My PMP journey and my tips
My success was due mainly to hard work, good luck, and the support and advice of mentors and friends. It was also dependent on me persevering after failing.”- Mark Warner
Vidyesh hosted a 5-day course on PMP exam preparation. His passion, energy, and knowledge inspired me to immediately start studying. Vidyesh Raj and his coauthor Vidhiraj managed the global WinningPMPlan WhatsApp group. The interesting discussions about PMP questions kept my going. In my spare time, I began to read Rita’s book. After a month, it became clear that I hadn’t achieved much. I set up a study schedule and routine of 2 hours per day Monday through Friday and 6 to 8 hours Saturday. It was challenging at times. I read slowly at first, but I found that I was absorbing more information and was able to read faster. My journey took six months.
I realized that the exam was about understanding and applying the PMBOK as well as PMI’s unique approach in project management. I had to let go of my own methods and company processes and learn how PMI would manage my projects. PMI stresses that the PM must be proactive, deal with conflict directly, be ethical, and accept the responsibilities.
I read through Rita’s books as a study method. Go through PMBOK. Reread Rita’s PMBOK reference and add notes to PMBOK. I made notes of the confusing topics right from the beginning. This helped me clarify the concepts and ensured that I understood them. I would then test my understanding towards the end.
After I had read Rita’s first book, I began mock exams. Each week I took at least one exam. Each time a question was incorrectly answered, or I wasn’t sure what the answer was, I reviewed it in the PMBOK, and added notes. Eg. If lessons learned was the topic, I reviewed the entire PMBOK where lessons learnedt was mentioned. This gave me a general understanding.
I reviewed the ITTO in PMBOK and made notes of the unique and less obvious components. Assumptions log is the first output of the Develop Project Charter process. This is why it was created. Similar to the Issues log (created in Manage Project Knowledge and Direct and Manage Project Work), for lessons learned. This was not meant to be memorised, but to understand how they fit together in the larger process. Another point about the ITTO is that the process of creating a project management plan (PMP) is iterative because each knowledge area has an impact on the others. The baseline can only be created when all plans have been finalized. However, the ITTO tables include all Inputs regardless of whether they are from the second iteration. Execution also includes these inputs. This makes ITTO confusing. I separated the inputs from the outputs that would be used to implement a later update. This provided some clarity regarding the creation of the PMP.
I frequently referred to the page 25 PMBOK mapping table. This was something I kept in my head. This was a reference point when I reviewed mock exam answers. It provided context and helped me to remember the knowledge area, process group, and knowledge area.
I made a list of all formulae and was able to remember when each one was to be used, especially the four EAC formulae.
As a way to clarify and understand certain aspects, I mapped them out. For example, how Work Performance Data is created and converted to Information, and then to Reports. I also tracked the locations where reports were used in other processes. This is not for memorizing, but understanding.
I described components of outputs that are broad defined, such as Procurement Documents or Requirements Documents.
The PMBOK seems to contain contradictions. When contracts are closed in procurement or in Close Phase/Project? These must be cleared up.
I took as many mock exams possible. These were done under exam conditions. I had no water bottle, no bio break, no water bottle in my hand, 60 seconds per question, the same time of day (morning) and no background music. This helped me to be ‘exam fit’ for the exam and prepared for the physical and mental challenges that would arise. I used four sources to answer exam questions. Each source had a different difficulty level and an entirely different interpretation of PMBOK. Many questions and answers were not related in many cases. It often took extensive study of PMBOK to understand what the author meant by the association. Once this was understood, the PMBOK was updated with notes.
Final days before the exam, my final study sessions included the PMBOK and notes that I had created. I took several mock exams. I followed the advice of an experienced PMP no.