, while I was randomly checking on the Prometric website for available exam slots, I found to my shock that other than the 14th of December, all other slots were full till the second week of January. I had no option but to book that slot, even though it was only 5 days away, a week earlier than my target date.
I quickly revised both PMBOK and Rita Mulcahy once more, and prayed to God that there be no bouncers in the big test.

Exam Day
I don’t know how it works for others, but surprisingly, in spite of solving so many questions, I found the main exam a bit tough. I took a break after the first 100 questions and noticed that 2 hours had already passed. None of the full length mock tests I took lasted for more than 2.5 hours. However, here I was, sitting in the PMP exam with still 40 questions to revise after 3.5 hours.
I changed my answers for 5-6 questions during the final revision and then submitted it. Soon, the words ‘Congratulations’ flashed on my screen. I was ecstatic, yet completely exhausted. It was time for a celebration :)

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  1. The main exam should quickly follow the training – within 3-4 months at the maximum. Else there are high chances that one may lose momentum or forget the concepts.
  2. Learning the data flow diagrams is the best way to understand the inputs and outputs.
  3. PMBOK Guide (difficult one) is a must read.
  4. There are just too many Tool and Techniques to remember. The better way is to understand the logic behind why they are used. There a lot of similarities between them.
  5. Studying a chapter from Rita’s book and then immediately the corresponding chapter from the PMBOK guide worked best for me. That way, I did not have to read the full PMBOK guide in one go.

Brief Profile
Uday Satapathy, Program Manager, HCL Technologies. MBA from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar. Certified Scrum Master.

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