Monday, November 06, 2017

PMP Success Story: Understand the Concepts, Have Courage to Reach The Exam Centre and Do It With Confidence

By Shikhar Vaid, PMP

Over a period, the importance of Project Management has been increasing and evolving at the same time. The constraints in project management are no longer only scope, time and cost. Other constraints like quality, resources and risk have gained equal importance. Additionally, none of the above stated is enough for an appropriate project management in modern world. 

It must also be in sync with Organization Strategy. Being a Strategy professional, it did excite and push me towards getting PMP certification. 

Few of the PMP benefits, which augmented my decision, are as below: 
  • Worldwide-recognised certification, provided by world's leading project management organization.
  • Applicable and holds equal credentials across all industries.
  • Ranked 4th worldwide after security certifications.
  • Wide range of Job Opportunities for PMP certified professionals.

PMP Coaching Experience
While shortlisting the institute for my PMP training, I narrowed down my search to two providers. Knowledge Hut, a provider for PMP, was not a part of that list. However, one of my friends who was trained under Satya sir referred me - specifically him being the coach. I therefore enrolled myself for PMP training there.

First day I entered the class with the mind-set that PMP training would be boring and more theoretical. However, I must say, if the trainer is passionate and understands the subject; he will make the subject interesting for aspirants to help them to gain most out of it. Best part of Satya sir's class is that they are interactive and the subject taught with real life examples. In my PMP journey, Satya sir's training has played a vital role. I must say there are two ways to take advantage of Satya Sir's training classes.

  • Attend training merely to get 35 contact hours only.
                                                  - OR - 
  • Attend training to understand the concept by being more participative and interactive. Earn the needed contact hours and then practice for few weeks and complete the certification.

Choice is all yours

I grant 50% credit of my PMP certification preparation to the training I received from Satya sir.

Own Study
My study preparation started with high hope and confidence with a plan to finish “I Want To Be A PMP” followed by PMBOK. This to be followed by mock tests and go through “I Want To Be A PMP” once again before appearing for the D day (26th July’17). I planned to spend 2-3 hours a day and 4-6 hours on weekends to stay aligned with my plan. Nothing worked out. I followed the schedule for 10 days. I had completed my studies until Project Scope Management before a medical emergency came my way. I cancelled my D date (26th July) and could not start my preparation again until mid-September. 
Post this, the first step I took was to book an exam date on 26th October’17 and then start my preparation from scratch. Now at this point, I had 45 days to equip myself with the sufficient knowledge and confidence to appear for the exam. I made my study plans as below:
  • Understand the flow of all 47 processes within 10 knowledge areas (KA) and 5 process group (PGs)
  • Understand the reasoning behind the existence of all processes
  • Visit and understand the Inputs and Outputs of all processes
  • Clear understanding of Input, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) within all processes, their existence and importance
  • My focus was to master and aim at Exceed Targets for Initiating (2), Executing (8), Monitoring & Controlling (11) and Closing (2). However, I aimed for getting Target in Planning (24)

After carefully understanding and completing “I Want To Be A PMP”, I started taking mock tests. I was hitting the accuracy of 68%-70% in all Mocks. After writing the Mock test, I used to visit the question where I had gone wrong followed by reading and understanding the concept once again in same book as mentioned above. My aim was not to answer these questions wrong ever again. Also, if one knows the concept it will be easy to answer the questions in less than 1 min. You will be having 1.2 min for every question.

In addition, I frequently visited and read all the pages Satya Sir had asked to bookmark in the classes to further hone my skills and concepts on important topics.

A thought of postponing the exam did cross my mind many a times but I kept going forward with a confidence of clearing it in first attempt with a thought “It’s now or never”.
At last, I did achieve my aim of exceed Targets in Initiating, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing. However, I had to manage with Target in Executing.

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP
As said earlier, 50% of the credit goes to the training, the rest goes to “I Want To Be A PMP” book. When the book was mentioned in one of the classes, I took the discussion lightly thinking that it is a marketing technique for an author to push for his books for more sales. However, I did purchase the book after thinking about it for few days. 


This is the ONLY book I read, this is the ONLY book I referred to for my Mock tests. I found that this book is very interactive. The flow of information, highlight areas and Yogic Tips are so well designed for easy understanding of each concept for any PMP aspirant. For me it is a PMP Bible, as you get a lifetime access to this book and it is being updated on regular basis as and when there is a change from PMI towards PMP exams and course materials. 

One of the greatest aspects of this book is that the important topics all have videos explained by Satya sir himself. You have the content, tips, videos and blogs all and everything needed to equip yourself available at one place. 

The book is divided into logical order of knowledge areas with chapter end questions, full-length questions, and Exam Content Outline (ECO).


PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam in Prometric centre, Whitefield Bangalore. This is the first time I was visiting the centre and was careful about the traffic during peak hours on outer ring road. I had my exam scheduled for 8:30AM. However, I had light breakfast and left early from my home and reached the exam centre by 7:15AM. I appeared before the reception and completed the formalities by 7:45 AM, before I was allowed to take my seat and start the exam. You cannot carry anything inside the examination hall other than your identity proof. You will be provided a notepad and pencils, which you would be returning to the concerned coordinator upon completion of exam. If you want to use calculator during the exam, do ask. However, there will be a digital calculator on the computer screen itself. I opted for physical calculator. 

The strategy that I used to crack 200 questions in 4 hours was to spend and understand question in 15 min and answer the same within 1 min. If doubtful about the answer, mark the question to visit them again at last before being confident on marked choices. I completed all 200 questions in 3.5 hours. Now, I had 30 min to revisit the questions which I had marked earlier and then hit the final answers to all such question. Wherever I was not confident about the answer, I started striking off the options, which were least possible for being an answer to arrive at correct one.

The questions were mostly on the below subjects:
  • Stakeholders Management.
  • Creating WBS.
  • Risk Response strategies
  • Change Request (Very Important)
  • Quality Assurance
  • Close procurements
  • EV, PV, AC, ETC, BAC
  • Critical Path as well as Critical Chain Method (Very Important)
  • Crashing and Fast tracking (Very Important)

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Do understand the concept and reasoning behind existence of every process.
  • Do understand the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) of every process.
  • Understand the flow of processes within KAs and PGs.
  • While attempting to answer the questions in exam, do understand what process group the question falls under. Understanding this itself will make you look for the right option within the answers given.
  • Do read PMBOK, if reading multiple sources helps in understanding the concept better My situation of reading “I Want To Be A PMP” was best suited for me.
  • Do have a copy of “I Want To Be A PMP” as it can be accessed anywhere, if you have internet connection.
  • Try to think of real life examples and align the concepts for better understanding.
  • Do have a courage to reach the exam centre and appear for it.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice.

  • Do not mug up anything.
  • Do not underestimate the exam questions. The questions are not direct but situation based.
  • Do not take the preparation lightly. PMP certification is one of the best investment you will make for yourself.
  • Do not panic when you get tricky questions. Trust your preparation.
  • Do not ever get demotivated. Believe in yourself.

I look forward to leveraging these skills and knowledge, coupled with my experience and lead projects within consulting industry successfully.

Brief Profile: 
Shikhar Vaid, 8+ Years of experience in Strategy & Operations across multinational companies catering to financial services, healthcare, retail & manufacturing industries.

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