Hello Friends. You would be wondering why have I mentioned my certification process as a “Journey”. Yes….getting through my PMP certification was indeed a journey. This article aims at letting you know this expedition.
Urge for PMP Certification:
Let me give you a brief about my professional role. I am a part of the middle management team in a leading telecom organization. In this role, we undertake various projects in which we are required to interact with both internal and external stakeholders and deliver the product. I would like to make it clear that though the role involves projects, there are very few who practice or undertake projects considering the processes as designed by PMI.
In course of one of my projects, I came across a stakeholder who had a very systematic approach to the project. I was very impressed and wanted to know what made him manage the project in such a manner. At this juncture, I realized that this person was PMP certified. This was the trigger for me to pursue my certification.
ProThoughts – The right choice:
It took me 3 years to enroll for the 35 PDU sessions. This was primarily due to professional & personal commitments. Trust me the urge to do the certification remained in all these years. Finally, in Dec-16, I decided to get going with the process of enrollment. A google search for good institute made me land on the ProThoughts page.
My first call to the institute was answered by a very positive & supportive voice of Siddhant. (Since then till I appeared for certification, Siddhant has been a very good support). I finally took the plunge and enrolled for the classroom sessions to be held on 14,15, 21, 22 Jan-17.
This batch was conducted by Mr. Ashish Sadekar. Getting to know the basics of PMP from a person like Ashish (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, Scrum Master) itself made the learning so interesting. He himself is a firm believer in the processes of PM (as stated by PMBoK) and hence there was such a high level of confidence in the entire batch of 25 probable PMI certified professionals.
The good thing about this batch was that we had professionals from different domains (Banking, Education, IT, Telecom, CA, also from translation). So the 4 days of learning and interacting was fun. The precise emphasis on topics by Ashish was something which we all enjoyed. We were convinced that we had to take the exam soon. Few did pledge to take it within next 45 days!!!
The Preparation Phase:
Once done with the mandatory 35 PDU’s, it was time to chalk out the study plan. The initial days were the highly inspired days with the aim to complete the certification ASAP. But with the already existing professional routine and personal commitments, the motivation level started going down. Somewhere I could feel uneasy about it. I just wanted to DO IT.
I finally decided to dedicate minimum 2 hours per day for studies. I got onto the study routine and managed to go through half of the Chapters of the PMP Bible Rita Mulcahy. This was not enough. I had to increase my pace. I actually liked what I read. I could relate to what I was studying. The topics started becoming all the more interesting. I finally decided to complete my 1st walkthrough of RMC and took a leave from my professional routine. One week of leave and I actually took notes (I was doing this after 13 years). By March, I had completed one round of RMC. But the confidence level was low. Nevertheless, I knew by now that I was on the right track. Constant interactions with Ashish and my co-participants from ProThoughts batch helped me a lot. I had to start off with one more round of reading. But this too took some time.
Mid May I finally decided to apply to PMI. This was a very conscious call as I had to pay 550$. Again with Ashish’s prompt help, I took the plunge. My application was through. This was a morale boost. Now I knew I would need to channelize all my efforts and finish it.
This was the most crucial phase. I tried to analyze which knowledge areas I was good at and which required more understanding. Now I started to read not in the flow of the book but individual knowledge areas. I did a lot of mental revision of the knowledge areas I read. I also started answering tests on a mobile application during my travel times (there are many apps available. I have PMP Exam Prep).
PMP is not just a theoretical study. I feel every aspiring candidate needs to put himself totally in the role of a PM, analyze the scenario and deliver the best. I found all the knowledge areas very apt in our personal roles too. This made the study more interesting.
Meanwhile, I attended a 1-day crash course conducted by ProThoughts. This was a game changer for me.
Seeing the preparation of few candidates made me feel that I need to study a lot more. This was a great boost.
I finally made up my mind that just studying would not help my cause. I need to take up the exam date. It was 15th July that I decided to take up the certification on 21st Aug. I appeared for my 1st mock test on 16th July and had a score of 117. I knew it was a low score, but I was confident of doing better in the next. One thing I followed was to appear for the Mock in one go i.e sit in place for 4 hrs. This was really difficult. The analysis of the score is very well presented at the end of each mock. This helped me analyze my performance and to chalk out plans for further preparation. I had scored poor in Procurement Management. So I had to channelize my studies in this knowledge area.
Scores in 2nd and 3rd mock (29th July,17th Aug)were comparatively better (141 and 150 respectively). Helped boost my confidence. But somewhere I knew relying just on these scores was not the key to crack the exam. There was something more to it. In the course of the mock test, I had realized that my first choice of answer was generally correct. If I pondered over the answers for long, I would tend to answer it wrong. This trick helped me in a great way. The base of it was that I always imagined myself in the role of PM.
Friends, while I was in this preparatory phase, I felt more confident in my day to day activities at work. I was more structured and also thought about the PMI concepts while undertaking any new activity. This confidence, I feel, was my key to success.
I attempted the last mock test on 19th Aug and got a score of 133. This was a mediocre score but did not hamper my confidence. I kept cool and stuck to my plan of abrupt reading of knowledge areas. And finally, it was 21stAug…THE BIG DAY…the one I was preparing for past 8 months balancing work and personal life
The test was at Prometric center, in a very sophisticated environment. This was an experience by itself. Each candidate has explained the rules and regulations and was made comfortable at the testing cubicle. My suggestion to all the aspirants is to remain cool in these last 4 deciding hours. Stick to your pre-decided plans Take a break if required. I was lucky to have small questions and bit easy numerical. As I can now recollect, there was a good number of questions on Change Management (luckily I was well prepared in this knowledge area). I did not review a single answer as I had decided earlier. As I clicked the submit button, I could see 50 min remaining. That indicated I had completed the exam in 3 hrs 10 min.
Getting to see the result as “PASS” was such a great relief and a sense of achievement. It was such a high feeling that I hardly saw how I performed in individual process groups. Nevertheless, I had a good score in each of the groups.
Friends, this is a really long story…but I thought of giving you a glimpse of it in entirety. Hope you all would be benefited by it. Below are few quick tips (which helped me):
- Consider yourself as a PM in course of studies.
- Read all the knowledge areas with a purpose of understanding it. Have your own plan and a timeline to take the test.
- Feel free to discuss any points/query with ProThoughts team. They are always ready to help.
- Prepare and take all the Mock tests in the stipulated time frame, analyze the results post taking the tests.
- If possible do not review your answers(that helped me a lot)
- Be relaxed on the day of the exam.
Finally, I would say PMP is not just a certification……it’s a way of life!!!!!