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TOPIC: I Passed PMP 1st Attempt!

I Passed PMP 1st Attempt! 3 years 11 months ago #18725

  • Jason Kegerreis
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I am happy to share that I passed my PMP exam at Above Target!

Finally after:

4 months of preparation
60 education hours with PM Prepcast
1707 test preparation questions
2646 minutes in test simulators

This has been an ambition of mine for a long time, and honestly, the largest barrier to me starting it sooner was not believing I was competent and capable enough to pass. I spent the better part of 8 months afraid to pursue something simply because I convinced myself of the ending before I even started the journey. I'd try to read a section, or take a short quiz, not do as well as I wanted, and put it off another month. Rinse, repeat, for 8 months until I finally made myself commit to push through those setbacks and believe the preparation would lead to the desired result.

So, as it is a normal practice to share advice for PMP aspirants after passing, I shared the above statistics. I didn't do it to show off, far be it, as I know there are countless more qualified and experienced individuals than myself. Rather, I shared it for the people like me that saw the 40% - 50% 1st time fail rate for the PMP, and doubted that they have what it takes. I had to determine I was qualified, commit myself to the effort, and put in the work necessary to pass. So for all of you giving into self-doubt, please learn from my hesitation, all it takes to pass the PMP Exam is to:

Be qualified. Make the commitment. Do the work.

That's it, no secrets, just hard work, and you can earn your PMP. I hope this motivates others that doubted themselves to lean into their ambitions and commit themselves to pursue their goals. I can promise you, nothing is standing in your way except yourself. Make the commitment, and do the work, you'll be glad you did when you are on the other side. Don't get me wrong, it took sacrifices, and staying committed was challenging, but I kept reminding myself that if I put in the work, I'd get the results.

A few other quick tips:

Pay for PM Prepcast exam simulator, it is worth every penny and was the single biggest reason I passed. The questions were remarkably similar to the test, and I got performance feedback, so I could focus tests on just areas for which I was struggling.

Practice how you perform. I did 4 practice tests and worked to as closely replicate the real test as I could. Replicate means, take practice tests at same time I was taking my actual exam, following the same morning routine, no liquids or snacks, wear roughly the attire I planned to learn, etc. After the first 5 exam questions, my mind/body settled into test-taking mode, and it felt like every other Saturday afternoon exam.

Use time management, and repeat your pace til it's organic. I rehearsed an average of 1 minute per question, 50 minutes for 50 answers, then a rest, over and over. On the actual exam, I finished with 50 minutes to spare to review flagged answers, which was slightly ahead of my pace, but I didn't really need to watch the clock since I knew my milestones, and the pace was natural.

Do not try to memorize. The test truly tests your ability to problem solve situational questions, not regurgitate memorized info. Focus on learning the "why", and the secondary and tertiary effects of the decisions you make, and how those decisions are connected. Looking at it this way both eliminates incorrect answers and helps to differentiate the "most right" answer.

Following up on previous, the test evaluates cognitive and situational problem-solving. You likely cannot do that if you are overly stressed, and not thinking clearly. If you aren't a naturally good test taker, you'll need to set aside time to practice calming and breathing exercises, so you remain calm and thinking clearly. I made sure to get a good night's sleep starting a few days before the exam, and took a relaxing morning.

Use the test simulator to understand how PMI wants you to think. They have specific responses and thought patterns. You need to repeat quizzes until you can readily recognize their methodology to problem-solving and understand why they approached a problem the way they did. PM Prepcast includes explanations on all right and wrong answers to make this process easier.

Let the quizzes be open note, you'll get more value using formula guides and process flows as you work through the problems. I used a formula guide to calculate an answer and ended up with the same formula on the actual exam two days later. You'll retain the info by using it more than memorizing it, and it gives you a chance to fill in gaps in your knowledge areas.

Focus significantly more time on understanding the project management lifecycle than memorizing formulas or making network diagrams. I could count on one hand the number of calculations I did, but virtually never answered a question without identifying where I was in the process, and identified what came next, or what doesn't apply to where I am in the process. I also didn't do a "brain dump" at the beginning of the test.

Finally, I would highly advise against changing your initial answers, unless you are 100% positive of another answer. I can't think of any answers I changed when reviewing marked answers. I am going to get into neurological anatomy briefly here, but the brain processes information and language in different places. This is where we got the idea of "gut feelings", in reality, it is the challenge of transferring information from the knowledge center to the language center. The information center traditionally has a faster relay time than the more complex language center, so it's normal for you to pick an answer before, or even without, being able to explain why it is right. In short, trust your gut unless you are positive that the first answer was wrong.

Good luck, and remember, all it takes is the conviction to do the work, and a willingness to stay the course!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Philippe Louis, John Donovan, Sonam Arya, Shiva Vishnubatla, Eric Pokes, Dee Lindo

I Passed PMP 1st Attempt! 3 years 11 months ago #18737

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Did your score indicate to you that you were prepared enough? or did you feel comfortable with the practice exams and your study plan to make that leap forward to schedule the exam and pass?
The following user(s) said Thank You: Eric Pokes

[email protected] 3 years 11 months ago #18738

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Thanks for the follow up as it gives me a chance to expand and clarify.

I probably didn't go about it in the most orthodox way, but knowing I had a year to take the test caused me to keep pushing it off when I hit obstacles, so I ended up just scheduling the exam in a reasonable amount of prep time, leaving room for re-tests before deadline if needed, and then did backward planning. I made my schedule off that firm date because I knew I had limited time to get ready and used quizzes and practice tests to gauge my progress and identify areas I needed to improve.

My first quizzes were in the low 60's, then the high '60s, and after I got quizzes into the '70s, I started to include weekly practice exams. My average practice exam score was 77.5%, so I knew each time I wanted to pull my buffer up with the final weeks I had.

I did a quiz and study session each day, reviewed the wrong answers from that day and that was what I focused on studying. For example, closing was my lowest area for a while, so I started doing mini-quizzes on just closing to find my specific weak area and then reviewed that content. Closer to the test, planning started to have my lowest average, so that's when I found planning process flows, and used note cards to practice putting steps in the correct order.

I basically repeated that iteration for a month, with practice tests each weekend to both test knowledge, and keep me conditioned for the test. Finally, I did a 50-question practice quiz each of the last 5 days before the test, and that extra effort got me over the hump into an average score above 80%, which is where PM Prepcast recommended you be before taking the test. Though I did schedule my exam in the afternoon, so I could take the morning off and let my brain process everything and be fresh for test time.

I highly recommend this iterative approach. I endorsed the exam simulator because you can filter only to questions in a specific process or knowledge areas to see where you are weakest, and then focus on them to improve. Other than not being able to scratch out answers, the actual exam was very similar to the quizzes and practice tests, so you can accurately gauge where you are as you progress. I ended up answering 75% of all questions they offered in the premium plan, so I certainly feel I got my money's worth, especially with detailed explanations for all answers.

I hope this helps!

I Passed PMP 1st Attempt! 3 years 11 months ago #18755

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Great write up, thank you.
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