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TOPIC: Lessons Learned in Passing PMP Exam

Lessons Learned in Passing PMP Exam 5 years 8 months ago #1823

  • Deborah Banks
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I passed the PMP exam on Jan 22, 2011, on my first attempt. I started preparing for the exam in late September of 2010 by signing up for the PMP Training Camp, and started working thru the PrepCast podcasts. When I went to the Training Camp in the first week of January, I had completed the podcasts and really was prepared to make good use of the intense week in Training Camp.

The podcasts go thru the 42 processes one knowledge area at a time. Then the Training Camp went thru the processes one process group at a time. It was helpful having both approaches. The Training Camp instructor also helped us think of tricks and mnemonics for memorizing the formulas and the PMBOK chart on page 43. For example, the one I figured out for listing the knowledge areas is "I See The Cat Quietly Hunting Chocolate Rabbit Parts." When I left the training camp, I could write out the chart from memory and already knew most of the formulas as well. Each day after that I took time to at least do my "brain dump" practice, by writing out the chart and formulas, even if I did no other studying that day.

I spent the 3 days of the MLK weekend at home going thru Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep Book. Excellent, excellent book. She is by far the hardest of the sources I used, and I also purchased her sample exams. Her book helped me get more comfortable with the processes that I tended to mix up, such as Verify Scope versus Perform Quality Control versus Control Scope. She spends a lot of time on what actually happens in each process, instead of just listing the inputs, tools & techniques and outputs. She tells you which processes to focus on and what few things you need to memorize.

I took 2 days off work right before the exam, and used the time to read the PMBOK again, and then reviewed Mulcahy's book again. Also, I took Mulcahy's hardest 200 question exam the day before the exam. I had used index cards to create my own flash cards during the Training Camp, so I reviewed these again also. This helped a lot in remembering the different terms, acronyms and concepts.

At the exam I used the tutorial time to write out my process chart and formulas. The exam I got was a surprise in that it was much easier than the Mulcahy questions. I finished the 200 questions in about 2 hours and 20 minutes. I had learned in my practice tests that I make careless mistakes, so I spent another half hour reviewing all 200 answers again. Then I submitted the answers and got my PASS.

My testing center was great in that the physical environment was nice: quiet, plenty of space between test takers, comfortable temperature. The one small difficulty was that the calculator on the PC did not recognize number keys being pressed. I had to use the mouse to select each number key. Since I only skimmed the tutorial, I perhaps missed some tip for getting it to work properly, but this was a bit of a pain. On the other hand I only needed the calculator for 8 or 9 questions. So my experience was that if you can get over 80% on Rita Mulcahy's sample questions, you will do fine on the exam. Good luck!
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