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TOPIC: Passed the 2020 Test! AT AT AT AT BT

Passed the 2020 Test! AT AT AT AT BT 3 months 2 weeks ago #25774

  • Keith Lasken
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I think I owe to give feedback on my journey. It might be useless with the new 2021 tests coming out, but hey, whatever.

I started "studying" in early November. I manage a lot of projects for my career, so I thought it'd be useful. I watched A LOT of YouTube videos, especially with Ricardo Vargas and Aileen Ellis. I paid for a super cheap "98% off" price of Udemy classes and videos and found it useless. It may be a great resource for some but doesn't fit my attention; way too dry. A week before Thanksgiving, I took a few free exams I found online; I was getting 55-60%, and I thought maybe I have a shot. Edited note: I applied a year ago and paid for PMI membership, but procrastinated to schedule the exam. My advice: schedule the exam! Don't schedule too far out where you procrastinate then forget. Schedule it 2-3 months out so you get in focus/survival mode to be motivated to study HARD.

The biggest asset was PM PrepCast questions. For the next 40ish days, I made sure I took 20 questions minimum per day, 50 on occasion, and every Sunday take a practice exam. Another thing I read was Head First PMP that I grabbed from the library. Edited note: Most libraries (in Amerca) if they don't have the current version, they may be able to order it for you to borrow, like they did for me. The pictures and tricks to learn the information were useful. I tried to read the Rita Mulcahy book, but it was just not digestible for me to read.

So, here's the advantage of using the PM PrepCast and Head First book together -- Head First has great information, but it does lack the smaller details. Throughout answering the 1800+ questions (which included Head First and Mulcahy's practice exams), I would Google/research terms, documents, charts, and processes that I did not read in the Head First book. I found it useful to read ALL the definitions in the back of the PMBOK guide, so they are familiar to you. There are many fake terms, reports, and processes in the exam, so having that recall memory of reading the dictionary in the back of the PMBOK guide was a big help. And if you didn't guess already, I did not read the PMBOK guide at all, just the definitions and occasionally to reference something. I did not spend a lot of time trying to memorize each process's inputs and outputs. Also, I took a gamble and did not memorize all the formulas -- I only took time to learn: BAC, EV, AC, PV, and then calculations for SPI, CPI, SV, and CV. When it comes to calculations, understand WHY you need them and WHAT the results mean. Also, know what each chart is (like Pareto, Why-Why, Tornado, etc.) and know when and why you use them. Finally, USE THE EXAM SCORE SPREADSHEET provided by Cornelious. This helped me identify trends and track my work. (I did have to make a few modifications to the calculations and format the cells where you document the time.)

Now, my test...
I found that the exam was a lot easier than the PM PrepCast questions. It seems a lot of the choices in the PrepCast were more closely related and designed to "gotcha!" type of traps. The exam choices were much more obvious where you can easily rule out two choices just by identifying the differences between what is a tool, technique, process, etc. When you have two choices left, you re-read the question to ask these questions:
-- What are they REALLY trying to ask?
-- What stage/domain is the scenario in, like whether it requires change control or not (i.e., Planning, Executing, etc.)?
-- What process group is this?
-- Was this risk identified earlier? (Because that's a big difference in how/what reserves are used and how it is documented.)

When in doubt, usually the answer choice is:
-- The PM to personally ask the conflicted individual(s) what their expectations were
-- Collaborate with everyone
-- Communicate according to the plan
-- Get approval from change control (when it is past Planning)
-- Never go to the sponsor to solve anything (This is a super rare scenario if you need to, PrepCast has a couple of questions to explain when you do.)

Before taking the test, PRACTICE WITH THE STUPID WHITEBOARD Pearson VUE uses. You can Google "Pearson VUE whiteboard practice" to try it. I do NOT recommend any brain dumping on it; waste of time. Cornelious is 110% correct when he says to use it for studying, but not for the test. Practice drawing for equations and critical path mapping. The text tool on that whiteboard is useless and clumsy.

-- For my test, there was NO MATH. I had 4 questions asking me things like what 1.3 CPI or 0.8 SPI means and what can I do to the project to correct it.
-- I drew 2 things to determine the critical path.
-- There were a handful of questions that asked how to handle issues, but occasionally sneaked into the question that it was an identified risk. Edited note: Understand risks, risk responses, risk funding how/when, and monitoring the risk response (and when that occurs).
-- Many ethical questions. Like the questions would give you a complicated scenario, but the 3 choices were wrong because it was in the wrong process group, and the fourth correct choice was to "communicate the truth."
-- Procurement, procurement, procurement, procurement... I can't say it enough. If you can't put yourself in the scenario of a buyer, seller, what "claims" are, and when to get to that point, you will be screwed.

In the end, I guess I completely pooped the bed on the Closing process questions. It is a fairly easy process, and there were 4-5 questions about when to release the team, so I likely screwed up that order. Looking back at my spreadsheet and stats, I did lose sight of my Closing scores slipping as I focused more on Planning as the exam day got closer. I'm also glad I took the 10-minute break (bathroom and rehydrate). They kind of force onto you (but you can opt-out). Also, I finished with about 15-20 minutes left. When you use the Exam Score spreadsheet, you will know roughly, on average, how much time you take on a question. With that in mind, I was able to take note of my remaining time before I went on break, then mathematically figure out how much time on average I took on the first 89 questions, and then figure out if I need to speed up or slow down. With 1:45 left after 89 questions, I was freaking out, but I felt a good groove after the break.

Well, now that I passed -- I need to work on another certification to give myself another excuse to not do the chores around the house. :-)

Add'l Edited Note: I forgot the awkward feeling when I passed the test. You just get a screen that says "Congratulations, you passed..., you will get your results in 1-3 business days" and another sentence or two. During my fist pumps of celebration and navigating through the last few clicks of the buttons, all the screens just closed... and that's it. Just staring at your desktop, like "Where do I go? What tangible evidence do I have now? I can't wait for 3 days!" After a couple of hours of checking PMI every 30 minutes, I finally thought of the idea to log back into the Pearson VUE Dashboard. Thankfully, the results were in there showing PASS and the breakdown of the results! Whew! Once I figured that out, I made this post. (A couple of days later, PMI will send you an email saying their dashboard is updated.)
The following user(s) said Thank You: Vidrine Rapp-Jones, MICHAEL BOND
Last edit: by Keith Lasken.

[email protected] 3 months 2 weeks ago #25784

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Hi Keith,
I have prepared really intensively. But I could not start the exam. According to PV, my appointment should be today, but on the PMI site it says 12/30. I am shocked. Luckily all the confirmation emails were for today. I will contact customer service on Monday. I hope I can still take the test for 2020. After all, it wasn't my fault! Congratulations to you for your success!

Passed the 2020 Test! AT AT AT AT BT 3 months 1 week ago #25896

  • Elizabeth Harrin
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Thanks for sharing your experiences, Keith. The whiteboard practicing tip is great! Congratulations on your exam success!

When you are ready to start earning PDU’s for PMP recertification, check out the PM PrepCast’s offerings, The PM Podcast and the The PDU Podcast which will help you keep up with PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR’s) and maintain your new certification.
Elizabeth Harrin

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[email protected] 3 months 1 week ago #25932

  • Keith Lasken
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I have seen on other forums where the 2020 exam is still available under circumstances; although SUPER rare. You should get your facts together and give PMI a call to see what it can take to get that straightened out. They are really nice people over the phone from my experience. Good luck.

Passed the 2020 Test! AT AT AT AT BT 3 months 1 week ago #25939

  • Vidrine Rapp-Jones
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Thank you for sharing insight and steps taken to prepare for the PMP Exam. Much appreciated!
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