‘Table-Reverse’ Strategy & Advancing PMP® Exam…. Sanjutha Ravindrakumaran, PMP

advance pmp and table-reverse strategy sanjutha pmp

Sanjutha Ravindrakumaran with 7+ years of experience. She is an accomplished Project Manager from a IT industry based out of Sri Lanka. Sanjutha passed her PMP® exam on first attempt, in this chat she shares her journey as well as ups and downs. You may find her exam insights useful.

Sanjutha is one of the very few I know of that actually advanced her exam! She is also one of the few that used a ‘table-reverse’ strategy. You will find the reasons in her story.

Why PMP®?

pmp-SanjuthaPMP® is a very well recognized certification exam in the industry. Also it is the only one I have seen that covers all aspects of project management – right from pre-project activities till vendor management and everything in between.

Also, my company’s policy helped me fast track my decision to take up PMP® exam.

What was the core benefit you expected from PMP® certification?

The biggest benefit is that I feel more confident about my ability to manage projects, and taking them towards successful completion.

With the certification now I’m expecting to move up in my career. May be a change or designation or promotion. I believe that with my experience and now the certification I can look for new challenges in the industry.

What were your study resources?

For main study I used PMBOK guide.

For mock tests I used Precast PMP Simulator (#ad).

And for referencing tougher or unclear concepts I chose Rita’s book as reference.

Also read: Failed PMP exam? Use this ‘Triumph guide’ by Greg Brooks!

How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?

I began by reading PMBOK and completed it in 23 days.

I know that not everyone loves to read PMBOK. 🙂 Somehow I enjoy reading challenging books and had no trouble negotiating PMBOK.

Next, I started with light mock tests.

Then I purchased simulators and checked my scores. With practice I was hitting close to 80%.

I went ahead and scheduled my exam.

Then I began the second round of PMBOK guide.

I continued taking mock tests and bettering my scores.

At this point I felt reasonably confident about my preparedness, so not to lose the momentum I went ahead and advanced the exam date. 🙂

Can you please talk about any issues you faced during your PMP® journey, and how did you overcome them.

Before beginning serious preparation I had the issue of committing myself to study. 🙂

I believe that one should have a strong reason for PMP® certification – it could be claiming stakes to that promotion, taking up challenging projects, a job change, or something else. I had mine which made me stay committed to studies. I believe that associating the exam with an event would definitely help push through tougher times.

To de-risk the exam I chose the month of December for the test. This month has comparatively less workload compared to others. I know this may not be possible for everyone, but scheduling the test when things tend to be calm would be an advantage.

I talked about my exam with my family and friends and set the expectations about my limited availability during the exam time.

Even though my scores are in the range of 75-80 I was quite nervous a week to the exam. I think some butterflies are natural, so if this happens to you don’t worry too much.

I had to practice converting raw knowledge into application (to a real life scenario) because that is how exam tests you. I managed this by taking plenty of mock exam questions.

Also read: Crucial to manage risks on the exam!“, says Marie Nguyen, who almost lost her exam because of this event.

What was your approach to study during this week?

This was the hardest week I ever faced for any exam. I was taking mocks first 5 days and in the last two days I revised PMBOK guide.

I would suggest not to study anything new during the last week.

Complete all your studies, at least 2 rounds, the week prior to the exam and dedicate the last week for only revision and mock tests.

What was your exam experience like?

The exam hall was quiet and no with disturbances. I was able to focus throughout the four hours.

Support from staff was outstanding. They were reassuring and made me feel comfortable.

First 40 questions were felt familiar and made me feel comfortable, except may be 2 to 3.

Then the hard time started I faced few questions with no answer at all (among four choices). It really made me feel worried about getting through the exam.

I felt that such questions must be from 25 pre-test questions that are not counted towards scoring. I didn’t know for sure but felt it this way, and that made me calm to face the rest of them.

Finally I completed the exam 35 minutes ahead of time. I used this to review my marked questions.

I had just two calculation based questions and more on majority of situational questions. I would say about 25% direct or PMBOK based questions and the rest based on analytical thinking.

Looking back, if there is one thing I have learned from exam experience – that would be to maintain your calmness. I know this is easier said than done 🙂 Keeping your mind calm enables you to think – which is the most required faculty in those 4 golden hours.

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What would you advise PMP® aspirants?

You may not get all the content from one resource. For instance, although I treated PMBOK as my primary study book, there were many areas that were unclear for me, and I studied them from Rita’s book.

Bottom line is that you must choose 2-3 study books or courses that give you a all-round learning. Then you will enjoy learning and also understand same content using different means.

In hindsight what worked for me was that I made my own questions. About 160+ questions of them over two months of study period. This process made me think how differently a concept can be tested on the exam.

This ‘table-reverse’ strategy made me think like an examiner, and helped decipher complex questions on the exam easily and quickly.

That’s it. All of my learning from this experience. Hope this helps.

I wish every exam taker all the best,

Sanjutha Ravindrakumaran, PMP

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