I was preparing for PMP exam from Jan 20 and was scheduled for 3rd April exam. Due to lockdown, I got an option to change and rescheduled it to 4th May. (This was all before Prothoughts refresher class). Post Prothoughts refresher class on 11th-12th April, I was confident about studying but skeptical about exam actually happening on 4th May due to extended lockdown. So I applied for refund on 15th April. Next day, got to know about the PMP online proctored exam. Due to timely advice, shifted to online examination mode and cancelled my refund request.
At that day I had 19 days in hand for exams. (Yes, I know you are doing risk analysis now and considering me Fool). I still believed that it is not impossible but me being lazy, wasted 2 more days in planning how to start. Actually was not able to match my belief, my enthusiasm with my planning. So just thought of studying 1 chapter a day anyhow and keep revising this plan (Rolling wave planning). I actually started studying on 18th April. So only 17 days effectively (Fast Tracking).
On Paper, plan was simple “A chapter a day, keeps anxiety away“. Looked workable as it was leaving 4 days of revision in end.
By the way when I started, everything felt very new except my Rita book. My old study memory was gone. (No analogous estimation, no lessons learned) Maybe Corona effect. So these time to negate that effect, I went old school and started making notes (I did not do it earlier, told you I am lazy).
Till 1st week end, plan was working well. 1 chapter a day, notes were in good shape, mind was happy. What else I can ask. Then comes the unidentified risk event “Weekend”. You loose your daily routine and suddenly you are binge watching, sleeping thinking whole week you had hectic office and study session, so lets just take rest. I practically did not study for 2 days. (told you about being Lazy and you can add procrastinator too)
But I took this setback positively and started next week with more determination and energy. After that I was on track for remaining planned course and completed all chapters on Sunday morning 3rd May. Now effectively I had 30 hours for revision and Mock tests. In the starting, I had planned to give atleast 4 Mock test but eventually gave only 1 on Sunday. In ProThoughts Mock test Scored mediocre 135. Ok, now the confidence went for the toss. But had no other option. Had to hatch a 24 hour plan to clear PMP. Became filmy at this time and believed in 3 idiots dialogue “KABIL BANO, KAMYABI TOH..…” So stopped solving any mock test or questions and went straight into Hyper mode of revisiting Rita book and fine tuning my notes. Believe me this was the best decision I made in whole PMP preparation. It took me 8 hours to revise in phases all 12 chapters. Last 1 hour, again glanced at marked important topics and notes. Still felt like going into war without bullet proof armour. (It was reality that I was underprepared and over Optimistic)
Finally, I just said be positive and started the exam.
Pre-Exam Preparations for Online Proctoring
1. Test your laptop with Webcam 3 days in advance for compatibility issues. (Preventive Action)
2. Use your personal laptop as admin access is required for giving certain permissions. Thank god I used personal laptop. Test software passed on my office laptop too but on exam day it asked for firewall permission which was not asked earlier in test mode. So, do not take risk with office laptop if admin access is not there. (Identify risk and mitigate)
3. Clear your desk and adjoining walls of any kind of informative info. Make you room exam hall. (EEF)
4. You can keep only Laptop, water bottle and personal ID on your desk. No paper, pen or any other electronic device is allowed.
5. They have options like online worksheet, calculator, highlighter etc. available.
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When its Exam Time
1. LOGIN 30 min. before exam time.
2. There are certain steps you need to perform before actually starting exam.
3. They will ask you to provide your own picture, ID and room pictures. Upload from your mobile everything. (Do not worry everything is self guided and you would have done it earlier while testing your system)
4. Wait for 5-10 min. for verification of upload. Your screen will change and it will ask to put away you mobile and start the exam.
5. System will give option to read small interactive guide on tools available for giving online exam. Do not skip that.
6. Once you start exam and in between if you face any error or your screen shows some error, DO NOT PANIC. Go to chat box and just type your issue. They will respond immediately. Happened with me and had to restart test on provided instructions. No time was lost and they awarded full time once I restarted. The frightening part was that it happened in the very 1st question.
7. Most important question “Can we take break(s)?” – YES, PMI has stipulated a 10 minutes bio break after 2 hours. I got option to take break after 89th question when it was just 1 hr 35 min in exam (strange!) Very Important that before taking break, review all the attempted questions and submit them. You cannot review them again.
8. During break you can go out of your room, eat, even study. (Did I mention that during exam keep your room locked, on any third party intrusion, they will kill you exam)
9. PMI proctor continuously monitors you from Webcam and mic. I got a chat prompt in between exam asking me not to read exam questions loud (to concentrate I was reading out loud). Oh! that just killed the momentum and I had to consciously take care of one more thing during exam. It reduced my speed and I completed 2 min before 4 hrs. So no review time left. Practice this while giving Mock tests and build your speed accordingly.
10. One more important point. You cannot stand or roam around in room during exam. You need to be seated all the time where they can see you else Kill Kill Kill.
On-Day Exam Questions
1. Why I said revising Rita book in last 24 hrs was best decision as all the questions were concept based.
2. The more you know the concepts of any topic, easier it will be to answer.
3. Majority were situational based questions
4. 2-3 simple EVM question to provide just analysis based on info provided. No EVM calculation question. I did not use Calculator at all. (By the way online calculator is available)
5. Single PERT question. Creation of chart and determining the CP was requirement.
6. Most questions on CCB
7. Many questions seemed repeatable with different language and some changed options
8. There were no ITTO questions. Yes, surprisingly there were none.
9. Most questions were ending with “what should Project Manger do, best choice for Project Manager or What he had done earlier to prevent this”
10. PMI sometimes gave synonyms as options. It becomes more easier to identify and eliminate such options. Eg: ” Cause & Effect and Ishikawa both are given as an answer options”
On Overall experience
You can see that I adopted a very agile approach and that turned out successful for me. In real life also, I have seen more success in shorter duration, fast tracked projects. So the motto is to find your right approach to give this exam. Once in rhythm nobody can stop you. For me, there was no past example or reference of PMP online exam available to ask or learn from. Which I guess benefited me (no luggage) and I designed my own path here. Maybe it was luck, Maybe 1st mover advantage or Maybe PMI lowered their passing criteria or maybe Hard work. It clicked.
A big thanks to Ashish sir and ProThoughts team for overall training and after training support on refresher course and online Mock test.
ALL THE BEST GUYS!
For more details on PMP Online Exam at Home, kindly read this blog – Click here