Passed PMP on first atttempt
At first I must say thanks to my family ( My wife, my daughter and my son) especially my [10 year old daughter] who kept me motivated after every mock exam stating "YES DAD YOU CAN DO IT", just go for PMP with a confidence and off course always use to sneak my marks during exam. I can’t forget to say thanks to PMZILLA [ perfect forum], Rajesh Nair notes and PMSTUDY.
PMP exam was on my to-do list past 4-5 years, but I always said why do I need to have a PMP, I am good Project/Program Manager why should I do that and kept ignoring until one day which is May end 2012, my boss said I need to have my PMP as it will increase my value or else I am in trouble. I was still not convinced, but fear from boss was a turning point. Anyhow, somehow I started collecting PDU hours for PMP exam, by October month I had accumulated the much needed 35 PDU hours. I have used my company’s learning website for accumulating PDU's.
Preparation [ Planning]
I started preparation for PMP past October 2012, by reading Rita's 3rd edition book which was given to me by my boss, as I had told him I don’t want to invest a penny. Yes it was 3rd edition, but who cares as long as you are ready to understand the concepts and plug in your gaps, you are good to go. Rita's book surely helped me a lot and also helped my vast knowledge of PMP. I was surprised to see about integrated change control and was happy to learn on same. Before reading Rita I was so confident and I took PMSTUDY 1 free exam under assumption that I can clear it. Off course I did not make it, I scored 55% exam way below and I started taking it seriously. Regarding notes I must say Rajesh Nair's note has been a very good informative excel a must read for all, and also when you read take a color print out of those notes [ please don’t ask how to take print out of the notes as I see in many forums those question posted :) ] Yes please take a color print out and please see if you have understood the concepts that are written in different colors which is in red and blue color fonts in the notes. You should read PMBOK 4th edition against those color codes and understand the concepts. Please see again I am saying understand the concepts, if you don’t and if you are only mugging those notes then you are on path of failure because PMP exam is all about concepts and definitions and wording of sentences.
I also completely mugged up all 42 processes, inputs/outputs and tools. What a waste of time it was as it was not required for PMP exam. You hardly get 2 to 3 questions on input and output which are very straight forward. I had mugged it becuase i did not want to take chance and wanted to score 5 P's at exam
In Jan month 2013 I started giving all the mock up exams, and I was touching 70% mark, but unfortunately that is enough based on my recent PMP exam. You need to score above 80% consistently in all the mock up exam then I must say you are ready. From mock up exam point of view please use simplilearn, PMSTUDY and if you have money Rita's fast track questions [ if not you can survive with questions at back of Rita's book]. Also please use headfirst and Oliver Lehman. Please do not use pmpforsure, personally I did not find it good as it was too much confusing. Sorry PMPforsure guys although the cost is less but I felt it is not up to the mark. I wanted to post questions with examples but I will not do that because before appearing PMPforsure exam you have taken promises from me in terms and conditions that I should not discuss questions of PMPforsure on any forum, so I won’t do that.
Monitor and Control
From monitor and controlling and making corrections, I must say go for the PMSTUDY 4 exams; unfortunately it is only 4 I wish there were more to learn. Each question on PMSTUDY helps plugin your gaps on PMBOK. Please see PMBOK guide and then each and every question on PMSTUDY how it is constructed question out of PMBOK. PMP exam is all about that. I also understand, while reading PMBOK you find it boring, but use PMSTUDY exam guide question and answers to understand PMBOK. You will find it interesting, that is why I said it is only 4 exam, I wish there were more which could have motivated me for learning more from PMBOK guide.
Now I must reveal the secret, please go through this URL http://letusprogram.com/liaqat/PMP%20Material/ to get all PMSTUDY questions free of cost with answers. I made full use of it. I also suggest take all the tough exam and try answering those questions and more importantly cover your concepts. I heard PMZILLA is also tough I suggest you take those to control, I mean cover your knowledge on concepts. Once again I would repeat the concept.
I also suggest people to go through the following forum before the exam, it is nicely written, I was lucky enough to find this.
I appeared exam and cleared exam with 2P's and 3MP's. I must say exam was very very difficult, sorry guys don’t want to scare you but it was tough as compared to mock up exam. Do not take it lightly, or I would say I was the unlucky who got tough set of exams. All the questions given were of situation questions and all were tough. Even the network diagram questions, I was shocked to see in exam with start to start relation question on network diagrams, also calculate float based on applying leads and lags. I found 2 questions in network diagram which had given start to start relation and within same questions it was said you are starting successor activity 3 days ahead of time. I can’t imagine they made situation question for network diagrams too. I was under impression that I will be given table with predecessor and successor activity with durations. Unfortunately it was not that straight forward, well offcourse one question was given in table format for network diagram, but that was also twisted in the latter half of question by saying that your customer had said to give project 3 days ahead of time and your team agrees that you can perform activity A and B in parallel. So this question was also based on situation, phew. It changed my entire network diagram flow, as I have to redo it again. I was also surprised to find question which said activity A and activity B was performed by group1, activity C by group 2 and activity D, E and F by group 3. Just could not understand what is that group, I assumed PMP exam was talking as team rather than group. Also the BAC,AC, EAC questions were based on situation. I just felt that 50% questions on exam were real tough and remaining 50% questions made me believe that both the choices are correct. One of the network diagram question was also a tricky one, where one full page of network diagram made up of minimum 30 tasks given and was told to calculate float on Critical Path. As usually after seeing question I wasted by 15 minutes to calculate critical path to realize that question was about float on critical path which was offcourse zero and u dont need to see the network diagram. What a waste of time for not reading the entire questions, also I feel even If I would have read it I would have still gone and constructed CP and then came for answering the float question. The exam is all about what are you doing at that situation after reading the question
The only key to pass the exam is sound knowledge of concepts, plus take every question in isolation and imagine yourself in the situation, understand in which phase the question belongs, which process it belongs and in that situation what is the best in your hands to control the situation.
For example a in execution phase shipment is delayed from your contractor which could delay your project by 2 weeks which is not acceptable to client, what would you do 4 choices given are
1> Fire the contractor 2> find alternate contractor 3> Notify your management 4> discuss with your team for alternatives
In this situation all 4 answers are true and you are confused at exam which is so tensed exam and feel what to do when you see all choices correct , such were the questions. However if you use my formula you will get to the answer. The situation is off course happening in execution stage and construction phase, what is best in your hands to control the situation, I mean anyone could fire the contractor or find alternate contractor or notify your management but this does not helps your project, it makes it more worst. A real PMP would explore options with the teams and find alternatives by discussing with teams, maybe there is an option where you could drive [ U-Haul truck] to the contractor location and get yourself the shipment back, or look for alternate shipping companies who could ship the shipment for you. There may be an option to bring back your project into control. Remember do not attempt to answer questions on PMP exam on a reactive mode you will fail, always use the formula of situation that I have given above. I would say for every question you take in isolation and repeat those in mind, which situation, which process, which phase and what is in your hands to control the situation. If you use the formula you shall pass the PMP exam. I used that in every situation questions and probably that is the reason today I have passed my PMP. Unfortunately the score is not good as I had aimed for 5P's but who cares I made it at end of the day.
With so many situation questions I hardly had time left to go to the rest room during exam or take a break. I was running out of time. Too many situation questions.
At the end, I really really wish that I could apply all these beautiful concepts in my real life of PMP world. Technically you can’t, when a project is supposed to start we are given 5 days to understand the high level requirements, submit the estimates and do the project as fixed bid project and never allowed to change the estimate. Also we use to get additional scope from client and in spite of escalating to my seniors about scope addition we always did free of cost service to my client as value added service [ what a Pity ] . Never followed all the principles behind 5 processes which are initiate, planning, executing, monitor & control, close, and I wish I could use those. I must say now I got a reason to say in every situation as per PMBOK and PMP concepts this is not ethically correct and then try to control the situation by discussing with clients. Let us see if this helps me in my future in further improving. I will keep trying and not give up.
Anyhow that's it friends good luck for PMP exam, and prepare well by following my advice you will pass.
Sameer S Gadewar