Thursday, April 19, 2018

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: Hard Work and Focus Will Lead You to Success

By Kamal Ahmed Farooqui, PMP

I’ve been managing the projects for long and have worked in various domains during this tenure. One of the aspects which was always missing in my experience as a project manager was being a certified PM. I bought the PMBOK guide to start with the study, but somehow never got the interest and flow every time I went through any of the them. 

I came to know of Satya from a colleague of my spouse. After that I did some online research and got positive feedback online. I enrolled for 35 learning hours with knowledge hut on the condition that Satya will be the coach, which they agreed to.

PMP 35 Contact Hours Experience
My 35 learning hours classes with Satya got over by 11th of June 2017. During the session I tried to grasp as much as possible and kept on making notes of all the important tips which were highlighted during the classes. Interactive session also helped me in understanding some of the topics which were little tricky. 47 processes along with the flow and how they interact irrespective of the KA’s and PG’s were on my figure tips by the end of the classes. During the classroom session Satya answered each and every query raised along with the practical examples which helped in correlating with ease. 

By the end of the classroom sessions, I got to the know the basics of the flow involved in various new terminologies and how to prepare yourself for the complex topics by either going through video’s or some of the blog links which were shared. 

Own Study
My plan was to appear for the exam as early as possible after the classroom sessions, but somehow due to the professional workload and other personal commitments I was never able to continue with the plan I had prepared for my preparation of the exam. 

I started my studies without any specific date in mind for the exam. Which was the biggest mistake according to me. I thought of completing all the content once and take a few mock tests based on the outcome of which I had planned to schedule my exam. I started with this approach and soon realized that I was never going to meet the target. 

I remember I was struggling in the first week of December about the overall planning and the approach on when to appear for the exam. I was in complete dilemma, considering a new edition of PMBOK guide was supposed to come under existence and the exam pattern was going to change up to a great extent from 26th of March 2018. On 4th of Dec I got the mailer from Satya that he has come up with PMP Live Lessons, a complete video course-

I immediately called Satya to understand the background and the logic behind this. I requested for some trial videos, which he agreed to share with me. After going through the sample videos, I understood that this is what I needed in the short span of time to be able to qualify the exam. Without wasting any further time, I decided to go ahead with the videos and by 7th Dec I had the access to all the required content.
  • Total Duration: 25hours (25h 10m 15s) 
  • Number of Videos: 550
  • Number of Lessons: 14 (+3)
  • Number of Questions: 2600+
  • Number of Full Length Question Sets: 5 (total = 1000 Questions) 
  • Practice Questions – 100 to 120 questions (average)
  • 390 Smart Cards referring the PMBOK Guide

I got a new enthusiasm and started afresh but there was another twist waiting for me. I submitted my application on 12th of December and immediately on the submission of the form, I was notified that my application was selected for audit. I remember I was completely broken down, I called Satya and explained the situation. He told me not to get demotivated and follow the instructions as per PMI and that it’s a unique experience for you even though audit is generally rare. It took me some time to get back to the terms. I collected the hard copy of all my documents and shared it by post by 3rd week of December. Due to furlough there was some delay in the response but by 30th of December I got the confirmation message from PMI that my audit was through and I could proceed with the next step. I got relived but during this time of 3weeks of audit the pace of my studies had got impacted.

Since audit was over by now and I was not having any further obstacle for my exam appearance, I scheduled my exam for 8th of March and started putting as many number of hours as possible into my preparation. I was left with around 2 months for the exam, so I started devoting around 4 hours daily and around 8 hours in the weekend. 

Coming to my approach on the studies. I must be clear here that I have not referred any single book apart from Satya’s Live Lessons. Most of you might have referred to some of the videos that Satya shared on some of the critical topics like Change Request, EVM, CCM, CPM etc. Based on that standard, if one gets an access to the complete coverage of all the involved modules as videos, that means a lot. I was having the luxury of listening to the same video multiple times till the concept is completely clear. It was something like during the classroom session we tried to grasp as much as possible but that has its own limitation. 

Despite all this there was a mixed feeling. Every time I read a success blog I was a little nervous since none of them had followed the approach of not referring to PMBOK guide even once. This was giving me a nightmare more often. Whenever I interacted with Satya he also said that he suggests all his students to refer to the PMBOK guide. I always felt that one needs to know the concepts clearly as the questions in the exam will always be situational. Language doesn’t matter but the concepts matter.

Questions at the end of each session in the Live Lessons are of good standard and which will test your understanding of the subject. Also, there are some 30-smart card set of questions for every module. There are lots of advantages of having the content online. Satya will be updating all the subscribers of any recent changes happening from the exam perspective, e.g. for EVM there is a new trend which is introduced from the PMI. Recently there are mathematical questions coming in the graph format on CPI, SPI. Got the feed few weeks back before the exam and I was happy to see around 3 questions came on EVM with graph. Similarly, EEF and OPA related new videos were shared based on the feedback received recently.

By 3rd week of Feb I had gone through all the videos and it was time to start with the mock tests. I scored decently in the first 2 mock test which gave me confidence. But the challenges really started from the 3rd mock test onwards. Question are very tricky and it will test all your skills. I would still suggest everyone to go and appear for the later mock tests too because that will enable you to handle the questions in exam with more confidence and you will be prepared for the toughest of the questions. 

PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam for 8th of March at the Whitefield Prometric centre. I opted for the 8:00 AM slot to avoid the traffic and it works well for me during the morning hours. 

My strategy was to attempt minimal 50 questions in an hour. By the time 1 hour got over I had completed only 38 questions. So, it was time to increase the pace and coverup in the next hour target along with the backlog from the previous hour. By the end of three hours I completed 150 questions and the last hour was crucial for me to cover the pending 50 questions along with some time for the review of the questions which I marked for review. 

By the time I completed the 200th question, I was left with only 7 minutes to review. I started to review the marked questions but could review only few and by the time it was 9 secs left I clicked End button and the system took me directly to the survey. I somehow managed to complete the survey as my heart was pounding fast. By the end of the survey, I got to see the congratulations message, that I have cleared the exam with Above target. I thought of screaming a loud in joy but kept my nerve in control as there were many others giving their exam. I didn’t take any break throughout the 4 hours window. 

I would say questions were hardly direct and all were situational. I didn’t get many lengthier questions. Many questions around change request, 7-quality tools, most of my mathematical questions were from EVM including the charts, question on stakeholder management and communication management (tend to get confused if the concept is not clear), few questions on kick off, few on the critical path and also questions on Organization theory. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Once the initial planning is in place, schedule the exam as soon as possible.
  • I would highly recommend the “PMP Live Sessions” videos from Satya as the only reference, if you have time and patience PMBOK should be the next reference book.
  • I formulated my strategies around ITTO, so would recommend having deep understanding around them.
  • Extra reference provided by Satya from the blogs of the critical topics are must like Resource Levelling, Resource Smoothing, TCPI, CPI etc.
  • Questions provided at the end of each chapter should be taken up seriously. Try to understand the gap in understanding for the wrong answers before moving to the next module.
  • Wear the ear plugs through out in the exam centre to avoid any disturbances (exam centre will provide one). There will be many people sitting in the same room. During my exam I could see around 15-20 people around.
  • Try to visit to the examination centre once before the D day, to avoid any last-minute hassle around parking, location, document proof needed etc.
  • Take the mock test along with time bound measures to ensure you are meeting the timeline.
  • Do not mug up any of the subjects but try to understand the concept.
  • Do not panic during the exam and keep faith on your preparation.
  • Do not refer lot many books and content available on the net as one may get confused.

I would surely like to take the learning to the next level. In fact, I have noticed in the recent days during my interaction with the team, colleagues and customers, I have started using some of the new terminologies which I learnt during the whole new learning phase. I would like to implement all the learnings in my day to day work. 

I would like to thank my family for the support that they provided during the phase, I must admit without their support it was not at all possible. Satya as the mentor and coach will ensure your journey is smooth and without many hiccups.

Brief Profile
Kamal Ahmed Farooqui, working as a Project Manager in Wipro Limited. CRM Project Manager with overall 14+ years of experience with managing projects for around 7 years. Expertise in coordinating diverse teams and resources to complete objectives.

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