Gopalaswamy Pathangi, PMP – PMP without mugging up ITTOs!

pmp-lessons-learned-gopalHi PMP aspirant,

Happy to share with you all that I have cleared my PMP exam on August 28th morning. It was a 1.5+ years of journey to reach here. Someone gave me the spark 5 years back to do PMP. But I was not confident at that time. But, it was lying in my subconscious mind for few years until 2014 when I picked up the PMBOK again (this time version 5) and attempted to read.

pmp lessons learned GopalI was overwhelmed with the amount of materials available online and each one sharing their experience on their wonderful journey. But I decided to pick and choose that which was fitting into my life and my reading abilities. You will have to figure this out yourself. What may work for someone may not work for you.

My PMP approach

I took solid 3 months for one reading of PMBOK. Was able to read only few pages due to lack of concentration. It was a sure cure for my insomnia during my first reading :-). I realized this is not going to work and then I enrolled with Simplilearn for their video lessons, which also helped me get 35 contact hours. Slowly, I was able to map the dots scattered all over. I was going through these videos as well as PMBOK.

Once I finished PMBOK, then I switched to Rita Mulcahy. This further helped me to gain further understanding. I tried the chapter end exercises. Could not go past 60 as my score. Again I searched the web and found Shiv’s SmartNotes. He had provided the material in a simple manner in each slide. Now I felt there was something I can hold on to. Based on his recommendation, I subscribed to PMPrepcast by Cornelius Fichtner. I was buying patience to finish all the videos. They are really the right material one should go for from the beginning.

Summary of my preparation

  1. Keep noting down all the points you think is important while studying.
  2. Attempt as many questions as possible from the web. This will train the mind to understand how the questions are framed and what you need to look for. Also, it gave an insight during my third, fourth iterations of reading PMBOK and other materials.
  3. Tried lot of mind mapping, Acronyms, graphical representation, crazy phrases (like how Shiv had coined for all the KA!) for ITTOs. Nothing worked for me. ITTOs was the scariest thing to comprehend.
  4. Just close to the exam, few weeks before, I checked Shiv’s Smartnotes again and learnt that ITTOs need not be mugged up. Just need logical understanding. Then I tried to relate how one output was input to another and what T&T were used to get the desired output. I was getting some confidence by inches to handle ITTOs questions. What I realized is during the initial preparation itself I should have done this. Luckily I was not bombarded with too many ITTOs questions in the real exam.

PMP Study resources

  1. PMBOK guide: 5 times (started with reading and later iterations were really studying). By then I got to learn how to look for the essence and trim the dry paragraphs.
  2. Rita Mulcahy: 3 times (First time was quite hard to keep pace with her style).
  3. Simplilearn videos: used only for the sake of 35 contact hours.
  4. PMP Prepcast videos: only once but it solidified my understanding. (No time for second iteration)
  5. Prepcast Simulator: Attempted all the 8 simulations except ITTOs plus other free questions over the web. This certainly was preparing me for the gruel. I took all the 8 exams without taking a break during each 4 hour exam. Due to paucity of time had to plan one exam each Sat/Sun over a month and I reserved the last exam to be completed just the day before the actual exam. I was getting score within the range of 74 to 78%. Could not touch 80% because of the ITTOs questions.

With busy professional life it was difficult to schedule a date and focus on the preparation. Finally, I mobilized all the courage and locked the date for the exam.

Unfortunately I could not take leave before the exam to get ready for the exam. Many said to take good night sleep before the exam. But I could not as I was tense and also had a long day.

However, the next day went to the exam hall and started reading through the instructions and spent some time to download the Process map (Banyan helped to remember this with crazy phrases and numbers for each KA similar to a telephone number), formulas etc from my mind on the rough sheets provided.

Marked only two questions for review. I finished answering all the questions within 3 hours and took time to review those marked ones and re-checked those Network diagram questions and EVM questions to ensure I had used the right formula.

Finally when I was convinced I had given the best shot, I pressed submit. The few minutes between this and result screen, I was frozen. Those few minutes were looking ages. Alas! Got 5 MPs.

All the best!

Gopalaswamy Pathangi, PMP

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