My PMP® Exam Prep Strategies to Pass On 1st Attempt – by Vikrant Huddar, PMP

PMP exam prep strategies to pass on first attemptVikrant passed his PMP exam recently. When I interviewed him to learn about his PMP® exam prep strategies, I found that it was a mix of traditional wisdom and some common-sense based quick decisions that helped him achieve PMP certification.

Vikrant Huddar is a competent professional with 10+ years of experience in Project Management, Piping engineering, Quality and Team Leadership. He is skilled in handling activities pertaining to piping engineering, project management.

Here’s the interview excerpts where he outlines every small detail of how he went about preparing for one of the toughest certification exams he faced.

Oh by the way, many people have been asking about the experience at PearsonVUE exam center, and you may want to read question#8 to know about what to expect.

Read on…

1. What event or experience triggered your desire to take up PMP® exam?

I came to know PMP® certification exam while surfing the internet. Then I visited PMI website to understand more about the exam.

When I read the details and possible implications of this certification on my career, that motivated me take up PMP®.

I became convinced that PMP® will not just help me work better as a project manager, it may open up growth opportunities for me as well.

2. Now that you are PMP® certified, what changes would you foresee in near future?

After earning PMP® certification now I’m certain to get good career opportunity in project management field. PMP® has been a major boost to feel good about my standing as a project manager.

Now my approach towards situations or problems has changed.

I find myself looking at high level picture, looking to understand the end objective/result needed. Also, I tend to see who are most affected in each project situation and who may influence my way to achieve my project objectives.

So I am applying PMP® philosophy to deal with day-to-day problems on my project.

Also read: The secrets of PMP self-study, shared by an ‘accidental PM’!

3. Which study resources did you use for the exam preparation?

I read PMBOK 3-4 times, I concentrated on understanding every single word given in PMBOK.

The other book I banked on was Rita Mulcahy book – which I studied 3 times.

Few YouTubes videos also helped where I faced difficulty.

Then I took 4 full mock tests from Cornelius.

Also, PMExamSmartNotes blog’s study group on LinkedIn and the Facebook community helped me and motivated a lot. Every single question posted there was helping me take one step ahead with confidence.

4. What were your PMP® exam prep strategies?

Earlier I have planed for a 3-month duration for my preparation with 3-4 hours of study time per day. But when as the exam day approached I extended the date by 20 more days as I felt a little fearful.

But those 20 days gave me good confidence as I solved 4 full mock exams with 70-75% of average result.

In this period I did my mock exam analysis and noted my weak points, and areas where I was going wrong.

The last 15 days I gradually increased the daily study hours.

Also read: My recommended PMP and CAPM study resources (including free ones).

5. Any issues faced?

I faced some serious family issue during my journey of PMP® exam preparation.

Through regular meditation and exercising, and talking with loved ones gave me strength I needed to hang in there.

‘Never give up’ was my mantra.

6. How did you prepare in the week before the exam?

I upped the ante during the week before my exam.

I spent around 6-8 hours of study per day.

On the day before my PMP® exam though I did not study at all.

Those 7 days I only concentrated on PMBOK guide. I highlighted the keywords and marked important concepts for revision.

The last two days I focused on only these words instead of reading through the whole PMBOK guide.

7. Tell us about your exam experience…

Overall, the environment of the test center was good. I felt calm once I entered the exam hall and my nerves settled.

First of all, I took precautions to reach the test center well ahead of time as it was raining for few days (like booking cab the day before, marking the route, keeping time for traffic contingency etc.). I figured that getting delayed for factors beyond my control would be the worst thing to happen, so took additional precautions.

When my exam time began, the first thing I did was to write on the rough paper “Congratulations, you passed PMP”. I felt this positive message helped maintain the right mindset throughout those 4 hours.

I took 3 breaks during the test to drink water and eat some fruits.

Temperature in exam room was quite low so it is better to wear layered clothing (full sleeve shirts, etc.). Feeling comfortable is essential for concentration.

Also read: How I sailed through PMP exam and how you can do it too!

8. Can you tell us about the support you got at PearsonVUE exam center?

These are some of the questions I get from PMP aspirants, so it would be god to know the expectations –
1. Were you given set of papers to use for the exam, or the erasable board or laminated paper and a erasable marker?
They provided me with 4 pages of white paper of size A4 and pencils (with eraser tips) to use during the exam. They also gave a tissue paper.
You can use this to write brain dump initially. However, if you want more paper they will take back the first set of papers, and you will lose the brain dump! Make sure you have enough space left in those 4 sheets after the brain dump.
2. Some people have been reportedly given erasable board/paper & pen?
No, they didn’t give these, just the 4-paper sheet. I’m not sure if that was an option available.
3. Were you given noise cancelling phones, or do you know if you could have one if you needed?
Yes, they gave me the ear plugs which was useful in cutting down noise. I recommend everyone should use them as they help you focus.
4. Were you given physical calculator, or was there an option to get one?
By default I was given the physical calculator.
Note from Shiv: I asked few other recent test takers as well and Jacqueline reported pretty much similar experience. She said every test taker in her batch got the same set of things, no other options (4 papers, 2 pencils, a pair of ear-plugs, and a calculator). She took her exam in Germany and Vikrant took in India.
Also, one of them reported that they were not allowed to write down the brain dump until the actual exam time began – which is expected. The initial time-window given is now strictly to be utilized towards familiarizing the test software interface.

9. Any specific study tips for PMP® aspirants?

As I prepared for the exam I would get to see what works and what does not. I think it is essential to come up with one’s own PMP® exam prep strategies.

Here are few points that I think will help to keep in mind –

  • Find your core motivation for taking up PMP®. Write it down on paper and if possible paste pictures that support your goal. This is a visualization board. Hang it at your study desk. When you feel like making no progress (this pretty much happens one time or other) your visualization boards keeps you going.
  • As much as possible prepare 3-4 hours of daily study plan. Once you ‘get into the groove’ you learn at accelerated pace, so your overall efforts will be lesser.
  • Prepare yourself with a consistent study approach, study plan, and stable mind. Talk to people who are mentors or project management experts.
  • While studying visualize each keyword to remember it instead of just reading.
  • Read the words of the question carefully (e.g. is/can/etc). If not understood right, they can change the perception of the question for you.

All the best!

Vikrant Huddar, PMP


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