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TOPIC: Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam

Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 5 years 9 months ago #1777

  • Kimberly Bortz
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How I studied

The company I work for normally offers a 1 week prep course - but it was not offered in my area and there was no budget to travel. So I had to study on my own.

I purchased the Rita Mulcahy PMP Exam Prep first thing, and also dowloaded the PMBOK to my Kindle so that I could read it anywhere. I liked the structure of the Rita book - as well as the study tips, practice exams, questions and memory games. I didn't like feeling I was being talk down to as an inexperience PM - but I suppose that even this was a good wake up call that I couldn't think in terms of what I do - but in terms of what the PMBOK would do.

I read the PMBOK once - although most advise to read it twice. I would lose focus and figured my time would be better spent reading and listening to material that was a little less dry. In order to get through the PMBOK, I joined a study group at work that reviewed a chapter a week and took practice exams on the material. I would follow this up by reading the coresponding chapter in the Rita book.

Four weeks before my schedule exam date, I focused on practice exams. I aimed for an 85% average. I scored well on short exams and not so well (67%-76%) on the longer exams. My problem was mainly not taking my time, not reading the question, second guessing myself and not using reason and logic to get through the difficult questions. Forcing myself to slow down helped alot. Memorizing the Knowledge Areas and Process Groups also helped me to get more of the questions correct.

I purchased the PMP PrepCast and the PMP Formula guide a week before my exam. There were some core concepts I wasn't getting and I just couldn't bring myself to read the PMBOK again. So instead I listen to Cornelious explain the areas I was weak in and read corresponding chapters in Acheive PMP Exam Success: A Concise Study Guide for the Busy Project Manager. I listen to the PrepCast on my IPod and computer. I even burned it to DVD to watch it on the TV and also burned it to an audio disc so I could listen in the car. I listened whenever I had a spare second and even when I was cleaning up around the house.

I practiced my "brain dump" every night before bed. My "brain dump" consisted of the Knowledge Area/Process Group chart on page 43 of the PMBOK and time and cost equation from the PMP Formula pocket study guide. I also played the Process Game from the Rita book a number of times. Really memorize the Processes names. Sometime the difference between a right answer and a wrong answer could be recognizing a small change to a process's name (ie instead of Perform Quality Assuarance it will be listed as Perform Quality Analysis)

I did not memorize inputs and outputs, but did take time to re-read through them a number of times in the days before the exam so I could recognize the difference between inputs, outputs, tools and techniques, process and non existent terms the exam may throw at me. In order to get through the Input/Output, Tools and Technique questions I would use logic of knowing the order of the process and what would likely be needed and created in each.

There is a book published by PMI called Q & As for the PMBOK Guide, 4th edition that I recommend. True, the questions will not prepare you for the situation based questions on the PMP exam - but it will test to see if you are getting the core concepts and that helped me to focuse my studying in the last few days.

I took every free practice test I could find on the web. Some are better than others. I found Cornelius's practice exam that was included with the prep cast to be the most like the actual exam. I also thought the final exam in Acheive PMP Exam Success was pretty close to the real thing. I liked Rita's questions because they represented some of the more tough situational questions and were also worded in a way that trained you to REALLY read the question. When I took the exam, I found very few questions that were designed to trip you up - but there were a few.

The Day of the Exam
The day of the exam I was anxious to get it done. I drove to a coffee shop close to the test center to unwind and review. I got myself lunch about an hour before my appointment and that is when the nerves really kicked in and I was worried I wouldn't pass. I had to keep giving my self pep talks that I have done all I can, all I need to know is inside my head, and to just take my time.

I got to the test center and was asked for one form of ID. They did not ask for my confirmation number from PMI. They gave me a locker to put all my stuff in. I was allowed to bring in my ear plugs, but they also had head phones to use. I didn't need either of them as my fellow testers were very quiet. I could also bring in my sweater, but I had to keep it on. If I wanted to take it off I had to leave the test room and go into the lobby. I had to prove my pockets were empty.

I was given a booklet of 4 pages of scrap paper and two sharpened pencils. I was told to keep my ID face up on my desk - and to take it with me when I took breaks. I was asked to wait quietly inside the testroom, next to the door, until the test administrator set up my computer. He then waved me over and waited for me to start the tutorial.

The tutorial last 15 minutes. I quickly clicked through to the last screen and used the time to do my "Brain Dump". Once that was done, I felt calmer and was ready to start the test.

I answered the first 100 questions in about 1 hour 20 minutes - marking any of them I had the slightest resrvation about for review later. Math problems automatically got marked because in practice test I had made simple mistakes and I wanted to make sure I went over each a second time. I also wrote notes down about concepts I was having a hard time with. My experience with practice test was sometimes the answer could be found in another question. This technique help me find the answer to at least two questions.

After 100 questions I was ready for my first break. After using the bathroom and getting some water, I took a few deep breaths in the lobby and re-entered the room.

The second 100 question took more time - about 1 hour and forty minutes. For my test - most of the equations and network diagram questions were in the second half. As I got closer to the end, my heart would race wondering if I was going to pass or not. I had to keep closing my eyes, taking deep breaths and refocusing on the question. When I finished the second 100 questions I took another break.

When I came back from my break, I had about an hour to review my answers. I first went through the ones I marked - making a few changes, but for the most part tried not to second guess my first attempt. When I finished this I had 22 minutes left and contemplated review the entire test. I decided that I had done all that I could and pressed the submit button. I was asked if I was sure and confirmed it a second time.

The screen went blank and the computer grinded away for what seemed like hours. When the screen came back I was asked to complete a survey about the test center. ARG! My heart was racing because I just wanted my score. I suppose I could understand the test center wanting the opinion before giving the score - but this seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. I just started clicking as quickly as I could on whatever buttons I found first to get through the survey.

The computer grinded again for a while and poped up with a screen that said "Congratulations on Passing the PMP Exam". I cried I was so happy and relieved. I clicked to the next screen that had a break down of how I did by process group. I scored proficient (or above average) in three areas and moderately proficient (or average) in the other three. You are not given a percentage score.

I composed myself and checked out with the test adminstrator who gave me a print out of the results. She signed and stamped it.

I gathered my stuff and shared my good news with my family, friends and colleagues.

Re:Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 5 years 9 months ago #1778

  • Sivaraj
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Thanks for your valuable feedback. I am planning to think over you ways of clearing the PMP Exam



:P :ohmy:

Re:Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 5 years 9 months ago #1779

  • David Bennett
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Thanks for taking the time to give your take on the exam day process and what you did to prepare.

Re:Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 5 years 8 months ago #1895

  • Sue Huntington
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Thanks for posting this information it was very thorough!

I have taken the course read the PMBok 3 times I have gone through the PMPrep Cast and taken the crosswinds practice exam scoring around 85%. I am not scoring so well on some of the other practice exams and I wanted to also get another book and was trying to decide between Rita's and Andy Crowe's.

Any advice?

Re:Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 5 years 8 months ago #1896

  • Kim Bortz
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Hi Sue!

I also scored high on some practice exams and lower than what I was comfortable with on other. I found some practice exams to be more difficult - much more difficult than the actual exam - with too much focus on topics that are not covered in the PMBOK. Yes, there were topics on the exam about concepts not in the PMBOK, but if you have gone through the PMP PrepCast and studied the formula sheet, you should be fine.

I spent more time with Rita's book. I found her questions to be tougher and trickier - but I think that was good because it made you really think and read through the questions. I liked her process matching game and flash cards. This is a good book if you want to sit down and work through exercises and exam questions.

A common complaint about Rita's book is she talks to you as though you have no PM experience at all - or bad PM habits. I felt that way to, but I think she is emphasizing you have to be in the PMBOK frame of mind.

I never used Crowes book.

I did use Achieve PMP Success: A Concise Guide for the Project Manager during my last week of studying. I used this book to re-read areas I was struggling with on practice exams. I found it easy and quick to read and I liked they way it explained things. I also thought the exam questions at the end were of the same difficulty level you would find on the PMP exam.

Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 7 months 6 days ago #7160

  • Rick
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great break down of the exam process. I have to say I had almost the exact same experience today when I wrote the exam. The only difference is my father in law called at 2am and woke us up, I could not get back to sleep which caused a ton of anxiety. so on 2 hours sleep I wrote the exam and passed. the first 20 question were hard as it took me a while to get in the grove. at the end I reviewed the first 20 questions and I would say I changed half of them..

the best advice I can give is
1.don't second guess yourself if you don't know the answer 100% then go with you first guy reaction.

Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 7 months 5 days ago #7166

  • Tracey South
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Hi Kimberly:

Thank you for your posting your experience. I am glad you posted your test exam experience. It is not just the content of the exam that is important it is learning how to sit through such an exhaustive exam. Forcing yourself to slow down and learn how to take the exam are key in my mind.

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Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 7 months 5 days ago #7167

  • Scott Gillard
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Congrats to Kim and Rick. Great thoughts from both of you!

Of note: Our company paid for a team of folks to take a 1 week prep course. No one passed. I wasn't in our corporate city to be eligible for the course. I did it the same way Kim did. I passed on the first try. There's always something to be said for hard work and learning by doing. Having it dumped into your head doesn't guarantee you will actually grasp concepts. The PMP is NOT a memorization exam.
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Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 6 months 2 weeks ago #7230

  • Oxana Shintemirova
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At the beginning I'd like to apologize for my English, I'm from Kazakhstan, and my own language is Russian.
For passing PMP exam I’ve tried different preparing resources.
But considering the level of my English PM PrepCast was really comfortable for me.
It was later.
At first I read PMBOK Guide in Russian.
And I realized that my real work was required in implementing the Standard.
It helped me in understanding the sequence of processes from Standard.
Than I read the book of Rita Mulcahy in English.
It was interesting and absolutely useful.
Than I began learning Quizzes from PM PrepCast.
Initially it was really hard for me.
Than I realize that without learning all formulas that used on exam it would be difficult having progress in training. That is why I ordered Formula Guide from PrepCast. Absolutely perfect! Available, understandably.
And of course I understand that it is unreal to pass PMP exam without learning ITTOs. When I learned ITTOs I had to reread PMBOK Guide.
Last two weeks I prepared using the Exam simulator (PM PrepCast).
One Exam is per day. After passing Exam simulator I was sorted out wrong answers.
I can say, that explanations of all answers are great.
Last day before the Exam day I passed Exam simulator (PM PrepCast) only ITTOs.
After passing my PMP exam at first time I realized that PM PrepCast was very approximated to the real exam.
I am glad that I used PM PrepCast.
Hope that it would be useful for somebody.
I am very glad that now I am PMP!!!!

Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 6 months 2 weeks ago #7233

  • Anna
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Hi Everyone

Just cleared my PMP today (Apr 10th).

Mainly Stakeholders management, Project Charter, SOW, B.Case, Project Closing, ITTOs -not straight forward questions, Communication management vs Stakeholder communication, Procurement management; I only had 5 formula based questions in total -very straight forward on EV and EVM only. Not a single name on HR or Quality theories. 90% scenario based questions, reasonable descriptive (not too long)

Read PMBOK, Andy Crowe "How to pass PMP on your first try" (incl. 25 questions test after each chapter), took classroom based course with my PMI Chapter ( studying materials by "Passionate pmp"), took 9 mock exams in total including some online from "PMP Exam simulator" , Lehman's test-more difficult one, used apps e.g. "PMP Exam Prep", Overall about 2000 questions, YouTube "Izen-Bridge" lessons on some topics
Also joined PMP study Linkedin group and read & followed feedback on lessons learned from this website.
Studied every day Mon-Fri after work Jan- March with full 1 day at weekends. More intense studying in April and took 3 days off from work before the exam. At some point I had 2 jobs and a volunteering commitment and I recently relocated to a new country so I had a lot of happening at the same time but strong focus, persistence and commitment are important together with studying hard. Forgot the most important bit...a very good study plan for the 3 months, material clearly divided for each day of studying and reviewing it, with milestones and remember to reward yourself for delivering each milestone :)
I scheduled my exam for Monday and visited the centre before to get familiar with the facilities and how long it woudl take for toilet breaks, getting your bottle of water from the locker etc.

All the way through: Positive thinking, visualising your success, writing down your pass date, reading it and believing in it, is very powerfull.
One day before the exam -2 h revision in the morning and full relaxation afterwards (a trip to the seaside and a full body massage for a good night sleep )
On the exam day: in the morning meditation, relaxing music, positive thinking and anything boosting your confidence, do lots of positive self talk if you have mixed feelings during the exam (like I did), deep breathing, five 1-2 min breaks (toilet, drink) and one longer break after 100 questions: about 10 minutes. I arrived 1 h earlier to the exam centre and after Admin/ID checks I went for 20 min walk to relax and get some fresh air.
After the exam I only remember seeing a message "Your certificate will be sent to you within 6 weeks" and I run out of the exam room to jump up and down as I guess it meant I passed. I had to come back to the room to see the word PASS which I didn't notice initially. Also cried afterwards whcih I think was more preasure relief

Good luck to all of those who are studying!

Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 6 months 2 weeks ago #7237

  • C. George Morris PMP CSM ITIL
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Lessons Learned after Passing the PMP exam 6 months 1 week ago #7246

  • Brian Ireland
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Passed the PMP exam on first attempt April 13, 2016.
1. Read the PMBOK, but I don't think it is the best resource to learn Project Management
2. Invest in a good companion guide, I personally used the Rita Mulcahy PMP Exam Prep. It is much a much easier read and more complete than the PIMBOK. Read it at least once, better twice.
3. I purchased the Andy Crowe PMP Exam, How to Pass on Your First Try book for a down and dirty cram guide. But you wouldn't have to have it. In retrospect, the Mulcahy book would have been sufficient. But I did use both books. I read the PMBOK once. Sort of anyway.
4. Listen to the web casts twice. You pick up more the second time around.
5. Practice your brain dump early and understand it completely. I used the 47 processes, all the Earned Value formulas, the PERT, EMV, PV and FV.
6. I did not learn the inputs, T&T and Outputs. I reviewed them multiple times and tried to tie them into the overall process when reviewing them. I crammed on them the last day before my exam to make sure I was familiar with them.
7. Do a trial run to the test center. It's worth the effort so you know where to go.
8.Stop studying early the night before the test. You aren't going to learn anything more after 5 pm. Relax, walk the dogs, clear your head.
9. Go to bed early so you are well rested. I took my exam in the morning. I overestimated traffic and got to the exam center an hour early so I had time to go sit in a coffee shop and just clear the mind.
9. Don't psych yourself out. The night before the exam I put everything away and thought, "oh well, I can take it again". Then when I got the exam center and started the test, I started feeling better and thought, maybe I can pass this. The exam was not as horrific as I had imagined it would be.
10. I did find that since I was at the exam center, they allowed me to begin the test earlier than my scheduled start time. They gave me a locker and allowed my to take only the key to the locker and my ID with me into the testing center after they wanted my for metal objects.
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