Wednesday, May 02, 2018

PMP Success Story: Conceptualization, Practice, Consistency and Mock Tests Are Keys To Success

By Kostubh Mani Sharma, PMP

The PMP credential is globally recognised as the best project management certification. It not only boosts your confidence to become a better project manager, but also enhances your skills and thought processes. With this credential and continuously practicing the learnings gained, one can become an excellent project manager.

Customers also prefer a project manager who is PMP certified as it gives them confidence in the manager’s knowledge and capabilities. It also enables a manager to work with various industries.

PMP 35 Contact Hours Experience
I found Satya very clear about project management concepts which he inculcates in his students very well. This not only helps them to prepare for the exam but also enables them to think like a project manager. 

He also gives very good tricks and methods to crack the exam which had helped me in stitching the vast concepts together and making it easy to remember.

His training was well paced and very interactive. Satya had clarified all the doubts with students’ complete satisfaction. His coaching had put me on the fast track towards preparing for the exam.

Own Study
I started my studies with the PMBOK guide and reference books. I prepared a thorough plan targeting to appear in exam within 3-4 months from the day I start my studies. I had this plan in an excel sheet where I also had various other tabs e.g., Preparation Plan (with target dates), Gaps, Practice Areas, Formula, Notes and Tricks. I ensured that I always keep this sheet updated with new learnings and follow the target dates.

I ensured that I give at least 2 hours almost every weekday and 6-7 hours over the weekends for studies. As per my preparation plan, I read one chapter from the PMBOK guide and immediately the same chapter from other reference books. 

Once I completed my studies, I joined the coaching centre where Satya is the speaker. The course was spanned over the 2 weekends (4 days) and provided me 35 PDUs. After the coaching got over, I had again studied the PMBOK guide.

Then I started attempting practice tests with smaller number of questions (30-50). This helped me in identifying the gaps in my studies/concepts which I filled with the help of PMBOK, coaching notes from Satya and other material available on net.

Then I started attempting complete 200 questions sets given by the coaching centre. I timed these tests, revisited the wrong answers to find gaps and filled those in the similar fashion as mentioned above.

I once again quickly revisited the whole PMBOK and started taking multiple other MOCKs from various best resources. 

With every practice test, I identified and filled the gaps. Simultaneously, I also updated the master plan sheet. I had taken up at least 4000 questions before going for the exam.

Practice Tests Referred
  • Rita Mulcahy and Christopher Scordo's Practice Tests 
  • Mock tests from the Coaching Centre
  • PMPC- 101 Ques for practicing formula/calculations based ques
  • Oliver's 175 Prep Ques
  • Oliver's online 75 free ques (
  • Project Management Academy Questions
  • HeadFirst Practice test: 
  • PMAspire’s practice tests
  • PMStudy (
  • Simplearn free mocks:
  • Exam Central: 

PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam for early morning slot. I had practiced sitting continuously for 4 hours by taking up multiple practice tests. Hence, I did not really feel a need of taking a break during the exam.

I completed my exam 15 minutes before time. I deliberately used to stretch my body and take my eyes off the screen multiple times during the exam so that my brain does not get tired.

80% of the questions I faced were situation based and 20% were on memory based. Memory based questions mean which directly ask about the ITTOs.

I got (approximately) 30% questions from Executing, 25% from Monitoring & Controlling, 25% from Planning, 12% from Initiating and 8% from Closing.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
Below are the 4 most important things an aspirant must do.
  • “Conceptualize” what Project Management is. Understand all the Knowledge Areas, Process Groups, Input, Tools and Techniques, Outputs (ITTOs) and their relationships. It is more important on why they are acting as ITTOs in the processes. 
  • “Practice it at work place” - Relate and start using these concepts at your work place.
  • “Consistency” - Have a study plan and follow it. Do not let more than couple of days’ break come in between your studies. Live in the project management thoughts.
  • Take up as many as quality “MOCKs/Practice Tests” possible. Not all the practice tests available on net are good. You should not take up low quality mocks.

Study material to be referred are,
  • PMBOK guide, Rita’s PMP Exam Prep book, Satya’s I Want To Be PMP book.
  • PMBOK must be the main reference book which you need to study minimum 2-3 times.
  • Satya’s class notes.
  • Various internet websites but only for building specific concepts which I was not able to do with the above.
  • Tony Karim’s Material: Specially the ITTO sheet he has prepared
  • Consult the PMP certified people for tips/suggestions etc.
  • Do not take up too many books / material

The main obstacle I faced was to take out time from my hectic work schedule. To overcome this, I utilized my all the weekends (6-7 hours) during the 3-4 months and ensured that I take out 2 hours over the weekdays during early mornings.

With these studies and subsequently the PMP credential, you will get the project management concepts. But you can become a good project manager only when you start applying it at your work place.

Brief Profile
Kostubh Mani Sharma, Senior Manager at Ericsson. Experience: 17 years in IT/Telecom industry (majorly in Wireless R&D).

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