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Ajay Sankaralingam: Cleared PMP on first attempt – Jan-10

I am thrilled that I cleared my PMP on Jan-10-2012. I started my preparation sometime in late Apr-2011. Yes, it took me close to 9 months to achieve my certification. I know on an average it takes people 3-4 months to prepare and give the exam, but I wanted to set a realistic target for myself. My son was about 5 months old when I started my journey. So I knew I could not devote long stretches of time. I also wanted to do a thorough job of understanding the concepts and not focus on just exam-specific preparation. I was also very confident that I would not lose focus, so that was not a problem for me.

I did not take an in-person Prep class since I was looking for a cost-effective option. PM Prepcast is a name that came up again and again in my search. I initially thought it was too good to be true. But all my inhibitions were cleared after just a few research. I bought it and set out on my path of PMP preparation. I was initially very slow in listening to the podcasts. This was the one time I used to wish for long commute to work so I could avail the time to listen to the Podcasts. ūüôā I eventually finished the Prepcast sometime in July. I opted for the Prepcast primarily for the 35 contact hours certificate. It also gave a an introductory insight to PMP and its concepts. Kudos to Cornelius for his efforts to make a subject as dry as PMP, so interesting. PMHUBadmin: more info¬† click THIS. )

I still did not register for PMI or the exam since I wanted to now do some self-study. I got my PMBOK Guide and also borrowed Head First PMP(O’Reilly Media) from my local Library. I would read a chapter from HeadFirst, which gave an extremely simplified explanation of the PMBOK principles and then I would read the same chapter from PMBOK guide. It was clear to me that the answers to the questions in the exam were to be given from the PMBOK perspective. I was expecting this to take a long time, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to complete this in about 5-6 weeks. Thats right – according to my plans, I was 2 weeks ahead!

I then went through the PMBOK guide once again and took my first sample test (Oliver Lehmans 175 questions). I think I scored about 65%.

Although I knew about Rita’s PMP Exam Prep book all this time, I had initially thought I would not be refering to it. After my first couple of tests, I realized I needed to refer to it as well. So I then started to go through Rita’s PMP Exam Prep book. Since my concepts were clear now, I was able to go through her book pretty fast but I realized it gave a lot of new perspective to the concepts of PMP. BTW, I was referring to the 7th edition of the PMP Exam Prep.

I took a few more free tests and realized I needed to do a few full-length exams. And who did I turn to? Cornelius of course! I subscribed to PM Exam simulator and took all 8 full length exams from the simulator. This is how I spent my Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. By mid-November, I had registered at PMI and submitted my application. I was now getting ready to set a deadline for my exam and though I wanted to give my exam in December so I could enjoy the holidays, I knew I could finish the PM Exam SIulator exams only after Christmas, so I scheduled my exam for Jan-10 which was the first available date in January. Apart from the sample exams, I kept revising on the topics, and my notes which I had accumulated in the previous months. As for the sample tests on PM Exam Simulator, I was scoring around 75%(although  I was targeting 80%) but I was able to complete my tests in 3 hours 15 minutes Р3 hours 30 minutes so I knew I was doing good on the time front.

On the day of the exam, I reached the exam site an hour earlier for my 12.30PM exam. I was down with a bad cold so I was wearing a jacket but the center was pertty warm and they did not allow for the jackets to be hung on the chair. So I went and left the jacket in my car since the locker they provided was too small for the jacket I was wearing. After getting the initial formalities done, I started the exam and took my first break at about 90 minutes. I was able to finish the entire paper in 3 hours. I was very happy but there were a couple of things I did not plan in my preparation. One, I never reviewed my questions when I was giving my sample test papers so I did not know it would take all of my remaining time. Also, in the exam, I ended up marking more than 100 questions for review so my review took very long. By the time I completed my review I had only 2 minutes left. I should have used the “Mark for Review” feature more smartly. I clicked on submit and I was prompted with a feedback survey. Once I completed it and clicked on Submit, it took a few seconds. I was extermely anxious but slightly confident as well. It then came up as ‘Congratulations’. I was thrilled!! I scanned the screen and noticed I received 3 Proficient and 2 Moderately Proficient. I knew this was quite a good result and I was proud of myself. I collected my stuff quickly to get my phone so I could call my wife. She has been exteremly supportive during this entire time and I wanted to talk to her at the earliest.

During my entire process, I did a lot of research on others PMP experiences. PMHUB, and its LL’s are very helpful to learn from other’s experiences.

I realize I enjoyed the whole study experience and I almost feel like a void now that I dont have to prepare for this exam. However I already have preapred a list of books and certification to read in the coming days and I am looking forward to it.

Good Luck to all future and current PMP aspirants!

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1 comment to Ajay Sankaralingam: Cleared PMP on first attempt – Jan-10

  • Sumit

    Congrats Ajay! on your success. Unlike you i did loose focus as i took a company sponsored 35 PDU’s session in 2010 and then did the application but never took the exam …life caught up to me ūüôā …anyways reading your story has inspired me again and may again venture for it..
    Quick qs – What is your opinion on the overall Program / Project management philosophy of PMP?