5-Phase PMP® Test Plan Results in 4 Above Target Score – Mohana Ekambaram, PMP

pmp-test-5phase-plan-mohana-ekambaramPMP® test preparation, when done right, can lead to pleasant surprises, as Mohana Ekambaram discovered. Otherwise how would I explain his confidence to take up a test slot that appeared just couple of days ahead, when the plan had few weeks to the exam date?!

I’m going to have a sore throat this week, with so many YooHoo! shouts 😀 This is one of the special ones as Mohana took his PMP® exam much ahead of his planned exam date and passed with 4 Above Target and 1 Target score, just like Syed did recently.

In this, one of the comprehensive PMP® Lessons Learned interview, Mohana shares his 5-phase PMP® test preparation plan and strategies in detail, wrapping up with his insightful study tips.

What made you consider PMP® certification instead of any other?

MohanaEkambaramPMPThe year is 2017.

My role had just transitioned towards program management.

Being from technical background I was looking for courses that could formalize my knowledge and help streamline my thoughts as a PM.

I started learning PMP® content but didn’t continue till the logical end, but as a cheat, I took PSPO certification, which was more straightforward and provided some high-level agile overview.

Since then, I was feeling guilty about not completing PMP® although I knew how crucial this is – both from knowledge perspective, as well as recognition stand point.

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

I think PMP® gives me the confidence to handle complex projects, understanding all aspects of projects.

The depth of knowledge cannot be compared to any course, or even practical experience.

It also helps to project myself among peers or outside my team.

Also read: Akanksha’s simple PMP exam study plan

What are the study resources you used for PMP® test preparation?

One for each aspect of the study –

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

When I decided to restart my PMP® learning, I purchased Andy Crowe – How to Pass PMP® on the first try.

I read for a week but felt I am not getting that rhythm. I was browsing through kindle books and found one of Shiv’s material in Kindle Unlimited (ad). It was not actual PMP® material but a PMP® strategy guide.

It was an enjoyable quick read. I immediately signed up for his free version of Last-Mile course, followed by Shiv’s introduction chat. These helped me realize his unique approach for the course and thus I joined the full version of the Last-Mile program.

My overall test preparation was divided into 5 phases, each of which had an assessment, which acted like the Phase Gate :).

And here how it goes –

Phase 1 (5 weeks)

Shiv had me the 7-week plan as a starter. The idea is to get started with front-loaded plan and then refine it based on what my daily schedule would allow. While working through Shiv’s program videos, I was simultaneously reading Andy’s book for phase 1.

Assessment – PM Exam Last-Mile and Andy’s questions at the end of each chapter.

Phase 2 (3 weeks)

Shiv insisted on referring to PMBOK along the way, so as a cheat, I bought Udemy Joseph’s course. It was a very high-level overview, but he covered every section of PMBOK with his several 3 to 5-minute videos.

I was glossing through PMBOK along with the course.

Assessment – Joseph’s PMP test questions at the end of each Knowledge Area.

Phase 3 (2 weeks)

Redoing PM Exam Last-Mile program videos in speed mode and PMP® test simulator test (20 questions) in each knowledge area’s learning mode.

Assessment – I started around 45% and moved into the ’60s

Phase 4 (1 week)

50 questions Learning/Timed mode exam every day, using Cornelius’ PMP® test simulator. Review both correct and wrong choices and review the referred PMBOK page.

Assessment – I was averaging 75%.

Phase 5 (3 days)

PMI’s sample exam and two full-lengths timed Cornelius’ PMP® test simulator exams.

Assessment – PMI sample exam (69%) and PMP® test simulator (85%+).

Also read: Another Last Mile success story, Ashish shares his study insights.

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

The PM Exam Last-Mile program is the primary reason I could complete PMP certification.

The approach is unique with mind maps; this is very important because of PMP exam’s depth and breadth. Most other courses are PPT based and easily overlooked.

Weekly 1:1 calls with Shiv. He is a coach, mentor, motivator, and study buddy. I could remember days I will try to complete with course milestone before his call.

The course itself flows like a story and not a lecture. It’s engaging, and contents stick to your brain with Shiv’s various mnemonics, brainteasers, stick arts, etc.

Faced any issues along the way?

I was preparing for interviews, changed my job, fear of the pandemic, and felt sick for a week all during the course work.

Shiv’s motivation and personal attention acted as a beacon guiding through this journey.

What was your study approach the week before the exam?

This didn’t happen to me!

After my timed, full-length practice tests, I was confident and was looking to take the within 2 – 3 weeks. And then I found a rare test center slot in a couple of days.

I booked the slot, took the test, and passed! 🙂

What was your exam experience like?

I was not confident about presenting a 4-hour test from home with kids, as many things can go wrong. Thus I preferred the test center, but that comes with constraints such as security check, wearing of noise cancellation headphones over mask, etc. Choose your option based on pros and cons of both.

I was late for the testing center had trouble finding a 4+hour parking spot near the center.

The testing center was hot. I was sweating for the first 30 minutes.

With COVID, every procedure took additional time with social distancing and multiple sanitizing. Almost 1 hour from check in to sitting in the exam cube and entire break time took more than the allotted 10 minutes.

The non-disturbed environment, earmuff, writing materials, calculator provided at the testing center helped examination.

I was flagging any question that I cannot answer under a minute.

Math questions definitely for the end of the exam as it breaks the answering rhythm.

I didn’t use Brain dump.

I had more than 15 minutes in each section for completing the Math questions and review the flagged.

Pass PMP exam before the new & harder exam rolls in..

Work one-on-one with Shiv every week, fast track your progress, and pass with confidence.

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Would you like to share any study tips for PMP® aspirants?

  • Studying and application of the materials take equal weightage. So spend equal and even little more on practicing questions.
  • None of the questions is ITTO based so not to sweat on memorizing, but understanding and building connections are essential. Even if you get ITTO based questions they can be logically deduced if you understand the processes thoroughly.
  • Each process has some unique quality, remembering that is important, for example, Create WBS (decomposition and Scope baseline).
  • There are tons of materials available for PMP®, easy to thin out, careful in choosing, stick to a 2 or 3, and do not switch after deciding unless necessary.
  • Try to take at least 1000 questions during the entire study plan from a couple of resources to get varieties in questions and examiner approach. I was making sure to read the explanation and reference resource on both correct and wrong answer choices.
  • PM Exam Last-Mile program and PM exam simulator are two main reasons for my success, while the former covers the materials later solidifies it.

Good luck!

Mohana Ekambaram, PMP

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