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Take it easy - the lesson I learnt
6 years 10 months ago #1768
Here is a short war story for all of you who are preparing for the PMP Exam and who are struggling with the practice questions/exams, the recommended material and the required 35 in-person hours required for the admission to the exam: here is a report from someone who 1. wanted to invest as little money as possible, 2. had to prepare and pass the exam in less than 8 weeks and 3. was pretty surprised on the day of the actual exam how easy the questions were worded (that does not necessarily mean that they were always easy to answer though).
Here is what I think is the minimum effort and investment that has to be made to pass the exam comfortably:
1. Get a copy of the PMBOK Guide (I bought the hard copy for approx. 25 USD) and read it twice: in hindsight, I think at least 50-65% of all exam questions can be answered just by reading this guide thoroughly).
2. To get a different view on the subject, and to salve your conscience, get one other book to prepare (I bought Rita's PMP Exam Prep on eBay for about 70 USD - I do not believe that this is the ultimate one, but I cannot really back this statement since I did not look at any other - my copy came with a demo CD of her FastTrack dummy exams which was a little older but gave me access to 100+ prep questions). I also bought a different book 4 years ago (Harold Kerzner: Project Management, a 1000-pages whopper) - while it is interesting to read more about pm work, I don't think it is necessary at all for the exam (in fact, it can be confusing if an author follows a different school of thought or uses terms in a slightly different meaning than the PMI).
3. I needed the 35 hours, too, and was considering various options - after some research I decided to opt for the second-least expensive solution, the PM Prepcast for 99 USD). A LOT of material, very well presented by Cornelius Fichtner, although at times I found that the presentation slides could use some enhanced animation/design; I guess this is the format a podcast works though. Price vs. What-You-Get: unbeatable. The test at the end of the course is a piece of cake. I can imagine though that for people with a different learning style the pretty passive approach a student takes here is not ideal.
4. I spent about 2 weeks reading the PMBOK Guide, 2 weeks listening to the prepcast and cross-referencing it to the PMBOK Guide, 2 weeks reading Rita's book and 10 days answering prep questions (only the ones in Rita's book and the free ones I could find on the Internet). Time spent per day was probably anything between 3 and 5 hours, on top of my daily work.
5. I passed the exam 7.5 weeks after starting the preparation; I spent about 800 USD for the entire endeavour (I think this is pretty much rock-bottom, there is not much room for savings anymore).
PMBOK Guide 25 USD
Rita's Book 70 USD
PM Prepcast 99 USD
PMI Membership 129 USD
PMP Exam Fee 405 USD
Travel to Test Site 80 USD
6. Day of the exam: As mentioned before, I was surprised how easy the questions were phrased. When I started preparing for the exam I heard horror stories about the wordy questions, sometimes several paragraphs long. I did not have a single one of them in my question set. Also, I think I did not have a single question with a calculation (which I was disappointed about because I found those rather easy during my preparation). Having said all this: of course I made many mistakes when answering the easy-worded questions, but I was still content with my score which was 3*Proficient and 3* Moderatly Proficient.
In a nutshell: I think that it is not necessary to over-invest money or time in order to pass the PMP exam comfortably; if I had to do this again I would give myself a little more time overall and not cram too many learning hours in a short preparation period; still, I believe that 10 weeks of preparation is more than enough.
Thank you for your interest, take care and good luck!
This interview with Simona Fallavollita (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the magnificient Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. We discuss the how, what, why and when of the changes that are coming to the PMP exam.