I passed online proctored PMP exam yesterday 19-June-2020 at my first try. My preparation is 8 weeks in total. I was so happy and am sharing my lessons learned because I have benefited from other's lessons learned.
I had more than 15 years of project management experience, but never attempted to obtain the PMP credential before as I believed experience is more important than a certificate, and there were more excuses than just busy or lazy.
Started from late April, my project was cancelled, and I am the same as many people stayed at home in quarantine. My wife who is already a certified PMP encouraged me to take the advantage from this pandemic and get the certificate. I agreed that it is a good idea to utilise this opportunity. She told me the test is not that hard. This encouragement put a little bit pressure on me. I knew I am not the kind of exam-oriented person. I must be getting prepared seriously
The plan was:
1) Overall target: Pass PMP exam before end of June
2) Download and Read the PMBOK, complete first pass in two weeks, approximately read one chapter per day as target.
3) Purchase PrepCast Elite package and the formula guide on May 1, watch Cornelius’ video instruction in parallel with reading PMBOK, SS+1-week lag. Target complete in three weeks and get 35 contact hours certificates
4) Spend one week to study the Formula Guide purchased from PM Prepcast, read PMI Code of Ethics, Handbook, Exam outline
5) Complete online application, and book exam right after PMI has reviewed and approved the application
6) Complete seven simulator and one ITTO test in 2-3 weeks. The plan is taking the full 4 hours test in the afternoon, review the questions (including all answered in right and wrong) for one and half days.
7) Leave couple days for retrospect or possible to go over the PMBOK part 2 Standards for Project Management and Glossary
Ready for test
I tried my best to follow my plan, although there were couple days variance in here or there during the course, I was able to maintain my schedule and booked the test for 19-June which is earlier than my target.
I do have a older version (Seventh Edition) Rita Mulcathy’s PMP Exam Prep, which is used by my wife 10 years ago for her test I did the analysis for what have changed in PMBOK Sixth Edition , I decided not look at this older version reference book and not spend money to purchase a new one. I also had confidence that it should be good enough by completing the 8 simulators in PM Prepcast. Plus, I did not have more time in my plan for studying extra reference books.
All my 8 simulator test scores are around 80%. I spent more times to review the questions after test no matter I answered right or wrong. The explanations provided are very helpful. The questions that I did wrong reflects that I have oversight some contents in PMBOK or I completely forgot after reading or I did not understand. I cross-reference back to the chapters, paragraphs and read again until I understood. I also went through the questions I answered correctly to solidify my believes. Remember some questions were just guessed correctly, there is no guarantee you will make it right next time.
I also did three short test for 20 questions at the end, I got 90-100%. It made me confident that I am almost the PMI-isms and ready for the test. I believe you know what the PMI-isms means. There is high possibility of not passing exam if not in good understanding of it.
My biggest problem during the simulate testing is managing time, I almost had no time left within every 4 hours mock testing. I realised my problem, however, could not make improvement. It worried me for the real test. I really recommend find the 4 hours window in the day to complete the mock testing once.
Second problem is all my Mock testing were in the afternoon, I was quite exhausted and felt sleepy at the end. And I found my morning is more productive. The good thing is I booked my real test starts at 9am.
Before the test day, I tried several system test to make sure my computer will have no issue. I planned to quick review to go over my key notes and formulas one hours before check-in. The check in is not available until half hour before my test appointment. Write down the Pearson VUE telephone number 1-866 241 5527 with you, in case you have issue for log in or check in. Actually I did call them before my check in as I checked in so early, there is no Begin Exam button available , they explained to me it will only be available within 30 mins before scheduled appointment time, I was eased little bit. They recommended to call them around 15 minutes before appointment time if suspect any issue, be aware there may be waiting time.
When I started, there were so many Agile related questions, made me nervous as you can see from my plan I did not read the Agile Practice Guide which is bundled in PMBOK, although I have payed attention to the Trends and Emerging Practice, Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments at beginning of each knowledge areas. This is my week point. I finished 85 questions before break, I realised I really had problem and may not be able to complete all questions in time. After break, I had to move my pace faster to catch up, after quickly reading the question I just click the answer which I think is the most correct and not attempt to re-thinking any more. Unfortunately, lot of questions seemed to have two very similar right answer, I have to make decision to choose one. I was able to hit the last question in the last minute. But the bad feeling was always in mind during the test. When I see the “Congregations…”, I could not believe it, even after completion the survey.
There are other several points that I can tell:
Drink and eat properly, not too much, I had pressure for washroom, but I am allowed to leave before my scheduled break. You can imagine how the feel about the pressure of behind of time and form inside of body.
I did practice the whiteboard to draw schedule network diagram, so I did not use it for the one critical path question, it took me more time by using the note.
The calculator is simple one, fortunately I only had one test for earned valve.
The early morning in the next day I received the congratulation email, and myPMI dashboard is already changed status. My scores are: 3 above targets, 2 targets. I think the practice of simulator really helped me to foster myself to think as PMI-isms, and eventually passed the exam.
The last I want to say big thanks to Cornelius, the PM Prepsat Elite package I have used is worth more than the money.