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TOPIC: Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 4 weeks ago #23153

  • Alexander Hirt
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My journey was a long one. People say you can pass the PMP exam if you study hard for 4 or so months, but I did not have the time to do that so it took me a little over 1 year doing a little bit each day.

What resources I used

I only used 3 main resources: Head First PMP by Greene and Stellman, the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition, and the PM PrepCast.

I actually used the Head First PMP book for the 5th Edition of the PMP by accident even though I took the 6th version. There is a 6th version available. If you're struggling with the material I recommend reading that book first to get familiar with it because they make it fun, and the book is funny. If you start out with virtually no PMP knowledge and go right to the PMBOK guide you may want to just give up. The Head First book has a bunch of quizzes, crossword puzzles, and all kinds of cool things to keep it as exciting as it can be. After I read this book I wanted to take the test, but I had to get my 35 hours, so that's why I bought the PM PrepCast. At the beginning of the PrepCast they have you complete a "Before" exam so you can gauge your level of competence. I didn't do too bad, got a 65% I think, but it made me realize I wanted to learn more so I started the PrepCast videos.

The way I studied was I would read one section of the PMBOK guide and then watch the associated PrepCast video of the same section, so I got exposed to the material in two different learning styles. I did this until I got to the end of Part 1 of the PMBOK guide which ends on page 536, and that's where the PrepCast videos end too. There is a Part 2 and Part 3 (references) in the PMBOK guide that will go to pages 695, but I didn't read any of that stuff. Also if you buy the PMBOK guide on Amazon it usually ships with the Agile guide, but I didn't read that either (I'm a CSM and work in an Agile environment so I didn't really feel the need).


How did I know I was ready to take the exam?

First, I watched all the videos and read the PMBOK as I mentioned above. If you watch the videos Cornelius says once you're consistently scoring 80% or above correct in the Exam Simulator you should be ready, so that's what I was aiming for. You get 7 full exams with the Exam Simulator + an 8th one that is different in some way (I can't remember what's different about it). I finished all the videos about 2 months ago, and for the past couple of months I focused only on the exam simulator and my formula sheet. Every day, Monday-Friday I would take 1 hour to answer 20 questions and read through the answer explanations and re-write my formula sheet.

I'm not the type of person who is good at memorizing things, but writing out the formula sheet every day will make you memorize it. I have attached a screenshot of my formula sheet, hopefully it's large enough to view. Once I was consistently scoring 80% and above on the simulator questions I decided to take a day off work and do the first full length practice exam using the simulator. I had never taken a timed practice test so watching the countdown timer caused anxiety. I solved this by covering it up with a post-it note. I finished it an hour early and scored an 84% on it. At this point I figured I could spend another month studying and likely get a higher score on the real exam, or I could take it now and likely pass with a lower score. Since the exam is pass/fail and I thought I would pass either way I decided to take it now. So I scheduled the real exam for the following week (this week, I took it yesterday).

Scheduling and taking the real exam

To schedule the exam you have to go onto PMI's website and pay for it, then a couple days later they'll tell you you're clear to schedule it. To do that you have to view what timeslots are available and choose one. When I looked last week, everything was available. I could have taken it the next day if I wanted to, anytime of the day. But I still chose a week later.

On exam day you can check in 30 min early, and it will likely take you about 15 min to check in. You need to download a Pearson app to your phone and use your phone's camera to take a picture of your id to send to them. Then you need to take 4 pictures of the room you're in, from every angle. Then you wait for a Pearson person to review this info and check you in. For me, I had my laptop up pointing at me at an angle which also had the microphone, and in front of me I had an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The Pearson person told me you're only allowed to work off of the laptop screen, so I had to close the external monitor. They then gave me the clear and released the exam to me. I had actually asked the Pearson person if it would be OK if I used a post-it note to cover the countdown timer and they said that's fine, but I ended up not having to do that. When you're taking the exam there is a rectangular window that has your video on it, plus ways to contact Pearson if you need help, and you can move that window around the screen. I placed it in front of the countdown timer so I didn't see it. No post-it needed.

The Pearson app you use to take the exam is not as good as the PrepCast simulator. On the PrepCast you can right click on answer choices to cross them out which is useful. On the real one you have to highlight an answer choice then click a button in the toolbar to strike it out. It's not that bad, but it isn't as nice as making one click, so I did not use the strikeout feature on the real exam. There is a button in the toolbar you can click that will display a text box on the screen for each question where you can make notes. But each text box is unique to the question you are on, it won't carry over to additional questions. Meaning, if you do a braindump of all the formulas on the text box for the first question, you won't see it in any additional questions. I had written my formula guide out so many times I had it memorized perfectly, but for people who haven't this could be a risk.

One thing that threw me for a bit was the mid-test break. The exam is 200 questions and 4 hours long so naturally you would assume the break would happen once you have answered 100 questions, or maybe once 2 hours is up. But for me, my break happened after I finished question 89. I got really nervous- Was I behind schedule? I finished the practice exam an hour early and I felt like I was moving along at a good pace, but maybe 2 hours was up and I was 10 questions behind? When I got back from the break I raced through questions 90 - 100 then looked at the remaining time and calculated where I was. I was way ahead... Not sure why it triggered my break after question 89. But oh well.

I can't talk about the questions themselves of course, but I will say they were very similar in structure and content to what's in the PrepCast Exam Simulator. To the point where I started to wonder if Cornelius wrote some of the real exam questions himself. The Exam Simulator was incredibly beneficial in prepping me for the real thing, and I would highly suggest doing as many Exam Simulator questions as possible, then reading through the explanation of the answers when you are done. This was the #1 best resource for the real thing by far. I finished the exam 45 minutes early and spent 15 minutes on the first 10 questions of part 2, making sure I liked those answers since I raced through them the first time. I submitted it 30 minutes early.

As soon as I did that it crunched the numbers and I got a Congratulations message screen saying I passed and I should look for an email from PMI in 2-3 days with my results. I closed out of everything and that was that. Then a short while later I wondered if I should have taken a picture or a screenshot of the congratulations message because what if something happened and there was a glitch and my results were not sent to PMI or Pearson lost them? I logged back onto my Pearson account and thankfully they had a record of me having passed, and also they had the breakdown of how I did by process group. I scored above average on everything which made me happy to know I didn't just sneak by. That was yesterday. Today, this morning, I got an email from PMI saying congrats. I signed onto my PMI account and my certification was already updated on PMI's website and my name was in the register of PMPs. That was fast.

So that's how I did it.

Formula tricks

I attached a screenshot of my formula guide. It also contains other useful information to know. I wrote out everything on here once a day for 2 months. At first I just copied it from the previous day. But once you do it over and over again you memorize it. So after only about 2 weeks I could write out everything on here perfectly. And then I kept doing it for another 6 weeks up until and on exam day. Here are some tips for the formulas:

It isn't good enough to just know the formulas. You must know the interpretation for them as well. You need to know what it means if the SPI is 0.8 and the CPI is 1.33, and what to do to fix it (crash the schedule). Keep it simple. Know that for any of the subtraction formulas a positive number is good and for any of the division formulas > 1 is good, except for TCPI where it's bad.

EAC has a lot of ways you can calculate it. I didn't bother learning any besides the basic EAC = BAC / CPI, and I was fine.

Speaking of which, here's how I memorized the more complicated ones like EAC, ETC, and VAC. Check it out:
EAC = BAC / CPI
ETC = EAC - AC
VAC = BAC - EAC
If you list them in that order, you'll notice that EAC starts out on the left side in the first formula, then moves to the middle in the 2nd, then moves to the right side in the 3rd. I dunno, that made it easier for me.

One of the hardest formulas for me to put into practice was EMV. I think most guides you see will have EMV = Probability * Impact. Even though I knew that formula I just couldn't remember how to use it on an EMV question for some reason. I was always forgetting steps. So to make it easier on myself I created a new EMV formula where EMV = ((Future$ - Current$) * Probability) + Other Paths. Future$ is what one option will be in the future and Current$ is how much you have to spend on it now, and so on. That helped me out a lot.

The PERT formulas are quite easy, but a good way to remember what everything is, is to order the variables as PMO, as in Project Management Office. The estimate = PMO, divided by how many variables there are. E = (P + M + O)/3 or 6 if you're doing a beta estimate which is 4M.

Here's how I remembered what the ROM, and other 3 estimates:
ROM = -25% to 75% . This one is the only one you really need to remember. The others are:
Prelim Est = -15% to 50%
Budget Est = -10% to 25%
Definitive Est = -5% to 10%
To remember these, memorize both sides of the "to" separately, like this: On the left side, the next two numbers will sum to equal the previous one. So for example take -25. The next two numbers -15 and -10 sum to equal -25. The next number is -15. The next two numbers -10 and -5 sum to equal -15. Then on the right side, the positive numbers, are all American coin denominations. You have a half-dollar coin (50%), next would be the quarter (25%), and then the dime (10%).

In Closing

That's probably all I have to say at this point. Feel free to reply to this post or DM me asking me questions and I'll write you back. Good luck in your journey!
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The following user(s) said Thank You: VH, Tamara Harvey, Owais Alsharif

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 4 weeks ago #23154

  • Alexander Hirt
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After posting I noticed that this forum compressed the picture of my formula sheet I attached so much you can't read it. If you want to view it I uploaded it to my Google Drive here: drive.google.com/file/d/1B_kshbDujgtlAH1...Sl6/view?usp=sharing
Last edit: by Alexander Hirt.

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 4 weeks ago #23160

  • Owais Alsharif
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Hi Alexander,
First of all, I would like to say congratulation!! your email was encouraging, helpful and comforting for me,so thank you for feed back.
I have one question in my mind, are the questions in the real exam longer in general, or there are only few long question and the rest are similar to those in the Prepcast ones, because I think that this is important when English is the second language.
Thanks in advance, and Congrats again
Last edit: by Owais Alsharif.

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 4 weeks ago #23163

  • Alexander Hirt
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Hi Owais,

Thanks! I'm glad it was helpful for you.

The questions on the real exam are identical in structure and format to the ones on the PrepCast Exam Simulator. If someone mixed 10 PrepCast questions together with 10 real PMP exam questions you would not be able to tell which were PrepCast questions and which were real exam questions. That's how similar they are. As long as you are doing well on the Exam Simulator you'll do well on the real thing.

Alex

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 3 weeks ago #23170

  • Owais Alsharif
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Thanks Again Alex,
This is really comforting and encouraging, wishing you all the best in your life and your future endeavors!!

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 3 weeks ago #23174

  • PATRICE WALLACE
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Thank you so much! I feel encouraged!

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 3 weeks ago #23183

  • SYED SYAKIRIN BIN SYED ABDUL RAHMAN
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Hi, Congratulations on passing the exam!
May I know what is the name of the pearson app that needs to be installed to verify check in?

Thanks!

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 3 weeks ago #23184

  • Attaporn Thongkiatcharoen
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Congraturation!!

Can you please share us? How many formula in exam? Is it more than 5 - 10 question?

Thank you.

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 3 weeks ago #23206

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Congratulations on passing the exam! Thanks for the feedback this was extremely useful. Could i both you to resend a clearer shot of the attachment you originally posted?
I would like to use this sheet for study purposes. I hope you see this! thanks again for your help!

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 3 weeks ago #23207

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disregard! I found where you sent it earlier this week.

Passed PMP on 8/26, First Try, Online, Scoring all Above Average - How I studied 1 month 3 weeks ago #23212

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What is your feedback on using the Whiteboard? I am trying to decide between a testing center or at home.
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