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TOPIC: Passed PMP Exam on 1st Try with all ATs!

Passed PMP Exam on 1st Try with all ATs! 9 months 3 weeks ago #24908

  • Karen Hairston
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At the beginning of September, I decided to take the PMP exam. Learning that the PMP exam was changing in 2021, I knew I had to pass it before the end of the year. I registered to take the exam on November 24, 2020, so there was still time in December if I needed to take it again. I chose to take it at a testing site. Originally, I was going to take it online from home, but I got nervous when I read all the rules about background noise making your exam invalid. With two kids and a dog, there was no way the house was going to be silent for 4+ hours.

I did a little research looking for study materials and landed on the PM PrepCast. It seemed very comprehensive and was less expensive than many others. I also liked that it was self-paced, so it would fit in my schedule. Additionally, I purchased the Exam Simulator, which I also highly recommend. I used the PrepCast study guides to create a study plan and took Cornelius' advice to use study materials from a second source as well. I chose Andy Crowe's book, "The PMP Exam - How to Pass it on the First Try," and that book was also great! I recommend studying the content in the order that the PrepCast and Crowe present it.

I was working full-time while studying for the exam, and it took a couple of precious weeks, but I finally found my groove with the different materials. I would read a section of the Knowledge Area chapter I was studying in Crowe's book, then watch his brief video for that section, then move on to the next section. Crowe's book is easy to read and he does a great job of pointing out what to focus on. At the end of each chapter, there is a paper/pencil test which I would then take. I would score the test and then review the very detailed feedback on any of the questions I answered incorrectly. There are also some online test questions through Crowe's company, Velociteach, that you can access with the key provided with the book. It's not as robust as the Exam Simulator though. Once I finished a chapter in Crowe's book, I would then listen to all of the PrepCast videos for that Knowledge Area. The PrepCast videos go right along with the PMBOK and provide a lot of details. I would follow along highlighting important content and adding some notes. Once I finished a Knowledge Area in the PrepCast course, I would take several quizzes on that area ranging from 10-25 questions in the Exam Simulator. After the quizzes, I would review the detailed feedback on the questions I answered incorrectly. In the Exam Simulator, there is the option only to answer questions that you answered incorrectly, so periodically I would take a quiz made up of only questions I had answered incorrectly.

I didn't get to spend as much time during the week studying as I would have liked to, but I probably spent 10 - 20 hours on the weekends studying. I had read recommendations to take at least 4 full-length exams, so my original plan was to spend 10 weeks going through the study materials and taking quizzes and having 2 weeks prior to the exam just to take several full-length exams and study the questions I missed. However, about 2 weeks before the exam, I had been through all of the content in Crowe's book, but I didn't end up making it through all of the PrepCast videos. Since I was running out of time to take the full-length exams, for the Procurement and Stakeholder Engagement Knowledge Areas, I listened to the PrepCast videos that were related to any of the questions that I answered incorrectly on the quizzes in Crowe's book and ended up calling it good.

In Crowe's book and in some of the PrepCast articles referenced in the PrepCast Study Guides (make sure to look at the additional resources they suggest), there are some great tips on taking the exam, so I made sure to read those. After that, I took 50, 100, and 200 question exams in the Exam Simulator and spent time understanding what I answered incorrectly. By the weekend before the exam, I took two full-length exams and was doing well on them. I was still nervous though because you don't know how similar the questions are to the exam until you take the exam.

As far as the ITTOs, I did not end up memorizing them. I made sure that I knew the 49 processes and which Knowledge Area and Process Group they were in. If you know the sequence of the processes, most of the inputs and outputs make sense. Also, if you think about what's happening in a specific process, even if you're not sure, you can usually make an educated guess on the tools and techniques used. Crowe does a great job of highlighting "exam favorites" for the ITTOs. Also, on Crowe's website, there is a cool tool to help review the ITTOs. I also found an ITTO spreadsheet for $3.99 at www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/PMP-...t-Study-Tool-5200567 . I actually liked that one even better than Crowe's because I could use the filters to focus on what I wanted to and see patterns in where the different types of tools and techniques were used.

You do need to know the formulas, and one resource that I highly recommend for this is The PMP Exam Formula Study Guide that you can get with the PrepCast training. It does explain the formulas and has a cheat sheet for studying, but what I found most helpful was the 105 sample questions on the formulas. Although the sample questions focused on the formulas, the way the questions are written, it's more than just calculations. I ended up doing this two days before the actual exam, and I felt like it helped everything sink in.

You'll hear people talk about a brain dump and some people are for it and some people are against it. I wasn't convinced that I would use one, so I hadn't been developing one all along while studying, but the weekend before the exam, I came up with about 7 things that I did put in a brain dump - most of them were formulas, just so I didn't make a dumb mistake using an incorrect formula. I did not write down any of the processes or ITTOs, but for your brain dump, include whatever is going to take some stress off of you during the exam.

As you may have already read, the PMP exam is broken into two parts with a 10-minute break in between, however, what they don't tell you is that the two parts are not necessarily the same number of questions! I was pacing myself thinking that part 1 would be 100 questions and I had 2 hours. I was keeping track of time and watching how many questions I had left to get to 100. Suddenly, I had the option to go to the review screen. I figured I must have misread the number of questions because I didn't think I had done 100 questions yet. I didn't pay attention to how many questions were listed on the review screen either. I went ahead and reviewed the questions I had flagged and submitted part 1 and took my break. After my break, I started part 2 and a few questions in, I noticed that I had over 100 questions left to do! This threw me for a few seconds because I had to recalculate my pace to get more than 100 questions plus reviewing done in the remaining 2 hours. It all worked out fine though.

If I had to pick one piece of advice related to taking the exam that helped me the most, it was from Crowe's book - when you're taking the exam and reading the question, first figure out which process you are in! Oftentimes, this will help you eliminate one or more of the options. So for any situational question, I would just ask myself "Where am I in the process?" and then take a deep breath and read through the options.

Good luck to all of you who are prepping for this exam! I've been a project manager for a long time but just never took the exam. I decided to do it to increase the chances of getting a position that a recruiter contacted me about. Although the studying was intense, I'm glad I took the exam!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Nathan Sarfaty, Vijay M

Passed PMP Exam on 1st Try with all ATs! 9 months 3 weeks ago #24911

  • Elizabeth Harrin
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Congratulations, Karen, that's a great result!
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Passed PMP Exam on 1st Try with all ATs! 9 months 3 weeks ago #24920

  • Heather Fowler
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Congrats Karen!!

I had a similar experience to you, starting the process in September and sitting for the exam in late November, just before Thanksgiving with a similar outcome on the exam (All ATs!).

I however studied solely from PrepCast Materials and the PMBOK (of course).

I too was a bit thrown off by the break at question 89. I found the at home , virtual test taking experience to be even more stressful or at least uncomfortable than the exam itself.

Overall, it all worked out for me, and I have begun recommending this program to others interested in the PMP.
Last edit: by Heather Fowler.

Passed PMP Exam on 1st Try with all ATs! 9 months 3 weeks ago #24923

  • Rita Bhatt
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Congratulations Karen, that's a great. Thanks for sharing your success. I am about to take my exam in two weeks.
Did you take your exam online from home? If so, did you use the whiteboards for your brain dump as you mentioned (7 things that I did put in a brain dump - most of them were formulas)
I am trying to figure out if I should take it at home or at the center? Thanks,

Passed PMP Exam on 1st Try with all ATs! 9 months 3 weeks ago #24951

  • Mark Seifried
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Congratulations… very helpful overview as I start this study process. Simple question as I begin... what exactly is referred to as "ATs"? Also, what other options could it have been?
Many thanks
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