Sample PMP Exam Questions are Crucial: Varalakshmi KS, PMP

pmp exam questions are crucial Varalakshmi realized early that the key to success is attempting sample PMP exam questions. Her systematic approach to PMP exam is worth emulating.

When I asked if she can share it with PMESN readers, she was more than willing. Do NOT miss her study tips from the last section.

Varalakshmi has over 12 years of experience in project management. She worked as a Project Engineer for project management team with BAE SYSTEMS (Defense and Aerospace). She has been a part of major license build programmes successfully building over 99 trainer aircrafts onsite.

What made you go for PMP certification?

PMP Varalakshmi KSPMP was recommended my manager while I was looking for a certification as a part of growth development section in Annual PDR (Personal Development Review), and that it would help me grow in my career.

I did look at others but chose PMP since it has a global recognition and was well suited for my work and Project management experience. I am planning for PMI-ACP as well sometime soon.

How may PMP impact your work going forward?

My approach is now more systematic and organized towards projects. I try to learn and use capabilities defined in PMI’s Talent Triangle in best way possible.

Just like a project manager keeps the Business Case for completing the projects successfully, I find myself keeping all the process groups, knowledge areas in mind and balance constraints at my work.

While I was preparing for PMP exam my job winded down with no projects. Hence I am looking for good opportunity that will help me utilize all the skills gained.

Also read: A cool technique to reduce overall PMP exam study effort!

What were your chosen study resources?

I initially started with Head First PMP then switched to Rita Mulcahy after few pages, then PMBOK of course.

On an average I solved about 30 sample PMP exam questions every single day.

I did watch a lot of videos online such as pm learning solutions and Simplilearn. Joseph Phillips was helpful to understand the concepts in and out and tools and techniques.

It was evident from other PMP students’ experience that taking sample PMP exam questions was essential part of study.

Thus I attempted lots of practice papers online and identified my gaps each time. Used the 3 simulator exams from Cornelius’ simulator in the last week.

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

My study plan evolved as time passed. Eventually I worked out a study plan that suited my study style and schedule –

  • I read Rita Mulcahy twice – including back-end questions from those chapters
  • In parallel I studied PMBOK guide, and then practice papers from each knowledge area – at least 100 questions online
  • Glossary section from PMBOK guide was very helpful
  • I focused on ITTO’s – just the major input and outputs along with tools and techniques
  • After getting a thorough hold on the PMP concepts I took online free mock tests
  • Then I took 3 mock tests from PrepCast Simulator. I averaged 75% each time.
  • I used these strategies while answering questions – spending under one minute per question, elimination technique, striking offs incorrect answers, and marking the question when unsure of the answer.

Also read: My recommended PMP exam study resources (including free ones)!

Did you face any issues?

My main issue was managing time on the exam.

During mock tests I realized and improved upon these aspects –

  • not to spend over one minute for each question – if stuck mark the question and move on. This approach allowed me some time for tough questions at the end of the exam.
  • since there was no negative marks I made sure not to leave any questions unanswered. When unsure I went with my gut feeling.
  • It’s easy to lose focus after answering few questions – so after every 30 questions I relaxed and took deep breaths.

How did you prepare in the week prior to the exam?

I had completed all of the study part before entering into the last week. The focus for the week was revision.

I took 3 mock tests, each on alternate days.

After each test I spent time going over answers and understanding reasoning behind the answer. This helped me identify areas that I was still weak in, and also brush the concepts.

My self-made notes during studying Rita and PMBOK came in handy. I reviewed them couple of times.

I spent couple of hours every day going over the Process Chart, 49 processes, ITTO’s, glossary and formulas. As with the formulas, I practiced at least one sample question for each formula.

What was your exam experience like?

PearsonVUE staff were friendly, polite and nice.

Ambience was good too. They reviewed my name, photo proof etc and guided me to a locker to deposit my stuff. After the security check I entered the examination room.

I was apprehensive of course, took sometime to adjust to environment.

As I began the test the first hour was slow. I wasn’t sure if I was choosing the answers wisely – but had always kept in mind that as a PM I should choose the answer that is closest to situation; may not be correct.

Next couple of hours went quick and the last hour, super fast.

I managed to complete all questions 30 mins early, and then I reviewed the marked questions.

Also read: Learn how a globe-trotting PM passed PMP exam on her 2nd attempt!

Any specific study tips for those studying for PMP exam?

Yes, there are few.

  • Create a good study plan that best suits your daily work schedule – and stick to it no matter what.
  • Make self-notes while studying. This practice helps understand better, identify tough areas, and then help revise in the week before the exam.
  • Know your concepts in and out. PMI twists and turns even the simplest of the questions. This is where confusion creeps in if you are not thorough with concepts. Confusion leads to wasted time, and then to panic, and chaos.
  • Just knowing concepts alone will not be sufficient. Attempt loads of sample PMP exam questions to understand how to apply concepts to situations given in the question. Also, keep identifying tough areas and fill in the gaps.
  • Monitor and asses your marks each time. Ensure your mocks score are 75%+ before you book your exam.

Good luck for the test,

Varalakshmi KS, PMP

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