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TOPIC: Lessons Learned - Three parts... Important Advice!

Lessons Learned - Three parts... Important Advice! 6 years 3 weeks ago #1685

  • Dan Rosner
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PMP Prep- Study Process
- A study plan: (1) Started reading materials before the course (2) Took the five day course (3) Read the PMBOK and (4) Did many sample questions- 20 here, 20 there, throughout the process. Focused on it all for ~4 weeks total. Took test 5th week.
- Another study plan: Took the 3-day Citi PMP Prep Course. Used the Citi course materials as an outline and then created a notebook that supplemented the information with Rita’s guide to passing the PMP (can be purchased at Borders or Barnes & Noble for ~$90). Memorized my notebook. Never opened the PMBOK. Took practice exams from different sources (study guides, web-sites, etc.) Concentrated 6 week effort.

- Questions
• Sample Questions on the web: I tried to find free questions all over the web. Taking advantage of the free tests I could find was good, but the quality of content out there really varies. A lot of sample tests clearly have not been fully updated since the last PMBOK version, and several places I found seem to make up impossible questions to scare you into buying their coursework. But I knew I was learning when after a while I was correcting the sample test questions. Most training materials you buy come with sample questions- use them. Another ‘YMMV’: Some suggest making yourself sit through a 4-hour mock exam. (I did not.)
• The test will ask questions that will test your knowledge of not just what activities occur within a process area but the order in which they occur. Make sure that you understand the timing / process flow.
• The test will try to provide similar word choices to trick you. Pay close attention when you study to the word choices they use.
- PMBOK- good to read/know/review:
• p. 350 / in Appendix A, Review Table A1. This shows what's in the Project Management Plan and what are Project Documents. Good to know the items that compose the Project Management Plan.
• Read the Glossary and Acronyms section in the PMBOK.
• "Design of Experiments"? I have no idea what that was- maybe that's why I noticed it on so many questions. (NB- I am told this is discussed in the newer study guide materials.)
• Charter development in Integration / Initiation…
o Know what goes into the Charter in Integration/Initiation. It’s interesting to point out that the inputs into the charter match the outputs of Vendor Procurement. Conceptually this should be thought of as- well- it makes sense- what may be the input to one Project’s charter is the output of another Project’s procurement process. (One man’s floor is another man’s ceiling.)
o Know that the sequence is: Collect Requirements then Define Scope then create WBS and that the output of WBS is the scope baseline. (I think I remember that right.)


PMP Prep- Test Mechanics
• I did not take the survey at the end. Thanks but no thanks.
• Have a good breakfast. You don't eat breakfast, you say? Have a good breakfast. One person’s advice: “The testing center will allow you to bring food and drinks and put them in a locker that you can access anytime during the exam. I found it helpful to take 5 minute breaks during the exam and leave and have a sip of coffee or a bit of something to eat and then come back refreshed. “
• They provide a calculator at the testing site, for you to use
• Some testing centers are very strict about cheating and will take precautions to search you before you enter or re-enter the testing room. Some will not allow you to wear a watch and if you don’t feel comfortable leaving it in the locker, leave it at home. I had to pull out my ponytail to show that I was not hiding any strips of paper in my hair and they did frequent scans of the testing room. (Christine has the ponytail, not me. -Dan)
• Testing centers will provide headphones if you are sensitive to noise.
• First thing: Move the keyboard out of the way! You only need to use the mouse when taking the test.
• I did the brain dump: Used the intro/warm up time to write down all the math formulas memorized onto the paper they provided.
• I had no idea how I was doing. When I was done- I thought- maybe I passed maybe I didn’t. (“I felt the same way.”- Christine)
• The actual test software enables you to mark questions if you are unsure of the answer. Tip: Complete all the exam questions and then go back, if you have time, and review your marked questions.
• Time Management: That being said… I finished all the questions in the allotted time, but didn't get a chance to review all the one's I marked. It really took the four hours.

PMP Prep- Test Content
• There were Activity on Arrow diagram questions. Those of you in class with me may recall Anselm saying that AOA would not be on the test. Wrong. None of the diagrams were Activity on Node. That was unexpected. I had to convert the AOA to AON to do the problems! I studied forward/backward pass a lot, but the question we all expect to see on ‘calculate the critical path’ was an AOA diagram question.
• There was a reference to the triple constraints, and no reference to “Time, Cost, Resources, Quality, Risk, Scope” etc as multiple constraints.
- Incidentally- I found it easier to remember the six multiple constraints more by thinking of them as six of the nine knowledge areas…
- Six constraints are six of the nine knowledge areas: Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, (Human) Resources, Risk
- The other three knowledge areas: Integration, Communications, Procurement
- But as I just noted- excited as I am to share this study tip  I didn’t need it.

• There were indeed questions that used EVM math, at least one used more than the basic formulas. It was useful to actually know what the EVM formulas represented- not just how to calculate them. A suggestion I am passing along: “memorize all the formula combinations and what the mean”. Personally, I knew about four of them completely.

...What else? I didn’t see any point of total assumption, nor any- not even one- question on depreciating assets. Straight line or otherwise. There was PERT estimation. Nothing on standard deviation. But, yet again- I don’t know that the questions I got were pulled randomly from a larger pool. Once again, YMMV

• I swear to you there were two questions that the only way to answer them was to cover the question with my hand- ignore the question- and then pick the right answer. I’m convinced I got these two correct. And I saw at least one question which- I really think- I saw at least one question where the answers were for a different question. The question had nothing to do with the answers. Fascinating. Some questions I thought a blind monkey could answer some I read three times and thought... Well, the words are English, but have no clue what they were talking about. The test content could have been better designed to more effectively really test my knowledge. But I digress. My point: At a certain point the problem isn’t your knowledge- it’s the test. Don’t be discouraged if you know the content really well, but struggle through the test.

Re:Lessons Learned - Three parts... Important Advice! 5 years 11 months ago #1766

  • Toni Parks
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This is an excellent point that you bring up. That the test is AOA.

Why would the PMBOK talk about AON and test AOA? The PMBOK only talks about Activity-on-Node (AON.)


Does anyone have an answer to this question?



You are saying that the test talks about Activity-on-Arrow. I noticed that Rita's book also talks about A-O-A .

Re:Lessons Learned - Three parts... Important Advice! 5 years 11 months ago #1767

  • Cornelius Fichtner
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I have two possible answers. A good one and a bad one.

1.) This may be a question that is "left over" from the "good old days" when AOA was still in the Guide. (Not very likely)

2.) The PMBOK Guide is a GUIDE. It doesn't contain 100% of the concepts and tools that project managers around the world use. As such both AON and AOA are still being used. Also, PMI clearly says that the exam will also test you on concepts that are not necessarily found in the PMBOK Guide (but they cleverly omit telling us where we could find these...).

So what is the consequence of all of this? Don't be surprised to find questions on the test that are about concepts that are not (or no longer) on the PMP Exam. But don't let that worry you too much. Simply accept that this might be happening, read lessons learned from others so that you can see what might be on the test and do your best as you prepare for the exam.
Until Next Time,
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM
President, OSP International LLC
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