Mock Test for PMP Prep: A Gap Finding Tool – by Roshan DSouza, PMP

I used mock test for PMP prep, says Roshan“I used mock test for PMP prep as a ‘gap finding’ tool. After each mock test I would identify areas that I need to study more and revise those areas. This approach helped me cover all the syllabus thoroughly”, said Roshan DSouza as I chatted with him to find out what was his mantra to pass PMP exam.

Roshan scored an incredible all-5 Above Target score.

I especially liked his 7 thumb-rules from the last part of this interview. These thumb-rules are very insightful.

Roshan works in Dubai and has a rich experience of over 13 yrs in project management and operations across the middle east. He has a keen eye for saving costs and achieving project objectives within the project constraints.

What made you take up PMP?

PMP roshan dsouzaI have been working on projects for past 10 years. Working all those years on projects gave me real hand experience in project management.

However, all this knowledge was either transferred through my peers in the organization or on-the-job-learning and not from an authoritative source.

The main driving factor to take up PMP was to identify gaps in my project management knowledge, which would help me in becoming a better project manager. Also achieving a PMP badge meant that it opens a big window for career growth for me.

I did consider taking higher levels of Cathodic Protection courses provided by NACE, as those courses are applicable to the field that my projects are concentrated on. But I became more interested in PMP as it allows me to work on all kind of projects.

What was the benefit you expected from this certification?

The benefit I expected from becoming PMP certified is that of being recognized from PMI, that should help me in career growth. This certification does add a lot of value to your project management profile and helps in demonstrating your capabilities to potential employers.

Also read: How this German doctor prepared for his PMP and passed on first attempt!

Which study resources did you use?

In preparation of PMP, I enrolled into a PMP course on Simplilearn (review here) which had self-learning & WebEx classes.

After completing this course, I got confused in identifying what material to consider for studies as there are so many out there.

Finally, based on recommendation from a good friend I went ahead with PMBOK and Rita Mulcahi’s book (ad). I used only these two books in conjunction with the course for my exam preparation.

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

My preparation started with reading the PMBOK.

As I was reading through chapters, I tried to analyze all processes with a hypothetical and/or real-life example. This exercise helped me understand the required inputs, tools & techniques and outputs for each process.

After completing this, I read through all chapters of Rita Mulcahi’s book. This book consists of good information and a lot of examples that makes you understand the subject.

After completing these two books, I took a lot of mock tests.

There are so many good ones available out there on the internet. I also downloaded an app which kept me occupied during my free time instead of playing 8 ball pool. ?

A very important thing that worked out for me was while doing the mock tests. I used go back to explanations of wrong answers and then revisit my study notes of that particular process to revise.

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Can you please tell our readers about some of the issues you faced during your PMP journey, and how did you overcome them.

My biggest challenge was to motivate myself into learning the PMP study materials.

By keeping the focus on the end result and its advantages helped me make progress every day. Even on days I didn’t feel like studying at the end of a long day.

The other challenge was, giving time for my family. When you have young family to explain to kids why you are not available on weekends to spend time with them. But support from my wife helped me, she was my biggest motivator & supporter in this journey.

Adding to this pressure was the news that my division (at work) was made redundant and I needed to look out for new and better opportunities.

So yes, I had a lot on my plate, and I did prioritize and balance all tasks with the support of my wife. I guess that is what being an effective PM is all about, manage the project with a team.

The week before the exam is crucial. What was your approach to study during this week?

I kept this week only for mock test for PMP prep, I revised study materials only when I get any questions wrong. This went well with my strategy of using mock test for PMP prep as a gap-finding tool.

I never memorized ITTO’s. The only thing I memorized were the formulas.

During the week I tried to build my stamina to sit through 4 hours of exam by taking 4 mock tests using PMP simulators.

The last day before the exam, I just went through my handwritten notes and had a good sleep the night before the exam.

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What was your actual exam experience like?

I had my exam at PearsonVue testing center in Dubai. I arrived 30 mins before my start time.

I strongly recommend coming as early as possible, as the security scene could add to delay based on number of candidates at the center for taking the test.

After all the mandatory formalities I was taken to exam room and assigned a cubicle. The staff was courteous and gave all the required information before taking me into the exam center.

Once I started my exam, I went through all 200 questions in little less that 150 mins.

However, based on mock test experience I had marked at least 65% of them as for review. After completing all 200 questions, I took a break, drank some water and got my composure back.

Once I went back inside the exam hall, I began going through all questions marked for review. And I did change a lot of answers during the course of review.

I did this because of my experience of doing various mock exams. During mock tests I used to make mistakes such as not reading a question carefully, not understand the context, or not identifying the BEST answer for the given context.

The support staff at test center gave me a paper showing I had above target scores in all domain.

After the review, when I finally clicked submit button a window popped up saying “Congratulations, you are a PMP”!.

I don’t remember the exact words, but I knew at that moment I had ACHIEVED IT. I was elated. I came out, collected my stuff from the locker.

What are some of the specific study tips, advice, techniques, or strategies you’d like to share with those preparing for their PMP exam?

I think that the following 7 thumb-rules are essential to have a good, well-rounded preparation for the exam.

  1. Intuitively understand where the process belongs to – which process group and which knowledge area
  2. Don’t discount any chapters, all are equally important. This is crucial in view of the fact that there is a specific % distribution of questions across the process groups (refer PMP guide for this).
  3. Please do not try to memorize anything other than formulas – it would be waste of your time and energy
  4. Understand the differences and uses of various tools & techniques, in the context of the knowledge area they fall in
  5. Give more attention to change control & risk management areas, these are important and you can expect plenty questions from
  6. Take plenty of mock test for PMP prep, practice the questions and identify your gap areas
  7. As the exam nears take 4-hr practice tests to build stamina to sit through 4 hours & and develop tactics to manage your time

All the best for your exam!

Roshan DSouza, PMP

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