5-Part PMP Exam Study Plan I Used For My Exam – Arti Kumari, PMP

pmp study plan arti kumari pmpThis week I’m happy to bring to you the exam experience of one more student of PM Exam Last Mile prep program – Arti Kumari. I am amazed at her smart ‘FAST-M’ PMP® exam study plan, which she will share with you in this article.

Arti is an accomplished techo-project manager, an awesome public speaker, adventurer, and traveler. She has a Masters of Computer Science and currently settled down in Washington DC, USA.

Arti works as a Program Project Manager/Scrum Master at Freddie Mac – a financial institution and is in housing mortgage sector. She is a constant learner, and one of the few that knows they perform even better under pressure!

I am sure you will find her FAST-M approach, along with tons reference study material links useful in your own preparation as well.

What made you take up PMP?

pmp-arti-kumariI am from technical background and have hands-on on almost dozens of technologies. I implemented various methodologies i.e. Waterfall, Rational Unified process, Xtreme programming, Agile, SAFE etc.

Throughout my journey, I found myself constantly inclined more towards process, quality, structure, organization, communication etc., hence I wanted to be a Project Manager. Because I feel this is something I am made for and I am good at.

Being a detail oriented person I have been working as Project Manager for many years. In order to strengthen my basics and establish myself as PM, I felt that PMP certification was essential.

I want to make my way in Federal positions in future and having PMP on my resume sets a stronger ground for my future search. When I think of project management certification, PMP is the most trusted certification and is globally recognized. Not to mention that it covers all possible aspects involved with managing projects in any industry.

So, PMP certification was on my TO-DO list for a long time. If I say a decade, will be about right. PMBOK, on and off I’ve been reading since PMBOK 3rd version.

You were part of the ‘Last Mile’ program (thank you!). Could you share how it helped you?

With one or the other reason I kept keeping my PMP® certification on the backseat for a decade. I was struggling to get into PMP® certification mindset. PM Exam Last Mile Prep Program gave me PMP® mindset.

Especially the weekly calls with Shiv pushed me to finally prepare my study plan.

I am a visual person and mind map was exactly what I needed to start my journey. In addition to the mind maps, I loved the softness in Shiv’s teaching style. It wasn’t overwhelming on my brain. In his teaching he is focusing right on the content, which was very helpful to engage my mind all the time. He has no fillers, which made me easy to listen to his audios while sleeping in the nights. I went through entire Last Mile course from first lesson till the last lesson religiously.

What I loved the most and will never ever forget is the mnemonic way of remembering 10 knowledge areas! After watching this video I could recall them at any point of time without even consciously thinking about it?

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch brain-friendly PMP® videos. Click the Bell icon on any video, to get notified in future when I upload new videos! – Shiv

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What was your PMP® study plan?

Here is my 5-step PMP® exam study plan – I call it as FAST-M approach.

Step#1 – First round study (F)

My approach was one process from Shiv’s ‘Last Mile’ course videos and then corresponding read from PMBOK, then the audio of the same knowledge area from the course in the night during sleep.

I am not a fast reader and hence these short reading approach helped me a lot. Every knowledge area I finished with the exam associated with it’s chapter.

Step#2 – Assess progress (A)

The second part of my PMP exam study plan is to assess progress. It is to understand the effectiveness of the first round of study.

One of the advantages of taking mock tests is that it helps you identify areas in the whole syllabus that you haven’t probably grasped as thoroughly as you’d like, yet. Once you discover these, you can focus on them more during the second round of study.

I completed –

This step also helped me assess my speed through the exam (average time taken per question).

Step#3 – Second round study (S)

Repeat step#1 with end to end PMBOK read including Glossary this time. If you are like me then put the PMBOK on autoscroll mode, that forces you to read faster ?

I completed the PMP outline and tried to understand the flow and the connection between processes and process groups

Step#4 – Tackle critical areas (T)

I took the prints of ITTO (detail version – Process group wise) and stick on the wall of highly accessible areas like kitchen cabinets for me?

I also installed one ITTO game on my iPad and kept playing whenever I found couple of minutes here and there. This game is pretty interesting.

I pretty much exhausted all YouTube resources from PMC lounge, Aileen, Praizion, ExamsPM, Ray that are made in past 1 year. So, ask me anything I will know where to find them 🙂

Step#5 – Mock tests to the finish! (M)

The last part of PMP exam study plan is to take plenty of mock tests.

This is where it all boils down to – what and how do we do on the real exam.

I took close to 3000 sample questions in mock tests with result review –

With this 5-part approach I have been able to recall the information quickly because the regular repetition (essential for remembering stuff) is built into this approach. I hope this helps you as well.

You may be interested: Free 200Q simulator – if you can hit 80% on the first attempt you are pretty close to being ready for the exam!

That’s phenomenal! What was your approach to study during the week before the exam?

If you are currently working then take last week leave from work to avoid any last minute distractions! Also If you spend significant time on cooking/cleaning and other household chores everyday, then make arrangement for this one week well in advance to avoid 2nd level of hassle. 🙂

If you have the option where someone can look after your kids/toddlers during last week then please let them take care of the kids without any guilt. This frees you from mental and physical hassle and help focusing on the studies and prepare your strategies.

If you are taking online exam then keep testing your computer with the latest version on PearsonVUE test application every two weeks to ensure you have the latest OS on your system. I had the experience where the software passed on my Mac till couple of weeks before the exam, and then it failed the subsequent week when I tested with the new version.

It took me one complete night to take the backup and update the OS to get my 6yr old Mac again ready for the exam.

Exam Week preparation:

I downloaded Udemy Cram session and just ran the audio on 2x speed in the final week. Apart from this I did the following –

  • PMI mock exam second round
  • Simplilearn, Oliver second round
  • prepcast process group based exam
  • ITTO and mainline studies

Tested my computer with latest PearsonVUE software. It takes only 2 min overall.

Identified the place in my home from where I will give the exam, and cleared everything to adhere with PMI’s rules.

During this week I mimicked the schedule I plan to have it on Exam day.

I gave all my exams on the same time of the day as my exam slot.

Exam Day

My exam timing was 8pm to midnight as I am at my best during this time of the day.

I woke up late, relaxed with a good cup of Herb tea, sat outside my home watching the greenery, and completed normal chores.

I have a tendency to answer initial couple of questions incorrect unless I catch my rhythm. Hence, I made sure to do around 25-30 questions from PMI mock exam earlier that day.

Unplugged all electronic devices, shut down additional devices which might be accessing wifi. I also restarted my modem just to be on the safety side and checked the wifi speed and connectivity from my laptop.

Before sitting for the exam I did meditation, yoga and chanted Gayatri mantra. This helped me stay calm, and focus better. I also consciously took long breaths after every question or two to keep myself calm and focused.

Also read: Naveen’s formula to pass PMP without headache!

You opted for online exam. What was experience like?

The PMP exam study plan I explained earlier had prepared me for any eventuality on the exam. I felt confident at the day of the exam approached, although I must say I felt a wee bit of butterflies in stomach just before the exam. 🙂

My exam experience was pretty pleasing. My proctor didn’t raise a single concern on anything regarding the exam.

The exam started almost on time. I didn’t skip any steps, I took initial 10 min to understand the system/options and complete ethics related questions.

I had tested my computer and setup my environment well in advance. The proctor was pretty comfortable with the pictures I submitted. She only asked me to show her where I have kept my phone. And I requested her if I can keep a small glass of water next to me to sip in case I feel dry mouth, she agreed!

I knew my biggest challenge was going to be reading and understanding the questions correctly.

If I can correctly understand the questions, I will be comfortable answering them.

My questions were 2 to 3 lines long which was okay, however answers/options were pretty lengthy, which took time for me to read.

I didn’t mark any questions for review and made my final guess/decision in the first pass itself. I finished my exam 3 min before.

With 200 questions to be answered in 240 minutes, you need to keep a tab on the time. So throughout the exam I made sure to stay ahead with 5-10 minutes up my sleeve.

I had few formula based questions and a majority of situational questions. For critical path, whiteboard didn’t hit me quite in front on my eyes, so I used the Comment box itself, which worked pretty good for me!

I opted for break at the end of 90 questions, and returned to my desk within 9 min and resumed the exam. During the break I had some fruits and just one small sip of water. Please keep in mind that if you are not in front of the computer at the end of 10 minutes the exam ends there itself.

By the time I finished my exam at the end of 4 long hours I was pretty much in the zombie mode – I habitually was looking for the options on my screen where it was showing ‘congratulation’ message! ?

Post exam I took the survey and then closed the window.

Any specific tips for PMP® aspirants?

Yes, I do have a bunch.

  • Identify what study strategy works for you (initially it may take a bit of experimentation) and then stick with it
  • Analyze yourself to understand which time of the day are you at your best, then set study hours for this time
  • Go into the exam with positive mindset
  • Before your online test ensure you have strong wifi and the good system
  • Choose the place where you want to take online exam ahead of time and take your mock tests sitting there
  • Try to stay ahead of your time on the exam (1 minute per question is a good run rate)
  • Don’t spend more time on any one question. By giving more time you may get that one question correct but you are risking 5-6 potential questions towards the end. If in doubt, just pick one option, mark the question for later, and keep moving.
  • Finally, if you found the PMP exam study plan I followed useful please feel free to follow it.

and…. Just Do It. If I can, you can too!!

Arti Kumari, PMP

Know more about PM Exam Last Mile Prep program.


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