I'm relieved to say that I have passed my PMP exam (wheww)! I got 3 AT's , 1 T and 1BT. I hope the following can help fellow PMP aspirants.
Just to recap, the following was my prep plan:
1) Read the PMBOK (really only took in 50% of it since it was so boring)
2) Read Andy Crowe's book and did the questions at the end of the chapter
3) Started to make summary notes for each knowledge area- I reviewed PMBOK and Andy's book to do this.
4) Did the online quizzes for each knowledge area on the prepcast
5) Did one prepcast simulator exam (80%)
5) Reviewed my summary notes and started to memorize Table 1-4 - Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping and started to memorize formulas
6) Did short prep quizzes during the week ( a total of four ) and did three more simulator exams (81%, 85.5% & 80%).
7) Wrote out processes and their respective outputs and memorized it
Recapped my table, outputs and summary notes two days before the exam
9) Reviewed all the questions I got wrong on my simulator exams ( only exams not the quizzes).
10) Got a good night's rest
1. Be Prepared For Ambiguous Questions and Answers!
I actually found my PMP exam to be quite challenging. The questions were ambiguous and subject to various interpretations and there were answers to match those said interpretations. You really had to understand the logic behind the processes to make small distinctions. That being said, around 80% of the time, two out of the four answers were clearly wrong. However, the other two answers were extremely close. When i did the Prepcast simulator exams, the questions were clearly structured and used the language almost identical from the PMBOK and at times I got questions wrong by selecting answers that I thought were almost similar in language and meant the same thing. Prepcast taught me that the correct answers had to best match the language, syntax and resemblance to PMBOK. I prepared myself thinking this is how the exam would be and I had to select answers that matched the PMBOK. However, i found that the questions and answers were not as structured and were loosely stated when compared to the style of the PMBOK. This was especially challenging as I started to question my ability to interpret the questions during the exam. Please note this is just my experience and I know exams differ for everyone.
2. Always Pick An Answer!
I finished my exam with 18 minutes to spare. I did not take any breaks. I needed all my time to closely interpret and decipher the ambiguous nature of the questions . I know a lot of people say to flag questions then come back to it afterwards. The problem with this technique is that when you flag lets say 30 plus questions and you're left with 18 minutes to finish, it's unlikely you'll get it done since those flagged questions were the problematic ones to begin with and would require even more time! I strongly recommend to select your gut answer when you can't decide between two answers. Still flag the question to have a look at it later on of course. But in the even that time runs out, you would at least have an answer for every question and give yourself a higher probability of passing the exam.
3. Main Topics
The main topics I found were Risk, Quality, Stakeholder and Schedule. I got a lot of questions related to closing processes as well. I got 5 calculation questions related to SV, CV, SPI and CPI. I also got two questions on Critical Path where I had to draw out the path to determine the CP.
So How does the Prepcast Simulator align with the Actual Exam?
The prepcast simulator is a wonderful tool. It provides a variety of questions that really tests your knowledge in a comprehensive manner. The best part about the simulator is the fact that you get detailed explanations for the correct answer but more importantly you get detailed explanations for the other answers that were incorrect. Though the language of the simulator seemed more aligned with the PMBOK than the actual exam, the simulator does more than enough to prep you to develop a clear understanding for how the processes work with the knowledge areas. The prepcast questions were also longer when compared to the actual exam which helps with time management. Highly recommend! I found the detailed statistics were really helpful. You can click on the statistics button and see which topics are your strong points and which are your weak ones since they provide a ranking based on all the questions you do. Believe me, data does not lie. All in all, without the prepcast, I would not have been successful. I owe a huge thanks to Cornelius and the team at PM Prepcast!
1) Do not wait until you have two months to study.. (All jokes aside, this was really a pain to accomplish especially when you have to balance a 7-5 job with one hour commute)
2) Read the PMBOK twice! Yes twice. It is the best source for the knowledge, at first it may seem boring but even after reading supplement books like Andy's I found mysyelf referencing the PMBOK alot.
3) Read a supplemental book- From my research Rita Mulchay's and Andy Crowe's were the two most utilized. I can only speak from my experience and as such Andy's book made understanding concepts easier. Its written to be almost enjoyable to read. It is succinct and gives you only relevant information and covers some theories and concepts that the PMBOK mentions but does not go into detail. I also would recommend this book because it helped me to grasp enough information in a short space of time.
4) PM PREPCAST SIMULATOR. It is a must! It definitely gets you accustomed to a test environment with the timed exams. It is really well put together and tests your understanding rather than your memory. I would also highly recommend to try questions from other sources as well to expose yourself to the different ways in which questions can come at you.
I know this was long but I hope it helps. I am also happy to answer any questions anyone might have.
Feraz Hosein (PMP)