Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Insights on preparation for PMP exam and passing in first attempt.

Introduction -
PMP® - Project Management Professional a certification by Project Management Institute (PMI), USA is well acknowledged among project management professionals and across industrial arrays. The exam was conducted based on the knowledge available in PMBOK® (Project Management Body of Knowledge) 5th edition, all questions were objective type and logical.

Preparing for PMP® exams is challenge and beautiful experience after several years of away from academics. It will take you to your good old memories of university day’s exam preparation circus. A glimpse of your college day will come back – fun is it not?

Efforts and Experience -
Clearing exams is no cake walk. One should have bare minimum experience as defined in eligibility criteria as per PMI to appear for exam. At least to understand the concepts, Processes related to Project Management aspirant have worked in Project environment. If there is no Project management experience, reading PMBOK guide will be like reading in alien language. 

Though you have ample experience in Project Management, there should always be efforts made for understanding PMBOK and clearing exams. No guess works would help to pass the exams apart from core study coupled with PM experience in real word projects.

Exam will ascertain your understanding of Project Management from the root to tip. Test will be for 4 hours (240 Mins) and 200 questions of each carrying one mark. Sitting in exam hall for 4 hours is itself a big deal answering mostly twisted situational question, may even feel bugged, annoyed in the hall. The computer will throw question after question where you have to really bat those curve balls, bouncers, Yorkers, googlies well to get certified as PMP®. This is where the mock tests and exercise questions helps you to practice sitting continuously for four hours without talking or doing nothing but attending the questions and to get the grip on pattern to answer questions. You may google for vast information available about the exams, eligibility, process, application, contact classes etc.,

Inception -
Soon after completion of my MBA, Project Management in 2014 from distance education I had paused the idea of getting a PMP® certification for 2 years. Athmaram Pervody (Who is also an MBA project management), one of my colleagues/ friends in the office was making some research about PMP® and got to speak about ideas and inception came in a tea break. Soon we decided to proceed with enrolling as PMI member without second thought and delays! Remember delays will exponentially delay the process of obtaining certificate. 
We had booked a slot for 35 hours mandatory contact classes for preparation from PMI Bangalore chapter and completed within 15 days of decision to appear for exams. 

Student Vs Professional -

Clear Goal was to pass the exams in a very first attempt. 

The PMP® exam preparation should be inline for a professional appearing for exam and not as a student preparing for university exams – You must get a grip of applying concepts and logic mostly to a given situation – Memorizing will not help apart from few formulae and PMI specific words – not even ITTO’s needs to be memorized, it all can be tackled by logic, unless the concepts are clear. 

Some tips -
Let us come back to our insight and plans to tackle the exam. In the time we had between enrollment and the classes, we did some research from internet on experiences published by others and made a brief plan and timelines. Below are few snippets based on our experience of clearing PMP®.

  • Do not drag study plans beyond 4 Months to 6 months maximum. Above that there is a risk of losing interest due to other priorities. PMP® preparation would totally occupy the balance few hours of personnel time left after office hours. Hence cannot be prolonged to infinity.
  • Take it as a short burst running rather than a marathon, gather 4 months’ time (1-2 hours daily and 4-5 hours during weekends/ holidays) dedicated for PMP® exam preparation – in total around 150-200hr of preparation is required depending on experience and grasping power.
  • Do not leave in the middle or give a break – not even for a day or two, you lose momentum and tend to forget the concepts. Preparation to be continues.
  • Read as many pages as possible which is comfortable (say 20 pages), and also do not dry read anything- always move to further pages/ concept unless you have understood the previous one. Don’t stress yourself while reading.
  • Do not skip concepts as all are integrated and inter-linked, flow should be maintained as per PMBOK index.
  • Prepare a bar chart/ tracking sheet with start and end dates, we had made one.
  • It took almost 2 months to completely read a well-known exam preparation study material and 1.5 Months for PMBOK.
  • Do not attempt to solve questions vaguely without at least reading the concepts once – this may corrupt the thinking process and related PMI-isms.
  • Minimum two full stretch mock tests (preferably on the same time of the day you may likely appear to exams) are required.
  • Analyse what went wrong and what went right after mock test evaluation – this gives insights of where do you stand with respect to your preparations methods and knowledge (target is to consistently score 80% and above).
  • Take small tests of 20-30 questions regularly once you have understood the PM concepts, may be while you are reading your books for a second pass. Solve about 1200 or more credible questions before appearing to exams.
  • Between pages, may be at the end on the study hour or before taking a nap, try solve 10-20 questions, it will be fun and like playing a game – actually a benefit. A reputed mobile app or an online question bank may help to serve this purpose.
  • If you can find a like minded individual for combined study it would benefit as we did.

About exams –

  • Keep calm, do not get worked out – book exams slots as you are confident enough (after consistently getting about 80-85% in all mock tests, exercise questions).
  • Days before exam have to be free from tensions, any stress would impair thinking, logical ability and you are likely to hit wrong answers in the exam.
  • Stay fit and healthy.
  • Be early to exams, no chaos.
  • Carry all relevant documents. Carry Small snacks with high instant energy (hunger can ruin possibility of hitting right answers – your brain requires adequate supply of glucose to be functioning efficiently)
  • Snacks may be consumed during breaks (breaks are at your own expense of the running clock)
  • Beware of nature calls, before entering the exam flush out the bladder. Any urgency during exams can get as many as 10 questions wrong … 😉 Sounds weird right?  
  • Plan for 1-2 quick breaks depending on the time availability. If you feel irritated or stressed, just take a break or deep breath (help pumping good amount oxygen to brain to get focus back) and restart attending questions – do not attempt questions under stress and tensions.
  • Take less time for confident questions, save time for complex questions and problems - some may require as long as 4 minutes to solve and some require 10 secs.
Hope this would help, for any comments or questions please write to



Disclaimer - The entire review write-up here is purely my personnel opinion and the way I followed to clear PMP® exam, the actual individual experiences may differ and are subjective to the abilities from person to person. Since it is personnel insights and experience, for any undesirables as the outcome of any decisions based on this review, misinterpretations, any wrong information written here, author can no way be held responsible for the same. However, at most care has been taken while writing insights with good intentions.
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