How I Cleared My PMP Exam In The First Attempt


To all the PMP aspirants, who want to earn the PMP certification but haven't started planning for it yet, it's time for you to take action and get it done. The PMBOK sixth edition is out and the exam will now be based on the new edition.

My Story

Few months back, I thought about applying for the PMP exam but wasn't that serious about it. However, i registered and went through the process to see if I am eligible to appear for the exam. After I received the email from PMI regarding my eligibility, I had doubts about balancing my study hours with my work schedule and had almost put PMP aside.

I knew I had to first choose an exam date and put a deadline for me to actually start preparing for it and here I am having earned my PMP certification with 'Above Target' performance in the first attempt. So if I can do this, you can too.

I am going to share my study strategy and other helpful tips and tricks that can help you through the preparation.

First Things First: Registration

You can start the registration process here. The registration process takes some time but hang in there. You will get 90 days to finish an application once you have started it, however, I would suggest you to choose a weekend and complete the registration process so that you do not procrastinate it for later. Refer to the Project Management Professional Handbook for more details to complete the registration process and check the eligibility criteria.

Note: If you need the '35 Contact hours of formal Project Management education' to be eligible for the exam, you can take any online course provided by Project Management Institute (PMI) Registered Education Provider (REP).

Once you complete the registration process and receive an email that you are eligible to take the exam, choose a convenient date so that you have a deadline.

Preparation Time

This depends on an individual's learning style and speed. If you can provide six or more hours a day for 5-6 days a week, then I would say around 2 months. But if you can provide two to four hours a day for 5-6 days a week, I would say an average of 3-4 months depending on your study pattern.

Mindframe for Taking the Exam

You are preparing to PASS the PMP exam, not just to take it. Study with this frame of mind. It actually works! You can also check out my blog on "5 Things to keep in Mind While Working Towards Your Goals".

Study Materials

  • Take any online course based on PMP sixth edition: The reason for taking an online course is because the instructor will help you understand and review the syllabus and chapters (which seems too overwhelming if you start studying from the PMBOK directly). Also, with each video, you can make your notes. With a high level idea and understanding of the chapter from the online course and with with your notes prepared, it will be easier for you to read and understand that chapter in PMBOK.

  • PMBOK Sixth Edition: Once you become a PMI member, you can download the PMBOK from the PMI website for free.

Study Pattern

  • Studied one chapter from the online course and made notes so i can revise them later.

  • Read that chapter from PMBOK Sixth Edition.

  • Gave practise test of that chapter from the online course (usually 20 MCQ). This way you can actually know how much you have learnt and clear any concepts, which otherwise weren't clear before.

(Used the same approach for all chapters.)

Revision

  • Went through my notes, especially the ITTOs (Inputs, Tools & Techniques, Outputs).

  • Glossary - Usually people recommend to read the Glossary from the beginning but I would suggest going through the Glossary after you have read the chapters because that will give a more clear idea of what those terms mean rather than just learning them from the beginning without any context.

  • I came across this site and used it to revise the formulas and practiced different examples based on them.

Practice Exams

You have to understand that the exam is for 4 hours and has 200 MCQ. So giving as many practice exams would be beneficial for you.

I gave practice exams for 14 days and when there were few days when i didn't want to sit down at a stretch, i just solved sample questions without any time limit. After each exam, i read explanation for the incorrect as well as correct answers. And most importantly, i made notes after each exam for any point which i thought was new or had to be remembered and read those points before giving the next exam. This came in really handy during the last few days before the exam. Also, everyday before/after the practice test, I used to go through the ITTOs to refresh them in my mind.

How I Time the Exam

There are 200 MCQ and 4 hours without any timed breaks. For every hour, I target to complete 60 MCQ, so that i have some buffer time left in the end. The exam simulator provides you tools such as 'Strikethrough', 'Highlight' and 'Mark for Review' for your convenience. Make sure to review your 'Mark for Review' questions and also to check for any unattempted questions in the buffer time.

Day before the exam

I would recommend you to not give any practice exams a day or two before the exam and just go through your notes and ITTOs. Just remember to stay calm and have confidence in all your preparation.

Best wishes!

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