Finally ended the long PMP journey on a +ve note. LL from Jerry.
First of all apologies for posting my LL late as I passed my exam on 5th May 2014. My score was 1P,3MP & 1BP. Before you move below and start reading my LL, I would like all to go through some of the disclaimer points for your awareness :-
1) The LL and points mentioned by me are my experiences through out this PMP journey and may not necessary be applicable to you or may not work in your favour.
2) The methodologies adopted by me were something which I felt were suppose to benefit me in the kind of surrounding and atmosphere I was learning.
3) The views and opinion shared by me are not meant to hurt/crticize anybody's sentiments and approach adopted for the preparation.
Before I start walking you through my journey, I would say it was the difficult journey and you will find lots of don't's in my LL.
Journey: I have a total of 10+ years of experience and around 6-7 years of PM experience. In January 2012, I decided to enroll for PMP training after getting motivated from my colleagues who had passed the PMP exam. I registered for a 2 day classroom training with Simplilearn which was recommended by my colleagues.
LL: I should have atleast got a feel of what PMP certification covers, although I was doing PM in my current profile.
Recommendation : Before enrolling for your 35 PDU's make sure you are reading PMP Book once. (Headfirst, Rita or any other author except PMBOK.). Do not attend the training just for the sake of achieving 35PDU's.
After completing my training in Simplilearn, I had a big gap of 1 year due to numerous reason, my MBA was going on. I moved out to a different project. Had location transfer and onsite visit for couple of months.
LL: I should have planned the Training considering atleast some of the above factors in mind.
Recommendation: Find 3months of best time of your life where you are left alone, nothing critical/imp is planned during those months so that you can concentrate on the preparation.
In 2013 I became serious as I had completed my MBA. I was settled in new city and thought this is the best time for me to start my preparation. I started the registration process on PMI site in the month of April 2013. After completing my registration & paying the membership and exam fees, I came to know that my application has been selected for Audit. It took me 3months to get the signature of my previous Managers and send across the courier. My audit was cleared on the same day when they received the details.
LL: I waited for my previous managers to provide me their signature on PMI's audit process, whereas PMI gives you the option to take signature of any participant who has worked in the projects on which you were a part of. This could save ample amount of time incase your Managers are not available.
Recommendation: This is a random computer generated audit process, it is nothing like they have found fault in the experiences shared by you & they want to do some FBI investigation of your documents. Chill down, gather all the correct documents and act as per the PMI guidelines.
My Audit was cleared in the month of July 2013, after that I slowly started preparation. I didn't scheduled the exam, thinking will schedule it once I reach the half way mark. Suddenly I heard from my friend that PMP exam syllabus is changing and they are adding one more KA and chapter. By that time I had printed PMBOK 4th version and was having Rita 6th version. In the month of Aug, couple of my friends passed PMP Exam. They told me they didn't found much of a difference in the exam even though they studied from 4th edition and recommended me the same thing.
LL: I should have heard others suggestions and decide by my own on what would work best for me. PMP Exam questions are not same for anyone.
Recommendation: If you are going to get a unique PMP Exam where you cannot expect the same set of questions that others have encountered then why to simply go by others experience and giving some false hope to yourself.
Going by my friends experience, I scheduled the exam for Sept23rd 2013, giving a good 2.5 months for preparation.I read Rita and PMBOK many a times.
LL: Don't go by number of times you are reading the book. It is important to understand what you are reading and how much you are understanding.
Recommendation: There are many methods people adopt. Try to find the best method which will suit your understanding and your way of studying.
When there was just 1month remaining for exam, I gave my first full 200 question mock exam of Oliver Lehmann and the result was 50%. I was depressed big time, I consulted my friend, he told me, 50% is not a bad result considering you gave Oliver Lehmann's exam. Then again I started reading PMBOK and then I started solving PMFastrack chapterwise questions, I was scoring 70% in each chapter. After that I gave mock exam on the weekends that I was having, scoring between 65-68% which included Exam collection, RitaPMP and SuperPMP, PMstudy free exam. I gave the exam on 23rd and failed the exam. My score was MP,BP,MP,MP,BP. I was shocked. Throughout the exam I never felt that I would fail the exam. Most of the questions were related to formulas. I must say it could have been an easy exam if I would have applied myself properly.
LL: My preparation was enough to pass the exam but not my analysis and tracking of progress.
Recommendation: Very very important to understand your gaps where you are going wrong. what are you weak areas. Don't go just by results of Mock exams those are means to identify your gaps. Real exam is way way different than Mock exam.PMP Exam is not just about preparation it is also about application.
After my 1st attempt, it took me 1month to accept the fact. I thought of starting preparation soon in December. I also started but again had to stop in between due to family and professional commitments.
Then came Feb 2014. I told myself "IF NOT NOW THEN NEVER".I promised myself to study regularly and religiously for 2months and had targeted mid of April for Exam, although I didn't scheduled it as I didn't wanted to take the risk.
Recommendation: Failing in PMP is not the end of world. Do not take too much of time for scheduling your first exam, as it gives you very less time of the 1year limit for 2nd attempt, incase you fail for the first time.
I read PMBOK and Rita multiple times. Solved PMFastrack chapter wise questions. Chris scordo questions 1-18. My score was this time between 78-84%. This time around I told myself not to solve mock exams other than RitaFastrack & PMstudy.
LL: As per my plan I didn't go beyond RitaFastrack, PMstudy and Headfirst for full 200Q mock exams. My focus this time was on identifying my gaps. It is equally imp to keep posting on PMZilla during this period, it helps. I used to understand all the right and wrong answers for all my mock exam.
Recommendation: It is not necessary or a ground rule to give all the mock exams available on internet. Choose the best ones available. I found PMStudy 4 exams which were paid ones very good. The quality of questions is really very good.
You can refer my earlier post on my detailed 2nd attempt preparation which I had posted in April.
I felt that at the last week of April I was prepared for the exam but somehow was not feeling confident to appear for the exam and I prolonged it for one more week. Unfortunately I had a busy week in office during that period. Important thing about exam scheduling that I would like to share is don't loose the rhythm and do not create a gap of more than 2 days. It can hamper your confidence level.
Finally I scheduled the exam for 5th May 2014 at 8AM.
Exam Day: My exam was in Mumbai. I had planned to book a hotel and travel a day before the exam so that I don't have to travel much on exam day. Please, I would like to tell all the first time exam takers, get yourself relaxed to the environment as the exam process and formalities can take a toll on you and can make your heart thumping more fast even before you start the exam. Proper sleep is a must before the exam. I did a dump of all the imp things before the start of the exam, which I never used it through out the exam, but the dumping let my thght process going. Let me tell you all, by looking at the first 20 set of questions I felt my first exam was very easy compared to the current one. My initial 80 questions were very difficult and lot of situational questions were there....none of the questions were straight forward. Even questions like Communication channels were not asked straight forward.
Eg: There are 3 team members from one dept, 5 team members from another dept and around 9 communication channels..identify the total number of team members.
The exam environment is such that you tend to loose concentration sometimes. I had to read my first 20 questions thrice because I was just not able to concentrate. Once I got settled down I increased my pace and completed the paper in 3hrs and 30minutes. I had marked around 30 questions for review. I reviewed them all, changed some answers. Finally when 2minutes were remaining...all kinds of thghts were coming into my mind. I was thinking of hiding my face below the seat. Finally I clicked on the End button. The survey came and then came the result as passed. I breathed a sigh of relief. Still the feeling of passing has not sunked in.
By the way, through this beautiful forum, I met a person before my exam day and he became my friend, Mr. Sandip Bhattacharya. It is really nice to have one more person before the exam, it helps to release all the tensions. Thanks Sanip for for knocking my Room door & looking out for me. I feel this forum has become one big family now.
I know I have dragged this LL quite long enough to make it boring. On a high level would like to tell PMP aspirants that it is a long marathon there are no shortcuts, it is a combination of preparation as well as application. Exam is a test of patience, absorbing the pressure, application of knowledge and finally the will to succeed.
Finally last words of wisdom from my side : "PMBOK is our Guru, read every single line from the book. Do not proceed ahead without understanding the concepts". Google out terms which are not covered in PMBOK. Use youtube. I found PMStudy as the best source to test my knowledge. Don't run behind every free mock exam bank.
"NEVER GIVE UP" Remember, nothing is bigger than your personal responsibilities, achieving PMP exam is not the only thing in life, there are far more beautiful things to experience in this world, so when you are going for PMP Exam, try to remove this ("PMP") monkey from your back as soon as possible otherwise you never know when it will sit on your head and will make you dance according to his moves.
Thank & Cheers