Why Passing the PMP Matters?

Yes, it is just another examination. Just another certification that the competitive world values. I kept telling myself this as a few days passed after I cleared the examination. As I celebrated my new accomplishment in the solitariness of current times and lifestyles, I wondered why it mattered so much to me.

It was only after giving it some thought that I realized that too many of my accomplishments were either based out of a structured curriculum or things that I never valued. When I earned top appraisals at work, I never felt exceptionally elated as I considered that effort a basic level of discipline and ethics that I should be bringing into my work. To me, that was just validation of my contributions and I was satisfied that my management valued what I brought into my project management role.

Accomplishments taste sweetest to only the individual who has put in the sacrifices and is aware of what one went through to attain that moment towards which everything was aimed at. To me the PMP was not only an examination. I did not treat it as a validation for my knowledge. I have had a brief career of six years, I am still in my twenties and all of it has been spent in project management. Out of all the myriad interests I have had, this was the one field that made sense to me.

The PMP certification was not only a journey of earning a certification but I could finally give insight into the work that I had been doing for six years in my professional role. As organizations differ, so does the scope of project management and the manner of it. Today I am able to appreciate it because of the time I spent reading and understanding the global standards of project management.

It was in the summer of 2019 that I decided that I would solidify my career in project management and I soon sought a training centre in my city. I completed the 35-hour contact class (one of the three pre-requisites for the exam) in June of 2019. Beginning studies from the PMBOK Guide was never my idea as I wanted to pay due diligence to the trainer’s study materials and understand the PMP language from an overview first.

It was only after a month of covering the trainer’s materials that I moved onto the PMBOK Guide. Contrary to popular opinions of it being drab, I found it rather interesting as I was using it to build upon the layers of the trainer’s materials and my real-world experience of managing new vehicle development projects in the automobile sector. Of course, due to my ongoing project, there were hefty interruptions in studies as I travelled continuously. It was only in February 2020 that I could complete understanding the entire PMP process from the guide, the book by Rita Mulcahy along with some practice questions.

I might have given the exam back in April but then COVID happened. Embroiled by a new enforced challenging lifestyle, things grinded to a halt again. I was moved to a new role in my job after earning a fast track promotion and the PMP was another endeavour begun but not finished. As the revised PMI deadline approached, I lost sleep at night: I cannot let all that effort of preparation and studies go to waste, I said to myself night after night as I failed to reprise my studies. So, in October I applied, paid the exam fees and sat for the exam in November. I took one month to recap everything and do close to 1500 practice questions from mock exams.

Sometimes, it is important to up the stakes to draw out the best from within ourselves. The exam is expensive and only after I booked my day of destiny did I feel that drive within me wherein I picked up the studies for a third time for the final run.

Clearing the PMP remains an unparalleled feeling for me. It is the start of a journey, but getting the “Congratulations” screen at the end of the examination was the joyous ending to an endeavour started a year and a half back.

A few tips for anyone who might take the exam in the remaining two weeks of the sixth edition (these are generic points, so I hope these are relevant in the next generation of the exam as well):

  • Take the exam if you feel confident that your knowledge base is robust and your thought process is in line of what PMI expects from PMP candidates. Do not hesitate.
  • Read everything, every word. Do not get into the habit of reading only keywords and answering.
  • Do not stress yourself over the length of the exam. While it is an endurance test, one would naturally have enhanced concentration during the exam.
  • Do not stress during the exam by thinking if you are doing good or bad. As long as you are certain that the option you chose was the best in your opinion, you should be right.
  • Once again, be confident and remain confident. It is a psychological battle. If you win the mental war, you will sail through the exam.
  • Practice mock exams from various sources as each focus on different approaches. The goal of mocks is to widen your ability to think.
  • Mock scores: if you get between 70 to 75%, you are good to go. Only thing be certain, that your errors are more due to incorrect question interpretation than incorrect thought process. The questions in the exam are quite unlike in mocks and are very generic. So, with a well-aligned thought process, you should not have too much issues.

Clearing the PMP takes intent and hard work and as it is believed in the PM community, it is something to be happy about and build upon. I wish anyone reading this yet to take the exam the best of luck. Personally, while there is a long career in front of me for handling more projects, going forward I would like to take an active stance in sharing my own experiences as I now embark on interacting with a community experienced immensely and widely in project management.

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Kaustav Ganguly

Kaustav Ganguly

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Enjoy the ability to create. Appreciate and respect the chance to learn.