PMP Exam is no big deal. Anyone can crack the exam – be it a seasoned professional, a working mother, or both.
As I was (still am) juggling job, baby and deadlines, I did not want to give my exam immediately. I was keen on passing it in the first attempt. PMP trainers advised me to chart a strict study timetable and religiously stick to it. That disciplined approach did not work for me. At home, I would be spending more time with the baby than worrying about the critical path method. With a lovely toddler around, how could Time Management chapter and its networking diagrams be interesting? Therefore I conclude that there is so fixed path for success. Each one charts one’s own.
Don’t be disillusioned when you don’t find enough time to study. Don’t force yourself to stick to the time table. Take your liberties. Study when your mind is ready to take stuff in. For an already stressed mother coping with kid, job, and home, there is never a perfect moment to sit back with a cup of coffee and look at the time table to pick up the book. Read anywhere you like – in bed, on desk, or on the pot.
You can manage your time well, if you want to. There is no end to excusing oneself from being serious. There are 24 hours in a day and we only use 8-12% of our brains. Think about it.
All it needs is a bit of careful self assessment of oneself, of the current stressful situation and factor in a bit of discipline, honest effort and a little time-everytime. That’s all! It is as simple (and tough) as that.
Cracking Project Management Professional Exam – Here are my few cents:
Be serious about the exam. It is not a 50:50 luck factor. You can only pass if you know the stuff. Plus, you are paying a lot of money for this.
35-Hour Training Credits for PMP: PMP exams require you to undergo a minimum of 35 hours of training credit. You will have to attend a training program on PMP to be eligible for writing the exam. This is a good opportunity to revise the entire exam content. It would be a god idea to skim through PMBOK once before attending this session so that your recall factor for topics being discussed is higher. Be attentive in these classes and get all basics straight into your head. You will be surprised when you take your mock tests for chapters you did not study, yet got the answers rights. Use these sessions to clear all your doubts, difficult questions, etc.
PMP Exam Application Process: The biggest hurdle is the PMP application form. Once filled and submitted, there is no looking back. It brings in an element of seriousness to the cause. Filling up this application from PMI is quite a task by itself. It requires you to flash back into 5 years of your work life and pick out specific events/ projects where you have played significant roles in significant areas of Project Management. Here is where you think how much you have worked in past and be surprised 😉
Preparing for PMP at your workplace:
(Disclaimer: This is not about misuse of office resources. You are not supposed to do that)
- If it is difficult to sit and concentrate at home, office provides a good opportunity to pursue your exam target. Half hour before or after the office hours may not be too hard pressing and should be guilt-ridden. Alleviate your guilt factor by at least using the commuting time to study.
- If you indeed work well, there is plenty of scope for making out time to study at office. You do not need study in one stretch or for long hours, but can open your book whenever there is little time on hand. If this is not possible then there is something seriously wrong with you or your office. Sort that first.
- Save your water cooler moments for five difficult questions that you could not answer right. Your colleagues might have ideas to contribute. Seek the logic behind the answers. It is better than gossip.
- PMP questions are interesting and quiz like. There must be others in your office who are studying for PMP or who have already appeared for the exam. Play this PMP test quiz. It could be one question a day/ hour. Pose questions with options to each other. This fun gets better when we come across difficult questions where two options are so closely correct. This worked for me. I had a colleague who was preparing for PMP exam and we would ping each other when we came across any difficult question. It was fun and months later, I still remember those questions and answers and that ‘eureka’ moment when you made a mistake and realised the correct answer.
- Most organisations have resources on project management, methodologies and processes. Reading these will not only help you in your exam, but also enhances your organization specific skill set and practical application at work but also places you in a better position.
- Make easy short forms for long topics, tools and methodologies, process areas etc. There may not be direct questions to these, but you will end up eliminating a lot of unnecessary details from the answer options.
PMBOK (The Project Management Book of Knowledge): This is indeed an important guide that needs to be read at least once to ensure that there was no topic left. Everyone vouches for this. Read it at-least once. Do not read it like a text book. Read it casually, bits and pieces at a time or pick up topics that interest you first. I use to read PMBOK when I had free time in office and in the night after my baby slept. I use to take half a day during weekends. Luckily before the exam date it was a long weekend so I got three days at a stretch to brush up as much as I can. Whenever I came across a new term which is not explained well in PMBOK, I read about it on the internet.
But for Cost Management area, I relied on Rita Mulcahy as that book explained the concepts in the simplest manner and eliminated most information that will not be asked exam. The one thing I am glad about is that I not only mugged up the formulae but understood the logic and reasoning behind using it. Most of the questions mentioned a lot of numbers but the answers only required application of the right formulae for the given case study/ scenario.
That’s all!!! No more books to complicate the simple logic.
Mock Tests for PMP: I undertook many mock tests on www.pmstudy.com and browsed many websites for question banks. This was helpful in practicing and building confidence though none of those questions appeared in the exam. Take few mock tests to see where you stand. If you are scoring well, do take the over-confident route for I found the actual paper tougher than expected.
Don’t discuss too much about the exam. Information overload is dangerous for an already worked-up mind. Most often I see people getting jittery, nervous and scared about the exam (its methodology, pattern and more). Stay focused on the exam content.
I heard a lot of gyan about chapter-questions and its distribution/ weightage from many people. It was all wrong. Every chapter is important.
A day before the scheduled exam date, I went to check out the Prometric Exam Center, just to make sure that I know the address to drive to the following day. Glad that I did this and saved on a lot of stress before the exam.
Pre-Exam procedures and processes were simple and straight. The exam was not easy or difficult. The level of preparation and the state of your mind on that moment determines your luck. Each question made me think twice. Two answer options were so close that I had to read the question again. This only shows that no matter how strong you are in basics, you must be able to apply the logic in most of the questions. Be good in the PM fundamentals, learn to read the questions and answer options carefully, try to eliminate the answer options ASAP, and revise your answer before your submit.
While there may be four hours to complete your exam, it is always better to finish the exam within three hours and spend the remaining time reviewing your answers or attempt to answer the questions you had earlier left unanswered.
It’s a great feeling when you read ‘Congratulations’ on the screen after you submit your exam. And getting to read this message after struggling with so many things around, the sense of relief is quite numbing.
For those who aspire to give the exam in future, please do so with full faith and force. Let your body and mind decide the best course of action. Be disciplined and serious for all it needs is a little bit of your time – everytime.
“You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.” Richard Bach
I will keep updating this post with whatever tips and tricks I remember over a period of time. If you have great ideas to share, please let me know and let the list grow 🙂