Sunday, April 08, 2018

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: Be Committed To Your Ultimate GOAL

By Rajeev Ranjan, PMP

I have been managing projects for quite some time now. There are many things in the project management domain that we do not do as an individual, like I was less involved in initiating, cost, procurement management, etc. I wanted to get the project management understanding in detail and end-to-end. 

There are many jobs, which requires PMP certification. Although I do have practical experience, but I cannot apply just because of the absence of PMP certification.

PMP 35 Contact Hours Experience
One of my colleague recommended Satya’s class and particularly him as a coach. I went ahead with my colleague’s recommendation, which I felt was the best selection decision among all the available REPs.

Satya has a unique teaching style. His practical project management experience and comparing it to the practical project management or life situations will encourage you the most.

My PMP classroom experience was an awesome one. I was fortunate in having a very interactive classroom session. By the end of 4 days of classroom session, I was confident in Initiating PG, Monitoring & Controlling PG, Closing PG, and mathematical questions across all the 47 processes. I felt that 35% - 40% exam preparation was done during the classroom session only. This could happen all because of the teaching style of Satya.

I wanted to prepare all the knowledge areas in detail and then go for the exam. But life is not perfect and Risk Management was one of my weak area during my classroom session as well as during my PMP preparation as well.

Own Study
I got my required 35 contact hours in December. I knew that preparation time was really less. Therefore, I planned to invest 3 – 4 hours (weekday) and 8 – 9 hours (weekend) of effort for the preparation. Just after getting my contact hours, I booked the exam slot for 5th March that motivated me to prepare harder.

I referred Satya’s PMP Live Lessons, PMBOK and Head First book. I read each topic in detail from all the three sources simultaneously, and then I moved to another topic. At the end of each Knowledge Areas, I took the 30 Smart Card questions, Practice questions from PMP live lessons, and questions from Head First book. I scored between 75% - 85% in each knowledge area from all three sources of questions. After finishing, all the knowledge areas, I took 3 full length from PMP live lessons. I scored more than 80% in all three full-length question papers.

My preparation was mostly referenced to:
  • Satya’s PMP Live Lessons,
  • PMI’s PMBOK Guide,
  • Head First, and
  • Internet for any confusion

My suggestion would be:
  • Fix the exam date just after finishing your 35 contact hours. This will motivate you to work harder and in the right direction.
  • PMBOK is a standard guide, which is quite boring (at least for me). Please do not lose patience while reading the book.
  • Exam preparation is long, so you might feel uneasiness. Again, I will suggest not losing your patience and continuing your hard work. If you need break during the reading, the do take it. 
  • Have sound sleep during your preparation also (at least 8 hours). It will help in concentration.
  • Stick to your preparation plan and do not postpone the exam just because you are feeling the exam preparation is not enough. Just like we do limited testing for any software, we need to know our preparation w.r.t. exam. PMBOK is the sea of knowledge. It may take years to understand each line or concept. We need to understand that we are preparing for the examination.

I did face many obstacles during the preparation, like:
  • My sister’s engagement and marriage were suddenly planned in February. I almost lost 10 days there. I could not study anything new for 10 days. However, whenever I was getting any free time, I used to revise through my personal notes. Therefore, I postponed my exam from 5th March to 20th March.
  • Just before 15 days to the exam, I was down with high fever and severe throat infection. I lost another 6 – 7 days. I needed to give mock exams. So, I postponed my exam again from 20th March to 23rd March (last day of PMBOK 5th edition).

I knew that preparation time is very less. 

Moreover, I needed to study PMBOK guide in detail. I am not a fast reader. Therefore, I decided to go for PMP Live Lessons as it helped me in reading the PMBOK guide faster. I understood the concepts well when I was reading PMBOK guide. 

Following are the key points in this course.
  • It is difficult to understand the mathematical concepts from PMBOK. All mathematical concepts are explained in an easy manner.
  • The initial chapters (Introduction and Organization Influences and Project Life Cycle) of the PMBOK guide is not easy to understand. The PMP Live Lessons did include the 2016 changes, which was explained in an easy manner.
  • The tips were very useful in remembering the overall flow and inputs and outputs of the different processes.
  • Chapter end questions were not easy. It required you to read PMBOK guide thoroughly. Simply a high-level browsing through the PMP live lessons will not be enough. I did make some useful notes out of those questions, which came handy during my revisions before the exam. Satya has spoken about making notes while going through the Live Lessons.
  • I could solve only 3-1/2 full-length mock exams due to time constraints. After reading PMBOK guide, and going through PMP Live Lessons, it was lot more easy for me to solve the mock tests. I got more than 80% marks in all the mock tests. The only problem for me was the timing. I took more time in solving mock tests due to disturbances, and due to my throat infection. However, I was very sure that I can complete the exams on time as I had a good preparation.
  • The flow diagrams were very useful in understanding the clear picture of the interaction among different Knowledge areas or processes including inputs and outputs.
  • Satya put many revision reminders of the past topics that helped me in remembering the key concepts.
  • Please make your own personal short notes, which will help you for the last-minute revision. I could finish my revision of the entire course material within 3 hours.

PMP Exam Experience
My final exam was scheduled on 23rd March 8:30 AM slot at the Prestige Shantiniketan, Whitfield, Bangalore.

My only strategy was to devote 1 question per minute and I should get 15 minutes of time for the marked questions. I was able to keep pace in the first two hours of exam, but due to some lengthy questions, I started slipping with the time. I got many mathematical questions (after 100 questions), which I could resolve fast and these mathematical questions put me back on track.

I got many mathematical questions on EVM, project selection methods. I got some questions on CPM and CCM concepts too. Funny part was to forget TCPI formula during my exam. I could remember only after the exam ;-) Most of the questions were situational and multiple answer seems to be right. However, with careful reading of the answers and filtering out the incorrect ones was leading me to the correct answers. I scored 3 AT, 1T, and 1 BT.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Book your exam slot before you start preparing for the exam. This will give you a lot of push to prepare harder for the exam. You will not be lazy.
  • Do go through the PMBOK guide twice thoroughly. There is no replacement of PMBOK guide.
  • Do stick to your preparation plan.
  • Have good sleep during your preparation time also. You can focus more.
  • Do take necessary small breaks during your preparation too.
  • Drink lots of water during your preparation.
  • Sleep well before the exam.
  • Reach exam centre on time.
  • Keep yourself calm and have confidence in yourself before giving the exam.
  • Try to finish each question in 1 minute. This will give you extra time for the lengthy questions.
  • Attempt all the questions even if you are losing out the time.
  • Finally, do celebrate your success with your family who have helped you in the preparation. 
  • Do not lose your patience and concentration during the preparation and the exam.
  • Do not leave any questions unanswered in the exam.
  • Do not drive to the exam centre. Take a comfortable cab ride instead.

When I was solving mock tests and the final exams, I got many situational questions. If you could relate these questions to the practical experience in your office, you will be able to get the correct answer. 

PMP has given me a personal as well as professional boost to my life and career. 

Brief Profile
Name: Rajeev Ranjan
Current Role: Senior Project Manager, HCL Technologies. Currently managing a project of Cisco ASR5K mobility Prime Network product.
Past Experience: 
Alcatel-Lucent India Limited (Now Nokia Networks Limited) as Technical Specialist. I mostly worked on 2G, 3G, 4G, IMS core network as an automation test engineer.
ZTE Corporation as Chief Technical Engineer. Worked as field engineer and managed multiple CDMA networks of BSNL.

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