Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lessons Learned

Hi All !

I’m glad to inform you that I passed my PMP® exam on 30th Dec with all 5 Proficient score. I took some time to review my preparation period and now here I’m with my experience & LL.

During my preparation days, I referred many LLs and experiences over internet from many exam takers. I’m really thankful to all those unknown faces for sharing their LLs , perspectives, mistakes ,tips & tricks. It is really important to understand various point of views, which will not only help you in studies , but it will develop you professionally & personally as well.                               
Now it’s my turn to share !
Please be patient with me, it’s gonna get bit lengthy !!

My Experience
Throughout my preparations, It’s been an enriching experience for me in terms of professional & personal development. Journey started  in June .I spent quality time doing the ‘ground work’  about the PMP® certification overall process. I got a hardcopy of PMBOK® and found myself reading few chapters even before I took decision to go for it. During this period, I got to know about the ‘PM Prepcast’ through internet. First look, I liked it because it was providing me the flexibility of studying anywhere , anytime using my phone and it was also serving me 35 PDUs as a pre-requisite to PMP® application. And as I started going through the episodes, I knew I had taken the BEST decision. Once I was ready with everything that is needed for filling the application and then I submitted my application. After application process was completed, I set up myself a little over 3 months’ time and scheduled exam at Year end. I made a high level study plan and my actual studies geared up. Please become a PMI® member, so that you can avail all membership benefits like exam fees discount and PMI® bookstore access .                
As a full time working professional, I could find little time on week days for studies. I managed to squeeze an hour in night on weekdays. On weekends I used to utilize time left after my family commitments and responsibilities but I made sure I’m doing at least a little progress everyday. Most of the people complain that PMBOK® in all is very dry to read. I agree, but some how I managed to grow interest in reading it mostly because I was discovering gaps in practical world of project management J & yes, my school of thoughts matched with many ! I wanted to go through PMP® certification because I want to manage my work & projects better and develop professionally & personally. It has also helped me to keep my interest running.

I found  Rita Mulcahy & Kim Heldman books (though it was based on 4th ed) as very good sources along with PMBOK®.I  studied PMBOK® cover to cover only once and then continuously referred it throughout my preparations as and when I wanted to confirm the ‘final word’ on anything. While my first pass of PMBOK®, I kept my hand-written notes and then when I referred other sources, I kept updating those notes. I found it comfortable to study by knowledge Area(as in PMBOK®), rather than by Process groups.
I never tried to memorize the ITTO. The BEST way to understand & remember the ITTO that I found is- the PM Prepcast . I paid attention to the way Cornelius has explained the ITTOs for each process and it becomes easy to relate them together. You must understand  the T&T concept  and then it’s really not required to memorize them. I think plain memorization of ITTOs will confuse a human brain J. So please avoid plain memorizing. Through out preparations, I watched respective precast episodes again to bridge the gaps in my understanding.

I found the mathematical part of studies, as a bonus. Because if you thoroughly understand the concepts of EVM , EMV,CPM  etc  and then what remains is simple algebra.

I used below study material –
PM Prepcast ,PM Prepcast Forum
PMBOK® – 5th Ed,Rita Mulcahy  - 8th Ed
Kim heldman  : PMI® bookstore :  ( based on 4th ed )
Chris Scordo : PMI® bookstore 
PMZilla Forums
HeadFirst PMP
I want to be PMP® forum on Linkedin
Frank Anbari – PMI® bookstore

Practice tests/exams
I counted solved practice questions after passing PMP® exam J. I found that I had practiced around 3000 sample questions, including  6 full length practice tests. Irrespective of length of the practice test, I always reviewed all wrong answers and also the marked questions which I felt were tricky while solving. I also kept a record of my ‘unforced errors’ (mistakes I should not have made while answering a question) & tried not to repeat them as I went through practice exams.  Before a month of my exam date, I started taking full length tests. weekend was the only right time for me to take a full length test. I scored consistently in 6 full length practice exams, ranging 70-85.By the exam day – I felt prepared.  A day before exam, I just did revision of notes, formulae and tricky questions which I had sorted during my preparation. Solved couple of 10 question practice tests and then brushed through PMBOK® glossary , and  got my bag ready to travel to exam center.
Be prepared !!  because unknown risks and known risks might get realized as your exam date comes closure. In my case, Prometric informed me that the exam center has been relocated, so I had to replan my travel to test center. Also there were some unplanned family commitments & stretched work duties. So be ready with your risk responses 

On exam day : My exam center was in another city , usually it takes at least 3 to 4 hours travel time considering traffic. I could not visit my test center in advanced. But  I knew the city and also I had got directions and all doubts clarified with Prometric test center guys over phone several times during last month. My exam slot was in evening, so I  setup double travel time and started in early morning .I reached at test center well ahead of time. The ID verification and sign-on processes were smooth. Prometric executive explained the ground rules for test, provided with a blank pages booklet and 2 pencils & directed me to cubicle where I had to take the test. The exam room had many cubicles & some candidates were already taking their tests. But it quite silent.I used headphones which Prometric had provided.

Actual Exam
I finished tutorial in couple of minutes and then did my braindump. I highly recommend doing braindump because it gets your thoughts flowing and helps you to enter into the exam mode. It specially helped my as I had to travel before exam. I did nothing special in brain dump. I just wrote PG & KA chart and few formulae. I was left with 2-3 minutes after completing braindump. I did not start the exam. I used that time to get comfortable with headphones, chair & surroundings and waited tutorial time to finish.
My plan to take a break after every 50 questions did not work in actual exam. I started bit slowly but still was able to finish 50 Qn in first hour. During entire exam  I did not take a single break as I did not want to waste time in sign on  process .After every hour,  I just stretched & did deep breathing fro few seconds and resumed.
Few questions were straight forward but most were more trickier than sample exams which I practiced during my preparation. This is where understanding of the concepts comes handy. There were many situational questions with majority emphasis on procurement management & project integration. Maths questions were for EVM, communication channels, CPM calculations. Charts questions were very lengthy but only observation was needed to find correct answer. I did not encounter any question outside PMBOK® framework. 
I finished answering all questions with about 25 minutes left  & about 30 questions marked for review.

While reviewing, I changed couple of answers. I was getting more & more confident about my result as I was reviewing the marked questions. My exam time got over when I was reviewing my last marked question. A blank screen appeared , then the survey appeared which I finished in couple of mins and then for a long time, blank screen again. The wait felt very long and I felt my heartbeats loud J & then the words ‘congratulations’ appeared. I was overjoyed when I saw 5 proficient ratings on screen ! It was really satisfying after all those efforts put in !

The ‘PM Precast’
Among all study material I used, I really want to thank Cornelius Fitchner and the PM Prepcast. As I mentioned earlier, I chose it because it was providing me the flexibility to study anywhere , anytime. Let me tell you this – I found it very helpful in clarifying my concepts and boost my preparations . I had bought it to get my 35 contact hours, but I watched & listened it again & again throughout my preparations. I liked the audio-visual learning, the content is comprehensive and the Cornelius’s  method of explanation is just great. I recommend PM Prepcast to all aspirants taking PMP® exam . And what more – you get your 35 contact hours for exam eligibility, several sample Questions & that too at very moderate price. I too searched several online PMP® exam preparation courses at start, but then I come across PM Prepcast and I took the best decision for my exam preparations. The interviews, Prepcast forum and newsletters were also very beneficial. Thanks a ton to Cornelius and PM Prepcast !

now I am a compensated affiliate of OSP International LLC. I have listed URLs below for PM Prepcast and all useful study material.

PMP® Exam Simulator (90-Day Access)

Prepare your own notes instead of getting from others. Because that’s the best way to understand & learn. However do read LL from others. Do read perspectives from others. They are very helpful in negotiating the questions.

Last but not the least,  I am very thankful to my most important stakeholders (my lovely family) for their support and their patience with me throughout my preparations.

3 weeks into it now, I'm looking forward to my professional life as a PMP® !

All the best to all PMP® aspirants !

I really enjoyed listening to PM Prepcast. So I am closing my lengthy LL with a phrase from Cornelius and Justine - “Until next time ! "

Sachin Vehale, PMP®


  1. Thanks Sachin for the minutely detail oriented journey.

  2. Thanks for your detailed description of your PMP exam experience which is very useful for fellow PMP aspirants. And congratulates to getting the perfect score on the exam!

  3. Wow Sachin 5 proficient scores amazing. Hearty congratulations. TFS the LL

  4. Amazing, Congratulations Sachin - must appreciated for sharing your LL :)

  5. You did not mentioned what tests you took

  6. As a pmi member, I solved samples questions available in books available for members.e.g. Chris Scordo book. Apart from this, I accessed many online questions/sample tests available. pm studY, pm prepcast, examcentral, Headfirst, Olvier lehman to name a few.

    There are tons of samples Qn available on internet. Please judge the quality of questions before you rely on your score in such sample tests

  7. Thanks all for your comments. I am glad to be helpful , even in the smallest way, to the PMP aspirant, the same way I was benefited by LLs & experience shared by those who went through PMP experience before me

  8. Thanks sachin for your inputs. Is it worth buying PM prepcast full mock exam? Oliver questions were tough.

  9. Hi Hariprasad, I did not use exam simulator.if you plan to buy any full length exams online during preparations, this is worth.yes Oliver Qn are more difficult than others. :)
    Best wishes for your preparations.

  10. That was good sharng of experience. It will help many others. Christopher Scordo's tests are now available on hos website. These are one of the best for PMP prep.