Wednesday, January 01, 2020

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: Satya's Live Lessons will Ensure That You Clear the PMP Exam

By Bhavani Sankar, PMP

Until I decide to immigrate to Canada in 2018, I didn’t realize the need to go for PMP certification. The main reason was the job prospects. In this part of the world, the PMP® certification is considered Gold Standard. It pushed me to go for it and achieve the credential.

PMP Coaching Experience
I took classes from Satya before I left for Canada. After his intensive classroom training, I got an idea what it’s like to be a PMP credential holder and the efforts needed to pass the exam. I realized it needs some serious preparation and commitment.

At the outset, I would like to say that the PMP Live Lessons for sure helped me to understand the concepts, and helped me gain confidence to go for the exam. Further reading of PMBOK® gave me the holistic view of what Project Management is all about.

Own Study
I have a toddler at home, he wouldn’t allow me open computer or book, so I chose to study either in office or Library. I have studied for 2 to 3hrs per day on working days and on Saturdays I’ll spend 6hrs. On Sundays, I used to rest. However, in the last month I studied for 3 hrs every working day (8am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm) by reaching office early and staying back in the evening. On Saturdays, went to a nearby public library and on Sundays either early morning or afternoons whichever worked.
  • I took about 1 week for each chapter for the first review of PMP Live lessons. I repeated videos till I got solid understanding. 
  • Second review is Satya’s ‘I Want To Be A PMP’ book and do the chapter end questions – one chapter a day.
  • Third review is thorough reading of PMBOK and some mock tests for 10 days. By this time, I’m familiar with concepts, so it was easy to read PMBOK.
  • A week before the exam, I took full mock tests from the Live Lessons and one quick final revision.
I also tried to study Andy Crowe book, but didn’t continue. I took simulator tests from Rita Mulcahy, which helped me practice the timing and gauged my knowledge.

Satya’s PMP Live lessons, his ‘I Want To Be A PMP’ book, Rita’s simulator tests and the PMBOK guide are all that helped me pass the PMP exam.

I sat for an exam like PMP after 20 years, so I wasn’t confident initially whether I will be able to commit long study schedule with family and work commitments, but the PMP journey gave me that confidence as well as discipline to stay committed. You can do it, too.

I fell sick several times throughout the PMP journey. Being a new immigrant in Canada, all the family members were attacked by flu several times until we got a vaccine. But after I recovered every time, regained my strength to start the prep and get back on track. It was painful! Trust me. Because I didn’t want to drop the ball and go through the painful schedules and sacrifices all again.

The primary reason I went for PMP Live Lessons is because of the success stories at this site and reviews by many successful PMPs. It made me go for it.

As I proceeded with it, one unique area is the way key concepts and process flow diagrams are outlined. It helped to get an idea of how the input and outputs are used among processes. For example, you will find: flow of Resource Calendar, Team Charter, Change Requests (CR), Deliverables and many others. These flows made me understand the concepts.

Also, the Live Lessons helped create an environment like I’m in a classroom with a trainer teaching me A through Z for PMP.

I particularly liked the way tips are given and reminders for revision. The chapter end questions were of good quality.

Full length questions were of good quality. In fact, to be frank, the question banks set the bar high. Sometimes, I could complete only max 165 questions in 4hrs, though not sure about others' experiences. I didn’t face that with online simulators even though questions are of same size.

PMP Exam Experience
I have scheduled exam 4 months in advance, chose PearsonVue centre at North York-Toronto which is a convenient location from where I live. Glad I was able to make it without need of changes.
Following was my strategy for the exam:
  • I took 3 mock tests from PMP Live Lessons: 200 Questions in 4 hours. These tests acted as a rehearsal for actual exam to understand how many breaks I would need, e.g., water, food, breathing exercises etc. It helped me so much, I just repeated the same in actual exam as well. 
  • I took a break for 3 minutes after first 90 minutes and took another break for 2 minutes after completing 2.5 hours into the exam.
  • Every 30 minutes, I would take a break for a minute, without moving from the chair. This I took to do the breathing exercises in order to relax my nerves. It helped me regain the focus. Find out what works for you.
  • In the exam as I started to answer each question, my strategy was that ‘not to worry or think about the end result and whether the earlier marked questions were correct or not’, just only focus on current question and move on till the end. I wanted to keep the worry part at the end after clicking ‘end exam’ button. It really helped me focus on the present. It’s like current and future performance are not entirely dependent on past performance.
I have scheduled exam for 10am as I was early and was asked if I can start right away, I did, but as people continued to enter up-to 10am, it caused a bit of a noise as they settle down. It did not cause a lot of inconvenience, though overall, but I felt I should have started exam right around 10 am.
I expected exam room would be cold and carried a sweatshirt. And I was right in that because the exam centre was cold even by Canadian standard.

Preparation in all aspects is the key for any exam, PMP is no exception. There is nothing called more preparation. I faced following types of question in the exam.

Types of Questions Faced
  • I had most of the questions as lengthier ones: Five to six lines and the answer choices were lengthy, too. I’m not a quick reader, had a hard time.
  • I had only three mathematical questions – one each from expected monetary value (EMV), critical path measurement (CPM) and earned value measurement (EVM) one each. They were straight forward.
  • As expected almost every question is situational and tricky. I was prepared for it and expected it and hence, no surprises.
  • I had most questions from Change Management, Risk Management, and Quality Management.
  • A number of questions were from Stakeholder Management.
  • My strategy was to spend enough time up-to 65 seconds or less on each question as required to choose the answer choice and mark no more than 15 questions for review. If the question is completely unfamiliar, no point to mark for review. I executed the same strategy in the exam.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
Along with many other useful tips around, below are based on my learning through the PMP journey, I hope it helps for PMP aspirants.
  • Three to four months is usually good timeframe for preparation, the longer is risky as priorities might change, the shorter schedule will be very hectic and risk the goal itself.
  • Take care of your health, rest well and give short breaks while studying. I fell sick unfortunately, couldn’t study for a couple of weeks, but managed to catch up later.
  • Book exam well in advance, so with target in mind helps keep you on track with the study schedule.
  • Have a solid plan and execute it, continue to track the progress and make changes as necessary, but stick to the plan. Based on your work schedule and commitments, create a study plan for daily study, how much time you want to take for each chapter, revision etc.
  • Be consistent and brutally honest with yourself to meet the set study schedule, no exceptions! Make sure to catch up with additional study if any slips.
  • Please read PMBOK at least 2 times fully, it’s a must along with whatever material you choose to study. It is relatively easy to read PMBOK after you have gained a good understanding of the concepts by going through PMP Live Lessons. PMBOK is quite hard at first but start developing interest by visualizing the concepts and correlate with your project environment. Give special attention to Appendix X6 (Page 685) and Glossary (Page 695) in PMBOK 6.
  • Don’t underestimate that exam will be easy and direct. It will be tough and tests your PM capabilities in every possible way (concepts, time management, patience, handling stress sitting for 4 hrs straight, tackling 200 different scenario questions one after another)
  • Please don’t do the mistake of applying your prior PM knowledge based on experience, PMP exam expects your answer to the questions according to PMBOK only.

The PMP journey gave me a whole new perspective about Project Management, if not everything I could adapt some of the innovative practices at my work, especially following the Close Project or Close Phase process.

Brief Profile
Bhavani Sankar, PMP: Technical Project Manager – Wireless PMO, Freedom Mobile Toronto, Canada, since January 2019.

As part of Wireless PMO, I manage projects related to Applications migration to Cloud, Network expansions, and Implementation of new services in Freedom network.

I did Bachelors in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Madras with overall 10+ years of experience including Project Management and Customer Service Operations at MNC’s based out of India and Singapore.

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