I’m glad to inform you that I cleared my PMP exam on my first attempt with an overall score of “Above Target” on 2nd September.
My score in the four domains Initiation, Planning, Execution & Monitoring, and Controlling were “Above Target.” In the “Closing” domain, I got “Target.” The overall result was, “Above Target.”
Background and Study Plan
I work for an IT organization, managing IT infrastructure projects. The PMP certification was on my mind for quite some time. Finally, I made up my mind to start working towards a PMP certification during the December break of 2019. I enrolled for SimpliLearn for my virtual classes and training, finished it in the first week of Feb. 2020, and earned my 35 PDUs by completing SimpliLearn’s defined criteria. The criteria were to submit one project out of two, for which you get proper instructions. The project you submit is reviewed for completeness and correctness. You then need to clear at least 1 out of 7 mock exams (total 1400 practice questions) with a score of 80% or above to earn your 35 PDUs.
I earned my contact hours by mid-March 2020 and then submitted my application. I felt I was on target. But then we were hit by COVID-19. I was distracted and became relaxed, as PMI extended the new exam’s launch to Jan 2021. I spent most of my time on office work and with my family trying to settle down in the new norm of “lockdown.” It was only at the end of May 2020 when I resumed my studies. I used to wrap up my office work by 11:00 PM every day and then start with my PMP studies for an average of 3 – 4 hours each day without a miss. I maintained the rhythm until the second week of August. After developing some confidence, I booked my exam in the first week of September.
Below are the materials I referenced, which includes both free and paid online resources for mock tests.
1) PM Study Circle question bank (400 PMP practice questions – 2 sets, paid questions) – These questions are very helpful in building your concepts, and the detailed explanations to each answer clarify the many doubts you may have. Apart from these questions, Fahad was instrumental in responding to any additional queries I had and explained concepts over email. I’m thankful to Fahad for extending all possible help to me.
2) Whizlabs 1200 questions. It is another source for 1200 questions for 9.95 USD or less (I was lucky to get a 50% discount). These questions will help you with inputs, tools & techniques, outputs, and other concepts.
4) 120 free PMP practice questions by PM PrepCast. If you register with PM PrepCast, you will get another 60 free practice questions. The actual PrepCast practice test simulator has approx. One thousand six hundred questions, but it was expensive – at least it was for me at USD 139; however, with a discount, it is USD 125. But the free sample practice questions are excellent.
5) Udemy (PMP practice questions by Tridib Roy, Paid resource) – Excellent questions and explanations.
6) Please don’t forget that you get 200 free PMP practice questions from PMI after paying your exam fee. If you haven’t received those free practice questions, please use the chat feature on pmi.org (or contact PMI) to ask for the free practice questions. Practice them well and spend time understanding each question. The majority of the questions on the real exam match that standard.
A week before my PMP exam, I took the free practice exam available on the SimpliLearn website and scored 86% in 2 hours 35 minutes. However, in the real exam, I took 3 hours, 45 minutes, to answer all 200 questions. The majority of the questions on the actual exam were undoubtedly tricky, and some matched the standard of the PM Study Circle question bank.
The bottom line is, there are no shortcuts or tricks to crack the exam. One has to be consistent and regular in their studies and needs to have a good understanding of concepts laid down in PMBOK. It took me an average of 3 to 4 hours of study daily for approximately three months (along with my office work) to be exam ready. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to set a threshold. One may take less time (or more) for preparation and score better; it varies with the individual.
One must develop a good understanding of how the 49 processes interact and understand concepts in each process group. It is also essential that you review the questions you are unsure of or that you incorrectly answer while taking mock tests and spend time analyzing, building, and correcting your concepts.
Don’t forget to have a sound sleep the night before your exam. I spent time with family, watched my favorite movie, and had a sound sleep before my exam.
I hope this helps.