PMP Exam Preparation: Study Like a Rock Star – Carmen Boles-Mata, PMP

This week Carmen Boles-Mata, a veteran of 25 years of experience is sharing her unique PMP exam preparation approach. It hasn’t been easy for her. But she is a Strategic Planning Coordinator, so you can count on her efficient PMP study plan to get results for you!

Go over Carmen’s PMP study approach and prep advice below, and you’ll have a battle-hard proven plan to use for your own PMP or CAPM preparation.

With that, over to Carmen!…

pmp exam preparation carmen

What triggered PMP

PMP karman boles mataI recently accepted new position in the company I work with. I decided to be better prepared for the new role with formal knowledge of project management. My core work will involve direct management in some of the knowledge areas of PMBOK, so PMP was a perfect certification for me to gain new skills.

The resources I used

Now I know that many PMP students struggle with choosing the right set of resources. I had my share of headache too, but I do think that some amount of time spent on research here will pay rich dividends once you dive headlong into study.

After some research I zeroed in on the following resources –

My advice for PMP aspirants on this topic would be to go with the study resources that you can connect with. Even when you get recommendation from others, spend some time researching what is the right fit for you.

Study approach and Plan

I utilized the first 3 resources from my list during the time I was submitting my application.

Also Read: How Ashish Lall used PM Exam ‘Last Mile’ program to pass his PMP exam.

I attempted exam once and did not pass. Realizing I had to utilize the efforts invested in studying for that attempt, I decided to take up my second attempt without a big time gap.

This time I opted to try again with a different approach.

I excluded myself from the “world” for nearly 2 weeks and studied day and night.

This may not be possible for everyone but the advantages are many and impact is huge.

The focused effort knowing that this is for just the short duration will act like a 100 mtr race rather than a 21KM half-marathon. You can lock down the resources, chalk out a plan, immerse yourself in the PMP world, and hammer down the studies like nothing existed beyond PMP.

The results in my case were amazing.

This may work well for 1 week period as well.

Also Read: My PMP Exam Experience & Insights You Can Use – by Rohini Sridhar, PMP


Family distractions and obligations at the office.

I found things for my children to do – taking them to friends, sending them to movies, or anything that kept them out of the house. 🙂

For work, I was able to answer emails and monitor current projects from home.

The week before the exam, crucial period..

I mapped a study plan to define daily objectives.

Completed all of the videos in 3 days.

I took mock test often to test my preparedness, and to find areas that need special focus.

And I wrote notes over and over.

I created my own mnemonics to aid in memorization.

And I made flash cards, and received help from my teenagers with studying.

Also Read: Troubled with PMP prep? Book a free 30-minute consultation session with Shiv Shenoy

The exam day!

I chose to do a brain dump during first few minutes of the exam.

In my brain dump I included the process chart from PMBOK, several silly phases that tied to formulas and terms I had memorized.

I moved quickly through the exam answering each question to the best of my ability and marked the ones that I was not confident about to come back to at the end of my exam.

I completed all 200 questions with 30 minutes to review the marked items.

My prep advice

Keep studying, don’t let it go offtrack.

Keep the study momentum going till the day of the exam.

Study like a rock star the last 10 days, and give yourself some time every few days to unwind.

Good luck!

Carmen Mata, PMP

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Rajeev kumar September 5, 2018, 8:43 am

    Dear sir,
    I have Completed Training of PMP but didn’t give the exam.

    So Please give the advice how can crack the PMP Exam.

    • Shiv Shenoy September 8, 2018, 2:37 pm

      Hi Rajeev,
      It has to be a combination of prep resources, study plan, and mock test practice. You can go over the prep strategies of successful PMPs from ‘PMP Lessons Learned’ section of this book, and copy them. Also, you can take a look at this 4-week plan to come up with your own >

      Good luck!

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