PMP on FASTTRACK

I Cleared PMP exam securing above target in all the domains. Initially, I thought of a horizon of 6 weeks to take up the exam. Wasn’t disciplined in the preparation. To set off the commitment, went ahead and reserved the date for the exam, a month before. Due to reasons unforeseen, i lost another 10 days.

Left with only 20 days, i couldn’t afford to be dormant anymore. Decided to adhere with the following plan:

  1. Revise Joseph Philip’s course in UDEMY(I bought this for securing 35 PDUs ). Took 4 days to finish this.
  2. Complete Rita Mulcahy’ along with the questionnaires.
  3. Read PMBoK at least once.
  4. 1800 Mock questions.

Completion of UDEMY course set the base for the prep and this course remained a reference throughout. I was fast tracking between 2-4. The rest of the plan wasn’t done in sequence, but in mixed iterations. Each mock test would expose my weaknesses and i would fallback to PMBoK and Rita’s for more reading. Sometimes when a chapter in PMBoK or Rita’s book was over, i would try questions through apps/website related to the topic. In the first few days it became clear that cramming the books would be a very bad idea and can add up the stress. Once I began to understand the concepts and tried to integrate the learning, things seemed to fall in place.

It is imperative to read through PMBoK once at the least, as the exam is mostly based out of this. The other books don’t touch upon all that which is in PMBoK.

As the days progressed, I might have gone through few of the knowledge areas twice or thrice. At the end I had covered each knowledge area twice at the minimum. The results in mocks, which used to be between 60-65, inched up to 75-85. Results in the mocks shows ones readiness for the exam. They are a disclaimer as for the real exam is concerned.

The exam is unique of its kind. This nature of the exam set up a few more challenges. First of which is the uncertainty, followed by reduced confidence level and apprehension. The subject is so vast that even the best might tend to have these problems. Moreover, the more you read, the more black holes you find in the understanding.One should not get demotivated at this stage. I gained strength by counting on those who have passed. If they can I can!

On exam’s penultimate day, i glanced through all the topics in PMBoK and Rita’s. It wasn’t a deep reading. Also, tried to solve a few questions online. Wrote the Knowledge area, process group and processes matrix twice. Practiced EVM formulae and the cost related formulae under Procurement.

On the D-Day, I arrived the centre 20 min ahead. I was facing the questions within 10 min after the formalities.

The problems that I faced in the exam:

Even before answering, I wrote down the 49 processes. It took a little longer to get accommodated to the environment, given the deafening silence! I read the first 3 questions more than twice to answer. I became pensive when 5 min ticked for these 3. Took some deep breathes. This was a learning curve and I knew that I would pick up pace once in groove. It might have taken me over 25 questions when i started reading the question only once to understand and answer. It was not certain if I had answered correctly. By this time i might have lost over 35 min. But, I did answer 50 Qs in the first half hour. Took a break for 2 mins after this.

Half way through, I was confident of passing. Until 2.5 hours things went smoothly, when I started to fatigue. Staring the monitor for a longer time caused eye ache. Closed my eyes, took few deep breathes and I was back answering. This did help.

In the last hour there were just over 60 questions to be answered. I managed to complete all with 4 min to spare. Utilized this for some 10 questions that were flagged. The time expired! The monitor read Congratulations! I jumped out of my seat and pumped up. I passed with above target in all the domains!

My strategies may not work for you. But still a few tips from my side:

  1. Fix the exam date and get committed. One may play it down otherwise.
  2. Be ready for the scenario based questions. There are all possibilities that the first question you stare at would be based on a scenario. A major portion of the exam would end with either of these questions: “What should have been done?”, “What should be done immediately”, “What should be done next?”, “What went wrong?”. This question is the most important. If you haven’t identified the past, present and the future that is questioned, your answer will be based on perception rather than facts. Don’t get wrong footed. Read the question till the end and understand the requirements as they are.
  3. Don’t memorize ITTO’s. There were a few questions. They were scenario based. Once you identify the process, the scenario, the output, you will be able to find the correct input/tool. Spend time in understanding the processes and the tools.
  4. I wrote down the 49 processes before answering. This helped me to relate the question to a process and select the answer in line with the process. Also, it was easier to correlate when the scenario involved interfaces between multiple processes. For example, a quality report comes from Manage quality. For sending the report you need to check the “Communication management plan” and send through “manage communications”.
  5. Needn’t get driven by complex NW diagram. I had only one straightforward question to identify critical path. I did this by calculating the length for all the options, within 45 secs.
  6. Questions related to EVM, except for one, did not ask for calculations. The one which needed calculation was easy too. This was the only instance when I had to use the calculator.
  7. A few questions had numbers for CPI or SPI, with options like ” the project is ahead or behind, over budget or under budget”. If you know the CPI SPI rules the rest is simple.
  8. You may also see numbers in questions related to Ethics.
  9. Practice reading once and understanding on the first attempt. The time ticks off quickly if you try to read the second time or the third. There will be a few which would demand a second glance.
  10. One might not be able to get into the exam taking mode immediately. It might take time to get settled. Do not worry about this. Once you are in rhythm, you will start answering even 3 in a minute.
  11. Free mocks, resources, flash cards and apps were sufficient for me. Use diverse resources. Beware that there are some which are not genuine. They can confuse your correct understanding.
  12. The deep breathes during the exam helps the brain get more oxygen and reduce tiredness. A tip from Rita’s which worked for me.
  13. Focus on the question which you are answering. Not the one you might have answered doubtfully or skipped or flagged. That eats up time. And, keeps you under the doubts of passing the exam.

All said, the exam tests you for your understanding. It doesn’t count whether you are above target or on target. What matters more is passing the exam. This is a test for discipline and mental toughness.

The syllabus is not only about project management, but also about building a character of Project Manager. This Project Manager is Mr.Perfect! That’s difficult. Passing the exam? Anyone can do! 🙂

Best

Anand

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