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TOPIC: CAPM Passed Yesterday

CAPM Passed Yesterday 1 week 5 days ago #23862

  • Brittany Stueber
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Hi everyone,
I'm very happy to say that I passed yesterday with Above Target in all areas. If you have seen any of my comments on anyone else's posts, I admittedly was feeling discouraged at the beginning of the week and was worried that I might not pass my Saturday test. I decided to turn that frustration into drive, and doubled down on studying my ITTOs.

First, here is the method I used for studying. See below Lessons Learned, as I would do things a tad differently if I had it to do all over again.
1. I read each section of PMBOK and took very thorough notes in my notebook (because I knew I would do my really hard studying from my notebook). Then, I would watch the PMPrepCast corresponding video and add in any additional notes to each section. I took each chapter quiz.
2. After completing the entire thing, I started the study process. I began this by reading the Standard for Project Management (pg. 541 of PMBOK). I especially focused on the process groups summaries beginning on pg. 561. This was a good refresher. I also read the Appendix on Agile/Iterative/Adaptive Project Environments (pg. 665), Summary of Key Concepts for KAs (pg. 673), and the Glossary Definitions (pg. 698). This material is gold - do not skip it!
3. I re-read my notebook, thoroughly, two times on separate days (this took hours each time to do).
4. I watched the YouTube video PMBOK® Guide 6th Ed Processes Explained with Ricardo Vargas! and utilized his process map. There are two versions, the simplified and the one with all the ITTOs. I printed a giant version of the detailed one and Frankenstein taped it all together because it's too small to read even printed on 11 x 17. I used the process map to really hone into the flow of everything and reviewed it over and over so I could "see" it in my head when I would think about where a process falls. I also found this very helpful to start identifying commonalities and patterns among the processes. For example, all of the M&C processes have Work Performance Data as inputs, Work Performance Information as outputs. All of the Plan ___ Management processes have Project Charter as inputs. So on and so forth. Seeing those "rules" will help you as well.
I have attached the docs here for you, but you can also download them here.
5. I started taking the PMPrepCast CAPM Exam Simulator tests. My first one, I scored 70%. I took the next one a few days later and scored 74%. I also took the Exam 4 ITTO test, and scored 88% (this I did after doing #6 below!) In between, I also played with the timed/learning quizzes. Let me emphasize that the Exam Simulate is a MUST!
6. I needed dedicated study to just the ITTOs, so I actually made little flash cards where I wrote any outputs that are unique to one process and on the back wrote what process it's from. I drilled on this several times a day till I could get through the whole deck without a mistake.
7. I "power-crammed" my notebook the night before/day of the exam going back through and reading the critical elements (mainly the descriptions of what's contained in each of the management plans and the info surrounding any of the unique outputs for the processes). I also re-read the sections in #2 above (except for the Glossary).

WHEW! Okay, so that was what I did. Here are my Lessons Learned, after having been through the entire thing:
  • I wish I could've found the Ricardo Vargas process map at the very start of this journey. Literally before I even opened PMBOK. If you are reading this as someone who's just beginning, I highly recommend you pause and watch this video and look at his process flow. He presents it in a more logical fashion than PMBOK, in my opinion. It goes by the process groups rather than the knowledge areas. Personally, this was what I didn't know I had needed the entire time! When I saw it, it was just "click!" It honestly (I think) made the difference for me because of how my brain works. Once you have that foundation, it will be so much easier to learn it from PMBOK.
  • I need to clarify that the reason I took such super thorough notes is because my copy of PMBOK is from the library. Even though you can get a free PDF of one if you join PMI as a paid member, I highly HIGHLY recommend you get your own physical PMBOK and simply highlight/underline/note take in there. This would've said me an insane amount of time instead of taking notes on a whole 1.5 inch thick textbook. I'm surprised my hand is still attached to my body!
  • Do not be discouraged by FAIL on the Exam Simulator! I can tell you now in hindsight that these tests are much harder than the real thing, so they are excellent prep. If you can do well on those, your chances are much better than you think of passing the real exam.
  • Do give lots of study consideration to adaptive/agile. Please read the section on the considerations for this in each of the chapters, as well as the appendix section I named above. You will need to know this information!
  • I will say that there were several questions on the exam that just made me go "Huh?!" and honestly no matter how hard I thought through, read and re-read, I couldn't feel like I had a solid reason to choose an answer. I made my best judgment call and moved on. Don't freak out over a few questions - even with that happening, I still did Above Target in every section.
  • Test method itself. If you want to do it at a test center, schedule as early in advance as you can to not get shut out. If you do it online, have your cell phone with you for the check-in process. See more below!

In terms of the actual exam, I did it at home online. I personally was not thrilled with the experience. It's stressful to worry that my neighbor might pick exam time to go work on his fence outside my window. Or that the internet could go out, etc. It was also very stressful not knowing exactly how the check-in would go, and in my world it went much bumpier than ever expected. My biggest lesson learned of all of this is to take the exam at a test center! (I did want to, but it was totally booked already probably due to limited capacity right now, and I didn't want to wait any longer to take the exam. Plus I figured at home would be better with no mask.)

Here's why I will take my PMP exam at a test center:
- I took my test on a desktop PC with a webcam I bought specifically for this. Webcams plug in with a USB cord, so you are limited by the cord length. This became an issue because the proctor company seems to assume everyone is doing this on a laptop that's easily mobile. You'll understand what I mean as I go on.
- I naturally assumed while I was preparing my work station and office to comply with the rules, that cell phones would not be allowed even in the room. This is incorrect, and you should actually have your phone present during check-in (but have it completely out of arm's length - it's just there in case you need it, like I did). I am not sure why they don't advise this in the emails! To set the stage here, I was in the office with the door closed and my phone was in the living room.
- When I did the check-in, I realized that you can have your phone, and that they expect you to. (And in hindsight should've went right then to go grab it because it was not in "exam lockdown mode" yet.) To take the pic of my driver's license, it lets you choose to use your phone or your webcam. I chose webcam for obvious reasons, but had an issue that my webcam would not focus clearly on my driver's license. It was blurry after several retakes. It allowed me to submit it nonetheless, so I thought I was okay. It moved on to the section where you have to show your work station. I'd imagined that there would be a live proctor on a video chat and I would just be able to talk to him/her and pick my webcam off my monitor and scan the room for them and them tell me if they wanted to inspect anything. It's totally different. It's not interactive. You are prompted just by a screen (no person involved) to take photos of front/back/sides of your workstation. Doing this with a webcam attached to the PC tower by a 4-ft cord is very difficult! I actually had to have my husband step into the room to help me because you can't be on one side of the room taking a photo of your whole desk while also clicking the button on the computer screen to snap the photo! Again, had I had my cell phone this all could've been avoided! I was able to get the photos submitted and then it goes to a screen where you begin being recorded and the 'lockdown' rules of the exam now apply - no leaving the screen, no one entering the test space, etc.
- It said on this screen that the exam would begin within 15 minutes and that a proctor will contact you if there's any issue with your check-in. I sat there, and sat there, and wondered. I was super paranoid that they were trying to call my cell due to the problem with my blurry license photo (you have to verify your phone number during check in) and that I was missing the calls because my phone was in the living room. But because I was in the time period where I could not leave the screen, I was too afraid to move. So I just waited. Thankfully, finally a proctor IM'd me on-screen (and no, they had not been trying to call) but there was an issue due to my license photo. I explained that I couldn't get a better pic with my webcam and did not have my cell phone in the room. I was allowed then to quickly go get it, and go through a process where they texted my phone a link and I was able to photograph my ID that way. All of this caused my exam to kick off 15 minutes past my start time and with me nearly in a panic attack that I had to calm down from. It really wasn't a huge deal, but because PMI makes such a point to emphasize that you can be disqualified so easily, it makes a person really afraid to make the wrong move. Moral of the story: HAVE YOUR PHONE DURING CHECK-IN!
- Another funny thing, I got pinged by IM by another proctor because I was resting my elbow on the chair's arm and had my hand on my chin/mouth while I was thinking. I got told no covering the mouth and no touching the ears. From that point forward, I felt rather uncomfortable and felt like I had to sit poker straight and not move. Every time my nose itched I was afraid I'd get yelled at again. It made me very uncomfortable. I understand that they really have to watch because people are at home and therefore a much higher risk of cheating, but it's unsettling to feel like you're suspected of cheating.
- In case anyone is wondering, yes, you do have the ability to flag questions on the exam to come back to them later. I suggest you do that any time you answer a question that you're not completely sure of. Then at the end you can utilize your time to review as necessary. I finished with a little under an hour left, and I was going quite slowly (and lost time at the beginning due to my anxiety). So don't stress about being timed - you will have enough time.

So, all of that said, it was definitely an experience! I'm so relieved and happy to have passed on the first try, and done myself proud. It's not easy to study and learn as an adult student, so I know what many of you are going through. Be kind to yourselves, be patient, and definitely don't beat yourself up too much like I did there for a while. It will be okay!
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Sanjari Jain, Alegria Lowe

CAPM Passed Yesterday 1 week 5 days ago #23871

  • Elizabeth Harrin
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This is fantastic, thanks so much for coming back and sharing your success story, Brittany! Well done.
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Elizabeth Harrin

CAPM Passed Yesterday 1 week 5 days ago #23874

  • Brittany Stueber
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You're very welcome, Elizabeth! I hope that it helps anyone who can survive reading through it all - ha! ;) I've been very appreciative of other users who've shared awesome tips (like the person who shared the Ricardo Vargas material originally) and I am happy to pay it forward to other CAPM hopefuls!

Good luck, everyone!
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