PMI Bangalore Chapter

PM Guest Article February 2021

How to prepare for and clear PMP in the first attempt

Somashekar N T

Somashekar is a Project Portfolio Manager with 18 plus years of experience with leading brands like Diageo, Capco Technologies (Consultant for HSBC), Crisil GRA Poland (Consultant for Credit Suisse), Deutsche Bank, Thomson Financials. He is certified in PMP, Prince2 Practitioner, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, PPAC, PSM1, and ITIL foundation. He has also trained colleagues on Project Management methodologies, Six Sigma, and Design thinking.

Hi, could you please introduce yourself?

Hi, I am Somashekar. I have 18 plus years of experience in change management and pre-sales, working with major brands like Thomson Financials, Deutsche Bank, Crisil GRA, Credit Suisse Capco, and HSBC. I lead the Process, Methods, and Tools in my current role with Diageo as Projects Portfolio Manager.

What inspired you to pursue Project Management? Is it your passion or profession?

During the initial years of my career, I was working in an operations team. While performing the regular tasks, we realized the same functions could be achieved more effectively to derive better value for the organization and use my time better; that was my entry in Change Management. I started as a BA and then paved my path into Project Management. I would say it was the eagerness to make better use of my time and the organization’s resources that inspired me.

Project / Change management has enabled me to move into different domains/verticals/industries and provide exciting opportunities. It has helped me work across Operations, BFSI & other divisions, Consulting, and now I work with one of the leading Alco Beverage company. Project Management’s love has given me various exciting avenues to showcase my skills, understand different perspectives and develop relevant and impactful solutions.

Share your PMP certification study approach with us.

Training at my workplace a few years ago introduced me to the PMP concepts. During the lockdown last year, with my office commute time being saved, I looked to upskill myself with the specific certifications to enable my current role. This led to brushing up on my old learnings and set a goal to complete PMP certification by the year-end.

I treated appearing for PMP Exam and clearing it as a project. I started by creating a study plan; there were few challenges along the way. Still, a constant review of progress and accepting the situations helped me complete the exam successfully in the first attempt.

My study plan was focused and reasonably straightforward:

1)   Reading –

  • PMBOK – Twice
  • Rita Mulcahy – Twice
  • Headfirst PMP – Once


Earmarking at least 3 to 4 very early morning hours, almost daily. Created notes, flashcards.

Key tips –

  • Avoid memorizing ITTOs or EVM Formulae. Understand the logic and flow.
  • Online content: Refresh your knowledge using recorded videos that are available on PMI and Youtube. There is a PMI online training course as well that we can access once we get a membership. It will help.


2) Mock exam/questions – Did over 2800+ questions; There are a lot of trials free online available mock tests.

3) Application – Easy to update; consider about last three years PM experience.

4) On Exam Day – Logged in 30 mins before to do all the check-in process.

5) Tip for exam –

a) Time Management – I found the countdown timer a bit distracting, having a watch for easier time tracking, targeting 50 questions for 60 mins.

b) Get comfortable using the whiteboard; the windows equivalent would be MS Paint. Also, familiarize using the system calculator. There are no calculators, scribble a note, or pens allowed.

c) No eatables or chewing gum is permitted; however, I kept a bottle of water with myself.

d) After about 90 questions systems, you can review your answers and then take a 10-minute break. However, you will not be able to go back and check the earlier solutions. In the 10 min break, make use to freshen up, stretch, and have a quick snack.

e) Use the Review flags for tricky questions – I used them for the calculation and network diagram related problems.

f) Taking deep breaths and exhaling through the mouth may help to sustain focus and fight fatigue.

g) During the ongoing pandemic, the exams are remote from the comfort of one’s home. Ensure good internet connection and power backup in case of a power outage.

6) On completing the exam, wait for a successful completion message, then login back to OnVue, and you will have your scorecard available.

I cleared my PMP exam with the Above Targets in Dec 2020.

How do you intend to use this PMP certification to spread the love for Project Management?

PMP certification is an enabler to connect with fellow PMPs and speak in a similar context. My earlier certifications like Prince2, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and ITIL have helped me connect with my stakeholders better. I am confident that the gained PMP knowledge will help me add value and better insight into the projects that I work on.

 I firmly believe self-awareness is the first step of creating change. It is crucial to make better use of the skills, time, and resources available. I have endeavored to be a coach, demonstrating the structured Project Management approach’s benefits in my individual and organizational capacity. It is an honor to share my experiences on this path while I continue my learning.