Reply: Here are my lessons learned

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Topic History of : Here are my lessons learned

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1 year 11 months ago #23936

Elizabeth Harrin

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Congratulations, Andrea! Thanks for coming back and sharing your study plan and lessons with us.
1 year 11 months ago #23930

PASSED first attempt - Above target

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I wrote my exam on Oct 13, 2020 - online. Passed with above target in all areas. Happy to share 1) study plan 2) lessons learned

It took me about 3 months of study (plus the 35 hour required course) to go over materials, fill knowledge gaps and do enough practice tests to feel prepared. Altogether, it was around 120 hours of study (plus 35 hours of required course). On average, I studied about 2 hours a day, sometimes more on the weekends. I took a day off here and there to relax though.
I created a study plan on excel and did my best to stick to it. It helped to keep track of my progress going over the materials (more about it on lessons learned)
I used Rita's book first and I have to say, it was my main study tool. I liked how she logically describes processes and use of tools. She might sound condesecnding at times, but I have to say her advice and "Tricks of the Trade" were very helpful. Highly recommend to go over the exercises in the book - don't limit to passively read the info.
After Rita, I went over the PMBOK in detail - especially the areas I scored below 65% in my practice tests. Once I felt comfortable with the general content, I went deeper and focused on tools and on PMBOK diagrams that have the flow of information from one knowledge area to others. Lastly, I made flashcards for the areas I found I needed to learn more about: Quality (has many unique tools) and Risk.
I also got Andy's book, but to be honest, I didn't find it helpful at all.
All the practice tests were from PrepCast. I did six of them total. The highest score I got was 79% (!) Consistently scored in the 70s range to the point I felt like I might as well write the exam. I found the format and nature of the questions very similar to the PrepCast questions, so I'm definitely glad I used it for practice!
ABOUT THE ONLINE EXAM: I didn't like the format. They are very strict with your surroundings and you cannot have anything near you - which is understandable. But it makes it hard to focus: They observe you nonstop. If I touched my face too much, a chat window will pop and a proctor worte in it asking to stop touching my face, or to stop reading questions out loud. My cellphone went off once too ans I wasn't allowed to move off the camera to silence it, which interrupted my focus (I should have switched to silent mode but totally forgot). Using the whiteboard online is time-consuming. I did appreciate the fact that I could be in my comfy pj's but wouldn't write a test like that ever again, unless I have to.

I don't know how people study in one month - there's lots to learn and understand... unless you work for a big multinational company that gives you hands-on experience on every single knowledge area in the PMBOK! If you work full-time in a small corporation (like me) I'd say it would take at least 10 weeks to really understand the materials and pass the exam.
Don't start trying to learn the uber-detailed tools for each process. I started that way, wanting to know every detail of each knowledge area thinking that it would save me time, but it totally backfired. I would recommend to start with an overview of the process groups and how knowledge areas relate to each other. Rita's first couple of chapters are awesome for that. There is a great youtube video with the process flow with anpretty good explanation as well
I would have loved to start with that!
Do a baseline test to check where you're starting from, and then take a few other practice tests - take careful note of areas you are underperforming and make sure you go over the explanation of the questions you got wrong
Create a schedue and stick to it - Again, I'd recommend starting with a general overview of the process flow, then dig deeper into each knowledge area. Make an extra effort to go over those areas you are underperforming (=<65%)
Try to think in terms of large-scale projects with lots of employees. Documents and tools that may not make sense to use in a small 10 people project, make total sense when you are thinking in terms of muti-national projects with many dependencies and dozens of team members. All of the sudden it does seem helpful to have a detailed comms management plan!
The day before, I spent it reviewing the Intiating and Closing groups from Rita's book (cross-referencing with PMBOK), making sure I had a good handle of both. That payed dividends when writing the exam - there were some very tricky Closing questions
Initiating and Closing may appear easy and intuitive, but don't understimate them. Remember you have to have good scores on these two areas to pass the exam, and there are very few questions on each - gettin a few of these wrong may cost you the exam

I think that's all I have! Just paying back all the great advice I read on this Forum. Hope it helps
Andrea C. M.Sc, PMP

Training for Project Management Professional (PMP)®, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®, and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®