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TOPIC: Passed the Exam, First Attempt, Online Proctored (Approx 2.5 study months)

Passed the Exam, First Attempt, Online Proctored (Approx 2.5 study months) 4 weeks 2 days ago #22962

  • William E. Sumner
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Passed my exam yesterday (17 August) with Above Target in all five categories. I’ll be the first to admit that I over-studied for the exam, but I planned to do that going in because I felt that I had gaps in my knowledge. I also know my learning style and material from different sources helped me to process the concepts.

Study materials: These are the materials that I used, listed in order of my perceived value.
1. PM PrepCast and PMP Exam Simulator
2. PM PrepCast Study Coach (Reinforced my study plan)
3. The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try, Sixth Edition, Andy Crowe
4. PMP Exam Prep: Questions, Answers, & Explanations: 1000+ Practice Questions with Detailed Solutions, Christopher Scordo
5. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)–Sixth Edition
6. PMP Exam Prep Flashcards (PMBOK Guide, 6th Edition), Belinda Goodrich
7. PM PrepCast Formulas
8. PMP Exam Prep, Ninth Edition (Audio Book), Rita Mulcahy (also had access to a hard copy via a friend)
9. PMP Exam Coach Boot Camp, Dan Ryan (Weekend Camp + materials)

Preparation Time: Using the lessons learned from another person who posted in the Lessons Learned forum, I started studying mid-June, spending roughly one week on each chapter. There were a few chapters, like Communications Management and Stakeholder Management that I was able to do over the course of a weekend and shorten my general timeline. Overall, I spent about 4 hours a day studying, with more time on the weekend as needed.

Each week was generally organized as follows:
Monday – Wednesday: Watched the PM PrepCast Videos
Monday – Wednesday: Listened to the Rita Mulcahy Audio book on the way to/from work
Thursday: Read PMBOK® Guide Chapter
Friday: Read Andy Crowe Chapter (To understand what I read in the PMBOK® Guide)
Saturday: Caught up on anything I was delayed on and took Chapter/Knowledge Area Practice Exams (Mulcahy, Crowe, Scordo, and PM PrepCast)
Sunday: Reviewed exams and a handful of flashcards.

Once I completed the chapter work, I had three weeks left before my exam. During the first week, I went through all of the “what to expect” information, reviewed some additional Agile material, and I started taking a 50 question mock exam (Scordo) every day for a week (averaging 84%). I also took three of the PM PrepCast simulator exams (one each day on a weekend scoring an 82%, 82%, and 90%). The second week, I re-watched several of the PM PrepCast video sections that I felt I needed more knowledge in, continued with the 50 question, Scordo mock exams, and re-read the Andy Crowe book. During the last week, I essentially re-took most of my exams and reviewed the results of all the tests, both correct/incorrect answers. At this point, I was getting pretty sick of looking at exam questions. The weekend prior to the exam (which I took online proctored exam from my house) I reviewed the PMP Exam Coach written material, but didn’t try to get into anything more difficult than that.

The online exam was interesting. The whiteboard and calculator were easy to use and the only issue I had was that I could not make the text/font larger to ease the eye strain. I had a couple of questions on critical path where I needed the whiteboard, and only one formula question that required the calculator. Otherwise, the questions were generally short, about half the length of a PM PrepCast question, which helped me to manage my time better. The instructions were fine and after a mild panic attack when I thought I had logged into the wrong test (since nothing looked even remotely similar to what I had studied), I fell into the groove and finished about 30 minutes early in both the first and second parts. I had time to go back and review my flagged items (change a bunch of answers are re-reading the question) and submit the exam. The system was easy to use and I’m happy that I was able to take it from my house although the set up, removing extra monitors, etc was a slight hassle)

From a lessons learned standpoint, if I were to do it all over again, I would get the PM PrepCast material/Study Guide, the Andy Crowe book, the Christopher Scordo Exam Book, and the PMBOK® Guide. The rest of the material I would ignore. The PM PrepCast was an excellent source of material and provided the broad base that I needed, while the Exam Simulator built my confidence and effectively tested my knowledge. Andy Crowe’s book was essential to help me understand what the PMBOK® Guide was trying to convey. It was constructed in a way that kept me both engaged, and awake, which made a huge difference after going through the guide. Scordo’s exam book was great and the 50-question size was perfect for a nightly test.

I assumed risk and only memorized a handful of formulas. If I encountered any question that required 5-6 minutes of deciphering, I was going to push them to the end and see what time I had left. Fortunately, everything worked out and I didn’t have to get into anything detailed. Belinda Goodrich’s flashcards were useful, but not entirely necessary. They were good as a review item, but if I didn’t have them, it would not have been a huge impact to my study plan.

I personally did not find Rita Mulcahy’s book to be very helpful and there were several times that I encountered statements like “If you don’t do this for a living, you are going to fail the exam.” Of course this is an exaggeration, but that is what it felt like to me. After I while I began to hate to listen to the book and once finished, never looked back. I also found the end of chapter questions to be more in the “stump the chump” format and less focused on testing actual knowledge. On average, I scored around a 72% on her tests, while averaging 82-86% in the other books. A lot of people find her book very useful however so please don’t my experience prevent you from seeing if it works for you.

Finally, I signed up for Dan Ryan’s PMP Exam Coach boot camp after seeing the advertisement on the PM PrepCast site. This was my least favorite study material. I found his boot camp to be instructionally unsound and he was ill prepared. He spent most of his time reading directly from the slides and added no real value to the material. I left the session annoyed and felt that I wasted a full weekend of study time (and money) having sat there and listened to him muddle through the material. Having said that however, the hardcopy review materials that were provided in his program (designed by another individual) were quite useful and the content directly related too many of the questions I encountered on the exam. So in the end, I suppose the experience was a wash…

I hope this helps someone, much like another person’s post helped me. If I can boil all this down to one takeaway, I would offer this… take as many exams as you can, from whatever source you can find, prior to the actual test. Reading/listening the material was great, but actually experiencing the multiple ways that a question can be asked about a single piece of information is crucial to getting through the exam. The PrepCast Simulator was pretty close to what I experienced on the actual test, but keep taking exams regardless! Every little bit helps.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Philip Augustin , Cynthia Alvarado, Erin Gull, Andrea Coronado

Passed the Exam, First Attempt, Online Proctored (Approx 2.5 study months) 4 weeks 2 days ago #22971

  • Yolanda Mabutas
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Hi William,

Congratulations on your great achievement!
Yolanda Mabutas
OSP International LLC
The following user(s) said Thank You: William E. Sumner
Moderators: Yolanda MabutasMary Kathrine PaduaJohn Paul BugarinKyle Kilbride, PMP

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