My PMP Mantra: KISS Principle with Focused Hard work, by Arijit Dutt, PMP

kiss principle pmp success arijit duttI became PMP certified in January. Although PMP is a difficult exam and people tend to over complicate it, I kept things simple. KISS principle is a standard approach used in software field, and I decided to use it for my PMP study.

Couple of study resources, couple of mock test resources, and a lot of focused hard work.

arijit dutt pmpI have worked in a Project Management Office in the Banking and Financial services IT domain for the last eight years. Although I’ve had inclination towards process improvements, business analysis and process design, it was Project Management that became my passion. It is an art as well as science, has lot of scope for experiments and is highly satisfactory.

I completed Prince 2 Practitioner certification sometime ago, and then becoming PMP certified became my next career goal.

Also Read: The story of 2-week PMP prep – by Suguna Rajoo

My PMP result sheet

My PMP result sheet

The study resources I used

I started watching the videos on PMP Process Groups and Knowledge Areas from various sources in YouTube. Videos from Saket Bansal were helpful. They helped me understand the basics of project management for the exams.

I began my studies using Rita Mulcahy Eighth Edition.

In my view it is the best book in the market and it helped me to be thorough with the concepts. As Rita says you have to understand the PMIsm to be successful in the exams.

The tricks of the trade in all the chapters were very helpful. The chapter end questions are tricky and gives you a feel of the real PMP exam questions.

After I completed with one iteration of Rita’s book I moved on to PMBoK5.

I was able to comprehend the book now, which was a bit difficult earlier before studying through Rita’s book. My focus was on understanding the input, output flows within the Process Groups and the Knowledge Areas and also to understand the tools and techniques in each Process Groups.

The figures in all the chapters are very helpful along with the glossary which is a must to go through before the exam day.

I used just a couple of question banks for my preparation –

  1. PMP Exam Prep questions, answers and explanations – Christopher Scordo 
  2. Oliver Lehman 175 questions (right click and save it to disk)
When I started to score 85% consistently in Scordo’s mock exams, I thought I am exam ready.

Then I took the Oliver Lehman questions and scored 84%. I was now confident that I can appear for the exams.

My study plan

I attended the 4-day boot camp during last September in Kolkata. This helped me to complete the 35 contact hours for project management education. Honestly, September and October went by without any productive study. Durga Puja and Diwali took up most of my time as it was mood of festivity all around in Kolkata.

I became serious only after I booked my exam slot. My goal was to pass the PMP exams and give myself a New Year gift. I managed to study for 3 hours during the weekdays and 8 hours during the weekends and tried to maintain this study plan.

Also Read: I applied what I studied to work, reducing my PMP preparation efforts – by Vickneisan Katherason, PMP

Issues galore

It was difficult to keep the same momentum for the studies. Work stress and Social life is something you cannot ignore. Being a father of 3 year old was another interesting challenge. I somehow managed to explain the importance of this exam for me to my family and friends.

Their cooperation really made things easier for me. I was able to keep my focus. I want to thank them for their support, especially my wife who always motivated me and made me believe that I can achieve it. For managing stress I did some breathing exercises regularly.

My approach during the week before the exam

I ensured to stay in home and revise. I went through my notes and skimmed through Rita’s book and PMBOK guide.

Anyways I controlled myself and stayed focused. I visited the Prometric center and got all my queries clarified by them.

The day before my PMP exam – I relaxed the entire day and did not study. I went to sleep early and had a good night sleep.

Exam Day

I reached the Prometric exam center as early as I could.

I was quite nervous.

After I left my belongings in the locker I went to the exam room with only the identity proof and the locker keys.

I was given the rough sheet, calculator, two pencils and the coordinator took me to the computer to take the exam.

I was not allowed to write anything in the rough sheet during the first 15 minutes while I went through the tutorial.

To calm my nerves, relax and stay focused I tried doing the breathing exercises and it helped.

Once the tutorial was completed I was on to the first question.

All the questions were situational.

Lot of questions were based on Change Requests. There were only 5 numerical questions – 3 on EVM and 2 on Critical path.

I completed 35 questions during the first hour.

Second hour took me through 80 more questions.

This was when I panicked.

I felt that time is running out and I will not be able to complete all the questions. All the questions were lengthy.

I kept on telling myself I have to do it, and I can do it.

By God’s grace I was able to make up. I had just 2 minutes left when I was on the question# 200!

After submitting the feedback on the Prometric center facilities, within few seconds I got the message –


It was indeed a dream came true and I felt very happy. I realized that hard work does pay if you remained focused.

Also Read: Simple exercise of writing down my PMP objectives helped me achieve it, By Jorge Goncalo, PMP

I scored “Above Target” in Initiation, Closing and Planning. My overall performance was “Target” tending towards “Above Target”.

Tips for PMP Aspirants

  1. Rita’s Process Chart – try to be thorough with it
  2. Try to understand the flow of input, tools & techniques, output of each process, don’t memorize them.
  3. Exam questions are not difficult but the answer options are very close which makes it very difficult.
  4. Practicing Mock exams / questions helps you to identify your gaps
  5. PMBOK – every sentence has a lot of meaning, please go though it till you know what it means.

That is all I had to share with you. I hope you enjoyed going through my PMP study regime and plan, and hope you got something out of this to include in your own study routine.

I wish you all the best,

Arijit Dutt, PMP

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Kaushik Kumar Mondal April 16, 2018, 9:47 pm

    Very very useful tips…..

    • Shiv Shenoy July 19, 2018, 11:10 am

      Glad to see you are finding this useful, Kaushik!
      Please feel free to reach out to me if you need help with exam prep.

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