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Prasanth: Passed the toughest exam I had taken in my life …

First of all “THANK GOD”..Thatz all what I can say after I cleared my PMP exam based on PMBOK 4 on 5 Apr 2010.I just cleared it very narrowly.”IT IS THE TOUGHEST EXAM THAT I HAD TAKEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE”.

I have my masters degree in computer application, Post graduate diploma in Operations management, Certified software testing professional and a Functional/Technical consultant with good project management exposure.

It took me more than 2 years to at least understand and assimilate the concept that PMI is focusing on. It all started with an idea, put forward by one of my friend whom I considered as my bro (Praveen) for doing PMP. As we were in a project that had a lot of things to learn and had a scope for improvement as the environment was dynamic and challenging PMP would certainly be beneficial for us. He being a more experienced professional than me chose to embark in this journey and explained the procedures and why he was doing this. Soon I also started thinking about the exam remitting the money without giving a second thought about the exam and the toughness (which happens with most of the people who fail coz they don’t understand the concept of the program and why a person is doing that and end losing money, disappointed and discouraged. Few points are given at the bottom). One thing that I felt throughout my preparation is that the more I was preparing more complicated things were turning out for me. I used PMBOK as my main reference and few PMP prep books available in market. I can very confidently say that the real exam is totally different (at least in my case).Day by day the things was getting worse and I was going clueless thinking what to do, whether to take the exam or just drop the plan and focus on technical/functional consulting bit more and make my living (Unfortunately I lacked interest doing technical stuff much as my ambition always was to lead from the front with responsibility and authority and focusing on project management areas).I had no choice by that time rather than just giving a shot as it was almost two years spent on the preparation and a large amount of money already invested for this.

Finally I determined to take up the challenge and fixed my exam on 5th April in a Prometric Center near to my place. It was 6 hours journey from my place to the examination center. Two days before the exam I didn’t study or even look at the books as I would have gone mad if I had read it again. Every time I take mock exams I either score slightly better or end up losing 10% less mark than what was actually required. The travel to the prometric center with my wife was really hard. All the way I was visualizing the life after the exam. Only assurance that I had was my confidence of doing excellent in big occasions as I always did in my academic and professional life with the faith that god will reward me. I had some brain dump and some formula sheet with me that I took along. We reached by evening at the examination center to get the feel of the situation. Took a room nearby to spend the night and appear refreshed for the exam.

I woke up at 6.30am as the exam was scheduled for 9 am. My wife accompanied me to the examination center to boost my moral and encourage me to excel in this quest. We reached by 8.00 am and waited till my name was called. I went inside, finished the preliminary process of identification and locked my snacks and water in the locker that they had provided. I was invited to take the test and the exam started with the 15 min introduction about the exam. I wrote down whatever I thought that I could forget into the scrap of paper that they provided and took a deep breath before starting the examination.

On the start itself I smelled the trouble. At times I even had six questions at a stretch which I was clueless but kept moving forward and marking whatever I felt most correct and even marked those which I felt can be review later for correction (I answered the best option in those cases too, coz in case I don’t get time in the end I shouldn’t lose that question. Luckily that I did this coz only 10 min before the exam, I finished my 200th question).Most of the questions were elaborate situational questions and had all the answer options correct. The toughest challenge was to fix one as my answer. Every question was of high quality and cannot be compared to any mock questions that I had taken. After taking 112 questions I felt my throat dry and not able to proceed further unless I had something to drink. I quickly went out took some water, had a snack and used the rest room to wash my face and head then returned quickly back to my place and continued. I was taking an average of 1 hour for every 50 questions’

Sprinted towards the end of exam as I wanted to review at least few of the questions that I had marked for review. I finished just 10 min before the scheduled end time managed to review 2 calculation questions only. I decided to just pray 5 minutes before the end of the exam closed my eyes till the official came near me and asked to click the end button. I stood up and clicked the end button while still prayin and raised my both hand as if I will just walk out if I failed…the screen was flickering for a while and the result appeared “OH MY GOD..I DON’T KNOW HOW TO THANK YOU…”…It displayed “Congratulation” and I was about to howl with joy and the official face was also so happy after seeing that result. She congratulated me and told me that I have achieved something that most of the time they see other way..I requested them to let me go out and see my wife to break the good news to her. The official allowed me after the formalities and I ran out and hugged her .I was speechless and all the time my wife was asking me “MAN TELL ME IF U CLEARED IT OR NOT”…after few minutes when I was able to speak I told her that I made it..So relieved of all the tensions..collected the report from the official. Result was all moderately proficient except one being below proficient (Narrowly cleared). Not at all a worry, at least I don’t have to be sad of loosing or don’t have to go through the dilemma of whether to take the exam again or not (I am sure that I wouldn’t have the courage to take any exam if I had not cleared this one simply because of the effort that I had put).

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BrainBOK - ITTO, Exams, Flashcards, Quizzes, Formulas and more
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While coming out I heard some one telling that I was the only one who cleared the PMP exam after really a long time from that center. I called everyone who were anxious about my result and had a mix feeling of surprise and happiness for my success.
I would thank God first who has never let me down whenever I had put my effort in doing something, supporting me and my family during every hard times. I thank my wife, who was so patient, positive, adjusting, understanding, motivating and struggling with me since last year after our marriage because of my professional ups and downs and my late night preparations which was the only free time I could devote to my preparation because of my odd work timings and continues professional journey that I had to embark on. I thank my mom, dad and sis for the support that they always gave me. I thank my brothers Ayree and Praveen for continuously motivating me. Last but not the least my friend and guide Mr. Anoop who continuously assured me that my preparation was really good and gave the courage to go forward with excellent inputs.

I have been receiving queries about the exam from many. Few points that I would put for them to think about before making a decision regarding PMP is given below.

• Why you are choosing PMP?.If it is just about moving to higher level in career, then seriously rethink.
• Do you really understand the difference between Project Management and Functional Management?
• Analyze yourself .Find the area of your interest and go by your strengths. Because “Jack of all trade ends up in nothing”. You may be good in some area which you can excel and shouldn’t fall in no man’s land by just ignoring your talents.
• Google about “Halo Effect”.
• Project management is not only about PMP.It is a blend of sofskills, personality, perseverance, communication, ethics and application of PMP knowledge.
• It is not an easy exam. It requires tremendous dedication and perseverance.
• Questions in the exam unique and is not the kind of one that tests your logic as in any technical certification or your memory power.
• Questions in the exam are of high quality and more inclined towards project management situation and application of knowledge that you gain from PMI is what is required to clear the exam.
• There are 200 questions and mostly situational and descriptive. There are four options as answer. The answers are tricky and you may find all answers correct. The real challenge is choosing the most correct answer.
• Of the 200 questions, 25 are dummy questions, which means that they don’t add to your score even if you answer them correct. So there are only 175 valid questions.
• The pass percentage is unknown and PMI don’t reveal this from PMBOK 4th edition. It is a qualitative approach and the score for each question can be different.
• Don’t rely on any mock materials too much and try to map the answers against PMBOK as I have found many wrong answers in the mock exams that I took and that really will have serious impact on your understanding.
• Need to understand ITTO well.

BrainBOK - ITTO, Exams, Flashcards, Quizzes, Formulas and more
Click HERE to visit BRAINBOK


16 comments to Prasanth: Passed the toughest exam I had taken in my life …

  • Well, CONGRATULATIONS Prasanth, but if the PMP is the toughest exam you have ever taken, then you need to do more research on other credentials which are available to project management practitioners.

    I just got done with a two day “Advanced” course in project management for technical professionals in Doha, Qatar and out of 25 people, I have 4 PMP’s and not a SINGLE ONE could do the “standard” Earned Value problem I have been using for 20+ years. I had a similar experience when I taught the same course in Shanghai three weeks ago, only this class, I only had two PMP’s out of 22 people.

    What this says to me is not only has the PMP Exam been “dumbed down” to the point where it is effectively meaningless, but because of the proliferation of “Rita, Cheetah and PMP Exam For Dummies” type courses (or worse yet, podcasts!!) what we are producing are people who can barely pass the test but who don’t have the foggiest clue about how to implement what they are supposedly learning.

    My suggestion would be if you really want to benchmark your skills and knowledge, then take the much more technically demanding credentials offered by AACE.

    Or if you want to compare the relative value of the PMP vs other credentials, and benchmarked against the US Professional Engineer (PE) license, you can point your browser to the article or if you want to see the actual data template, you can download it from the PMForum, or our website.

    And while you are on our download page, you may want to download the Excel spreadsheet that will convert you QUALITATIVE score on the PMP exam to a QUANTITATIVE score…..

    Again, congratulations, but don’t even think that the PMP is a top level credential by any stretch of the imagination….

    Dr. PDG, back in Jakarta

  • CONGRATS! Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations on your hard work to earning your exam. Good job! Don’t let others diminish what you’ve done.

    Dr., your comments to Prasanth are arrogant, rude, and inappropriate. Here the guy’s sharing his joy for finishing a tough undertaking and you pop in with your walrus-mustache, condescending attitude, and a bucket of cold water to pour on him. What a buzz kill. We all get it: you’re great, awesome, and smarter than all the PMPs combined. That’s sarcasm in case you missed it through those thick and not-so-rosy sunglasses.

  • Umanath Nayak

    Congratulations Prasanth, I can share both your pain and your achievement. The exam is meant to be that way to filter out the really good vs the rest and the preparation and the 4hrs can be grueling as you rightly indicated.

    I went through the same pain for the preparation but followed the breaks religiously. By 50% of the exam I was having the same fear as you that I will not make it, only in the 2nd half I did better and had time to review everything and was more confident that I had done well.

    Cherish your well deserved certification and as Rita rightly says ” Don’t forget to celebrate!”

  • Joseph,
    Sorry you feel I am such a kill joy, but IMPO, the PMP is a grossly over-sold credential. Do you have any credible, validated research that can back up the claims that those who have their PMP are “better” project managers or conversely, that those who do NOT hold their PMP are some how “inferior” or “less competent”? No, I didn’t think so!!!

    And how much credibility should anyone put in a credential that requires only 4500/7500 hours of UNDOCUMENTED project experience, plus 35 hours of training, which can be fulfilled by listening to a 35 hour podcast or studying a book of sample questions, then taking a 200 question, multiple choice test, of which only 175 questions actually count, and with a passing grade of only 62%? Gimme a break, Joseph!!

    To put the absurdity of this in perspective, would you get on the next commercial jetliner, knowing your pilot had never successfully taken off or landed a plane and that he/she got her pilots license after studying a book of sample questions then passed a multiple choice exam with a score of 62%?

    Understand that for 20+ years now, we have been providing PMP prep training, and we also provide training in support of AACE, INCOSE and CMAA certifications, so it is not like we don’t have something against which to benchmark or that we don’t know what we are talking about.

    So while you may think I am coming across as arrogant and condescending, I am one of a growing handful of people out there willing to tell the truth.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

  • I’m not defending the PMP at all. Your comments were rude and out of line. Does anyone else think so too?

    Cheerleading whatever fruit-loop certification you’re pushing by slamming someone’s accomplishment is rubbish.

  • prasanth

    Dear Dr..It was good piece of advice that you plotted and i take it in a very positive sense.I am only looking PMP as a stepping stone into the field..just like a child in front of a vast ocean showing the interest to swim in the sea .I now managed to get the courage to step into the water.I wish that after 4 years when i am 10 years experienced i could be at a level that you managed to achieve in 20 years..By telling about the difficulty of exam i was only expressing what i felt and an expert like you may have a different experience if you take the same exam.I continuously browsed a lot of comments from many people who managed to clear the exam before me and it was of immense help for me going through their experience and more than that it motivated me a lot.I wanted to put my experience just coz it may be a mental boost for some one and if any one feels that i have over written some thing,I m sincerely sorry for that…

  • prasanth

    One more thing…I am very much happy to let any one know that PMI has done an excellent work in bringing out PMBOK4.I now know much more about project management than before.Even if i had failed the PMP exam,the preparation that i had done during the period based on PMBOK4 has given me enough knowledge to understand project management.PMI has done a lot of effort in the research ,setting the standards and maintaining the quality of exam.Overall i am happy and satisfied going through the entire process of PMP..

  • Kamal

    I agree with you Joseph, PDG is really arrogant and rude. I have also seen his other comments on one of the PMP exam preparation group.
    He is just out there advocating few certifications which may or may not be known OVER PMP. Comments like this are just way of gathering more attention and advertising for certifications for which he teaches. He is just trying to make it a PEPSI-COKE type of fight.
    Probably he doesn’t have any say in large institute like PMI and has turned to other insitutes to expand his business. Its just a business war.
    I am also PMP certified but all of us know NONE of the certifications is going to prove your supremacy over others. At the end its how much you prove yourself in the real world where certificates doesn’t come to your help or rescue you.
    So, Congratulations Prashant on your new achievment and hard work and don’t get disheartened.

  • Julius

    PDG sarcastic and egotistic comment is in uncalled. I am preparing for the exam and have come to see that that what PMI is advocating is real, practical and totally beneficial both for individuals who undertake this project and the organisation they work for. It is real immaterial where, when,and how you prepared for the exam. Studying for the exam helps you to see many of the things you are not doing right in your project. As Prasanth said anyone who passes the exam can expect to achieve in ten years what PDG achieved in his twenty years.

  • Balaji N., PMP, ITIL Expert

    If you think PMP is tough, try ITIL V2 Manager’s certification.

  • Balaji N
    would you like to document your Lessons Learned in passing ITIL V2 Manager’s certification? PM will publish this… I am curious on how tough this exam is vs PMP etc

  • prasanth

    Dear you mentioned,i am now preparing for ITIL Foundation.Could you please help me in providing inputs like any materials that you refered and how to proceed with the studies and your will be really helpful..Any way PMP has given me a lot of motivation and just trying for ITIL as well now..

  • Donna Lee

    I have taken the PMP and ITIL Foundation and found ITIL a walk in the park compared to the PMP exam. With regard to which is better PMP or another certification, I personally know PMP’s that don’t know what they are doing and those that do. I wanted to be PMP certified for the job market. Employers are looking for PMP certified professionals. When the market change then I will see whatever new cert is out there.

  • Oops Donna. The Foundation exam always a cakewalk 9Check out this blog: . I had said about the ITIL v2 manager’s Exam (No longer available now). The Manager’s exam is NOT an objective type exam and we had to write (with pen) for around 3.5 hours. The correction is based on the perception of the examiner and his/her interpretation. The scenarios had NO clear interpretation and we had to think and imagine the situations.

    Very few people clear at the first attempt.

    Thank god it is not available now and the current exams to achieve the ITIL expertise are through the objective exams.

  • Sorry that I was not able to access the site to be able to reply soon.

  • Toni

    Dear Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo
    I would love to see your earned value question.
    If you are too kind to send it to me.