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TOPIC: Passed on first attempt with Above Average in all process groups with 2 months preparation

Passed on first attempt with Above Average in all process groups with 2 months preparation 4 years 11 months ago #12704

  • Kris Olson
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I was thrilled to pass the PMP exam yesterday with Above Average scores across all process groups! Here is the process I followed to achieve this:

- I broke my study preparation time into two phases; the first was the PMP Preparation class I took through my local PMI, and the second was the independent study I did after this, leading up to the final PMP exam
- the PMP prep course took approximately 48 hours and was held every second weekend throughout late Sept/Oct/early Nov
- the intense independent study happened over 7 weeks in Nov/Dec and took approximately 240 hours averaging close to 5 hours per day

- I started out by reading the PMBOK in conjunction with the PMP Exam Preparation classes
- I was only able to download the 6th edition from the PMI site, which is different than the 5th edition which the test is based on
- didn't absorb much from the PMBOK the first time through; it is a hard read and there is too much integration to be able to comprehend much on the first pass
- the class was great for learning about real life project management experiences and tips, but was not nearly enough to prepare me for the PMP exam
- I started doing research online to see how much preparation is typically required to pass the PMP and it was a whole lot more than I had expected
- at the start of November I scheduled my test for Dec 22, giving me 7 weeks for intensive study
- I learned there are several PMP study guides available including Rita, Andy Crowe, Head Start and others
- I bought the Andy Crowe and PMBOK guide and then read both of them, some of the concepts started making better sense
- I started doing all the free practice tests I could find online, as well as doing the chapter end tests in the Andy Crowe book
- After doing a test I would review each questions and make notes on concepts I was having trouble with that required more study
- I also kept track of my scores for each exam and analyzed how many questions I marked, how many answers I changed, and how successful I was when changing answers from my initial gut fee (I was correct about 70% of the time)
- The 106 question PM Formulas test exam is invaluable in understanding the formulas you need to know and be able to use; I scored 35% on my first run through, but by the fourth time I did it I was getting over 90%
- I built a single sheet of exam strategies (ie. Reading questions properly, knowing which process I am in, watching for key words) I would add to after doing each test exam, by the end these filled almost an entire sheet and really helped with my question answering strategy
- the free online ESI and Lehman tests are much tougher than the various chapter end questions and test more material outside of the PMBOK
- I bought a used copy of Rita's PMP prep book and found it very different from the other resources I was using, and very useful for better comprehending the concepts
- if your goal is to simply pass the test, the Andy Crowe one is probably fine, but if you want to really learn about project management, get Rita's; ideally get both
- using a variety of sources gives you different perspectives on the material and helps you to learn and remember it better
- I see people saying they passed the PMP without reading the PMBOK but I simply can't imagine that; yes it's a dry read, but the material is important and it does make more sense the 2nd and 3rd time through, especially when read in conjunction with a PMP prep book
- I began by memorizing and writing down my brain dump of formulas and the table of Process Groups and Knowledge Areas (using mnemonics) but after so much practice the mnemonicswere no longer necessary
- at first it seems like you will need to memorize a lot things, but by the end of your studying you should know the material so well that memorization is not really necessary, other than your formula sheet
- if you look at the number of questions per section, the four process groups in Initiating and Closing are worth more than twice as much as the other sections so you need to understand them very well
- the Data Flow diagrams at the start of each process section in the PMBOK did not make much sense until late in my studying efforts; but at that time I found them to be critical in understanding the integration between process flows
- there are some items that run vertically through all of the processes that are difficult to understand so I created Data Flow diagrams for the following (I highly recommend doing this):
- Where Work Performance Data, Information and Report are generated (ie. Inputs and Outputs) and how they pass between processes
- Where Change Requests, Approved Change Requests, Validated Changes and Change Logs are generated and how they pass between processes
- Where the Change Log and Issue Logs are generated and how they pass between processes
- Where the Quality Metrics, Quality Checklists, Quality Control Measurements and Process Improvement Plan are generated and how they pass between processes

- For the test itself, I was given a 6 sheet booklet of scratch paper and I only used up a sheet and a half in doing question calculations or drawing network diagrams
- I saw suggestions online of writing out the Process Group/Knowledge Area at the start of the test, but I’m not sure what purpose that would serve - if you have studied enough you should just know where each of the processes lie; also, it takes 8 minutes to draw out and that is valuable time you will need for answering/reviewing questions
- my formula sheet took 7 minutes to write at the start of the exam I only had to reference it twice
- It took me 3 hours to complete the first pass through the actual exam and then 55 minutes to review my marked questions, leaving 5 minutes at the end
- even though I had a very good feeling at the end of the test, the 3 minute wait after you push the "End Exam" button is excruciating…my heart rate probably doubled as I watched the screen…and waited
- seeing that "Passed" message was joyful beyond belief and such a huge reward after all the intensive preparation
- in the end my results would suggest I probably over-prepared, but I wouldn't have changed this as it gave me a great deal of confidence going into the exam
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