Cleared PMP on my First Attempt
Good day Everyone,
Was eager to share my Lesson Learnt since I have cleared my PMP(18th February 2016) but was beaten by over joy and celebrations all along the week. However below is my LL story and hope it may be a help atleast to one or two who is entangled with work and family commitments
1. I’m currently working for Barclays(South Africa) and residing at Johannesburg. I had an opportunity of doing my corporate training with PM IDEAS(Johannesburg) arranged by my company in the month of Oct-Nov 2015. It was a good 8 week journey with 3 hours night class schedule on every Tuesday where I learnt the core concepts of PMBOK and importantly on how to read a dry content book like PMBOK with heavy American jargon. What made the course interesting was the fellow mates were from non-IT background and the way they look at things like Risks, assumptions, constraints and organization structure was completely different from my IT background & experience. This aided me to understand the first 3 chapters of PMBOK better with real time diverse examples and perspectives. This is where your classroom training has upper hand than the online training, as you get to speak to people with varied experience in different industries. Surprisingly the first 3 chapters are often neglected by PMP aspirants which is a big mistake one must avoid if you serious about pursuing PMP certification.
2. I have finished my classroom course by end November and started reading PMBOK for the first time self-study in the month of December. This is the month where my troubles started. My in-laws flew down to Johannesburg from India on a personal cause and now I had to entertain them to keep my wife happy. All that I did was to lock myself in a room and tried to focus for 3-4 hours every day reading PMBOK. This continued for the first 3 weeks but did not sustain as the holiday period in Johannesburg has shattered my time during the month of December. My both kids at home and with inlaws made my study place non-existent. I said to myself I cannot make this now and was losing grips on my PMP dream. Hopping and limping I finished my first read of PMBOK and few chapters of KIM Heldman by end of December 2015.
3. I was only confident about one aspect which was my classroom training for 8 weeks that laid a strong foundation on core concepts and ITTO’s. Then came January, the whole world was rejoicing but my plight inside on PMP preparation did not allow me to welcome 2016 with lot of smiles. The biggest pressure riding over my senses was the COST of PMP which has been paid by my company in an expectation of a positive result. My colleagues at office who often greeted me every day with an enquiry of my PMP preparation added to my stress. These two things made me very nervous in the month of January’16 and I was literally overwhelmed with fear of failure. Around first week of January I started researching on the optimum way of studying PMP and clearing it on the first time. My research time was around 4-6 hours a day in the first week of January and literally with NO STUDY.
4. From the research tips the first thing I did was to setup a date to give the exam. The practical date I could arrive was 18th March with lot of pressure from my family since 19th March to 03rd April is Easter Holiday season at Johannesburg and they wanted to claim their family time. If I had to make a choice of my own date I could have definitely picked 04th April for obvious reasons of more study time.
5. Second thing I had to do was to set my study time and sticking to it. With inlaws at home, Kids and work commitments the time which I could reserve for my study was 10:30 pm to 3 am. I stuck to this time very judiciously for the first one week(second week of Jan) and from third week of January I struggled to focus on the content. This is where I had to make a choice to study the books or go through the Videos. Two people who came to my rescue was Mr. SAKET sir and TAMIL SELVAN sir. I have downloaded all the videos from you tube in a single night and from third week January I have literally lived with these videos. Surprisingly I could spend on these videos at office, in my driving time, even in the washroom day in and day out which accounted to my 8-9 hours of study from 3rd week of January. PMP aspirants who cannot read lot of content like me I would highly recommend these videos from Mr. Saket and Mr. Tamil Selvan. Start with Tamil Selvan videos and finish them off as soon as possible. And once you have identified your gaps go through Mr. Saket videos as many times as possible. For some unexplainable reason I got glued to his videos due to his interesting English dialect. Every morning the first face I had to see was Mr. Saket’s in his videos which starts of saying “ My name is Saket Bansal………….. J” Very soon he has become my PMP hero in my course preparation time.
6. By Feb end I have watched Saket’s videos not less than 4 times. I carried his videos everywhere. Thanks for his selfless contribution to PMP community.
7. Now that I have prepared well with PMP content I planned to start with mock exams. With less than 3 weeks in hand beginning from 01st March I have done lot of research again to find best resources possible. Very fortunately I found my next hero Mr. Anmol Sinha(PMZEST). My sincere recommendation to all PMP aspirants who are nervous to give PMP exam, reach out to him and his last minute priceless advise has really given me a new perspective and approach to face PMP exam with less stress and doubt in mind. He has really motivated me and shared valuable tips at free of cost. All that I did was to buy his PMZEST questions at a throw away price and oh! boy these questions were very tough compared to my revision questions from KIM and PM IDEAS. With great courage I attempted two mock tests from PMZEST in first week of March and scored between 60 -65% with great difficulty. Though there was an element of doubt in my mind to clear the bigger EXAM but prepared myself to face the challenge with all the tips & tricks shared by him.
8. From 01st March I stopped reading any content and just followed a routine. Reading PMZEST notes accompanied by the notes prepared by me(prepared from classroom training and prep time) from 1030 am to 12:30 am every day and from 1:00 am to 3:00 am faced one mock exam/day. During the day I made sure to analyze and interrogate every wrong answer and updated my personal notes. Repeated the sequence for all 11 days and finished all the mocks by 11 th March.
9. From 12th March to 16th March with the guilt of not reading RITA Mulcahy book I have decided to attempt just questions from RITA Mulcahy and for my surprise I could answer them with great ease with the learning I gathered from PMZEST questions. I highly recommend this option of going through this route if you are battling on time.
10. On 17th March I went to the Prometric center just to get acquainted with the place and had a casual chat with the Test coordinator to break that jinx in my mind. I returned home about afternoon and started planning my rest of the day. Between 2 pm to 10pm I have gone through all Saket’s videos once again and slept peacefully by 10pm with a good late meal in the night.
11. My alarm buzzed off at 5:00 am on 18th March morning. In the first 30 minutes finished reading my personal notes one more time and from 530 am to 700 am have gone through Tamil Selvan’s videos again. I started feeling very confident on my preparation method and believed that I can clear the exam now.
12. By 830 am I reached prometric center and I was sent inside into the examination hall by 9:00 am.
13. As per the standard rituals prayed to god to give all the focus and wisdom and finished jotting down my Braindump with 15 formulae, 47 processes and 10 acronyms to remember critical ITTO’s in less than 10 minutes.
14. Friday being my fasting day I was jaded out answering my first 100 questions in 1:45 minutes. Took a break of 15 minutes and started with the next 100 questions. By the time I finished 175 questions my eyes started rolling and felt severe loss of energy. Big lesson learnt for me was to attempt atleast one full sized mock exam in your preparation period to get test your endurance levels. Clearly I failed my endurance test in the big exam and could only last for 175 questions with total focus. I forced my eyes and brain to focus on last 25 questions and somehow finished my 200 set in 3:30 hours. I was quite fortunate to mark only 12 questions for review and in next 15 minutes could go through all 12 questions.
15. Finished the last part of exam which was a survey and I must confess I don’t remember what was the survey about. I just chose the option Satisfied for all the survey questions with drooping eyes and shoulders. I did not mind to sleep in the prometric center if given a chance in last 10 minutes of my exam.
16. The only time my eyes lit open was when I saw CONGRATULATIONS on the screen and did not believe this happened to me J
17. And surprisingly I finished off with P P P MP P grades. I couldn’t stop thanking the almighty as he has been so kind to me in my overall journey. The only song ringed in my ears at that moment was my favorite Hillsong church song “How great is your faithfulness………….”
My sincere suggestions to all PMP aspirants which I learnt from my PMP journey:
1. Stop making excuses about time, work commitments, family and resources. Believe all through your journey that you can make it. Switch to your spiritual side immediately when you lose hope. Trust me it works.
2. Make your prep journey as tough as possible to make your exam very easy. Read the same damn thing again and again. It pays you off.
3. You don’t need to do 10000 of mocks to clear the exam
4. Mind you I did not book even a day off at work or did a complicated preparation. If I can do it you can definitely do it.
5. As Anmol(PMZEST) says don’t keep reading the content till the last day. Stop content reading atleast 15 days prior to the actual exam and spend time on mocks which has quality questions and are genuinely tough. This stirs your mind and ignites the reasoning behind every wrong answer you made.
6. Actual PMP is 40% less tougher than PMZEST questions. Point is not about facing tough sample questions but the point is to get tested on every corner of PMP exam.
My study Mantra:
1. Research, Research and Research.
2. You don’t need to spend on expensive resources. There are god blessed guys out there on youtube who have been too kind to share their wisdom and knowledge for absolutely nothing.
3. Classroom training(I used PMIDEAS in Joburg), even if it is a boot camp I highly recommend to attend one to clear your basic doubts with your colleagues and trainers – 8/10
4. I read PMBOK once – 5/10
5. Followed by KIM HELDMAN to understand the core concepts – 7/10
6. SAKET’s videos (4 times)- 9/10
7. Tamil Selvan (2 times- Quicker Way to understand PMBOK) – 7/10
8. RITA Questions – 6/10
9. PMZEST notes – 7/10
10. PMZEST Questions – 8/10
Once again I reiterate your family, work or time is not a constraint to clear PMP. It is all about your mindset and willingness/stubbornness to clear the BIG EXAM.
Please reach out to me if you need any assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org (FREEEEEE advise if need be) – part of my PM Code of Ethics.
I understand that this is a big post and may be a boring one. Definitely I’m confident that atleast one or two could have picked up something useful from this post. For the rest I sincerely apologize if I may have irked you!
Will be back with my PMI ACP lesson learnt story soon….
Vikram Indla, PMP®