Monday, June 28, 2021

PMP Success Story: Focus, Consistent Practice and Self-Belief Will Make You A PMP

By Sandip Kumar Nath, PMP


I’m cutting a long story short, which inspired me to be a Project Management Professional (PMP®). Few years back, I completed a big migration project in Canada. While coming back to the hotel, my project manager, who herself is a PMP, told me: “Sandip, this is the right time for you to do your PMP.”

After that project, whomever manager I’ve worked with, most of them were PMP certified. The way they manage the teams, clients, upper management was really eye-opening for me.


PMP Coaching Experience

When I started my 35 contact hours PMP classroom session, Satya Sir was my coach. It was fun to attend such an interactive session. 

The way Satya Sir taught us the 49-process flow, how they relate to each other, and in what sequence they are being executed, was excellent. It was done in less than an hour! It was like a story. He also promised us that he would ensure all the participants in the program could do the same. 

He is a man of his words. We were able to write down the 49 processes, the relationship and the sequence by the end of the session.

Post the session I started reading the needed guides and books. First of all, I didn’t miss a single chapter from PMBOK® guide, 6th edition and the Agile Practice Guide. I completed reading the I Want To Be A PMP book cover to cover including process flow quizzes in every chapter end and all full length practice exams. 

If you are asking me about my strong areas, it’s difficult to tell for me as I gave the same importance to all chapters and don’t want to miss anything which may come as questions in the exam. However, I’ve following view:

  • Certain chapters were easy to read and understand like Scope Management.
  • Few chapters were challenging such as Agile Project Management, Integration Management and Risk Management.
  • Chapters like Quality Management and Resource Management are also important.

Own Study and Full Preparation

Usually spend 2 hours daily in the morning during the weekdays and 6 to 10 hours during the weekend. My target was 30 hours weekly.

This is the approach I took for my exam:

  • For a day or two (Day-1 and Day-2), I read a specific chapter from the PMBOK Guide. Next, I will read the corresponding chapter from the book I Want to Be A PMP and watch the video lectures, where available. 
  • I made my own notes which help me to revise later. 
  • Then on Day-3 morning, I’ll take a 100-question timed quiz on that chapter. Then review the quiz, making notes on what I did wrong and right.
  • The next day I started the 3-day process again on a new chapter – first from PMBOK, then from the book and took practice questions. At this rate, I planned to finish all chapters by May 15th, 2021. 
  • From 16th May until the week before test day (mine was 19th June, 2021), I took timed quizzes and exams on all chapters.
  • I have completed at least 4,000 questions and answers, 6 full length exams.
  • I created a note for all the problems that I did wrong and searched online to understand more on those concepts. This is in addition to the explanation in the practice exams.

I would also say that you should try to find the matching words or synonyms as you go through the questions: one in the problem and one in the correct choice.

From my experience:

  • Do the practice test and repeat as much as you can. What is great is that you can learn from the good and bad answers.
  • Focus on Agile. If you do not have a background on it, like me.

Books, Material and References

You can use any material you feel comfortable and available to you. But refer to PMBOK and Agile Practice guide. Read these at least once.

I mainly followed these resources.

Primary: PMBOK Guide, 6th edition and the Agile Practice Guide. You must read three times, cover to cover.

Secondary: I followed these two books.  

  • Book: I Want to Be A PMP, by Satya Dash 
  • Book: Essential Scrum by Kenneth Rubin, and the Latest Scrum Guide.

I’ve also referred to the following ones.

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP

As mentioned before, this was the main reference book as I started my full-fledged preparation. There are many reasons why I bought this book. 

Few points which I am mentioning below: 

  • Simplicity: The PMBOK guide is vast and sometimes I was not able to understand the inner meaning for many Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs) or why they are used. This book makes it very simple for me. 
  • What Happens, Process Flows and Videos: The book has sections on What Happens for every knowledge area, process flows, and a number of videos. There are diagrams in every chapter that clear my understanding about each knowledge area and how they are communicating within the process group and across the process groups. This makes this book unique in its nature. 
  • Vision tips. These tips you should not miss. It'll keep reminding you what is important for a Project Manager and for the PMP exam. 
  • Please remember that the PMP exam is NOT based on the PMBOK guide. PMBOK and Agile Practice guide are only two reference books out of 10 referred books and guides. So, instead of studying all 10 books and guides, I choose the I Want To Be A PMP book. 
  • The book's Yogic Vision Tips, Yogic Revisions, PMP Formula Gold Cards, What Happens and process flow in every chapter were very helpful and you must read. 

Last one week, till exam day, I was only reading this book cover to cover. 

Project management areas such as Critical Math and Management (CPM), Earned Value Management (EVM), Conflict Management, Change Management, Interpersonal skills (soft skills). These topics are very important. In particular, I found the videos and flow diagrams are very useful to make my understanding very clear.

I received the Best Return on Investment from this book.

PMP Exam Experience

My exam was scheduled centre based on 17th June 2021, but due to pandemic’s lockdown PearsonVUE cancelled it. So, I took my exam from home on Saturday, 19th June, 2021. Though I have not faced difficulties by taking exams from home, still I encourage you all to go to the centre and give the exam. 

Both taking exams from home and centre have their pros and cons. For example, while taking the exam from home, you have your own known and comfortable environment and at the same time you must make sure that you have a fully reliable internet connection.

Following is my experience with the Online Proctored PMP Exam:

  • If you are taking the exam from home, then make sure you find a quiet place so that you can concentrate on the exam.
  • I luckily did not have any issues with the 'check in', just had to take pictures of the desk and me and upload them. The chat was helpful and working well.
  • During the exam, make sure your face should be visible in the camera all the time, otherwise you may get a warning from the proctor.
  • During the exam, watch your time. I struggle with it. I answered the last question with 10 seconds left! 

Following was my strategy for the exam:

  • The first and foremost strategy of mine was making myself as much calm as possible. 
  • I was mentally prepared that this exam is NOT going to be easy. I started with a positive note that I WILL PASS.
  • I always read the question first so that I will NOT miss key words like “Not”, “Least”, “Most”, “Except” etc. This is crucial, otherwise I will choose the wrong answer. 
  • Then I read the scenario or the problem statement to understand which context the question was asked. 
  • Final step to read all given answers choices and choose the correct option(s). 
  • Time management was a big factor.  My plan was to take 75 minutesed for me. I took 92 minutes for the first 60 questions and 79 minutes for second 60 questions. Hence, I was left with only 59 minutes for the last 60 questions. 
  • Some items require you to select two answers from the options and some items require you to match 1st column to 2nd column.

Coming to the question aspects of the exam:

  • The exam was tough for me. NO direct questions, NO key words, all scenario-based questions and 70% questions had more than three to four sentences or more. Very few are one or two liners. 
  • I did not use calculator as the mathematical question was easy and can be done without using a calculator. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants


  • Fix the exam date ASAP. Until you do not have the exam date, you will NOT be able to plan and execute your preparation. Have you ever seen a project which does not have a final delivery date? 
  • Focus is the key. Focus on your study plan, focus on the topic you are studying now, focus while answering questions. 
  • Read all chapters from I Want To Be A PMP book and complete all full-length Q&As. 
  • Yogic Vision Tip, Revision, PMP Formula Gold Cards, What Happens and process flow in every chapter were very helpful and are must-reads.
  • Try to understand each topic you read and make your own notes while reading. 
  • During the exam, usually you can eliminate two choices easily but if you have difficulty in choosing between two, re-read the QUESTION first. If it’s not working, re-read the problem statement which has a lot of distractors and useless information.


  • During the exam, never think about the previous question(s) you already answered or the performance of your previous section. 
  • Never skip your break during the exam. Use both 10-minute breaks to motivate yourself. Tell yourself that you can DO it.
  • Avoid brain dump if possible. Please do not take unnecessary tension before the exam and brain dump will NOT help you for the new exam pattern.  


If you are reading this line, then I am sure that you have already decided to go for the PMP exam. So why would you want to think more? 

Start your preparations. Prepared earnestly with the right material. 

I wish you all the best.  

Brief Profile:

Name: Sandip Kumar Nath, PMP

I am working as a Project Manager in Diksha Technologies. 

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