Student Profile: Robert Preston, PMP
I have been doing professional project work for about 15 years, first as Systems Admin for a hotel development group and more recently on software implementations. It was an easy step for me to add the PMP certifications since I was already knee deep in project work. The PMP was always in the back of my mind to achieve and when my PMP certified friend came down for a visit, I was sold, time to spring into action.
I was sent the link to PMP prepcast and watched a couple of times and then enrolled in a PMP 1 month classroom hosted by our local PMI chapter last spring which used a study kit called Crosswinds (books, CDs, and flash cards with online tests) and the classroom was too fast paced for me, I did not feel as if it was beneficial to my style of learning. Shortly after that, after I did not pass the test, I spent about a year battling medical issues and my PMP plan was back on the shelf.
This spring I made enough progress to get back to concentrating and started studying again. This time I ordered PM prepcast as my core go to and loaded up my iPod and would listen to the podcast in order on my walks, and then come back and watch the video on my computer. Major learning curve increase. I also picked up some names of books from interviews on prepcast and ordered from Amazon. The Andy Crowe book was the perfect fit for the prepcast so I could go thru each chapter along with my prepcast , so about a week for each chapter to stick and then start the next chapter the next week. I also like that I got the contact hours I needed from the prepcast as I was originally told I had to take the classroom Prep to get those hours. I ended up with double the amount I needed.
I also started a "plan" in Microsoft Project to study for the PMP so I could learn the software while I was studying. this was huge for me since it seems these two go hand in hand for project work. It also went really far in understanding some concepts that the books and tapes cover, but never mention any software titles to go try it out on. Once I reached the end of the Crowe book and prepcast, I started to learn the core memorization of formulas and key concepts. I then started a second go around of Crowe, prepcast and PMBOK. I used the PMBOK to strengthen and re-enforce was I was picking up from book and prepcast. The most difficult part of my studies was having to start over again after a year but I did learn what I needed to do. Key is to join PMI.org, lots of good material there, and discount for test makes it just about free. My recommendations in summary:
1) Round 1: ( a week on avg per chapter, some are short, can get 2 in) used PM prepcast and Crowe book, and short chapter exams.
2) Round 2: PM prepcast for reference, PMBOK for reference, Andy Crowe book again, lots of scribbles in book and notes, online test sites (exam central.net, pmzilla.com etc). also, app store on ITUNES has a bunch of free apps for PMP study and at night and morning I would blow thru 20 questions.
3) Round 3: 3 weeks before test: memorize formulas and key concepts, practice getting your formulas and concepts down on paper for exam, plan on taking at least 4-5 full 4 hour exams. allows you to plan what works for you and time your breaks, etc.
4) Day of Test. I used the "If I don't know it right away or its a formula, then tag it for review" methodology. That plan came from PM-prepcast and had used on my practice exams so already had my plan in place.
The PM-prepcast really is the best learning tool, it has the advantage of being portable on smartphone or iPod , especially if you jog, workout or do long walks (perfect time to start working out since they go hand in hand and your brain needs the oxygen anyway). Whats missing? I think the big hole here is NOT being able to use Microsoft Project so an additional add-on course or videos would be a huge help for those of use who did not use it before.
#1 recommendation: use the 85% rule. keep studying the chapter, prepcast, formula, etc and practice exam until you can consistently score 85% or better then move on. No matter what you do, the PMP exam uses terminology in questions that can be confusing or that you have not seen or heard before. I marked those for review and on my 2nd pass thru, went thru the formula questions and then had about 5 of those questions left with 15 mins to go, giving me 3 mins per, before I was forced to guess.