Saturday, May 3, 2008

PMP Lessons Learned (Journey to PMP Certification)

This is to share my experience of preparing for PMP Certification and successfully passing it in first attempt.

It took me 7 weeks of preparation time excluding the time taking a break for a week while application was being processed.

Started with “PMP Project Management Professional Study Guideby Joseph Phillips. This is an easy to digest book but I would like to point out that this book should not be taken as a basis to remember stuff. This book is more like an easy way of making you understand PMBOK better.
Then read through PMBOK making sure that I understand the language, terms and the finer details of how the variances are between Practicality and PMBOK defined “Best things to do” (More like How/What/When to “do”).

I also registered for PMPCampus to earn “35” hours of Contact hours. Their material consists of quick to read condensed notes and also “1320” questions which are of good standard.

Besides this I read Kim Heldan’s book which I found to be of very good standard and was covering the topics Process Group wise and thus helps go through the Life cycle differently from how it is mentioned in PMBOK and Rita Mulcahy’s (Both of which covers more like Knowledge Management Areas sequentially). I went through PMBOK and Rita once.

Regarding the sample tests I covered the following
1. Kim Heldan’s practice questions
2. Rita’s Fastrack
3. Oliver F. Lehmann’s 175 plus 75 questions
4. HeadFirstPMP’s practice test
5. PMP Study’s practice questions
6. PM Hub’s sample questions
7. PM Hub’s Forum has lot of useful stuff
8. PMP Exam Cram
9. Q & As for the PMBOK® Guide
10. PM Zilla (They have formulae and easy to remember ITTOs tricks)

I collected some more sites but did not really go through them
11. http://www.projectseminars.com/pmp_practice_exam.php
12. http://www.bestsamplequestions.com/pmp-sample-questions/pmp-sample-questions.html
13. http://www.pmexam.com/14.html

I found Kim Heldan’s and Oliver F. Lehmann’s questions of very good standard. Rita’s fastrack questions are more helpful to summarize all that is necessary and sufficient to clear the exam in the very first attempt. Each practice test was equally important in the sense that more one practices, more is good for confidence. But I would like to caution that questions should not be done so many times that one starts answering them without completely reading the question. This might result in trivial over confidence.

Besides these I went through Vijay K Verma’s delegation

And last but not least is the PMI site itself where there is a link “eReads & References” that has some very good eBooks

I did not really memorize ITTOs but I did take a print out and stuck on a board to refer it easily and also understand the flow.

I spent three days prior to the exam day practicing all sample tests (roughly 700 questions per day). My intention was to practice sitting for 4 hours and practice to answer 200 questions on a stretch. I stopped studying since evening one day prior to the exam. Had my exam scheduled at 1:30 PM and was at the Prometric center by 12:40 PM. They allowed me to start my exam early. There were roughly 20 systems and the place was half occupied but luckily there was no noise and it remained quite peaceful throughout. I did brain dump all formulae while the tutorial time was ticking. Initial couple of questions were little tricky and maybe this was more because of the churning in my tummy. Nevertheless I marked them for review. After that my nerves were settled and then from there on I sort of enjoyed answering the questions. All those practice tests helped a lot especially Kim Heldan’s and Oliver F. Lehmann’s long description questions which gives one the much needed practice of reading through essay questions. One good part about the questions is that they do highlight and capitalize the words EXCEPT/MOST/BEST/NOT and it is difficult to miss. I got around 10 questions which were directly asking about the ITTOs. I also got around 10 questions on Mathematical formula which were fairly easy and straight forward. Surprisingly I did not get a single question in which I had to draw a network diagram. There were more than couple of questions on delegation. Unlike someone pointed out, questions were not in an order from Initiation to Closing and then Professional Responsibility.

44 comments:

  1. Thank you Ozone for stopping by and leaving your comments

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  2. WOW...It's really a great summery...I am trying the same but it's very tough but i will try more..Thank's

    Jith.

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  3. I just took the Oliver Lehmann 75 questions and just got 39 of them right. I am not able to find explanation for the wrong answers on the site. Does he provide only the highlighted blue answers. As mentioned in your blog, are questions on the exam similar to Oliver Lehmann or Mulcahy. What do I do? Using Fastrack I am scoring at around 75%. I am very nervous about my score in Oliver Lehmann. I am taking my exam in 20 days.

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  4. Anand

    Its generally thought that if you get 51 + out of 75 correct solving Oliver's question then you are good to go.
    I remember that the site also has the answers to the questions and you should be able to find in the same site.
    20 days is still a long way and I would suggest that you keep giving sample exams but my advise is not try to repeat the same one. If you are getting 80 - 85% in the sample exams, you are good. Try practicing giving 200 questions in a stretch as would it be for real exam.
    All the best
    -Sridhar

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  5. Sridhar,
    Your lessons learnt were very helpful. I have shared mine at the following.
    http://genes2men.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/pmp-lessons-learnt/

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  6. Congrats Niloy and best wishes for future endeavors

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  7. Sridhar,

    My concience doesent let me remain without thanking you.

    I managed to secure my PMP in first attempt just a while ago and your notes and lessons learned was a major contributor for my certification.

    For any body following this thread,I clarify that Sridhar's notes and lessons learned are still applicable for PMP based on PMBOK 4.

    Sridhar, Your Rock!!!

    Very Many Thanks again

    Naveed Abdul Khader

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  8. Sridhar,

    My concience doesent let me remain without thanking you.

    I managed to secure my PMP in first attempt just a while ago and your notes and lessons learned was a major contributor for my certification.

    For any body following this thread,I clarify that Sridhar's notes and lessons learned are still applicable for PMP based on PMBOK 4.

    Sridhar, Your Rock!!!

    Very Many Thanks again

    Naveed Abdul Khader

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  9. Thank you Naveed. That's very nice of you to share. Congratulations for attaining your PMP. I am hoping soon I will be able to share notes for PgMP too

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  10. Hi Sridhar,
    Your notes helped me a lot during my PMP preparation. Thanks a lot.

    Sanjeevini patil , PMP

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  11. I am glad that my notes helped in some way Sanjeevini. A thank you from all those who got benefited, is what keeps me motivated to share more. All the best

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  12. You are such a generous person and may the universe smile on you! I am studying for the exam and am happy to find your blog. Your pictures are also peaceful and much enoyed. I am an artist and a project manager.

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  13. Thank you Deborah. All the very best for your exam. I appreciate your kind words. Let me know if you need any help

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  14. Great post.

    Your experience is so much fun and exciting. The lessons are really useful and a very helpful aid.

    Thanks a lot for sharing your learning with us. Keep it up!

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  15. Any professional who dreams of becoming a manager must be familiar with these as these are a part of the lingo in the industry.
    PMP certification

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  16. If an employer has to choose between a person of high technical caliber and someone with PMP as manager, he will definitely select the former. Life in the early days of liberalization was simpler.
    PMP certification

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  17. It is great that you are sharing with your readers your ideas and experiences in taking up PMP Certification.

    Thank you for also sharing the best methods you have used during your take with PMP Certification. Keep it up!

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  18. I have test scheduled for end of thismonth and I really haven'y started studying at all and am confused as to what I should be doing next. I printed all the formulae. I need to guidance as to what wouldbe the best approach to due time crunch..can you suggest something?

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  19. Congratulations on your success. And i want to thanks for sharing your worth experience and suggestion.

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  20. Sorry guys for late post - the internet has been down since 29/Nov!
    Exam Prep (Till 3 days before exam) ==>
    ========================================
    [For my 30/Nov exam, I banished all PMP material, except my notes, on the night of 27/Nov]
    Approx 40-45 hours spread over 6 weeks till 27/Nov. Rita's 6th edition is the only book I used. Yes, I did not open PMBOK even once although I have the hard copy (as part of my PDU earning in house company conducted course during Sep/2010).

    That I took GMAT in end-2008 & completed my MBA in 2010 already takes care of handling exam preparation mindset / stamina and lot of topics such as Communication / HR / Procurement / Quality / Time Management etc.

    Exam Day & Result ==>
    ======================
    Reached exam center (Jayanagar, Bangalore) 1h 20 min ahead of schedule - I had visited the center on 28/Nov to familiarize myself (my first visit to Jayanagar area).
    Was allowed to start 40 minutes before schedule of 13:30 IST. Exam experience need sub-headings
    1] Passed with Proficient in 4 Process Groups and MP in Executing group.
    2] Took me approx 3h 30 minutes to finally 'END' the exam, that is, until I was completely exhausted & could not longer revise & re-revise.
    3] Exam difficulty level= Similar to PM FastTrack or Rita's chapter end Qs, and easier than Oliver's.
    4] First 50 Qs freaked me out - that was the make or break time. After those 50 Qs, it was smooth until I hit another patch of 10 odd hard Qs.
    5] Mathematical Qs or Diagram related Qs are extremely simple.
    6] Either read Qs slowly or Re-read - they have so much extraneous information that the real Q may be lost to you.
    7] If you as much as decimal (.)1% doubt your answer option, MARK it for REVIEW. Some people suggest you also mark all calculation & diagram related Qs for review although I followed the former guideline.
    8] Easy Qs can also trick you into incorrect answer choice because the answer options may be so close - do not get tricked or let down your guard.
    9] You need to be physically prepared for around 5 hours of ordeal (taking travel time into account). Grab a chocolate bar (or anything sufficiently filling) before the exam, avoid coffee as it is diuretic.
    10] Mental frame is most important - Keep telling yourself that YOU WILL CRACK THE EXAM BECAUSE YOU HAVE PREPARED SO WELL AND, A GOOD PROJECT MANAGER THAT YOU ALREADY ARE, DESERVE TO BE CERTIFIED.

    What Next for me ==>
    =====================
    This post was for you, the reader and possible applicant. I hope you'll find value and would be ready to further share if you choose to contact me.
    I'll look to balance my current role with some projects along with the heavy ITSM & Green Belt related stuff I've been doing for a while.

    Before I sign off, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Ms Mulcahy, Mr Lehmann, Sridhar (whose blog on another site gave me some insights) and scores of online bloggers (who can be said to be my virtual study group).

    THERE IS NO REASON YOU CANNOT DO IT, ALL THE BEST!

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  21. Heartiest Congratulations Anurag. Savor the moment. I am glad my notes helped in a way. All the best for your future endeavors

    -Sridhar

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  22. Hi Sridhar, Thanks for the wonderful write up of how to prepare and ace the PMP exam. I am starting to prepare for the PMP exam. Should I complete my preparation, then go to pmi website and apply for the exam (I mean fill the application form) or Should I first fill the application form see I am eligible to schedule the exam and then start preparing ? This looks like a catch-22 scenario.Please advise.
    I am also planning to register for pmpcampus 35 hour course.

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  23. You can know whether you are eligible before you fill in the application. If you are confident about your experience then you can get your application through even if its audited. My personal experience was to prepare for PMP and then fill in PMP application and get it through

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  24. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.









    PMP Certification Training

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  25. Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

    PMP Certification Training

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  26. Hi Sridhar,
    thanks for much for your inputs - I've following every comment posted by you and your replies.

    I'm appearing for my PMP exam in the first week of Feb.

    You have mentioned that pmzilla provides tricks to remember the ITTOs better - Could you please pass this info to my personal email id jerchinn@yahoo.com

    Thank you in advance,
    Jerome

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  27. Jerome,

    All the very best for your exam. You can find tips and tricks under http://pmzilla.com/memorizing-inputs-tools-and-outputs-pmp

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  28. Hi Sridhar,

    Thanks for the write up. I have a BS degree and have been in the IT (technical) side for close to 7 years. I would like to do PMP certification in hopes of changing my career. I do not have hands on project management experience to qualify for the application I believe. Is there a work around for this to be able to apply for the cert?

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  29. Usha,
    I would suggest to gain some experience managing certain project tasks while being technical and accumulate necessary hours before applying for PMP. This will help you in the long run. I see lot of folks taking elevator or short cuts to do PMP while misrepresenting the hours in the application, which in my opinion does not help in the long run. You can remain technical while taking ownership in managing tasks within project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring & controlling or closing. Keep track of all the hours spent and once you feel comfortable, apply for PMP. Meanwhile there is no harm in going through PMBOK and familiarizing yourself with PMI standards. All the very best and feel free to reach out for further questions

    -Sridhar

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  30. Thank you very very much. Appreciate your selfless responses and helping aspirants like me. I was exactly thinking in the same line as in gaining some hands on experience. Probably doing 2 hours /day or few hours spread out in a week besides my current job. And in the mean while prepare for the PMP cert. Do you think I am headed in the right direction? Thanks again.

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  31. I concur with your plan of action Usha. Managing not only your tasks but also certain team tasks will help you gain that experience. Make sure that you map what you learn reading PMI standards with your day to day experience and you will be fine. All the best for your endeavor.

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  32. Hi Sridhar, I like the fact that your blog is not a static site, but something that you constantly update, with relevant information (sometimes personal as well, such as your trip to the zoo!) I like that personal touch to the blog so keep it up!

    I have found another site that has very good references to PMP as well, in particular, to the 5th edition that is coming up for PMP PMBOK and what are the detailed changes in each of the sections.

    The site is called "Misterexam" and it is located at http://www.misterexam.com

    Thought I will share this to your long list of useful reference sites as well. Cheers!

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  33. Hi Sridhar,

    I am currently preparing for PMP and I find your blog very informative. Thanks for guiding PMP aspirants.

    I had a query. I notice in one of your discussions that you agree with the fact that Oliver Lehmann questions are one of the toughest. I just gave a test of its 175 questions in PDF and found it real tough. Could score only 66%.
    On studying the answers to these questions, I notice that they have been prepared from many books like Deborah, Dennis Cohen, Vivek Verma and many others. These books are on deep studies in individual knowledge areas.
    My question is "Do we really need to study all these books?" They are very deep in to particular knowledge areas. Moreover some of these questions had no relevence with PMBOK. What do you think about such questions in Oliver? Do you think PMP exams can have questions on such topics outside PMBOK?

    Sorry for so many questions. Just got all these queries after attempting Oliver questions and I am nervous with the score I got in them.

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. I have just passed my PMP exam. I didn't find the more difficult questions by Oliver Lehmann to appear in the real exam. So, I think if you focus your study on the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition that would be okay!

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  34. Hi Sridhar,

    Thank you for this very useful post, as well as all the resources you have shared in your blog. I am very sure many of us who are preparing for certification find it very beneficial.

    Just to share with all the other aspirants, and to add on to your list of sample tests, i would like to recommend another website which i found to be very comprehensive and helpful - 100Questions (http://www.100qns.com).

    They have got sample exams and volumes of 100 PMP questions each. From what i understand, all their PMP questions are based on the latest PMBOK 5th Edition, and the good thing is that all the questions come with explanations too.
    On this website, I also found useful tips and cheat sheet, so I thought I would just share it with everyone here.

    Thanks again for your post, Sridhar, and keep it going! =)

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  35. Thanks a lot for your comprehensive links to PMP resources. I passed the PMP exam recently. Here is my PMP journey.

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  36. I also took my PMP Classes from PMstudy. You can have a look at their offerings.

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  37. As a project manager i trust Scrum more than PMP. However , it also depends on the kind of project, kind of people you are working with etc.

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  38. Hi, we use Scrum org wide for project management, and its working well compared to waterfall method. As part of company sponsored training, I also got my agile scrum certification Scrum Master Certification recently.

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  39. After thinking over for quite a while about whether to go for PMP or SCRUM certification, I opted for a PMP prep course , Instructer was too good and I passed with relative ease. Looking forwards to apply what I learned in PMP classes in my company.

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  40. Hi , I am pondering over attending any PMP prep course / PMP classes to get PMP credentials. What are your thoughts? Would that be worth the money spent professionally?

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  41. PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. Recently I went for a PMP prep course by the training provider you have mentioned, Instructer was too good and I passed with relative ease. Looking forwards to apply what I learned in PMP classes in my company

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