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TOPIC: Lessons Learned - studying & passing the PMP exam

Lessons Learned - studying & passing the PMP exam 7 years 1 week ago #1046

  • Robert Lassu
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On Saturday, 12 September, 2009 I wrote and passed my PMP certification exam. Here is my account:

I joined a PMP exam study group within my organization in August 2008 and applied to take the exam in September 2008 and was accepted. Unfortunately I changed employers and had to drop the study group in early October and then temporarily shelved the idea of PMP certification. Then, once the exam switched from the third edition to the fourth edition there was enough chatter about it to prompt me to schedule my exam in mid-July 2009. That is when my studies began in earnest.

These are some lessons learned that I would like to impart on everyone:
  1. If you are serious, book your exam date so you have a target to study for
  2. Book early. I left booking until less than 2 months prior to my eligibility expiring. I literally forgot that eligibility expired. In the end I was given 2 exam date options. 12 August and 12 September; and the second option was in a city I had to drive 3 hours to get to. Since the latter afforded more preparation time I took it.
  3. Create a study plan – I recommend your plan wrap up about one week prior to your exam date. I had seven weeks to prepare but created a plan that would cover all areas in 6. Include the last week as a contingency - I found it was required to revisit complex areas and write several simulated exams. Further observations regarding my study plan:
    1. 6 weeks was quite aggressive – 2 or 3 months may have been a better pace for me
    2. Additionally I took a 3 week vacation in late August into the first week of September. In my study plan I accounted for a lighter schedule during those days, but would recommend against holidaying during your studies.
    3. I spent between 2 and 5 hour each day for 7 weeks straight. Most studies occurred after my two young children were in bed asleep. This was a serious commitment.
  4. Use the materials from project-management-prepcast.com: I feel that everything provided by Cornelius is helpful to pass the exam. The checklist documents, with recommendations of approach, the PMPrepCast and the flashcards were instrumental in preparations.
  5. Follow ALL of the advice given in the PrepCast; especially using the “most famous” PMP preparation workbook. There is no change in content, but rather a reinforcement of each other and delivered in an alternative method; podcast versus print.
  6. Write simulation exams. I wrote 6 full 200 question exams in the end, passing them all. For me, writing 200 questions and sitting for four hours was not onerous. However, reviewing the results and reading the reasoning behind the answers to incorrect questions was invaluable and one of the best learning tools.
  7. Follow your exam writing strategy. My exam strategy was answer 75 question, take a break, answer the next 75 questions and take second break, then power through to the end. This ended up being a break at about 1 hour and 2 hours into the exam. I had a piece of fruit and some water, stretched and relaxed in an armchair for my breaks.
  8. Be prepared to adjust your question answering approach. More than once I found an answer by eliminating incorrect answers until only one possibility remained. This was not one of my tactics but rather just happened in a few questions.
  9. Thank those that helped you or made sacrifices in their lives while you prepared. In the end I know there were a lot of friends and family that either helped or made contributions to my efforts and I am following through and thanking all of them. For example:
    1. Flowers and a personal, hand written letter to my wife thanking her for her support and commitment to keeping the household running during my studies.
    2. Thank you cards to friends that offered encouragement and perhaps advice.

Thank you Cornelius! Your materials were the cornerstone in my studies leading to my success in passing the PMP exam.

Robert Lassu, PMP
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