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TOPIC: The road to my PMP Certification

The road to my PMP Certification 1 month 1 week ago #30101

  • Daniel Soerensen
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I want to start by stating that I passed my PMP exam (first attempt) with above target for the People domain, above target for the Process domain, and Target for the Business Environment domain. It took me about 3 months of intense studying and preparation to earn this huge accomplishment. For a couple of years I've been putting the exam off and giving plenty of excuses for not seeking the PMP certification like COVID, ECO changes, updated PMBOK, having my first born child, etc. This year around September I decided I would start working on the application and stick to it. I started by purchasing the PM Precast and watched every single video and followed the recommendations to the T. This allowed me to get the contact hours required for the application, and already having the other requirements I prepared my application and submitted it to PMI.

I was happy to see my application getting approved a few days later, and I did not get audited even though I had prepared all the materials that supported my application in case I got audited. I took this journey as a project itself with weekly activities, timelines and costs. I purchased the PM Prepcast and Exam Simulator package and I took my first simulation exam after going through all the videos in the Precast and reading the PMBOK (7th edition) and Agile Practice Guide from PMI. The lessons in the Precast include references such as the Agile Manifesto, Scrum guide, etc which I also went through as part of the Prepcast activities. I got 71% in my first exam and then I took Cornelius' recommendation of reviewing every question even if correct to understand the rationale behind the answers. I also used this forum to review the lessons learned for the PMP exam as it was instructed at the Welcoming page of the Precast, and I found a lot of helpful tips that I decided to use. For example, a lot of people were referencing the 200 Agile questions on YouTube, and I ended up watching that video in its entirety. I would pause the video after reading the question and answered the question myself on a piece of paper before continuing the video and finding out what the correct answer was. This helped tremendously in preparing myself for the agile questions that many people were alluding to on the exam.

I continued with the process of taking the remaining simulation exams (one per week) and using the whole week for reviewing the answers from the exam. I got 77% on exam 2, and 78% on exams 3 and 4. Although I didn't improve my score in exam 4, it was the first time I received Above Target on all three domains, so that was worth noting as an improvement. A week before my exam, as I was preparing for the exam day, I began reading more forums, and I started noticing some positive reviews on PMI's Study Hall. I decided to give the basic version a try. Although I did not have enough time to complete the education modules, I took advantage of two additional simulation exams and some short 15 question quizzes. An added bonus is that you can do a short 25 question simulation using the real Pearson Vue platform to get familiar with how to use the tools. At this point I was probably over preparing, but I must say the questions from the Study Hall are a lot more vague than the ones I found in the Exam Simulator from OSP International. Cornelius does explain why this is the case, citing that people complain of the vagueness and leave the product bad reviews as a result. On the PMP exam I was presented with a balanced combination of vagueness. Questions as vague as the ones from the Study Hall but also not as vague as the ones from the Exam Simulator. Having completed a total of 6 simulation exams and reviewing at least 2000 questions, I felt extremely confident on examination day, and I was not nervous at all. My exam was at 2 in the afternoon, so I took all morning to relax, wrap some Christmas gifts, and not look at any further PMP material for review. This extra rest in the morning was really helpful as I felt rested and calm during the exam.

I decided to take the exam at an examination centre since I did not want to deal with the additional rules that come with the online examination. There's pros and cons for either approach so this was purely a matter of personal preference. The centre was nice and quiet and it allowed me to concentrate throughout the exam. At the centre, I followed the registration process which did not take more than 10 minutes, placed my items in a locker, and I was allowed to take my snacks and water in a separate break room so I didn't have to go to my locker for each break. Note the break room was a separate room from the exam room, so I was not allowed to bring anything to the exam room other than myself. They provided me with a laminated booklet with blank pages and an erasable marker to take notes if I wanted to, although I did not end up needing any of it. I also did not need a calculator. I sped through the tutorial since I already had taken the Pearson Vue simulation from PMI Study Hall and I was familiar with the highlight and strikethrough tools from the platform. As I started the exam, the questions were in a very similar format from the 2000+ questions that I had taken, so I was very familiar with the level of vagueness having covered the entire vagueness spectrum, and I was ready for any level that popped up. Question after question I felt like I was simply doing another simulation exam. Going through multiple simulation exams from multiple sources really gave me the preparation and confidence that was needed for passing the exam. I took the 10 minute breaks after questions 60 and 120 (these breaks do not count towards the time countdown so make sure you take them). There is a reason PMI included these breaks recently, but I'm glad it didn't take PMI longer to realize that humans are not machines, and it is just so much harder to stay focused and concentrated for 4 hours straight. I did not review the first 120 questions because I felt confident with my answers and I wanted to save my time and energy for the grand finale. I knew I would take longer to answer the last 60 questions as this was my experience from all my simulation exams, and it also makes sense since at that point your brain really starts to get tired. Nevertheless, I finished the exam with 40 minutes remaining so I decided to quickly start reviewing each question until the timer ran out. I had about 30 questions remaining to review, but since I did not make any changes as I reviewed the first 30 minutes, I ended the exam with 1 minute remaining.

The result popped up instantly with a congratulations message. My mission was finally accomplished after two years of procrastination and finally deciding to commit a full 3 months studying to pass the exam. My efforts truly paid off. The last lesson learned I want to leave here is: if you take the time, dedication and effort to prepare for the PMP exam and you truly give it the attention it deserves you are guaranteed to see the fruit of your hard work. The exam is not impossible, it is not difficult and it is not made to make you fail.

I wish you all a great journey and I am happy to answer any question that might follow from this post.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gvantsa Sauri , Dominic Hickey
Last edit: by Daniel Soerensen.

The road to my PMP Certification 1 month 1 week ago #30102

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Daniel,

Congratulations on passing your exam!

Thank you for sharing your success and lessons learned. We are glad to hear that our products helped you prepare for and pass your exam.

Good luck in all your future endeavors!
Regards,
Stan Po, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM, CIPP
Product and Program Manager
OSP International LLC

The road to my PMP Certification 4 weeks 2 days ago #30117

  • Dominic Hickey
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Daniel,
Thank you very much for your detailed and enlightening post, which resonated strongly for me. I only saw it yesterday, three weeks before my PMP exam date.

The materials you mentioned studying and your score in the first Exam Simulator exam are virtually identical to mine. Until now, I had been feeling more and more confident about my abilities and PM knowledge thanks to having covered almost all the pool of Premium Quiz questions here in PrepCast and thoroughly absorbing the explanations for each solution afterwards.

Your description inspired me to pay for the PMI Study Hall Essentials package to supplement my current studies. What a change in style! The questions are certainly very different, much vaguer than those found in PrepCast. In the space of an afternoon, I went from feeling quietly confident (averaging 84% overall for the last couple of weeks on PrepCast) to worrying that I won't even pass, averaging in the mid-50s on PMI Study Hall ! Even when I read and re-read the explanations in the PMI Study Hall questions, I often feel like I don't fully understand the reasoning behind the explanation. Whereas in PrepCast I feel like it's usually very easy to eliminate two of the four responses and then straightforward to choose a final answer, in the PMI questions I tend to find myself not being able to choose between three possible right answers.
But I suppose this might be a good thing, as it shakes me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to work on sharpening my approach. Let's see how I do on the remaining Exam Simulator exams and the two Study Hall exams. I just hope that the questions in the real exam don't leave me feeling as unsure of myself as the current questions that I'm coming across on PMI's platform!

The road to my PMP Certification 4 weeks 2 days ago #30118

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Hello Dominic,

Your experience seems to mirror what others have written as well. However, later on, after taking and passing the exam, many wrote in their Lessons Learned that the Study Hall questions were a distraction.

I would appreciate it if you wouldn't mind returning to this post here after you pass and letting me know what your experience is going to be. I'd love to know which questions are closer.
Until Next Time,
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM
President, OSP International LLC

The road to my PMP Certification 4 weeks 2 days ago #30119

  • Dominic Hickey
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Thank you very much for reassuring input, Cornelius. Yes, I promise that I will.

I shall continue to use and learn from the Exam Simulator questions (still ~200 more quiz pool questions to do, plus three exams), which have been the backbone for my studying, perhaps even more useful than reading the various publications in the reading lists. The explanations in the solutions are extremely useful for bringing the various concepts and principles to life for me. Keep up the good work!

The road to my PMP Certification 4 weeks 1 day ago #30120

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Hello Dominic,
It sounds like you are preparing well for your exam with the PM PrepCast Exam Sim for PMP and PMI's Study Hall.

From statistics we generate from those who have taken their exam, answering questions correctly (on the first attempt) in the range of 70-80% correlates with a 78% percent chance of passing the exam on your first attempt. If you are now averaging 84% correct answers the first time you see the question, your odds of passing the exam on your first attempt increase to 82%. These statistics are viewable by clicking on the My Statistics link on the Exams and Quizzes homepage. Click on the Exam Feedback tab to see the latest statistics. You look to be in great shape even if you take your exam tomorrow. We recommend you give your brain a rest of 1-2 days before you sit for the exam. A good meal and a full night's sleep before your exam are also very important.

Your feedback and comparing questions in each question bank relative to those on your PMP Exam would be invaluable. Please, avoid sharing specific question examples. We are an ethical company and do not want anyone violating the agreement that forbids sharing "specific content" of PMI examination questions with anyone after your exam.

Thank you for your posts, and best of luck on exam day!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dominic Hickey

The road to my PMP Certification 4 weeks 1 day ago #30124

  • Daniel Soerensen
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Dominic, please don't feel discouraged by your PMI Study Hall experience. I also got much lower scores in those simulation exams, but on the exam I found the questions and answer choices to be a nice balance in level of vagueness between what you'll find int he Exam Simulator from OSP and the ones from the Study Hall. Overall, the questions were similar to what you'll find in both simulators, probably closer to the OSP Exam Simulator, but the answer choices were a little more elaborate as the ones from the Study Hall. I feel like around 70-80% of the questions also had answer choices that you could easily eliminate, similar to the ones from the OSP Exam Simulator.
I tend to agree with Cornelius on the distraction point. The PMI Study Hall modules contain cool articles and videos, but are not necessary to prepare you for the exam. OSP does a great job with the Prep Cast, and I found this was more than enough material to digest. I did not end up completing the modules, but going through the questions from the Study Hall did give me that extra boost of confidence going into the exam. Lastly, this goes back to my original post. The exam itself is not difficult and it seems like you are definitely in the right track preparing for it. Continue to prepare as you are, and I agree with Jonathan, that having that day off before the exam and not looking at a single PMP related material or question was helpful in giving me the energy I needed for the actual exam.

Cornelius and OSP team, I would like to congratulate you and thank you for the incredible material you've put together to help students like me prepare for the PMP Exam. I would love to give you more feedback on your products, although I must say you are nearing perfection. Please let me know if there is a platform where I can give back to you through discussion and feedback if you want to use my recent experience taking the PMP exam so you can continue to monitor and evaluate the trends to maintain your products current.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dominic Hickey

The road to my PMP Certification 3 weeks 6 days ago #30133

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Hello Daniel, and Happy New Year!

Thank you again for your kind words about our products and your generous offer to provide feedback!

I've just sent you a private message via our Zendesk support tool with some ideas on how this can be done.

Congratulations again on becoming a PMP!
Regards,
Stan Po, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM, CIPP
Product and Program Manager
OSP International LLC

The road to my PMP Certification 3 weeks 2 days ago #30148

  • Jonathan Hebert - Instructor
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Hello Dominic,
We hope your preparation is going well. In my personal opinion, you're going to CRUSH the PMP Exam.
Don't forget to give your grey matter a day or two rest before the exam.
Best of luck on exam day.

The team at the PM PrepCast

The road to my PMP Certification 3 weeks 1 day ago #30149

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Hello Jonathan,
Sincere thanks for your kind words of encouragement. Things are on course so far, but I know that there are gaps in my knowledge that I should fill in order to guarantee a solid result on the day. It has been many years since I last sat a real exam, but the PrepCast Premium Quizzes and Exam Simulator have been invaluable to me. I will certainly come back to these forums afterwards to report my feedback (without revealing anything about the questions themselves).

The road to my PMP Certification 1 week 3 days ago #30170

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Hello everyone,
I’m returning as promised, having taken the PMP earlier this week. (Sorry for piggy-backing your thread, @Daniel Soerensen, rather than starting a new topic, but I hope it makes the conversations easier to follow.)
First of all, I’m very happy to report that I passed on my first attempt, with AT/AT/AT. I can confidently say that using PM PrepCast’s PMP Exam Simulator questions (all of the Premium Quizzes content and Exams 1-4, all once each) was crucial in helping to develop the knowledge and mindset necessary.

My preparation started ten weeks ago along with the first contact hours in a local in-person class run by a very experienced PMP trainer. Since then, I have spent a total of just under 100 hours using PM PrepCast either answering those questions or, significantly, reading through all of the solutions and explanations to the questions. That was really the key for me, I believe. There’s a little treasure in each one! While sitting the practice exams is a marathon, going through 180 solutions and the explanations after each one took me two or three times more than each exam session. Definitely useful, though, in my opinion.

Alongside PrepCast and the class contact hours, I can account for another 50 hours spent reading texts, making notes, creating 600+ virtual flashcards, watching YouTube videos (including many by Cornelius Fichtner), and in some pair study sessions. Of course, real world project management experience also counts for a great deal, but while I have a number of years of PM work under my belt (I’m no spring chicken), this was the first time that I’d really absorbed formalized theory on the subject… and I loved it. I was highly motivated during this learning phase, not just to gain the certification, but to really integrate the knowledge in order to further improve my approaches to project work.

Our contact class used two core texts: the PMBOK 7 and the Agile Guide. (The Scrum Guide was also a key source.) Interestingly, I have still never had any contact with the PMBOK 6. I did find Ricardo Vargas’ 53-minute video on the processes in PMBOK 6 highly informative, but I think I developed my understanding of the process groups and the associated inputs, outputs, tools and techniques principally from the explanations to PrepCast Quiz/Exam questions more than anywhere else. I did actually buy an electronic copy of the new Process Groups: A Practice Guide a week or so after it was published, but I have to admit that I didn’t get much further than skim reading parts of it and working through the glossary to check what was new to me. (Just didn’t have time, and was making prioritization decisions.) I’ll be reading through it in the near future, now that the exam pressure’s off, as I still want to gain better knowledge of this aspect.

As for exam preparation, I was doing pretty well in PrepCast. I took Exam 1 a month before the real one and got 72%, building up progressively to 83% in Exam 4 just three days before the PMP. I even took the good advice to back off on the day before and to try to be fresh. That’s easier said than done when you’re finding it hard to sleep and you have to be up before 6am to get to the test centre in the snow… but I did my best (minimal caffeine the day before, some light exercise, not studying anything new, and then trying to switch off mentally six hours before lights-off).

Come exam time, I knew I was as ready as could be reasonably expected. My food and drink plan was spot on (tried and tested doing the PrepCast exams at the same time of day as the real thing), and I was almost looking forward to the experience! I get shown to my assigned station, put my earplugs in, follow the Pearson VUE tutorial, and… what fresh hell was this?!
Okay, so did I pass with a good score, so all was well in the end, but the exam-taking experience was not pleasant. I’m still trying to put my finger on what makes the PMI questions feel so different to the ones I had got used to in PrepCast. Yes, the PrepCast ones are more detailed; yes, the PMI ones tend to feel ‘vague’, but… there’s something else. Very often, I got the feeling that the exam questions left too much of a chasm between the question context and the answer options, meaning that I couldn’t grasp what they were really trying to get at. Often, not just two but three answers seemed like totally acceptable answers. I suppose I lucked out in many cases when going for the option I selected.

I’m a native English speaker and took the questions in English. I’ve spent the last 25 years working in international contexts and in other languages. I am used to reading and working with American English and even approximative ‘international English’. In a number of cases during the exam, there were errors in syntax and grammar that aren’t attributable to variants and styles of English, but simply a lack of proofreading. Odd that these don’t get properly checked.

Errors aside, I still have to say that the questions that I came across in PMI Study Hall were of a similar nature to what I saw in the exam. I did decide not to spend more time with PMI Study Hall in the short time I had left before the exam, but I wouldn’t dismiss the platform as not useful. Instead, I’d say that having PMI Study Hall would have been a good complement to what I was doing with PrepCast, and that having more contact with the vague question style would have been better earlier in my process. I am very glad to have used PrepCast and wouldn’t have replaced it with PMI Study Hall, especially since I didn’t have PMBOK 6 as a resource, only PMBOK 7.
To anyone reading this who hasn’t taken the exam, I hope that it’s useful. I’d recommend above all else an active learning approach, like the PrepCast questions enable, and a regular, daily intake of information. And yes, being fresh for the exam is extremely important. Anyone can perform at a high level mentally for, say, 20 minutes, when tired; 250 minutes is an entirely different challenge.
Last edit: by Dominic Hickey.

The road to my PMP Certification 1 week 2 hours ago #30182

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Congratulations, Dominic, on passing your PMP Exam and accomplishing an important milestone in your career!

You had an excellent plan and executed it well. It feels great to know that PM PrepCast products and the LL forum posts provided by others contributed to your success. I'm happy to see you and Daniel Sorenson give back to the community by sharing your preparation, journey, and experience at the testing center. Your comments and comparisons will help to prepare other PMP aspirants and contribute to our continuous product improvement process. Speaking for the PM PrepCast team, your success and willingness to assist others make our day!

Time to put those three letters PMP on your signature line and celebrate a job well done.
Cheers!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dominic Hickey

The road to my PMP Certification 1 week 1 hour ago #30184

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Dominic,

Congratulations on passing your exam!

Thank you for sharing your success and lessons learned. We are glad to hear that our products helped you prepare for and pass your exam.

Good luck in all your future endeavors!
Regards,
Stan Po, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM, CIPP
Product and Program Manager
OSP International LLC
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dominic Hickey

The road to my PMP Certification 6 days 8 minutes ago #30189

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Thank you so much for giving your feedback. I will take it onboard.
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