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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. 🙂 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 – 3 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 🙂 …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?