How Troubled Times Fueled PMP® Success! – Manish Agrawal, PMP

pmp-success-manish-agrawal-pmpImagine what a certification run in this Covid-troubled 2020 looks like for someone who before his PMP® certification last week, has achieved 10 certifications since the lock down! I’m super stoked to bring to you today one of my PM Exam Last Mile prep program students (and active community member), Manish Agrawal’s success journey!

Manish works as Senior Manager – BFSI Delivery handling major projects in PnC Insurance. He has overall 15 Years of Banking experience.

This article, if not for anything else, is going to show you how you can plan smartly, and then with unwavering commitment to the goal achieve PMP certification in a time frame that YOU define.

Let’s jump right in.

What made you take up PMP®?

ManishAgrawalPMPI have been handling projects for many years but honestly didn’t understand many of the jargon and always felt I am missing out something, there was always something in back of mind which made me to think if I can handle the project.

After researching few top project management certifications it was clear to me that PMP® is the most complete certification exam.

Of course it is quite a challenging one compared to some of the others but the benefits are enormous.

The knowledge one can gain prepares the project manager to handle any challenging project in any industry, while the pull for PMP® certified managers in the market is also beneficial.

Honestly, it was the confidence it brought in me while studying for the PMP® exam that’s the greatest take away for me. I could easily relate the processes and ITTOs to my project and understand the logic and benefits behind some of the project management activities.

I believe PMP® certification is going to refine my mindset about how I handle the challenges on the projects I undertake.

Which study resources did you use for the exam preparation?

I have used –

The simulator is a great tool to get real exam experience and bring our mock test score to 75%-80% level to be ready for the exam.

Also read: ‘How using simple study materials helped me ace the exam’ – Neeharika Peri

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

First of all there was no plan of PMP this year, I made up my mind around middle of October after talking to Shiv. Shiv was kind enough to share his study plan.. Now the toughest task was to follow the plan.

My only goal was to complete more activities than mentioned in study plan. The first thing I started telling myself every day that I can do it and there is nothing to fear.

I divided my study plan into 3 parts, which I focused on a daily basis.

For a minimum of 2 hours I would watch video training, next 30 mins I would revise what I studied, and then next 30 mins I would to take test to validate my understanding.

pmp mind mapOn the weekends I would take more mock test questions and make note of where I was going wrong.

Here I took a different approach which normally no one would take. As per Mr. Ray Burnham (Insurance expert) we should never see answers as we tend to remember the answers later and the question value is gone.

I used to make notes of the section which I was missing and would use to revise them on regular basis

Another technique I used is to get a study buddy. This helped us both make plans and test each other’s knowledge. We would also take mock tests together and feed each other’s knowledge by analyzing our answers.

3 weeks before taking exam I took 16 hrs. crash course from Maneesh and then 1 week before just focused on doing simulator. In fact I completed all 1600 questions in 3-4 days of time.

Not a single day went in last 6 weeks were I did less than 100 questions. Finding the wrong answers and understanding the correct answer and the reasoning behind it is very important.

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You have been part of PM Exam Last Mile prep program (thank you!). Could you please share how it helped you?

PM Exam Last Mile prep program is the only study complete material I used to study for most of preparation.

Honestly at one point I was losing confidence and tried looking for more materials but realized that Last Mile prep program benefits very soon. It was in very simple language.

pmp mind map

I in fact took the print out of all mind maps and pasted all over my room. Loved these mind maps. I remember when I went out to get the print out of it from Staples, the entire store started looking at mind map and everyone was amazed. 🙂

Can you share any challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Honestly there were lot… It was tough journey…

My sincere advice to everyone is not to get carried away when you don’t understand questions or scoring low during practice.

PMP preparation is marathon and not a 100-meter sprint. Take your time, make notes of all things which you think don’t know and keep moving ahead as per the study plan.

The second challenge for me was cutting down game time on my mobile and reducing other activities. First thing I did was to pack my TV and uninstall all games from my mobile.

I ensured I announce to the world that I am taking PMP so that I am more focused and plan my leaves for the final revision week. I did this almost a month earlier from the exam date to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

The biggest mistake I did was I tried referring lot of books and videos initially. Thus I high recommend you do the research and lock down the study resources you will need. Once done, please stick to these resource and trust yourself.

Most important is for you your family to understand the importance of this exam and are available to support you throughout.

Also read: Russian language PMP exam from English medium study – story of Mariia’s triumph!

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

During this week I went through Last Mile prep program mind map videos at 2x speed and focused only on PMP simulator.

Any topic which I was confused, I just searched in YouTube or videos from Maneesh and ensured I have covered them.

What was your exam experience like?

I had taken the 8 am slot at the test center. Somehow I reached exam halls only 20 mins before the exam.

To my surprise I completed my exam in 2 hrs. 15 mins (yes a full hour and 45 mins ahead of the 4 hrs duration) and clicked Submit and much to my relief got Congratulations message.

Everything went smoothly and my only worry was what if I had to take a bio-break? Luckily I was told I can take break whenever I wanted (the clock would be still ticking).

After every question I kept reminding myself I have 200 questions and I will pass If I keep myself calm.. as advised by Shiv, I kept on taking deep breath regularly.

I didn’t take my 10 mins break, questions were real tough and I was feeling like, maybe I have to take second attempt.

I’d had passed with overall Above Target score!

That’s so fantastic! Any specific study tips for those preparing for PMP® exam?

manish-pmp-certAs Shiv said, study everyday and build momentum – this builds continuity, momentum, and the whole PMP preparation becomes a daily routine.

I would say also try to revise more frequently, practice more and more questions everyday (please use only recognized mock tests, there are lot of materials were you will find wrong answers, I will suggest question provided by Shiv and PrepCast Simulator by Cornelius).

Most important: you are the best and keep motivating yourself. Don’t get disheartened when someone is able to answers questions and you are not, just keep focusing on learning from your mistakes and moving on.

To save study time from day 1 watched Shiv’s video at 1.25x speed and slowly went till 2x.

All the best!

Manish Agrawal, PMP

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