Soumyajit Mukherjee passed the PMP exam on Mar 29, 2011. He sent me a "thank you" note along with his lessons learned. Here's what he has to say to all PMP aspirants:
Taking the plunge
As the year 2011 dawned, one of my resolutions was to become PMP certified. This was finally a strong resolve having broken this a couple of times earlier. Started off with trying to gather what would be good choices to begin preparations with. Having read various reviews on the internet, it goes without saying that PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy was the natural choice to begin with. Got the 6th edition and started reading through it. The book is fabulous except for the scary attitude it portrays saying that you need to be an expert on every other page. This may be quite bugging, but once you get used to it you should be good to go. The exercises are invaluable if done in the right earnest. Personally, I have to mention that you are much ahead already if your work involves managing project/s.
Prep material (the order in which they were read)
1) PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy
2) PMBOK 4th edition
3) While doing points 1 and 2, I also attempted every question I could gather. This site has been a great source of information in this regard.
4) PMP Exam Quicklet by Paul Sanghera (used in the last 10 days to gauge preparations)
During the course of study
I started prep work in January but the heat isn’t on until you register and pay the exam fee. That’s what got me going. While preparing for the exam, one does go through a lots of crests and troughs. One day you may be very high on confidence, the second day may not be the same. It is very important to keep up the spirit. Most of us taking the exam have regular office work and family to take care of. So balancing all needs is equally important. Finding quality time to study can often be a challenge but if there is a will, you will make your way out.
Type of questions
As everyone says/said about the exam, picking the best choice out of 2-3-4 correct answers isn’t easy. One question I often wondered was how tough the questions on the actual exam would be. It is very easy to find tons of free sample questions on the internet…some easy, some difficult and some sub-standard. Nevertheless, I did attempt every question I could get. In the last week, I did do PMP Exam Quicklet by Paul Sanghera. I will say that the standard of questions on the actual exam are similar to that on the book. Don’t ever forget Brainbok.com. That site is invaluable tool. The questions for ITTO’s, glossary are extremely helpful to check your concepts and understanding. I used to do short burst of 25 questions at random scoring between 20-25 in the ITTO’s and processes before I gave the exam.
Important points to note
1) ITTO’s - Having read various reviews on whether to memorize or not, here’s what I have to say. You need to know them. It’s up to you if you memorize or not, but there are questions on ITTO’s. I didn’t have to memorize, But ITTO’s are sure shot questions which should be correctly answered to increase your chances of success. You must refer to the PMBOK in this regard.
2) The Bible called PMBOK – Read the PMBOK making notes of what you learn new. There are terms in PMBOK not covered by PMP Exam Prep. Read the glossary and index to see if you know all the terms. That is how I went about it.
3) Professional and Social Responsibility – Amidst all the studying, do not forget to read the code of conduct before you take the exam.
4) I felt that my exam had lots of questions from risk management and procurement management in particular.
4 hours is a long time to sit at one place. So taking a couple of practice exams trying to mock the actual exam has helped. I completed the 200 questions in 2:15 minutes. Then took a 5 minute break and reviewed each and every question once again. During the first 50 questions of the exam, one is bound to be nervous that can result in some mistakes. At the time of review, you will be far more relaxed and may uncover mistakes or change answers as I did. Before clicking on the final ‘submit’ I was very confident of at least 148 out of 200 questions.
It is easy to keep on reading/studying, but it is very important to give the exam when you are at the peak. My job involves project management and I was able to relate quite easily with the PMP exam content. So that been extremely helpful in my preparation. I spent a good 2 months of effort to prepare for the exam. Prepare well, understand concepts and use common sense, and you should sail through. But if your work does not involve project management at all, this can be a tricky exam to pass unless you undergo good quality classroom training. Lastly, the feeling of achievement as you see ‘Congratulations’ displayed on screen is definitely worth all the effort, since this is a widely known and accepted credential.
I’ve spent countless hours on this website reading through lessons learnt that people have shared. It’s my time to give back. Hope this helps!
Wishing you all the best!