Wednesday, April 25, 2018

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: PMP Live Lessons Was Instrumental in Getting My PMP Credential

By John P S Oliver, PMP

Well. It all started with an email from our HR reminding us of the limited time we have to utilize the Continuous Professional Development component as part of our package failing which it will expire for the current financial year. Having been in the project management role for almost 13 years and having attended the PMP preparatory course way back in 2010 when PMBOK 4th Edition was in use, I set out looking for a PMP preparatory course which will enable me to utilize the CPD component for the financial year 2017-18.   

PMP 35 Contact Hours Experience
While looking out for the PMP preparatory courses, I came across few providers and their courses on offer. There were others in my organization who were also looking at ways to utilize their CPD before time ran out. I shared my plan for taking the PMP preparatory course. I along with 5 others from my organization joined the course scheduled during end of January.

This is where I first came across Mr. Satya Narayan Dash, who led the sessions. During the introduction session, Satya Sir was asking the participants for the reason for choosing to attend PMP session and that triggered me to think about the various reasons buried inside me all these years. 

Some of which were,
  • I have seen colleagues with PMP certification get a preference in job interviews vs. colleagues without a PMP. While it was not a guarantee for getting a job, it certainly did place you in a “priority” group vis a vis non PMP candidates.
  • Remuneration of PMP certified project managers performing the same role was significantly higher than non PMP project managers.

After the introduction session, Satya Sir asked the class on what was the top reason an aspiring candidate would not get PMP certified? There were various answers from the participants and while all of them were valid, Satya Sir explained that the top reason for an aspiring candidate to not get PMP certified is the candidate’s failure to appear for the exam. This set me thinking, however I had still not decided to take the exam as I wanted to go through the course and then decide. 

This is also the time that I came to know of PMI’s movement from PMBOK 5 to PMBOK 6 starting 26-March-2018. This left us with little over 45 days to prepare and appear for the exam.

The classroom session was very interactive. I would say it was my destiny to have Mr. Satya as the coach since I knew nothing about him before coming to this training. 
  • The key difference that I saw between the preparatory course that I had attended way back in 2010 and now was that, Satya Sir used real life examples while explaining the concepts which were very easy to understand. Also, his way of creating unique keywords were very useful in remembering the concepts.
  • Not only did he explain the concepts, he also provided insights on how to structure our learning for the exam.
  • Satya Sir made sure that every participant was interactive during the sessions and encouraged questions. This in fact helped the entire team to share the learnings.
  • By the end of 3rd session, I felt confident and made the decision to enrol for the exam and submitted my application on 27-Jan-2018.

My Application was approved by PMI on 01-Feb-2018 and I went for the PMP Live Lessons for the following reasons.
  • During the sessions, Satya Sir shared some of the videos which he made as part of the PMP Live Lessons. These videos were very well made, bringing out the key aspects of the topics covered in a simple and effective way to understand.
  • I had just 45 days to prepare for and take the exam and the videos would help me focus my learning effort within this short duration.
  • And it comes with a “Money Back Guarantee”.

Key aspects of live lessons which helped me are,
  • The PMP Live Lessons came with chapter end Smart Cards and Q&A which were exhaustive and would help me get the required exam practice. 
  • The Answers came with explanation which helped me understand the situational nature of the questions and the logic behind the correct answer.
  • This also helped me to understand my strengths and weaknesses and revise the topics that I needed improvement on. 
  • It was easy to go back and review specific processes when required as the lessons were arranged in the same order as the PMBOK guide.
  • In addition, we had the key and important ITTOs marked with additional yogic vision and revision tips which made sure we did not miss the key concepts.

Own Study
I started with the following approach.
  • Went through the videos for the chapter.
  • Went through respective PMBOK chapter.
  • Took the Smart Card Questions and measured performance.
  • Reviewed the smart card questions and answers – Not just the ones I got wrong but also the ones that I got right to understand whether the reason(logic) behind selecting that answer was in sync with the PMBOK learning (reasoning).
  • Took the Chapter-end Q & A – I timed the effort by first answering the questions like an exam.
  • Then I reviewed both the correct and incorrect answers to validate my reasoning for the correct ones and review the topics for the incorrect ones.

My Study Schedule was as follows since my office timings were 2:30 PM to 11:30 PM.
  • Weekdays: I started at 12 Midnight and went on till 5 AM in the morning – My target was to complete one chapter a day including the Live Lessons Videos, PMBOK Chapter, Smart Cards and Q&A.
  • Weekends: 8 – 10 hours – My target was to complete 2 chapters a day including the live lessons videos, PMBOK Chapter, Smart Cards and Q&A.
  • I started the study schedule on 10-Feb-2018 and covered the 17 chapters in Live Lessons along with respective PMBOK chapters and Q & A on 6-Mar-2018. 
  • With 15 Days remaining, I took the Exercises for ECO and 5 Full length Q & A as a mock exam complete with review.
  • I then followed up with revision of Glossary and all formulas including the PERT forward and backward pass methods.
  • I then had 5 days remaining in which I took around 1200 questions from the provider and other question banks.
  • I took the day off from office the previous day and had a good night’s sleep.

PMP Exam Experience
As soon as my application was approved on 01-Feb-2018, I had scheduled the exam for 23-Mar-18 – The last possible business day to allow me maximum time for preparation before the PMBOK exam changes take effect. I had scheduled the exam at the Prometric Center in Bangalore.

While taking the Q & A as part of Live Lessons, I had timed each and every Q&A to measure my performance. I noticed that I was able to complete the 200 questions in an average of 3 hours for each of the 5 Full length Q & A.

However, I also noticed that I was making mistakes in understanding the questions and that resulted in incorrect answers. Especially I was making mistakes in understanding questions with the terms “Except”, “All But one”, “Not correct”, “Cannot Be”, “What should happen NEXT?”, “Which is the BEST”, “What should you do FIRST?” etc.

Hence, for the exam I decided that I would spend extra time reading and understanding the questions and chose the appropriate answer even if it meant I may not have time to review them at last.

Most of the questions were situational except for the Mathematical (EVM questions) which were straight forward. 

I did not face any issues during exam. The previous day, Prometric coordinator had called me confirming my appointment and had asked me to be at the centre by 7 AM for the 8 AM exam. I reached the centre at 6:30 AM and waited for it to open. Once there, after the verification, they allowed me inside the exam centre and allotted my seat. Once i completed the tutorial and started the exam, I spent 15 minutes writing down the formulas and then started answering the questions. As planned, I took extra time in reading and understanding the questions and answered them. I also marked questions which I wanted to review if time permits I sat for the full 4 hours at a stretch without any breaks. I completed answering all the 200 questions with 13 minutes to spare. I reviewed a few marked questions and completed the exam with 5 minutes to spare. I then completed the feedback survey and waited for the results. I was happy when I saw the congratulations message. I asked the coordinator to get me a printout of the result and he was kind enough to do so.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Plan and schedule your exam well in advance.
  • Prepare a realistic study schedule and follow it rigorously.
  • In addition to PMBOK guide, I would suggest that you go for another study resource like “PMP Live Lessons”, other published books etc. to aid you in your studies.
  • Spend at least 30% of the overall schedule to attempt practice questions, but do so only after you go through the PMBOK guide and other study materials at least once.
  • Review your answers both the right and the wrong ones to understand the reasoning and logic behind the answers. This will help you to get familiarized with the pattern behind the questions and answers.

  • Do not attempt questions before you complete the study at least once.
  • Do not use more than 2 study resources (PMBOK + 1) – That may end up confusing you as well as take your time which can be spent on practicing Questions & Answers.
  • Don’t panic during the exam if you do not know the answer for a particular question -  mark it for review and go the next one – You can always come back to the marked question later.

I would like to thank the Almighty for his blessings and Satya Sir for his PMP Live Lessons which was instrumental in getting my PMP certification as I just had 45 days to complete the quest.  

Brief Profile
Name: John P S Oliver
Current Role: Associate Director – Project Management
Experience: 20+ years in Operations and Project Management in ITES across Healthcare, Insurance, Telecom, Retail, Manufacturing and SCM verticals.

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