I passed the PMP exam yesterday! Finally. I was supposed to take the exam in May but had to reschedule due to work commitments that came up after I had scheduled.
My study materials:
PM Prepcast (as a resource and for the contact hours)
PMP Exam Prep (Crowe)
PMP Exam Prep (Rita)
PM Exam Simulator!
PMBOK -- no, I did not read it from cover to cover but to fill gaps or clarify information in the other resources.
Edward Chung's notes mainly to see if there was information not covered in any of my resources
It was a little over a year from the time I started studying to my exam day. Life and work events caused me to postpone my studies a couple of times. It happens and all you can do is stick with it and adjust as necessary! I did get very burned-out toward the end and the material became tedious and boring. I recommend setting a very aggressive timeline and pushing yourself to meet it to avoid burn-out! When I finally refocused my efforts in January 2015, I scheduled my exam for May, which in hindsight should have been March/April as another work event forced me to reschedule from May to June.
I listened to ALL of the PrepCasts first, taking notes along the way and taking the lesson assessments. Once I discovered that the PrepCasts covered the "meat" of the PMBOK, I stopped reading PMBOK and used it as reference only. I read Crowe's exam prep, then Rita's, again taking notes and highlighting passages in the book. By the time I had finished my studies, I had read both books from cover-to-cover twice and listened to most of the prepasts multiple times as well (trick- if you can speed-up the app on your player of choice to 1.5x it not only reduces the amount of time needed to complete each lesson but forces you to pay closer attention). I found Rita's book to be much more comprehensive and Crowe's to be more of a "cliff notes" version of the PMBOK with exercises thrown in to test progress. My original plan was to use Crowe's and PMBOK only, but upon seeing the format of Crowe's book I decided I needed to get another source and picked Rita's. I did not use a study buddy, but would recommend one if you need interaction to learn.
The simulator and practice tests are invaluable! If you're on the fence about whether to pay for a simulator and you have doubts or concerns about the difficulty of the test, I recommend going ahead and making the investment provided you have the $$ to do so. I completed ALL 1800 practice questions and spent over 50 hours in the PM Exam Simulator and after taking the exam yesterday found them to be very much like the exam questions. I did take the Lehmann practice test once but found the way the questions were worded too confusing and it is much more difficult than the actual exam (in my opinion).
Also, I read in a few places that getting 80% or better on the simulator exams is a good indicator of whether you are ready. I think that is a fair assessment based on my experience. I failed my first full 4-hour practice test, but after that I was consistently above 80% on "first seen" questions - which are the only ones that matter since you only get one shot in the exam.
My thoughts on the exam - yes, it's difficult, but maybe not as difficult as I had originally expected. I expected a few questions with some obscure references to materials not found in PMBOK, but (at least my version of the exam) was pretty straight-forward and other than alternate wording for some things, I had seen everything covered either through the prepcasts, books or simulator. I had quite a few "what's next" questions so you need to understand the general order in which processes occur. Also, don't get sucked down the rabbit hole like I did on one question where I failed to read what was really being asked! I spend 3-5 minutes trying to figure out critical path on a question that was only asking what the float on the critical path was -- DUH! My strategy for the exam was to mark the questions I had troubles with and have another look at the end, which was very helpful for the first 10-20 questions because I was so amped-up and it took me that long to settle in. Once I reviewed the marked questions, I reviewed everything once more to make sure I was satisfied with my answers and that I had answered all questions. I did not take a break and ended-up with 15-20 minutes left on the timer when I finished.
ITTO's -- DO NOT try to memorize them unless you have an eidetic memory, there are far too many of them! I agree with Cornelius, understanding the concepts is far more useful and, at least in my version of the exam, memorizing them would have done absolutely nothing to increase my chances of passing. You have to UNDERSTAND where and how they are used. The PM Exam Simulator Test 9 (ITTO only) is good to show where your gaps might be, but I didn't see a single question in the format of "process X has 4 input and xyz are 3 of them -- which one is missing". No, from what I saw they were all based on scenarios and understanding was the only way you could answer the question.
That said, I got two "Proficient", two "Moderately-Proficient" and a "Below Proficient" (closing) but I wasn't looking to break any records, my goal was to pass.
One final note on the exam facility itself, it may be beneficial for you to drive out and even go into the facility before your exam. The testing room at my facility was much too warm for my liking and had I known it was going to be that warm I'd have worn shorts and sandals instead of jeans and tennis shoes.
My brain dump consisted of the Process Group & Knowledge area mapping on page 61 of PMBOK and the formulas. The forumlas proved more useful than the process group mappings as I had numerous questions on earned value and a few on 3-point estimation as well. It was nice not having to recall them during the test, but to have them already written down in the format and order in which I was able to memorize them. As stated by many others, know what you NEED on your brain dump and practice writing that information until you can duplicate it flawlessly and quickly! It took me 3-4 days to get the process chart, then I added a few of the formulas until I was able to get the chart plus the formulas, and every few days I'd add a few more formulas until I had them all.
If you can only afford to buy one, I'd recommend Rita's over Crowe's because it is more comprehensive (at least I thought so) and I found the exercises in Rita's to be more helpful plus there are more of them. I would classify Crowe's book more of a high level overview and a very condensed version of the PMBOK.
Both books offer great exam tips (as does the Prepcast) and both have excellent sections specifically for earned value and critical path. I don't think you'll go wrong with either, but I preferred Rita's. I'm sure others out there will have different opinions on which materials are best and at the end of the day it going to be a matter of preference for each individual.
You won't regret your decision to purchase the simulator!
Moderators: Yolanda Mabutas, Ahmed Amin, Scott Gillard, Mary Kathrine Padua, ERIC BARTLETT, Gail Freedman, Kevin Nason, Steven Mudrinich, PMP, Mark Wuenscher, PMP, John Wolverton, Tracy Shagnea, PMP, Jada Garrett
This interview with Simona Fallavollita (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the magnificient Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. We discuss the how, what, why and when of the changes that are coming to the PMP exam.