Studying for PMP® Exam: My 3-Part Approach – Srija Srivastava, PMP

studying for pmp exam using 3-step approach - by Srija SrivastavaFor the most people studying for PMP® exam is something that need to carve out time for. Apart from the work, time for family, and self. Last week, after another YooHoo! moment I sat down to write a note of congratulations to Srija Srivastava. A very active student of PM Exam Last Mile prep program and our community.

Her online PMP® exam experience is interesting and insights, amazing. Let’s get stated straight away.

Over to Srija..

Hey, I am Srija, I live in Seattle..I recently completed my master’s in project management from UCLA. I am an IT engineer turned project manager.

Soon after I started working, I realized my interest into management profile and found my passion in Project Management. I worked as a Project Manager for 3 years before coming to the US to gain in-depth knowledge in the field.

Sure, on-the-job training is the best but there are certain things your job can’t teach you. And while studying here, my professor asked me to take up PMP®. He said I am eligible, and I should seriously consider it.

I was skeptical in the beginning but by the time I was coming close to completion of my course and finding a job, I realized how PMP® could be a boon for my career. That’s when I came across Shiv’s program and decided to get enrolled in it.

While preparing for the PMP® exam I got a job and then another paying 20% more after my PMP®! And that confirmed me what PMI’s survey revealed. 🙂

I took the latter job of course, and started working immediately remotely.

In terms of studying for PMP® exam, I think that the preparation style may vary from person to person but one major insight I’ve had is to stay calm. Throughout the study duration (you will have highs and lows for sure) and during those 4 hours of the exam too.

Well, I literally thought I will fail when I reached the 100th question because it was so damn tricky but I told myself that I can do it, and that I have 100 more questions to reverse my fate.

And I did!

I’m hoping that my exam experience will help you ace your exam.

Why PMP® certification?

I was about to complete my post graduate in Project Management in UCLA, I wanted to then upgrade my PM knowledge to get an edge in this field.

I got two jobs after my masters; the one I got post PMP® paid me 20% higher and was an MNC.

Out of all the certifications I considered I was clear about getting PMP® since it is the most prestigious as well as well rounded certifications. I presumed it would land me a job of my dreams. And honestly it did.

I think I wanted to be set apart from the crowd and PMP® was the best way to testify that. It has already shown its results.

Which study resources did you use for the preparation?

I didn’t go through a lot of resources. I used Shiv Shenoy’s PM Exam Last Mile Program along with PMBOK guide.

Also followed it up with some YouTube channels for PMP® prep during the last lap of my preparation.

Also read: Sean shows how PMP helped him transition from military to corporate effortlessly

How did you approach studying for PMP® exam & what was your study plan?

I created a day wise study plan. You might think that’s too detailed, but I knew that’s what I needed to push me to study every single day. Originally my plan was a 50-days plan (7 wks) but then I had to move to another city in between, so that added 10 days to my plan.

My plan had an estimate of 2-4 days that I gave myself to complete one knowledge area; from Shiv’s modules (including making my own notes) followed by reading through it from the PMBOK.

This approach cut any possibility of overwhelm, because I only had to complete each day’s study and it would take me a step closer. This helped me complete one knowledge area at a time and get close to the wholesome syllabus.

Another practice I enjoyed was to relate PMP® concepts to real life projects as much as I could. For instance, I would report my PMP® exam preparation progress to Shiv using EVM chart, as below.

Srija applied PMP concepts to real life projects

PMP® exam progress understood using Earned Value Management concepts.

Also read: How Harpreet earned 2 MORE certificates using PMP study momentum!

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

The PM Last Mile program was a great help since I can learn better with visual aids than reading or listening.

Learning complex things is much faster and easier with videos for many of us, I believe Shiv has explained the entire course with the perspective of a PMP test taker using mind maps approach – which as the name suggests is easier on the brain.

The program contains video modules with mind map based video training followed by small tests – to quickly get a sense of application of concepts to exam questions.

The exam after all tests our ability to think like a project manager, and the approach this program takes helps learn the entire content in this way. Which makes studying for PMP® exam much intuitive.

The program also talks about techniques such as mnemonics and brain dump which is extremely useful for any test taker.

The most useful part is that I got to talk one-on-one with Shiv every week, where I could get past any issues. and if you have any questions about any topic, then you post it right on the lesson page in the program itself or on the LinkedIn page, and Shiv would usually answer in 24 hrs.

Did you face any issues along the way; if so, how did you overcome them?

I was told by everyone that I needed to score 80% on my mock tests to be sure to pass my PMP exam.

Honestly, I was not able to score more than 70% in the initial mock tests. I gradually realized what are my weak topics, worked on it, watched a lot of content on those topics from YouTube (links in my plan), revised the syllabus in various styles and then took more mock tests.

Finally, I scored 77% once and I was sure I am prepared enough to take the exam.

Also, I was reaching my threshold since I used to study all day in the last week, so before the dip came I booked the test for the following week and took it.. ..and I passed!

In the ‘golden week‘ what was your approach to studying for PMP® exam?

Yes, the last week is crucial, and I had planned to dedicate my 100% to PMP® preparation.

One day I would take a 4 hr-mock test and then take 4 to 5 hrs to analyze my answers, especially concentrate on the reasons for my wrong answers.

Then then next day, go through the topics I think I am getting tricked or unsure of.

And then repeated this process.

Shiv: Join me today and get PMP certified comfortably before Thanksgiving!

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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Can you talk about your experience of online exam?

I took the exam online because there were not many centers open around where I stay.

The questions were really complex, mostly logical and concept based.

Interestingly, my online proctors kept changing during the course of 4 hrs. They told me not to read aloud the questions, not even whisper. 🙂

I was getting nervous halfway into the exam, I touched my face but was interrupted by the proctor.

The proctor told me in the beginning that I will be offered a break after 89th question, which I chose not to take. But I was extra careful while marking my answers till 89th question since I knew, once I cross that point, I won’t be able to re-visit my answers.

I also asked before the exam if I could keep a glass of water next to me, to which the proctor agreed.

Any wrapping comments?

While it may seem like PMP® certification is hard, a lot of it is in the mind. In my view studying for PMP® exam has been made more complicated than necessary.

Here is what you really need to achieve your PMP® goal –

  1. good study resources – choose this based on how you like to learn – visually, audio-based, or book-based
  2. get a mentor and workout a study plan – helps keep you rooted to your plan and maintain study pace
  3. study every single day – you will move faster than you imagine when you keep making daily progress (baby steps!)

Just go get it.

I wish you good luck,

Srija Srivastava, PMP



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