PMP® Exam Advice By a Former Indian Air Force Sergeant: Shankar Harinarayan, PMP

Learn PMP exam advice from a former Air Force SergeantWhat’s the good way to de-risk the PMP® exam? Look for PMP® exam advice from those that have ‘been there and done that’!

In this article you will learn the preparation journey of someone that passed the exam recently, interestingly, after losing the test for no mistake of his.

After serving in the Indian Air Force for 16+ years, Shankar Harinarayan moved into the corporate world into Training & Development, IT Service management & Project management. Overall, Shankar has over 31 years of rich experience.

Shankar decided to up-skill himself and researched into various certifications before deciding on PMP. In this article he shares the exact plan and strategies he used to prepare for the exam and aced it.

Going with a 4-week plan, Shankar encountered challenge right during the online exam, where the proctor just didn’t turn up! After waiting for hours he was told to take the exam once again. He revised the course once again and and took the exam in a couple of days and passed it!

If you are preparing for the exam, please do not miss very useful PMP exam advice by Shankar at the end of this post.

What made you take up PMP®?

PMP Shankar HarinarayanTen years ago I did my PG Diploma in Project Management. I was determinant to go with PMP® to learn the Project Management discipline and methodologies.

Although I consider a few there weren’t any that had as comprehensive coverage as PMP® (PMP® related info here), so it became my default cert to go for.

During the study I learnt more than what I was practicing all my years of experience on the job, and appreciated the value of this certification. The mere study and preparation itself gave me the confidence that this certification will help become a better project manager.

Now that I am certified, since am a trainer myself, I would like to share my knowledge with the student community.

Which study resources did you use?

I used the following resources –

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

I approached my study with just 4 weeks of planning as suggested in the PM Exam Last Mile prep program.

It has the modules created in a way that uses many techniques to remember the content easily. Plus, as a student I had access to Shiv. I would talk to him one-on-one each week and get his guidance to move ahead without any guesswork.

As my online exam began, after a while the screen just froze!

I was not able to believe that the exam ended for no fault of mine and I had to reschedule it. The experience was quite stressful as the last date of the current version of exam was just a few days away!

Thankfully as I worked with PearsonVUE staff a slot opened up in a couple of days, and I took the exam.

In the end all turned out to be good and I was elated to see Congratulatory message on my screen. 🙂

You have been part of PM Exam Last Mile Prep Program (thank you). Could you please share how it helped you?

The ‘Last Mile‘ prep program has given me a clear idea and nuances of PMP Preparation on how to prepare, what to prepare and why its important etc.

Shiv’s consistent mentoring and support has doubled my motivation, relieving hardship that is usually part of PMP preparation.

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What was your approach to study during the ‘golden week’ before exam?

The week before my exam I revised the study content and practiced various mock exams.

Throughout the week I put in around 10 hours of study per day.

I took at least 10 mock exams, analyzed the results and identified the gaps to fill with targeted study. These full-length mock tests gave me the feel of the real exam, and helped me manage my time well on the actual exam.

Shiv’s Mind maps and my written notes were the key materials for my last minute revision.

What was your exam experience like?

I had a bitter experience with first attempt at the online proctored mode exam. But while appearing second time, it went smooth.

The proctor even allowed me to have bottle of water. If you are taking online exam, I would recommend keep water next to you, of course with the permission of your proctor – and keep sipping every now and then. It helps you think clearly.

Throughout the 4.5+ hours sitting straight in front of the camera was pretty hectic, but that’s the price one has to pay for taking the exam from home.

I would suggest to register exams at Exam center (hopefully the pandemics problems gets rid off sooner).

Also read: PMP exam advice from Peter Hua after he aced the exam on second attempt!

Any PMP exam advice for new exam takers?

  • I would suggest to prepare your own notes as much as possible by noting down the gaps observed while studying. This is an easier way to remember what we study.
  • PMP quizzes, solutions, and mind maps are the best ways to get the important points into our memory easily.
  • I did not memorize the ITTOs, instead understood its requirements on how it effects in every process. Trying to memorize ITTO leads to unnecessary stress. The exam questions are not a test of memorization, ITTO questions are asked in a way that one can deduce the appropriate I/T/T/O based on the information given in the question itself.
  • Sticking to a mentor and following one book along with PMBOK will certainly yield better confidence and results.

Good luck!

Shankar Harinarayan, PMP



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