My 2-Stage PMP Preparation Approach – Sangeeth, PMP

2-stage PMP preparation approach of Sangeeth helped him pass on 2nd attempt.Not many have realized this approach, and you will see that this 2-stage PMP preparation approach helps you iron out any ‘implicit assumptions’ quite easily.

Sangeeth passed the exam on his second attempt, and the insights he has gained during his PMP® journey are quite impressive. I hope you will them useful for your preparation.

Sangeeth has over 16 years of rich experience. In this week’s PMP® Lessons Learned article, he shares his experience of preparing for and passing the PMP exam.

Sangeeth is happy to guide you should you need to talk to him. You’ll find his LinkedIn profile link at the end of this article.

What made you choose PMP®?

PMP Sangeeth C I had been planning on taking up PMP® certification for the past 4 years, and due to time constraints and a hectic work schedule, I couldn’t make it.

I believe telling the truth is not a bad idea, I failed in my first attempt in Feb 2020.

However, I bounced back after a 15-day break, and those 15 days were kind of depressing. 🙂

During that introspection, I realized that the failure occurred due to wrong guidance and wrong training partner where there are 70+ students in an online class.

For some time I had decided not to take up PMP® again, just continue with my work and develop my PM skills through some other certifications, as I had Prince 2 and SAFe Agile certified along with other Industry certifications in my profile.

After recuperating from the heartbreak I began reaching different people, training institutes etc. I come across a quote on the internet during the time that said, “never hesitate to wear the hat of failure”.

Then I met some good mentors (Sheriff Azmad, Shiv Shenoy, Gina Davidovic) who motivated me all the way in my PMP journey.

I took it up again and cleared my PMP on the second attempt.

Now that you are PMP® certified, how do you see PMP helps?

After PMP certification I began realizing the benefit of the PMI triangle. Some common challenges in companies are stakeholder analysis, communication gaps, lessons learned repository, and so on, which I began finding easy to deal with.

I have begun to implement what I have learned during PMP preparation into my day-to-day work and enjoying my role as the project manager thoroughly.

Which study resources did you use?

Also: Join daily PMP student support groups here for mock test questions, and other resources: Facebook & LinkedIn group

What was your PMP preparation approach & study plan?

My exam preparation was done in two stages.

In the first stage, I began my study with a Knowledge-Area-wise approach using PMBOK and Rita.

I went through multiple rounds, and still, something was missing.

Later I found Andy Crowe’s book was a lifesaver- it helped me connect the dots between processes and knowledge areas.

After studying KA-wise I took short quizzes in Prepcast, Rita’s chapters, and also in mobile apps to ensure I m trained with a variety of questions. I was consistently scoring well after I identified a way to logically connect KA to KA.

Then I realized that PMBOK is an iterative study material but not well-framed to understand easily.

During the second stage, I started doing Process Group-wise mock exams in the Prepcast simulator.

I found my grey areas this way and took the quizzes, again and again, to get above 80% in each process group.

It began to dawn upon me that by taking the same simulator tests again and again I was beginning to memorize the answers, so I purchased different mock exam simulators to practice and look at different questions each time.

Also read:

Did you face any issues along the way?

The main issue is lack of study time – I couldn’t spend much time on studies and mock exams, so I pushed myself to read and practice during the breaks I get in between work hours.

I sacrificed my weekends for almost 6 months and began enjoying my weekend-long study slots. Plus, I used a mobile app to read during travel or when I couldn’t focus much on a book. Mobile apps gave me a good glance at concepts in short forms.

The second issue was focusing for a long time during mock tests. Sitting for 4 hrs of the exam and answering questions one after the other would feel challenging.

I built the endurance by starting smaller exams of 50 questions, then graduate to 100 question tests and full-length tests.

This helped me think and concentrate on tests consistently.

Doing random tests with varied lengths is important to ensure our brain is trained to answer any process group and knowledge area.

Thank you for being part of PMExamSmartNotes community. Could you please share how it helped?

I would like to thank Shiv for his follow-ups and advice on my studies. Shiv suggested that I take the PrepCast simulator for practice. That was a game-changer for me as I found the questions to be pretty close to the difficulty of the real exam.

During the last month of my study, I have been in touch with Shiv for gauging my performance and readiness to take the exam.

PMExamSmartNotes has always been a source of encouragement for me to read all success stories and stay motivated. The Facebook and LinkedIn groups were useful in maintaining daily PMP study continuity.

I enjoyed answering the daily PMP questions there and checking if my previous days’ answers were correct. Then I could follow the reference links given with answers to quickly study a bit more of the concept.

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What was your exam experience like?

For me the online exam was a tedious process, to be honest. The proctor came online late and the whiteboard didn’t work during the exam. I had to calculate the formula question in my mind. I tried to reach the proctor but nothing happened.

In my exam, the initial set of questions were from Planning, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing process groups and the latter set of questions were from Executing and Initiating.

Initially, it took some time to get into the rhythm of answering questions one after the other. Focusing right from the beginning and ending with positive energy was key to success.

What was your PMP preparation approach during the crucial week before the exam?

The week before the exam I didn’t read any books, rather just revised using powerpoints, PDF notes, smart notes, formula guide, etc.

I didn’t do any full-length mock exams either, just did few small quizzes – 50, 100 questions.

Two days before the exam I stopped doing the quiz as well, and simply revised the notes and PDFs.

Any study tips for those preparing for their PMP®?

The primary approach should be to understand and not memorize.

  • Understand the logical sequence of processes.
  • Identify the keywords in questions (which process group/knowledge area) to understand what exactly they are testing in each question.
  • Identify the diversion in questions (stories, scenarios, additional unnecessary data etc)
  • Practice time management during the mock exam – 50 questions should take about an hour’s time to complete.
  • Practice a variety of sources of questions – only legitimate question banks relating to the Exam Content Outline and the latest version of PMBOK.
  • Reading the PMP Examination Content Outline (multiple times) is very important.
  • Map the exam content outline with the Knowledge areas. PMI tests according to exam content outline only. One who knows the exam outline clearly will pass for sure.
  • I’d recommend practicing a minimum of 5 full-length exams (time-boxed). Monitor the score to have a consistent score of 70 to 80% from a trustworthy mock exam simulator.
  • Do not go for too many exam simulators in the market. Avoid going with only free simulators – if you must, then use them only for understanding a variety of questions.
  • Find a good mentor who can guide you throughout the preparation. A good mentor understands exam patterns well on the latest version and will be able to take you through the downs that most of us tend to go through.

The 2-stage PMP preparation approach truly worked for me, and I hope you will give it a try as well.

All the best,

Sangeeth C, PMP

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