I passed the CAPM on 4/29/2019 with an Above Target in all processes except Procurement where I was at Target! I would not have passed if I had not used the PM PrepCast videos and exam simulator, so thanks very much to Mr. Cornelius Fichtner and team for creating these wonderful products!!
I started studying at the end of January 2019 and had almost no prior experience with project management. I work full time in sales and studied about 1 hour during my lunch break, 1.5 hours after work and 2-6 hours on the weekend depending on what was going on. I graduated university back in 2017 so studying for standardized tests is still very familiar to me. I knew when I started I knew I would need guided videos in order to stay on track. Mind you, I still got off track by about a month, but that was my own fault for not setting a test date. I really needed that firm date to keep the pressure on to study and get things done.
Learning the Material:
I exclusively used the PM Prep Cast videos to learn the PMBOK material. I’d watch the videos and take notes during each lesson. I would do the 15-20 questions self-assessments at the end of each Knowledge Area and write down the answers to any questions I missed.
3+ Weeks Prior to Exam Date:
After learning all the information I then started going through and doing practice exams and questions. I started with using the PM Prepcast Exam simulator to create 15-30 question quizzes in each Knowledge Area. This was a nice easy lead in for learning how their questions were worded and figuring out test taking strategies. I wasn’t thrilled with my scores on the Prepcast exam simulator, so I got a second CAPM exam simulator from PMTraining.com to supplement and improve my scores. I would do 1-2 practice exams on the weekend to mimic the testing environment. I right before the exam I has about an average of 73% on Prep Cast and an average of 85% on PMTraining.
**I did find that the PM Prep Cast questions were a lot more challenging than the actual exam. I found PMTrianing’s questions to be the most similar to the actual exam questions. PrepCast’s reasons/answers to questions were a lot more detailed and more helpful than the PMTrainings. I found both to be excellent for studying, but they each have their strengths and weaknesses.**
Try to go bed early and got a good nights’ sleep, cramming at this point isn’t going to help you retain any more information. Make sure to eat a good breakfast or at least a snack before the exam. Drink some water too, you don’t want to be dehydrated during the exam.
I arrived about 45 minutes early to the testing facility (this was mostly by accident as I had almost no traffic) and checked in. Arriving early helped me stay calm as I knew I had enough time to find the testing center and there was no chance I would be late. The facility was pretty empty and I ended up being able to check-in and get started on the exam right away.
There is a 15 minute tutorial to go through at the beginning of the exam, which show you basic information in regards to reviewing flagged questions, how to use the calculator in the testing application, etc. The 15 minute tutorial does not count towards your exam time, so just take your time and go through so you are familiar with the testing environment.
Once the tutorial was completed I took about 10 minutes to write down all the formulas, but I did not do a brain dump for the exam. The brain dump method personally just stresses me out with trying to remember everything, but I see the benefit others find in it (I did try it while doing mock exams to check pacing, so I would recommend to practice and see what works best for you).
After the formulas, I started on the exam. Make sure to read each question carefully, so you fully understand what is being asked. I have a lot of test taking anxiety so to help with that I go through a method during lengthy exams. For this test I did 50 questions, 3 minute break, 50 questions, 5 min break, 50 questions, bathroom break to stretch (might depend on where/how you are taking the exam if you will be able to do this) and then review of flagged questions. I answered questions I knew right away and flagged any that I was deliberating on. Time was not an issue. Before I reviewed flagged questions I had about 70 minutes left on the exam and I had gone through the questions pretty slowly compared to my practice tests.
Over the test questions were pretty easy compared to the PM PrepCast Exam simulator. I think if you are score consistently well ~70% upwards and you know the material (not guessing on most questions), you should be able to pass on your first attempt. I had 2-3 formula questions and they were not tricky. I would review the PMI talent triangle as well as the different project environments (predicative, waterfall, agile, etc.) and how they are different to each other. For the ITTOs I did not have every single process memorized. I would say to make sure you know the major ones, like how the milestone list is an output from the Define Activities process, but you can likely guess that the project management plan is an input to the Define Activities process as well. Make sure to know the difference between input vs tool vs output. Additionally it was beneficial to know the flow of work performance data to working performance information to work performance reports and all the associated processes.
Thing I Wish I Had Done Differently:
I was REALLY reluctant to read the PMBOK. I figured that Cornelius went over everything in the videos so why bother with this giant book, right?! Nope! I should’ve just read along or at the end of each Knowledge area video section. Instead I ended up spending reading a chapter a night and about 4 chapters on the weekend just prior to the test. Reading the book really helped if not to only be familiar with the PMBOK wording. It also really cemented several items that I was previously having a lot of trouble with. The only chapter I didn’t end up reading was the Procurement chapter and that is reflected in my score. Don’t be like me and procrastinate, just read the book as you finish each Knowledge area. It is not that bad of read once you have the basics down from Cornelius’ videos.
I also should’ve set a date for the test as soon as I meet the requirements. Not doing this caused me to delay in studying and practicing for the exam.
Thing I’m Glad I did:
Do as many practice exams and practice questions as possible and don’t do them all from only one source! I used both PM Prep Cast exam simulator as well as PMTraining.com. It’s important to do questions from PMI certified vendors. This means you will have to pay for them, but at least you know the questions will be on par and contain correct information for the exam. That being said I’d much rather pay $60 for exam questions and pass the first time rather than pay for a retest. Total I think I did 1600 questions of practice.
For missed practice questions, spend the same amount of time as you did on the exam and go through each question to understand why you got it wrong. There was not one question on my exam that was the same as any of the 1600 practice questions I did. It’s obvious important to know the material, not just the right answer. Know the WHY!
Long post, but hopefully it helps you on your CAPM journey.
Good Luck on your exam!!!