PMP® 2021 Exam Prep: My Key Lessons Learned – Karthik Valluri, PMP

PMP 2021 Exam Prep - discover how Karthik did it!PMP 2021 exam prep approach has been drawing lot of discussions in PMP® forums. In this week’s interview Karthik Valluri shares how he prepared for the earlier version, and then topped it up with the additional study required for the new exam.

A student of PM Exam Last Mile prep program, Karthik passed the new PMP® exam, but not without few hiccups. If you too prepared for the earlier version and yet to take the exam, you will want to discover how Karthik did study for the additional content needed for the new exam, in this article.

Karthik Valluri is an accomplished Project manager in the Healthcare industry. He works with the US government, handling mostly state and federal projects.

You will also know, among other things, how Karthik dealt with 2 breaks on the exam. Please make sure you read this article all the way till the end and make notes for yourself. There are so many things we can learn from successful PMPs like Karthik.

Karthik, what made you take up PMP®?

karthik valluri PMP Last MileThe value for the certification in the industry and the credibility it brings to my profile. I have considered getting PMI-ACP, I am confident that I will get PMI-ACP next.

I wanted to learn the PMI Standards and understand the best guidelines based on how project management is done effectively in the real world. What better than PMP certification for this!

Which study resources did you use for the exam preparation?

A bunch actually, I wasn’t any different from most of the aspirants. I signed up for multiple resources and everything that caught my eye, which was a mistake (eventually, I ended up using all but only for selected topics).

I must say understanding the process and gaining my confidence was Shiv Shenoy’s PM Exam Last Mile prep program.

I also used Joseph Phillips’ course on Udemy for few topics.

Also read: Over 300 successful PMPs have shared how they passed the PMP exam. Leverage their experience so you don’t have to make the mistakes they did.

How did you approach the exam, any insights based on your experience?

I have been a Project manager for over 5 years now and I work in an environment where I get to wear multiple hats.

The exam mindset was hard to acquire as PMP doesn’t want *your* own approach – it wants PMI-knowledge; thus getting to the PMI way was the key for my preparation. I had to constantly remember this is PMI’s exam and not my workspace.

Tip #1: Do not bank on your own experience to answer any question on the exam.

Time management was crucial (as Kenneth discovered) – if I had an opportunity to go back and do things better I would manage the time very differently. Fortunately, I did well in the end and got my certification.

My study plan was very different from all the others, unfortunately I did not take the exam seriously until the last month. This did cost my time with family and sleep.

I should have planned the preparation-time better, and fortunately I was able to juggle the stress.

Tip #2: Plan your preparation in multiple phases, and keep at it to avoid last minute stress.

I bought and signed up for everything that caught my eye…Big mistake!

Tip #3: Do your research, stick to 2/3 resources and take 100% from that.

Also, do not talk to a lot of people and find out what they are learning, this only will make you (if you are like me) insecure about the resources you are using.

I have realized that no matter what you choose to read, they all offer you the content that prepares you for PMP. How you use that knowledge is what fetches you the certification.

Tip #4: Choose the study resources that you *enjoy* studying with, and you will be richly rewarded.

Can you talk about blockers you faced, if any.

I opted for the online exam. I was stuck after the 60th question both the times. Each time I lost at least 8 minutes.

So after finishing the 60th question it asked me to verify all the marked questions. If I did not want to do so it wouldn’t let me go further to the 61st question.

This was a problem that no one told me about.

I was chatting with the proctor he kept telling me that it was a glitch and I should restart my exam. In the process I lost almost 25 minutes. I did not take any breaks but yet it was very stressful. So, please be aware of this issue.

Exam preparation has been very tiring for me, especially because this was my choice to get PMP – not a requirement at work or external reason imposing a need.

So at times I felt like why did I need this and why did I choose to spend my time reading/locked up in a room and not spending the time with my family. I had to constantly remind myself of the prize.

For whatever reason PMP exam is important for you, remember that reason or write it down next to your workplace.

I think it will be a huge motivating factor.

Also read: Click to discover Pete Vasquez’s PMP 2021 exam prep approach that gave him Above Target score!

You prepared for the earlier version of the exam and then took the new exam. Did you have to do anything differently?

Yes, I prepared for the older format. Although I did not buy any new material I had to learn all the Agile/Scrum and Kanban methods. You can learn about the new exam content here.

There are plenty of free resources on the internet. If you have mastered PMBOK and other resources the supplemental knowledge you gather from the other resources is enough for you to take the exam in the new format.

How did you study during the week before exam?

I chose to revise all that I had learned till that point.

Also, I kept taking the mock tests until my exam day.

This helped me remember what I got wrong and how did I miss the right answer. And the understanding of where I went wrong opened up a lot of scenarios that I couldn’t think of.

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Can you share your online PMP® exam experience please.

As I mentioned earlier I took the PMP® exam from home, but I wish I was able to do that at a test center.

The exam had me review the questions at every 60th mark, It was frustrating as I did not want to review them yet. I wanted to complete my 180 questions and then go back to reviewing them.

The proctor said it was a glitch and it shouldn’t stop me at 60th and 120th questions.

It did both times and I had to have the proctors relaunch my exam. I almost lost 25 was very frustrating and I had to stay composed and focused.

Please be aware of technical issues and also be mindful of the time you are spending on each question. You’ll be surprised how fast time runs while you take this exam.

The exam itself was nothing like the practice questions I had taken, it was new not one question seemed to be remotely close to the hundreds of questions that I took as mock tests.

This exam is sure to test your knowledge of all the concepts you study.

Do not expect any questions which would say ‘what is XYZ and how would you do it’.

No question in my case was direct from PMBOK. They all were of the format ‘if this happens how would you react’ and in most of the time, all the options will seem right.

Read the question again and see what answer stands out the most to you. This was my strategy I am sure you will have yours.

Any study tips for PMP® students?

The most important one is this (everything else can be worked out): Keep working for the certification, if you feel exhausted take a break and start over. Consistency is the key!

All the best to PMP students,

Karthik Valluri, PMP

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