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TOPIC: Passed on 8/6 after first attempt!!

Passed on 8/6 after first attempt!! 5 years 6 months ago #2381

  • Amy Stevens
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I am happy to report that I passed my exam on my first attempt after several months of extensive study. Below is a brief summary of my study plan and an overview of my testing experience.

I had studied the PMP materials off and on for a couple of years but never really seriously pursued the PMP certification. In January of this year, I became more serious.

Following is the list of materials I used:

1. I began by viewing the PM Prepcast every night for several weeks. I viewed each video and took my own notes. I have a full time job, with overtime and kids who require attention in the evening so my progress was slow but steady. But I am here to tell you, a working mom CAN do this!

2. In addition to the PM Prepcast, I purchased Andy Crowe's book: The PMP Exam: How to pass on your First Try AND Head First PMP: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Passing the PMP exam by Jennifer Greene and Andrew Stellman. A lot has been mentioned about Andy's book on this site but I also really enjoyed the simple project examples in the Brain-Friendly book. The book is somewhat cartoonish but still manages to present the points in a easy to digest manner.

3. Project Management Terms by LeRoy Ward. This is a small pocket book but contains over 1800 project management terms. I really wanted to immense myself into the PM concepts

4. The PM-Exam- Simulator! This is a very VALUABLE tool and I wish I had used it earlier on in my studies. I like how Cornelius gives us the flexibility to choose full 4 hour exams OR quizzes. Due to time constraints, I used the quizes quite a bit, especially for my weaker areas. I didn't always have 2 or 4 consecutive hours but I did find several 15 minute blocks during my day to take these quizzes.

5. Of course the PMBOK! As it has been said many times, read it, learn it and think in PMIisms!!

The 2 weeks before my test, I spent 2-6 hours a day going over the simulator, reviewing my notes from the videos, re-reading the PMBOK and practicing my brain dump page. I did this while waiting on my kids' sports practices, during my lunch hour, late at night, early in the morning. It was an intense 2 weeks. I also drove to the testing center to make sure I knew where to park!

My actual testing experience:

My test was scheduled for 8 in the morning. Of course, this weekend just happened to be a major conversion at work but my exam was scheduled and I couldn't really reschedule it as my center is pretty busy in August. SO as soon as I checked my early morning work e-mails, I headed on over to the center and arrived by 7:30. I sat in my car to review for 15 minutes expecting to be ushered into the testing cubicle right at 8am. Boy was I wrong!

I entered the center at 7:45 and was greeted by at least 50 other people - most of whom were there for the MCAT. When I arrived, I showed my driver's license, the attendant checked me in and told me to place my belongings in a locker. Note to the ladies, bring a small handbag or wallet. I did this and was glad as my locker was very small. I then was told to sit in a waiting room and had to wait over and hour as the MCAT testers were all "processed". For me the wait was the worst part of my entire day! When I was finally called I was not yet shown my testing cubicle. I was taken to yet another "holding area" where I waited for another attendant to view my ID, check my pockets, "wand me" and sign in. I was also told that I could bring my sweater but if I entered the room wearing it I could not take it off and if I did my test would be over. And if I became cold half way through the test and did not initially wear my sweater, I would not be allowed to put it on. I was given 2 pencils and 4 pieces of paper. I was told I could have more only if I exchanged some used sheets. The paper was blue which I found a little distracting.

So after all of this, I was finally shown my testing station! A good 90 minutes after my arrival!!

As Cornelius has shared with us, you are first asked to take a tutorial. I was given 15 minutes and used the extra time to complete my braindump sheet. I was glad I did this as the minute I pressed the end tutorial button the actual test was there!

I can honestly say for me the test was easier than I had anticipated. Not sure if that was luck or due to my work on the PM SImulator!! Yes, the ITTOs were there. Yes, earned value formulas were required. Yes, you had to know the processes and the flows. Yes, you had to know basic terms (study the glossary) Yes, you had to know how to look for critical paths. And yes, there are questions where you are torn between two answers.

I finished my first pass in about 3 hours and then went back to review my marked answers. Finally, about 3 1/2 hours after I started, I pushed THE button. Yes, THE button the one that would decide my fate. I received a white screen and after about 2 minutes a survey popped up!! My heart dropped as I thought, did I fail? Is this it? The survey was on my testing experience. Guess the test center wants us to answer the survey before our results could potentially affect our responses. After the survey, I received another white screen, waited a few more minutes and then there it was - the PMI screen. At this point, I must say it was very anti-climatic as I actually had to read it to see if I had passed! Somehow, I had expected a green screen with flashing lights or stars! Nope, just a paragraph and there it finally was in black and white that I was now a PMP.

Upon exit, I was asked to return my paper, pencils and to sign out. The attendant then handed me my score sheet and this time is was much clearer - PASS. And off I drove. Not exactly into the sunset, but back to work and to our conversion. And then later, I took my son to a birthday party. Life goes on.

Oh one other note. I didn't tell anyone at work I was doing this. Monday morning, I changed my e-mail signature to PMP and boy I have been overwhelmed by the responses I have received! People really do recognize the effort it takes to become a PMP and the value we can bring to our companies. Word spread quickly. Even my HR department sent me a congratulatory note.

Thanks Cornelius for all your great tools!

Good luck to everyone who reads this. You too CAN pass :)
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Re:Passed on 8/6 after first attempt!! 5 years 6 months ago #2389

  • Sheryl
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Congrats. I too have been going slow and steady to accomodate life and it is good to hear the success using the same strategy. In addition, I love your choice of materials. So many say Rita is a must but I find her approach more of a list of know this without supporting explanations and am of the opionion the PMBOK can provide this (I consider the PMBOK a must). I love Andy Crowe, Headfirst and PM Prepcast as perfect materials for my learning style. The materials explain the concepts and use examples that one would encounter in an everyday scenario. I have discovered I need to read material first to give myself the overview. Then I can use the videos etc. to help bring the lessons home. I have found my retention to be high using this method becasue I understand. How did the interview sections of the Prep Cast and the text of Headfirst help? I enjoy these styles and it helps enhance my understanding (again great for my learning style discovered during this process), curious on if that technique left you with any impressions. Lastly, how were you scoring on the full test exams. I have bench marked to achieve @ 80% to deem myself ready, but that feedback from one who has passed is always helpful.
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Re:Passed on 8/6 after first attempt!! 5 years 6 months ago #2398

  • Amy Stevens
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Hi Sheryl,

I share your sentiments on the learning materials. Especially, about the PMBOK. It amazes me when I read that people passed the PMP exam claiming to have never read it. Boy, have they missed the whole point!

To answer your questions:
Prep Cast Interviews: YES! I neglected to mention how much I enjoyed all the interviews. The ones pertaining to the exam prep and actual exam day helped me to remain focused. And I did listen to all of the extra interviews provided near the end from the "experts". Those helped me to focus on the applicability. Another point is that I could listen to the interviews as I commuted.

Headfirst: I really like how the authors took the "dry" concepts from the PMBOK and brought them to life. When you first flip through the pages it doesn't appear to be a "textbook" and yet they clearly cover the topics. I am now recommending this book.

Practice exams: I only had time for one 4 hour exam which I took right after I subscribed to see where I needed to focus. I scored 71% and reviewed the areas I needed improvement. I then took MANY small quizzes - from 10 to 100 questions. I chose the questions based on my time block. My scores were all over the place 70 to 100 but for the questions I missed, I carefully reviewed the areas. The simulator is an AWESOME tool as it really taught me to carefully read and focus on the questions! My main word of advice is to not pass this step! I found several "free" exam question webpages, and looked at the back of the study books. But I my opinion, Cornelius' simulator was the closest to what I experienced on the exam.

Keep on trekking Sheryl. You WILL get there!

Good luck,
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