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TOPIC: Preparing for PMP

Preparing for PMP 5 years 10 months ago #1799

  • Mala Viswanath
  • Mala Viswanath's Avatar
In order to prepare for the PMP I used the following material:

(a) Rita Mulcahy's PMP Book
(b) Crosswind's - PMP Exam Success Series - By Tony Johnson
(c) Pocast from PrepCast
(d) PMBOK
(e) Classes at PMP TrainingCamp (for contact hours)

My preperation for PMP started as early as June 2008, and lasted for 2.5 years. I took the exam in Dec 2010 and passed. I studied on and off during this period.

In terms of level of effort I would say I spent at least 40 hours per knowledge area. There are nine knowledge areas. In addition to these we have framework and eithics. So my LOE for the entire PMP preperation was close to 400 hours.

Studying for PMP reminded me preparing for GRE vocabulary. The two extremes of preperation methodology were as follows:

(a)Folks who systematically memorized the GRE vocabulary list and
(b)Fols who completely ignored that section. This group relied on their rich vocabulary from reading books and journals.

PMP is very similar to the above exteremes. Your personal experience in taking the PMP will depend a lot on your personal project management experience. My background is Quality Management, and Risk Management. Hence I found these sections of PMP relatively easy. I had to work harder on other sections. But I am aware of Project Managers who went in to take the exams in their first two to three weeks of preperation of the exam and scored a high pass.

What does this mean?

We need to make an assessment of how we will do in the PMP exam. Take the mock test for PMP - Crosswind book has a mock test. The score on the mock test is good indicator for what to expect on the real exam. My first score on mock test was in 30%. But as I prepared, I could see my score slowly moving up. Even a month before the exam, I was getting only 60% - which is still below the pass percent (63%). By the week of the exam my scores had reached 80%. I felt more confident that I would get through the exam.

PREPERATION TECHNIQUE:
For each knowledge area I started by reviewing the material in Crosswinds book. This book was recommended by my co-worker. So we would read the sections at home and meet once a week and discuss the questions. Team work really helped us focus on finer points and keep the momentum going. This was book was to the point and it provided several tools and tips to take exam for a knowledge area. Once I became familiar with the knowledge area, I took the test related to that section from the Crosswinds book.

I repeated the above - review material and do the exercises at least twice gviing myself 2-3 months gap before I revised the topic. This ensured the material was going into my long term memory rather than short term.

Often times the topic was completely unfamilar to me. When that happened I googled the subject on the internet and got more in-depth material on the subject and read it till I felt confident about the material.

After two reviews of Crosswinds book, I attempted the questions from Rita M's book. I also heard the prepcast series on the knowledge area to make sure I got the important tips on the subject matter. It helped getting three different perspectives on the same subject - Crosswind, Rita and Prepcast.

Last but not the least, I looked at each table and each figure from the PMBOK for the knowledge area. Our training camp instructor and Prepcast mentioned this many-many times that the figures and tables from the PMBOK are good exam question candidates. They were so right!

If I had to do this over, I would start with PMBOK first.

In addition to all of the above, I spent at least 30 minutes each day attempting to write out the 9 knowledge areas, 5 process area groups and the 42 processes on a sheet of paper. This is key to getting through the exam. I attempted to memorize much of the ITTO associated with each of the 42 process areas. Majority of the questions were related to the ITTO of the process areas and phrased very simply.

DAY OF THE EXAM:
I had 42 process areas memorized. I had the formulas memorized. I had almost all of the ITTO for all 42 process areas memorized.

At the prosite center, we locked our personal handbags into the locker, emptied our pockets and sat down to take the exam. The first 15 minutes was a tutorial on how to use the system. It took me 5 minutes to complete the tutorial. I spent the remaining 10 minutes writing the 42 process areas and the formulas on plain paper provided by Prosite.

After exactly 15 minutes, the test started.

I was able to complete the first pass of all 200 questions within 2 hour 45 minutes. I had MARKED the questions which I wanted to revisit in the first pass of the test. I took a small break after the first pass and revisited the MARKED questions. I spent the remaining time finalizing my answers to these questions.

Majority of the questions looked as follows:

(a) The question would decribe a Knowledge Area, Process Group or Process and ask you to identify the Knowledge Area, Process Group or Process Area. So it is really key that you know the definition of each Knowledge Area, Process Group or Process Area.

(b) Questions would list INPUTS/OUTPUTS/TOOLS/TECHNIQUES for a process area and ask you to identify an outlier in the list.

(c) Questions would ask you to identify KEY inputs/outputs process area.

(d) There were several simple PLUG-PLAY formula questions from COST and TIME management sections. So understanding these formulas and practising on these is really important.

I hope this writeup was of value to you.

Thanks
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