PMP Management Easy With 3-Focus Areas: Elena Stepura, PMP

pmp management easy with these 3 focus areas, says, elena stepuraElena Stepura lives in Kiev Ukraine. She is a freelance Project Manager. She is also a Personal Brand and Remote work Mentor.

Elena’s challenge lied in the management of PMP preparation along with freelancing work, kids,  pet, AND a day job.

Pretty much like most of us. Juggling multiple responsibilities.

And she did it with aplomb, as you’ll see soon.

As we got into the New Year, I could not help but recall my excitement 8 years ago on the evening of the last day of the year – 31st December, when I passed the exam.

Even today, recalling that moment makes my heart skip a beat. 🙂

If you are yet to make up your mind about PMP, or finding it hard to prepare for, I would recommend this approach –

  1. First, simply make up your mind that you will take up PMP before the year ends. Accepting this opens up your mind to opportunities to learn about, and, prepare for this exam.
  2. Next, understand what it takes to be ready for PMP, and make a note of eligibility criteria. You need to work on fulfilling this first.
  3. Research and find 1-2 study resources based on your learning style (use this 3-minute 3-step guide to find more).
  4. In the process of fulfilling eligibility criteria, you would complete at least the first round of study!
  5. Submit the application at PMI
  6. Continue the studies, and practice with good simulators, and build exam confidence
  7. Book and take the exam
  8. Celebrate!

If you are still not clear, book a free 30-minute consult call with me here.

Ah, I digressed.

Back to Elena’s PMP preparation, I found her unique approach to preparation quite helpful and her sense of humor enjoyable.

And based on her own experience, she has a very strong message in the end.

Let’s hear from her.

What made you take up PMP?

Elena StepuraMy husband promised to take a tour over Europe if I pass it with the first attempt. That became a perfect motivation. Joking. 🙂

Getting PMP certification within the year: I set this career goal for myself at the beginning of 2021.

All I kept in mind then was that PMP could bring me up to another league, open new career doors.

Also, I was sure that the exam would be extremely difficult. So, I prepared myself to do the grind.

Did I consider any other Project Management certification?

No, only Project Management Professional.

Perhaps it is the most challenging exam, but you will never be the same after getting this certification.

However, if English is not your native language, like me, the level of language expertise is a crucial factor for your career.

Also read:

Now that you are certified, how do you see PMP helping you?

cert elenaThere are no questions about my Project Management education or qualifications anymore. 🙂

“Oh, you are PMP certified. Got it. That’s what we need.”

I feel so proud of myself, and I’ve become more self-confident since I passed it. It is like a driving license or IELTS. You don’t need to explain this.

People from all over the professional world understand this certificate and value it.

Which study resources did you use?

3 minute 3 step pmp resources plan

Click to discover how to choose PMP resources based on your learning style

As you can see, each one of these helped me with a specific part of PMP preparation.

  • Scrum framework PDF built my understanding about agile practices.
  • PMBOK versions helped learn the core concepts.
  • Rita’s book helped cement the concepts learned from the PMBOK
  • Videos helped maintain study continuity.
  • The PMP simulator helped get a sense of the real exam and practice the art of answering questions in quick succession.

For PMP study management, I’d recommend focusing on these 3 areas –

  1. Understand core concepts (avoid rote learning)
  2. Relate them to the actual work of a project manager (going from theory to practice)
  3. Practice mock tests for the exam (to manage time and increase pace)

What was your approach and study plan?

My first step was to submit my application and get it approved.

This I did as soon as I fulfilled my 35-contact hour requirement.

From the date your application is accepted by PMI, you’ll have a year to pass your exam, but it’s too long a term. You want to aim for a time period as soon as you can. A quarter is a great plan to start off.

I limited myself and scheduled it for just 2 months in order not to relax too much and potentially get complacent.

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Did you face any blockers along the way?

Well, It was difficult. Very difficult.

To study 3-4 hours per day, mostly at night (as I have family, kids, a dog, a job, etc.) to failing to answer test simulator questions.

Through the struggles, I realized that only one thing works: sticking to it consistently.

You know, I started working as a Project Manager at 35.

I left a successful corporate career and dived into the Freelance world. All I had then was my experience in Project Management with big companies and a dream of being independent.

Now I can tell this for sure: Working as a Project Manager = learning and practicing constantly.

That’s how this works.

“Learn or die”.

What did you study during the week before your exam?

How you utilize this last week for your PMP management can have a large impact on your results.

I took simulator tests every single day, except for the day before the exam.

This helped me get used to the rigor of the 4-hour exam.

I could practice how much time to spend on each question to be able to complete all 180 questions within 230 minutes.

Also, I found another benefit from this approach.

There were narrow gaps in my understanding that were not clear to me until I took these mock tests. Taking these practice tests gave me a chance to discover these missing points and put in some focused study in those areas.

It gave me a lot of confidence leading up to the exam!

How was your exam experience?

I opted for the online exam.

I took both the breaks, breathed fresh air, and did some stretching.

To be frank, the last 20 questions were exhausting. I felt very tired and lost concentration.

But it all felt worth the weeks of pain, when I finally saw my results!

Any specific study tips you’d like to share?

Some people were reaching out to me and proposed to pass my exam somehow with a 100% guarantee with the price of $400 up to $1000.

Hey, you, all students studying and planning to pass – do not let such people make money on your hesitating.

It is not worth it at all!

Believe in yourself and your knowledge.

Yes, the exam is not easy, but you can do it.

Just plan how to prepare (steal from others if you have to!), find a mentor, and keep working.

My best wishes,

Elena Stepura, PMP


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