Treat The Week Before The Exam As Dress Rehearsal – Shankar Rajkumar, PMP

pmexam-lastmile-shankar-rajkumar-pmpShankar Rajkumar passed his PMP exam recently. And as it is a custom now a days, I let out a YooHoo! cry (yes, Shankar is a student of PM Exam Last Mile prep program 🙂 ) and asked him if he can share his exam strategies and study advice.

He told me that he had successfully used some of the points that other PMPs had shared, so it would be his honor to continue along the tradition.

So, let us get straight to the point!

First off, what made you take up PMP exam?

The gold standard in Project management and world wide recognition are the key factors to choose PMP certification. I didn’t need any other reason.

Now that I am certified my ability to take on complex and challenging projects will improve.  I am able to applying thought of Tools and Techniques and the knowledge areas to my current projects.

It gives me such confidence on a daily basis knowing that I understand the intricacies of complex projects now and can think through the right way of managing my projects.

Which study resources did you consider, and eventually used for the exam preparation?

It can be overwhelming to go over tons of materials out there. I think if you can choose a limited number of (2 or 3) books or courses, you will be able to cut down unnecessary confusion, and study with focus.

I used the following study resources for my preparation –

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

shankar-rajkumar-pmp-lastmileI had begun my study with PMBOK, and I went one complete round of study with it.

Then Rita Mulcahy’s book for 2 rounds of study.

I went over PM Exam Last Mile prep program twice – and the videos, cheat sheets and mind maps for revision.

Also read: “The FAST-M study strategy I used to pass PMP exam” – by Arti Kumari, PMP

What was your experience with the PM Exam Last Mile prep program?

The quality of information captured in ‘Last mile’ course is amazing. The mind mapping helped me to grasp the complex concepts easily. And because I felt it was easier to study with, eventually it was quick and easy to recall on the exam as well.

The examples, and narration provided by Shiv is very good. He has covered each process group in depth at the same time with humor.
Knowledge capsules, Mnemonics, and ITTOs information are topics that are covered very well.

A note on Shiv’s explanation of concepts: I was really impressed with his explanations. His examples are very easy to relate to and it helps to understand the complex processes in their simplest form. The formula guide, mnemonics diagrams, and videos were all comprehensive and easy to follow. I think they will help shorten the preparation time overall as well.

Did you face any issues along the way?

Well, following the study was very tough due to the hectic office schedule and work pressure. But I think this is common for most of us.

Treating the exam like another project is probably a good approach to deal with this. Just like we handle multiple projects at work.

The other issue I faced was with the pandemic situation.

It forced me to reschedule the exam twice! Each time the frustration of not getting this task off my to-do list was increasing. 🙂

I had to do the revision and preparation again and again. While this was challenging psychologically, in the end it made the real exam a bit easier I guess.

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

Last few days before the day of the exam were like stage rehearsal for me.

I wanted to do a ‘dry run’ of the exam and see what it is like to sit for 4 hours at a stretch trying to focus all the time.

Thus I took FIVE 200-question mock tests back to back for 3 days. I prepared myself well for the physical and mental readiness required for those 240 crucial minutes.

I had quite a good exam experience. The constant check on the timer was increasing my pressure especially between Questions 120 – 170, but I managed it in the end. 🙂

Would you have any specific study tips for those preparing for PMP test?

During my preparation I have made few mistakes, and knowing about these beforehand would have made things simpler. I hope the following insights would help those preparing for their test.

a) Create a story for each process group for an easy recall [I took example of project management of a Marriage]

Stories are easier to remember. I took the event of Marriage as a project to learn process groups. The set of activities you would do in each of the 5 stages of the project (initiation, planning, execution, monitoring & controlling, and closing) as applied to my ‘project’ of a marriage made it easy to recall whenever I needed. Try this approach, you can even apply the same for individual processes as well.

b) I had dry eyes – looking into the system for more than 2 hours is difficult. Hence, I used eye drops during exam.

Of course I had to get the permission of PearsonVue staff, and this definitely helped a lot.

Basically, whatever – medication, sip of water, stretching of legs, deep breathing – that helps you be comfortable and relax during the exam, you deserve to use those things. Just make sure you talk to PearsonVue and get their permission for physical stuff to want to use such as medication or water.

c) Make good notes on each chapter.

Self made notes help learning, because you can write down notes of only the concepts that you understand. And thus the exercise of making notes forces you to make sure you understand what you need to study.  They make good revision notes as well.

d) I printed a big poster of ITTOs and placed in my bed room.

I found it helpful to make visual study cues, one of which was the ITTO poster. The study plan, highlights of notes, brain dump, formulas, process chart – any or all of these are good visual study cues you can have around the place of study.

My best wishes to every PMP student!

Shankar Rajkumar, PMP

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