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TOPIC: PMP Exam Prep and Advice

PMP Exam Prep and Advice 5 years 8 months ago #2081

  • James S.
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My PMP exam lessons learned are broken into the following sections:
1. Study Materials
2. Exam Preparation Strategy
3. PMP Exam Experience

1. Study Materials
I used the PM PrepCast to obtain the 35 contact hours required to apply for PMP certification. Cornelius does a very nice job establishing the conceptual framework, PMIisms, and vocabulary that you will need in order to successfully prepare for the PMP exam. Indeed, every industry and firm has its own variation of the PMI vocabulary so it’s highly important that you know the PMI vocabulary for this exam.

I also used the following texts to prepare for the exam:
• PMBOK Guide, 4th Ed,
• PMP Exam Prep, 6th Ed. by Rita Mulcahy, PMP, and
• The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try, 4th Ed. by Andy Crowe, PMP.

2. Exam Preparation Strategy
My best advice for preparing for the PMP exam (or anything else in life) is simply this: “Inch by inch is a cinch, yard by yard is hard.” - Unknown

As part of my job as a project manager, I used the PMBOK Guide in order to document and manage projects. This helped me when it came time to study for the exam because I could easily envision the processes (inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs). You don’t have to memorize these. Just understanding them logically and conceptually was adequate for me.

My preparation for the PMP exam took about 5 months, and I spent approximately 275 hours total, which breaks down to a little under 2 hours per day.

After finishing the PM PrepCast, I carefully worked through Rita’s book, doing the exercises and taking the end of chapter tests. Next, I read the PMBOK Guide cover to cover. Then, I quickly read Andy Crowe’s book and took the chapter quizzes. Throughout this time I also went online and answered PMP questions whenever I had a few moments.

I documented all of my studies in an excel spreadsheet, capturing the study material, chapter, time spent, practice questions answered, scores, etc. This little extra effort made a big difference because I could easily see which topics I had spent more or less time on, and which areas I needed to improve.

During the two weeks leading up to the exam, I read through Rita’s book again as well as the PMBOK Guide. Then, I took Andy’s practice exam at the end of his book. According to Andy, you should feel comfortable about taking the PMP exam if you score 90% on his final exam (even after multiple attempts). I took his exam once and scored 87%. Upon reviewing my incorrect answers, I saw that I missed most in the last 50 questions. I was simply so anxious to finish the practice exam that I raced through it.

N.B. Andy’s book has a free trial to InSite, which is an online education tool from Velociteach. Use it! The site offers online tutorials and hundreds of PMP practice questions. A couple days before the exam I took one more full practice exam on InSite to get a little more practice. InSite also lets you test yourself in specific knowledge areas if you feel you need to work on certain areas.

3. PMP Exam Experience
The PMP exam felt like any other computer exam I have taken. It is relatively straightforward and easy to use. You get 15 minutes at the beginning to go through the computer tutorial. I spent this time writing down formulas and other mnemonics I used to help me study. I didn’t really need them on the exam, but the exercise helped to calm any nerves.

The questions on the exam were very situational, so you have to read carefully and identify the right PMIism that is being tested. Rita’s book did a great job of preparing me for the situational questions. The PMP exam questions were a little more difficult than Rita’s and Andy’s questions but if you’re adequately prepared you should be OK.

I took my time answering the questions and spent nearly 3 hours answering all 200, marking about 25 questions with flags. I took small breaks every 50-70 questions. After answering all of the questions I revisited the flagged questions and only changed a handful of my original answers. Then I simply finished the exam.

The computer spent about 30 seconds scoring my test and then congratulated me for passing. I was either proficient or moderately proficient in every assessment category. According to PMI, a proficient score is above average and moderately proficient is about average.

Good luck with your studies!
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