Monday, August 4, 2008

Passing PMP in 20 days of complete commitment

For friends and family who just want to hear the news, I passed :) I'm officially a PMP now…. I caught one of the stars I wanted to catch….. one of the stars I had hanging in my room for a long time now.. Thanks for the great support and words of encouragment.… for PMP aspirants who need to get insight from my experience and lessons learnt please continue reading..

My journey towards the PMP started as soon as I started work almost 4 years ago, when I felt attracted to the multidisciplinary aspect of project management profession. My work was and still is directly related to the profession. I took the first training in project management and started keeping track of the projects I work on to make sure that I will be ready to fill the demanding application when I complete the eligibility requirements of work and graduate from my BA. Through my work, I tried as much as possible to practice PMI standards and best practices to keep the knowledge I gained from training fresh and aligned with real life experience.
When I completed 3 years of work on projects, and graduated I decided to take an exam preparation course and take the exam right after it, I was hoping to be one of the youngest having this certification, since I had my work experience parallel to my BA. I took the training last year and couldn’t for various reasons do the exam right after.
After a long road of procrastination, and delays for valid and non valid reason… On my 23rd birthday (May 13th 2008) I scheduled my exam to be on August 3rd 08. I made sure to schedule it in a time where I would be able to take days off from work and MBA.
Off course I set a very optimistic schedule which required from me a daily study of an hour or 2 since the exam schedule date, I didn’t stick to the schedule set. I wasn’t taking it seriously, and I was too confident that it would be an easy exam and will not require much effort …… I had allot of work to do… and other MBA exams to study…. UNTIL… I called the Prometric testing site in Jordan early July, to check that my schedule is confirmed with them exactly just like I set it online….. and the lady confirmed and asked me to bring the eligibility letter, passport, and schedule notice. Also informed me that the exam is 4 hours, and that the result will be shown immediately!! OMG, are you sure? Immediately? You mean as soon as I finish it? She said yes, and I just felt like telling her, ok thanks I need to go study immediately! It seems more serious than I expected, I wonder why I don’t remember I heard this information earlier!! I guess subconsciously the idea of setting for the exam became more serious when I knew the result is immediate, that I will not wait another month to get a result which I can say I didn’t study well, I had circumstances and do the blame game… I had to be responsible, its immediate!! That call was seriously my first PMP adrenaline rise which caused me to get stressed!! Which is OK, and HEALTHY in my opinion especially when compared to my state of "self confidence" ! :)
So I decided to do more research, ask people who passed the exam, who trained me.. who know more… what is there advice for me… any advice… on exam… on ways of studying … anything…
So I called Ammar Mango… who was the first person to teach me project management skills 3 years ago when I wasn't yet eligible to take the exam…. As much as I was impressed by Ammar as a trainer, who never fails to make you fully grasp the knowledge, the spirit, and application of the project management profession with all his passion for the subject , real life experience examples and sense of humor. Ammar is defiantly a project manager enabler! Ammar gave me allot of time on the phone, and later face to face to answer all my questions and concerns regarding the exam, effective ways of studying, and Ammar's online training which I then considered to make it part of my exam preparation, after I knew from Ammar more about it.
Studying strategy
My studying inspiration was based on what James said in the first class last year in an exam preparation training I took in DC, I AM , I CAN , I WILL! I had to read this sign several times a day to get my thoughts, mind , and heart to full commitment to study hard. As James says, to STAY ON PURPOSE!

I had so much commitment for studying, which I only remember having when I did my O LEVEL GCE exams!! It was very hard to go through the PMBOK , thus I followed Ammar's suggestion of doing the online course then reading the PMBOK.
Online training: the best decision I did this year after the decision of scheduling the exam! Was taking Method online training, which goes by processes, displays information that is in the PMBOK in a form much easier to grasp, in points ,in visual tools, accompanied by the excellent explanation provided by Ammar in his calm clear voice. (which can be in English or Arabic, depending on the chosen language) So Ammar explains while you see the slides, which is a great way of learning, since it involves more than one sense, listening and seeing. It's much easier than holding the book to read and read endlessly not being sure if what you understood is true or not. And with limited time to study, you can take the online training in the middle of the night or early in the morning depending on your biological clock to make sure you have full concentration and understanding.

My method of using the online training was taking the training, while the PMBOK is opened on the related process described, I use highlighters and post it notes on the pages to add the information that Ammar is saying which is not justified or detailed enough in the PMBOK, so that when I read the PMBOK I would refer to these notes to recall what was said in the online training and link ideas. This makes the PMBOK by the time I finish studying, along with several flash cards I prepared the complete studying material which covers almost everything.
Reading the PMBOK after the training was magical, paragraphs which failed to make sense or sink before the training, are completely understood and mentally linked to other parts process or knowledge areas to make complete integrated picture.
The beauty of the online training, is that you feel as if someone is staying up late with you to teach you, and it is not as demanding as reading through a book. It's actually allot of fun, and so effective.
If anyone has taken training long time ago, like I did, last year, I think you need this online training, though my work is directly related as I said, depending on your memory of what you learnt long time ago, and how you manage things is not enough to pass. You need to grasp how PMI wants you to manage projects not how you do it. which is something you can clearly grasp from Ammar's training which concentrates on the spirit of the PMI in a beautiful way through learning… knowing the right answer becomes natural and instinct… It's a course I would recommend as a core source for studying the exam.
I also read through training course materials I had from exam preparation course, specially the stuff that I felt were explained more thoroughly there
PMP preparation for me wasn't a part time activity, I took the time off from work to make sure I put my full commitment and time for this purpose.
My browser home page was the PMHUB, which I would check whenever I open the browser (several times a day) I would check new PMPs lessons learnt, and try to solve some questions from their questions bank ( that's how I spent my break time! ).

I was very aware of how critical things can get if any negative risk happened in those 20 days, thus I tried my best to take good care of my health, committed to the daily vitamins which I never committed to before. I knew how spoiled I can get when I get ill, and I wanted to try my best to lower the probability of that risk occurring by performing several risk mitigation techniques like staying warm and eating good. My health precautions included drinking much water, to not get dehydrated, stopping any caffeinated drinks ( No coffee no Tea) since I read that it decreases concentration. ( can you imagine? I was that committed , Mais stopped COFFEE!!! )

My recommendations
I recommend Ammar's training, as a first phase of studying since it covers PMBOK and out of PMBOK information that is required in the exam. And you will see it popping up in the exam frequently, where you will feel like "Ammar you are the best!"
Read the PMBOK once
Solve at least 1 complete simulation exam (200 questions). I found PMSTUDY exam very close to real PMP exam, close in terms of difficulty, percentage of easy exams to hard exams, number of questions requiring calculations..etc.. after first exam, my second PMP adrenaline rise happened, since I wasnt satisfied with 66% as result
Read the PMBOK again, you will notice your concentration will drift to areas that exam questions made you aware of its importance or ways it can be questioned.
Solve more and more questions.
Note: Researching any term that you pass by in the PMBOK as a tool, management criteria, delegation, power, and specially quality issues or those which the PMHUB mentions as important in lessons learnt by PMPs is essential, for that I used Google and Wikipedia .
A day before the exam do a revision of your weak areas, important points. One of the great sources of revision I found was for blogger Sridhar from the US.
During the exam
I was very confident, I knew I studied well. I was thinking IAM, I CAN, I WILL
Took first 12 minutes to write down page 70 of PMBOK, and memory dump of all equations that I memorized which can were summed up all in Sridhar's blog . this guy is so smart, he didn’t miss any rule.
I took 2 hours of the exam, questions seemed easy, but I got so bored… and was ahead of time in terms of question solving… took around 7 minutes break, ate KITKAT :) and drank some water!
Got back finished exam 50 minutes early, revised marked questions. Felt very confident that I will pass the exam and thanks God after seconds of waiting for the result which felt like an hour of waiting where my third PMP Adrenaline rise happened to its peak... I did it ... I passed the exam.
Allow me to sign my name like I dreamt to one day 4 years ago
Mais Irqsusi, PMP


Sridhar Peddisetty said...


Congratulations!!! and we are very happy for you. More heartening is to know that my notes were helpful in a way and I guess my intent of sharing them are vindicated. I appreciate that.
All the very best for your future endeavors Mais.


Doomish said...

Oi, you are a pmp now?
i think that is so sweet

Congratz Ms. PMP curlz :-)

PM Hut said...

It is very impressive that you're 23 (from what I've read in your post) and you're now a PMP. I think a bright future lies ahead. Congratulations!

Mais said...

Sridhar, thanks, your notes which were certainly very useful.
Doomish, thanks for the ongoing support for me to get my PMP!
PM hut : thanks... lets hope so ;)

Deena said...

mabrooooooooooooooook! hehehehehehe how annoying would I be if I say "I told you so"? loooool
Great to hear the fantastic news!!! You really desrve it you worked incredibly hard!! Mabrook Mais Irqsusi, PMP :)

Mais said...

Thanks Deedee, you can never be annoying, even if you try hard :) you did tell me... :) hugs

Maruti2Ferrari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maruti2Ferrari said...

That is such a great inspirational blog. In fact, I completed my PMP on Jan 5, 09 with preparation of almost 20 days only.... I was goin through Sridhar's blog and his PMP notes. And then went through all the comments where I found link to this blog.

I loved each bit of your blog. The fact is I got complete faith and confidence in myself as I read this blog just a day before my PMP exam!!

Cheers and thanks again :) :)

Mais said...

Maruti2Ferrari: i'm glad my personal reflection was of use for you... congradulations for the PMP... isn't it cool...

Jums said...

My God! It is so very motivating and inspirational to read your blogs. Each one of you are just so determined and it feels great to read how others honestly achieved this milestone! I am a PMP aspirant and just started studying...great work!

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Nathaniel @ pmp exam questions said...

Congratulations for passing the PMP exam! And it's great that you are sharing with us your experience.

Thanks for the post. Keep it up!

Andrew said...

First of all Congraaaaaaaaaaaaatz!Thanks a lot for sharing your learning and experiences with your readers.