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Dhinakar: Passed PMP on 22nd Aug.11 & Lessons Learned

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce that I cleared my PMP exam today morning. The journey towards becoming a PMP was really challenging & ofcourse more enjoyable if you get through it in your first attempt. I have been a silent admirer of many useful discussions that were going on in this forum regarding the PMP exam. I usually read all the ‘Lessons Learned’ email from the members who cleared PMP. It was the main source of inspiration and motivation for me. Now let me share some thoughts for the aspiring PMPs.


I am not going to give a list of books, websites or notes because our forums members have already shared too many of those, especially in the last few days. I will only share my approach, some of you might find it useful.

1. Preparation Time : The ideal time is atleast 3 months if you are an experience project manager with experience in atleast a few of the knowledge areas. Even if you prepare for many months, what you do in the last couple of months will the deciding factor.

2. What to focus? PMP exams demands extensive experience in 9 knowledge areas and I am sure it is quite difficult to be involved in all of those 9 knowledge areas at any point of time. The important knowledge areas to focus on are Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Risk & Procurement. If you have mastered these knowledge areas along with some conceptual knowledge (terms, definitions, process etc.) about other knowledge areas then you will surely pass the exam. Practice a lot of questions to keep your confidence high.

3.What books to refer? PMBOK 4th edition should always be the primary reference. All other books such as Rita’s book, Headfirst etc. try to elaborate PMBOK via good examples and questions to practice. So you can read either one of them and come back to PMBOK or vice versa depending on your comfort level. But I feel refering too many books will really not let you focus. If you don’t understand some terms or concepts, you can looks for tips outside, otherwise choosing one best book to read along with PMBOK 4th edition (I choose Rita’s book) will be good enough.

4.ITTO : There are surely 8~10 questions on these but I think you don’t need to memorize it. If you try doing that then you will lose focus on every other things just for the sake of 8~10 questions. If you know to differentiate between an input, tool or technique & output then you will be able eliminate the atleast two of the wrong choices. In my case I found it was quite easy to eliminate two wrong choices quite easily, to eliminate the third one try to understand what knowledge area / process the question focuses on and try to match it with the remaining two choices. I found it was quite easy this way as PMP exam does not really try to confuse you too much.

5.Notes : I believe that each person should prepare their own notes for the exam. I bought a small pocket-size scribbling pad and started writing processes-knowledge areas mapping, definitions, formulae, ITTOs (though I did not memorize them) and detailed, important topics/tips/summary for every knowledge area. I used to keep it in my pocket and glance through them on the way to office, during breaks at office or whenever I get time (wherever I am). Even though I have ipod I somehow feel more comfortable with my hand written notes as I remember them quite easily and able to revise the entire notes in a couple of hours. It might sound quite outdated but it worked for me, the final glance through those notes help me to answer questions related to ITTO and some terms & definitions.

Finally, regarding the exam pattern changes, I feel it is better to take the current exam pattern before 31st Aug.11 if you are confident and well prepared. Else, if you are planning to take the new exam pattern then it is advisable to wait and watch because if you miss out in the first attempt it will dent your confidence a bit too much. Also, I feel the questions related to ‘Professional & Social Responsibility’ are quite tricky in the current exam itself. I found the choices were quite too close to eliminate. So imagine if they are going to sprayed it (‘Professional & Social Responsibility’) all over the other knowledge areas in the new exam (just my opinion).

All the best & my sincere wishes to all the PMP aspirants. I am looking forward to read a lot of those lovely LLs, especially in the next few days

Dhinakar, PMP

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