Friday, July 29, 2016

PMP Success Story: Build Your PMI Muscles, Enhance Your PMIisms and be PMPed Before the Exam



Falguni Das is a proud PMP® today. He had his credential in the beginning of this month. Post certification he had messaged me on his success. Later, when I spoke with him at length, he was indeed very satisfied on the outcome. Well, sincere work rarely goes in vain. 


Falguni was part of my class in the end of January, 2016. It was a big batch and he made his presence felt by actively participating. 

He asks pertinent questions, answers and chips-in wherever he can, enjoys the tricky questions and actively joins in situations where I ask participants to discuss with the team at the whiteboard.


No two experiences are same. Like he had less number of mathematical questions compared to others. And, that is what makes this exam unique. Also he has put certain interesting perspectives on PMP exam – like building your PMI® muscles, being PMPed before exam and so on. 

His experience is quite detailed. Go on and read his unique experience. 

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Introduction
The inspiration to be a PMP came primarily due to the knowledge I wanted to gain in the Project Management space and of course the brand value of PMP certification. 

In the pursuit of having good quality training and the support from the staff during and after the training period, I took advice from few of my friends and colleagues about the centre and the coach. Additionally, I did go through the reviews about the same in the internet too.

My PMP Training Experience
My classroom experience was really good. I got to learn from an experienced coach and fellow associates there. The key takeaways in the PMP Training were:
  • Deep understanding of certain knowledge areas such as Cost Management, Time Management, Risk Management and Procurement management. 
  • The subtle yet very important differences between different types of project documents.
I have very good experience in few of the project management knowledge areas (as PMI calls them), but less in few others. Post my class, I kept working harder on the weak areas and tried to enhance my knowledge in my strong areas by reading the PMI related documents, discussing more with my colleagues and senior managers. It is easy to set one’s priority based on the PMI-defined percentage of questions each process group will pose. However, it is quite important to know a good deal of each knowledge area as that helps one during the exam and also while handling real project work.

My Own Study
First I blocked my exam dates. I would call it “Initiating”, and also here I fixed the closing date. I spent two months preparing, i.e., Planning and Executing, for the exam apart from the 4 days of classroom training that I attended. Every day I spent about two to three hours for my preparation. From beginning, I focussed on my weak areas, so that I got maximum time to prepare for those. 

As soon as I used to finish one knowledge area, I used to attempt few quiz questions (around 20-40 questions) on the same knowledge area, which can be considered partly executing, partly monitoring and controlling. However, do note, none of the questions that one practices may appear in the real exam. In my case too, I did not get those. Nevertheless, practising those will help you clear the concepts and gain more confidence.

I kept practicing different sets – 20 to 40, 50, 75, 100, 200 questions from time to time in order to build my PMI-muscles and enhance my PMI-ism. For my preparation, I referred the PMBOK® Guide and the book by Rita Mulcahy.

One particular aspect during my study which I would suggest is this: Look for avenues to implement what you learn during your preparation time and beyond by applying them in the real time projects.

In few questions, where one is not quite sure of the answers, it may bring the whole morale down in minutes. But I kept my calm, stayed focussed and remained alert in the common sense front. No matter how confident you are, till the result is out, no one knows the actual outcome. The key is to remain confident and calm – as you don’t have any better choice.

My PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled the exam online at a centre in Mumbai, India. My strategy for the exam was as follows:
  • Plan was to answer all the questions in 210 mins and then review all the marked questions later. Though my planned time was 210 minutes, I finished answering all 200 questions in 225 mins, i.e., I had hardly 15 mins to go. As I had very few questions marked to be reviewed later, it saved the day for me.
  • I tried to solve the questions in first attempt itself. This helped me in avoiding the review later, as noted earlier. 
  • I read every question and answer choices thoroughly at least once. I was never too desperate to answer without reading completely, just because I thought one answer might be correct or the question seemed very easy.
  • I kept an eye on the time, so that I did not have to overspend on one particular question.
  • Finally, I stayed focussed, calm and confident throughout the 250+ mins.
There were a variety of questions. However,
  • Mostly questions were situational – almost 90% of them
  • Of those 90%, at least 25% questions were tricky (where the second best choice could not be that wrong or was equally good and possibly right)
  • Mathematical questions – 2-3%
I must note what happened to me on the exam day, need not happen necessarily to everyone else in the exam. While speaking with several other examinees, I heard different distribution in percentages of these aforementioned types. One exam taker mentioned that he got around 20-25 mathematical questions, which translates to around 10-12%.

I would say - do not lose your patience, do not get distracted. Read, re-read the questions to get more clarity. In case it is too tough, mark the question to be reviewed later and move on. If you want to make certain notes, please do that. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
- Dos:
  • Read the PMBOK guide thoroughly. More importantly, try to understand the concepts (about the why, when and how). 
  • Practice and attempt different types of questions, varieties of scenarios.  
  • Define your own exam strategy, prepare your own notes. 
  • Understand the importance of different documents and know when to use what sort of tools and techniques. 
  • When you are unsure, use your common sense and experience. 
  • Be “PMPed” before the exam! By PMPed I mean, understand what PMI says about project management. 
- Don’ts:
  • Don’t procrastinate and push the exam date. 
  • Never lose confidence in yourself.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I would implement the project management learning in real projects as much as possible as that was one of my primary goals. As a whole, the complete process has been a great experience and learning for me.

Brief Profile: 
Falguni Das, Software Testing Consultant.  13+ years of IT experience primarily in BFSI domain.

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Falguni’s online profile is available PMI’s registry. 


Many get their certifications. In fact, there have been hundreds from my sessions. However, few share their own, which inspires others. And real and genuine experiences on the web are few. 

I am thankful to Falguni for writing his experience. I believe it will help the readers of this blog, who are PMP aspirants, to prepare their own.