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TOPIC: Passed Exam First Attempt

Passed Exam First Attempt 3 years 5 months ago #24999

  • Jesse
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I took the online exam last week and passed my first attempt. Figured I'd share some exam and study tips.
Lessons Learned: Starting with lessons learned as these I think would be most important for anyone looking to take the exam.
• I didn't get serious about studying until after I booked my test
• The exam simulator was likely the best study tool I used and matched the actual test very well
• If you can make it into the testing location, I would recommend it over online (more info below)
• There is no way to do a brain-dump when testing online
• Develop a study plan, don't simply skim through the PMBOK
• See if there is a trend in exam sim results. For me the first 10-30 questions in sim exams were a higher rate of incorrect than the middle. The questions I marked were also normally correct, while the wrong answers were normally unmarked and I just missed a small detail in the question
• After question 89 there is a 10 minute break, so make sure to manage the time for that last 110 questions
• Take your time re-reading and reviewing marked question if you need, there is plenty of time

Study Plan:
For months I casually read the PMBOK sometimes letting a week go by between opening the book again. Figured I had plenty of time to take the test. With around 3 months before the end of the year (as the test will change in Jan 2021), I activated the simulator and did 10 practice quizzes of 10 questions each for every knowledge area. I failed pretty much every one ☹. I booked my test about 2-months from that point to force myself to study, which also gave me about 1 month left on the simulator license if I had to re-take the test.
Obviously reading casually through the PMBOK did not help, so I opened a google sheet and re-read every knowledge area in the PMBOK while taking notes to my google drive. Just the action of taking notes and reading the PMBOK in a shorter timespan helped me retain the information. I also wrote down the 49 processes on page 25 of the PMBOK, the EV, trend, variance, 3-point estimating, and communication channel formulas almost every day for 3-weeks prior to the test, to memorize them and practice a “brain dump” for the exam.
After re-reading each knowledge area chapter and taking notes, I re-took the practice quiz for that knowledge area (10 questions) and averaged around 8/10 correct. About 2 weeks prior to the exam, once I went through all the knowledge areas, I took my first full 200 question practice test in the simulator and got around 80%. I studied the spread of concern based on the scores, and 1 week later took another 200 question practice test. I got around 78% on that 2nd one. I took another couple 50 question practice tests in the days leading up to the exam and pretty much stayed consistent around 78-80% regardless of additional studying.

Exam Day:
I was not a fan of the online exam process. I logged in 30 minutes early and took pictures of my work-space as part of the check-in process. I submitted my ID picture and workspace pics and waited in a lobby. About 15 minutes into waiting a banner popped up on the lobby page saying something along the lines of “something went wrong, you are waiting longer than expected. Click HERE to open a ticket and re-schedule the exam. Do not close this window.”
Not what you want to see. I left the window open, clicked the banner link, and waited on an online chat support site for around 20 minutes. At this point I was 15-20 minutes past the scheduled start of the exam, no support escalation, and no indication on when a support rep will connect to me. Finally, my proctor initiated the exam window so I could begin.
The exam tutorial walked through notes, calculator, chat, and drawing buttons in the testing app, but the calc and notes buttons were not actually in the app when the tutorial was walking through them. Reluctant to start the test without ensuring I will have access to notes and a calculator, I reached out to the proctor to ensure I can expect to see these apps when the test starts. He never replied and eventually I just started the test. Once the test started, all the proper icons show up as depicted in the tutorial.
The first thing I did was open the notes tool to do a brain dump. They will not allow any paper for the at-home test, only in-person tests. So I figured I’d use the notes for the brain dump. Turns out it’s like notepad on Windows 10 without the ability to tab. I quickly determined that duplicating the 49 process matrix and formulas was impossible with such a horrible interface. I also discovered that any notes clear for every question, making that tool useless and leaving me without any way to do a brain-dump.
Early on in the exam the proctor chatted to me as I was “moving my lips” while reading. I do that often when I am paying close attention to details in the questions. He threatened to fail me if I continue to move my lips. Definitely not something you want to have on your mind after such a headache getting the test started. The exam was very similar to PrepCast’s exam simulator with a more clunky interface. You need to highlight text prior to crossing it out for instance and you can’t just right-click like on the simulator, I wish I hooked in a mouse instead of using a trackpad. After question 89 you get a 10 minute break. I finished and reviewed for 20 minutes or so while leaving myself enough time to complete the other 110 questions.
After the break, which you can end early if you’d like, you go into the 2nd half of 110 questions. With about 90 questions left to go Java popped up on my Mac asking me to update. This kicked me out of the exam and I needed to “wait for the proctor to let you back in.” He did in about 5 minutes and then another 5 questions into it, he chatted me again with a more serious warning about moving my lips as I read. So for the last 85 questions I had my left hand over my lips to not subconsciously move them as I dissected the questions. I again finished early and reviewed some questions.

Final Takeaway:
The exam was no where as difficult than dealing with the technical issues, clunky interface, lack of brain-dump, and (in my opinion) overbearing proctor. In-person tests I have taken at testing centers in the past have gone a lot smoother. But in any case, do make sure to plan a structured study plan and consider the investment into the PM Prepcast’s exam simulator, it’s very much worth it.

Passed Exam First Attempt 3 years 5 months ago #25036

  • Yolanda Mabutas
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Congratulations, Jesse!

Thank you for sharing your journey.
Yolanda Mabutas
OSP International LLC
Moderators: Yolanda MabutasMary Kathrine PaduaJohn Paul Bugarin

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