Copy My PMP Study Plan Template – Ashvini Chhabra, PMP

PMP study plan template by Ashvini‘I used a PMP study plan template that is simple and effective’, said Ashvini Chhabra when we spoke recently. Ashvini is a seasoned professional with over 14 years of rich experience in IT Infrastructure Technology, Project Delivery & Service Management. Having been Prince2 certified he wanted to polish his project management knowledge with PMP certification.

In this post he bares the approach, tools and techniques, and strategies he used to pass the PMP certification exam.

What made you to take up PMP?

ashvini-chhabra-pmpI aspired to become PMP certified since long.. almost 7 to 8 years ago. Due to the crazy working hours and long official tours I was not able to pursue. But I kept the strong inclination towards achieving the PMP credential alive.

This year I decided to put my head down work towards the certifications. First I got Prince-2 certified, and then took up PMP.

Truth be told, PMP has its own charm as it tests not only your conceptual knowledge but how you can apply that knowledge to a given project management situation and act.

I find it similar to a T-20 Cricket match – where within 20 overs you need to score at an average of 8 to 9 runs per over. What I mean by this is that PMP exam is not just a test of your knowledge but also the application of it in a short period of time with many unknowns.

Now that you are PMP certified, what are your expectation?

The benefit which I expect from PMP certification is better consideration for the new job opportunities. I am confident of getting opportunities as I am now geared up for higher challenges.

Also read: Colette shows how she went from working in PM role to actually working as PM at PMI!

Can you share your PMP study plan template?

It is basically a carefully chosen set of books, simulators, and study support group, along with focus on (and practice of) application of concepts to real project management scenarios.

I figured that by intently focusing on these 4 areas I can prepare for the exam without leaving anything to chance.

My primary resource was PMBOK guide – which I read 3 times, cover to cover.

Although it is not an interesting or easy read I felt that this it is necessary for me to study. On plenty of occasions PMBOK can confuse you though. With it, patience is the name of the game.

In addition, I referred Rita’s book (#ad) and Kim Heldman’s book (#ad) as supplementary resources.

Also, I needed someone to guide me with questions about PMP topics. I made use of your student support LinkedIn group, and am thankful that you resolved all of my questions on PMP topics. This is a very useful support group for any PMP aspirant.

I must say that I found Kim Heldman’s book more suited to my taste than Rita’s book as the former has explained concepts in pretty much detail. Kim’s book book is organized Process Group wise instead of Knowledge Areas (as is in PMBOK guide). In Rita’s book, the process chapter & Procurement Management is explained well.

I used these books for clarification of concepts which I didn’t quite understand from PMBOK.

I used to study 3 to 4 hours in a day. During weekends & holidays I devoted more time for the studies.

How about Mock tests, did you take any?

Oh yes. I purchased Cornelius Fichtner’s PMP simulator (#ad) along with his PMP Formula & Maths guide (#ad).

Few years ago, I had bought PMP Maths book authored by Vidya Subramanian (#ad). Though this was written for PMBOK 5th edition, I found it suitable for PMBOK 6th version to a great extent.

Vidya has explained the concepts related to PMP very nicely. Also, her explanation of Quality Management tools like Histogram, Run charts, Control charts, ad Beta, Normal, Triangular distribution etc are covered beautifully.

I used to answer the practice questions from the summary guide from the REP, Rita’s book, Kim’s book, Joseph Phillips’s practice questions to answer wide variety of questions.

Plus, the REP used to send 1 question every daily after the completion of contact hours. They offered 5 full-length mock tests. I however could take only in 1 of them and I got 69% in it. I found it be quite a tough mock test.

I took Oliver Lehmann’s 2 tests (get it from here and download from here) – in which I scored 80% and 84% respectively.

This gave me some confidence about being prepared as they say that 80% as a thumb rule is a good indication.

As far as Cornelius’s simulator tests, I initially chose to answer the customized tests of 2 hours having 100 questions from each KA & did it twice.

In the 1st trial, I scored 80-84/100 in 8 KAs & 72 & 79/100 in 2 KAs. In the 2nd trial I scored 82 -92 /100 in all KAs.

Also read: Hand-curated list of recommended PMP study resources (including free mock tests)

Can you tell our readers about some of the issues you faced and how did you overcome them.

I faced difficulties understanding the concepts from such as Agile, Iterative, Incremental, Config management, Organization structure, CPM, Quality management tools, EVM formulas description, Procurement Contract types etc.

For those topics I referred the study guides as mentioned above. I also surfed the internet for some of the topics.

While answering the online mock exams, I faced the issue of fatigue in the eyes after initial 45 minutes to 1 hr & affecting my concentration for the remaining time.

Due to this reason, I used to make error while reading the questions like missing the words such as Except, First, Not, Least etc which resulted in the incorrect understanding of questions resulting in the wrong answers.

While analyzing the results of the mock tests I noticed that out of total wrong answers between 10 to 25, nearly 30 to 40% wrong answers were attributed to error in reading due to eye fatigue. I used to curse myself that due to reading mistake I got the wrong answers.

I didn’t face this issue while answering the questions from the printed books. Hence, I was concerned that what will happen during actual exam.

I am used to take online exams for more than 15 years while preparing for certifications like Novell CNE, Microsoft, & Cisco. However, the duration of those exams used to be 1 or 2 hours and PMP exam duration is 4 hours.

I discussed the matter with a medical practitioner who prescribed eye drops to me. Sitting in the AC environment of offices in the long run can cause dry eye syndrome. Those eye drops helped me overcome this issue to a great extent.

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That’s a great advice. How did you prepare in the week prior to the exam?

After reading the PMBOK guide three times, in the last week before the exam I just skimmed through the book.

I devoted 5 hours on the previous day to practice Math questions from initiation PG, Schedule, Cost, & Procurement Knowledge Areas.

What was your exam experience like?

Exam hall experience was great. PearsonVUE staff was helpful.

Majority of the questions were of medium to high level difficulty.

Most of the questions had 2 to 3 options matching closely with each other. Hence, choosing the best answer was a challenge & it took more time.

In spite of preparing thoroughly for Math questions I missed 3 Math questions. They were taking more time so I marked them for review but could not do them. Otherwise I would have got less time to answer the remaining questions.

Also read: Henok shares one of the simplest PMP prep plan in this post.

Any specific study tips?

  • PMBOK guide is a must-read. Read at least 2 to 3 times, cover to cover.
  • Do your research on the topics that you don’t understand even after reading PMBOK.
  • Solve plenty of practice questions, especially those that have 2 to 3 closely matching options.
  • While studying try to understand the sequence of actions or process, as many questions ask on the lines of “as a PM what you will do First, Next, or Not do.”

That is pretty much what I have to share. I hope that by focusing the 4 areas I explained in my simple PMP study plan template you can get through PMP exam without much of a hassle. Study well and I wish all aspirants good luck!

Ashvini Chhabra, PMP

Want another simple PMP study plan template you can use? Check out Gayathri’s 4-week prep plan here.

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