Tuesday, September 28, 2021

PMP Success Story: Takes Sweat, Determination, and Hard Work to Make Your Dream a Reality

By Ansuman Mishra, PMP, SAFe Agilist, CSM


“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” This quote, by Colin Powell, former Secretary of the United States, is perhaps the most appropriate one to describe my PMP journey!

During the early phase of my career, I came to know about PMP from my managers who were already PMP certified. Then I did more research about the certification and had the dream of achieving this precious certification one day. Over the years, I was able to clearly see the difference in the way PMP certified professionals were handling the projects and teams.

Although I attended the PMP classroom session a few years before, I could not prepare and give the exam because of professional and personal commitments. Finally, during January, 2021, I decided to go for it.

I knew Mr. Satya Narayan Dash from the classroom sessions and I called him one fine evening to express my eagerness to appear for the exam. He set-up a video call in the same evening and by the end of the call, I was motivated enough to go for the exam, no matter what happens on the other side of my life.

PMP 35 Hours Learning Experience

Though I attended the 35 hours mandatory training session a few years back, I decided to go for that again. Hence, I requested Satya Sir to share the 35 Contact Hours video course, along with the book, I Want To Be A PMP

About the 35 Contact Hours Online Course

  • I was learning the latest content with respect to the PMBOK guide (I had learned earlier in PMBOK 5th edition) and also had to go through the Agile content. In addition, the style of questions has changed. 
  • What I liked about the video materials shared by Satya Sir is the simplicity and clarity. The way he explains the concepts is amazingly simple and straightforward.
  • The thing which I appreciate the most is tips and tricks. There are tips and tricks to remember and understand all the 49 processes, in sequence. It helped a lot during the preparation stage and during the exam, to relate and answer questions correctly.
  • The content is actually of 35 hours long and covers all the lessons thoroughly.

About the ‘I Want To Be A PMP’ Book
I’ve read this book around 4 to 5 times. 
  • It is aligned and structured, as per PMBOK guide. Hence, it is very easy to read and revise.
  • I really appreciate the texture. It is very clear and motivates to continue the reading process, page after page.
  • Yogic vision tips: It is one of the highlights of the book and helped me during the preparation phase.
  • Yogic revisions: It helps to remind the past learning. Gives a signal to go back and check the concepts again, if needed.
  • The book contains a lot of flow diagrams and tables, to expedite the learning process.
  • Each chapter contains the comparison/mapping of the Agile environment with traditional predictive methods.  

About Question (Practice) Sets

The questions are really of top class. I’ve also taken questions from Oliver Lehman and Udemy, which gave me more practice. But the questions from the 35 contact hours and the book are way ahead of them. Each chapter contains questions, apart from full length ones.

The reason I mentioned the questions are far ahead because they are situation-based questions. You will face similar questions when it comes to the real PMP exam. Rarely any question, if at all, will be direct!

The answer sets have clear explanations and that helps a lot. The content in the book and videos along with the questions sets, complement each other well! 

Own Study Process

I started with 35 hours of online video lessons and simultaneously referring to the book, I Want To Be A PMP. I was also preparing my own notes.

Each and every day, I ensured to devote at least 2-3 hours, mostly in the evenings after office hours. During the day, whenever I was having time, I was browsing the topics on the internet for light reading.

I have gone through all the questions shared by Satya sir along with his materials, more than once. After finishing two rounds with the reference book and video materials, I started reading PMBOK and APG. I was able to appreciate the content of PMBOK, because I completed the reference book first.

My practical experience in Agile Project Management helped me a lot during the study phase. During my preparation, I was scoring well in the Agile areas as I know it from my job experience. 

Towards the end of course, I did call Satya Sir a few times to check my readiness for the exam. He was very gracious to devote his time, asking questions to me to check the understanding and clarify questions.

In the end, I took an assessment test and received the 35 contact hours course completion certification. When I was consistently scoring more than 75%, I got the confidence to schedule and appear for the exam.

PMP Exam Experience

Below is my exam experience at the exam center and during the PMP exam. 

Exam Center

  • I scheduled the exam in the Pearson VUE center in Bangalore, because I never wanted to take a chance with electricity/ISP/technical glitches at home and wanted to have complete focus on exam content/questions.
  • I did not get disappointed because of my decision. The experience in the exam center was good. They are following all Covid-19 related regulations strictly.
  • I reached the center an hour early and that helped me to settle down, before the exam.

Types of Questions Faced

  • Around 70% questions were based on the Agile and/or Hybrid model.
  • Not one question was direct. All the questions were situational based and needed a deep understanding of concepts.
  • I did not have any mathematical questions barring one on Cost Performance Index (CPI).
  • There were few questions related to multi-response, questions related to graphs. I also received a few drag and drop questions.
  • A lot of questions were there from Stakeholder Management, Communications Management, and Quality Management processes.

Time Management

This is another aspect I want to emphasize. While doing practice sessions, I was able to complete 180 questions within 2.5 hours to 3 hours. However, during the exam, literally all the questions were lengthy. First 60 questions took me around 70 minutes, the next 60 took around 80 minutes and the last 60 around 70 minutes. I marked a few questions for review and spent a few minutes answering those at the end of the phase.

10-Minutes Breaks

The exam comes with two 10-minutes breaks. I took both the breaks and that helped me to refresh for the subsequent sessions.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants 

The PMP exam is not at all an easy one and below will be my suggestions/advice for the aspiring PMPs. 

  • When you decide to go for PMP, just go for it. Do not give any break in between. Even a gap of one week is good enough to derail the preparation.
  • Read PMBOK guide and Agile Practice Guide, at least 2 times, word by word.
  • Just remember 49 processes (in sequence) and important Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs (ITTO). You need not remember all the ITTOs.
  • Pay focus to the Agile related concepts. Map those to traditional processes and ITTOs.
  • After each practice set, spend a good amount of time reviewing the answers. If needed, go back and refer to the concepts in PMBOK/other reference books.
  • Practice enough questions, but choose from reliable sources only. On the internet, there are many free questions available. Ensure that those questions are based on the current version of PMBOK and the answers/explanations are based on PMBOK guide.
  • Do not wait for the last day to learn/understand new concepts. That won’t help to answer the questions, which are more or less situation based.
  • Celebrate your success!!


I cannot forget the moment when I saw “Congratulations” on the computer screen, after answering 180 questions and three “Above target” scores were icing on the cake. 

More than anything, I will remember the journey. The knowledge acquired during the process is something which is priceless and I am sure it will help me in future assignments.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my family members (blessings of my parents and rock-solid support from my wife were instrumental), friends, all my supervisors/managers and team members who supported me, directly and indirectly during the amazing journey.

As I reach the end of my journey, I can clearly say that, without Satya Sir, I could not have seen the light of the day. He was there for me each and every time I needed. Without his motivation and constant push, I could not have achieved success.   

Brief Profile: 

Ansuman Mishra, PMP, SAFe Agilist, CSM

Project Manager, Tata Elxsi Ltd, Bangalore


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