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TOPIC: PMP Exam Lessons Learned

PMP Exam Lessons Learned 7 years 7 months ago #273

  • Anthony Elliott
  • Anthony Elliott's Avatar
Lessons Learned: How I prepared for the PMP exam.

I sat for the PMP exam this past June and passed it on my first try.

I acquired my 35 contact hours attending a 5 day, PM class provided by a PMI R.E.P. At that same time I became a paid member of PMI and subscribed to PrepCast which turned out to be a very good decision. In addition to the PMBOK and PrepCast, I also bought Andy Crowe's The PMP EXAM How to Pass on Your First Try and O'Reilly's Head First PMP. The PMBOK was my primary study, reference, and overall source guide. The other two books along with PrepCast PM Podcast provided alternative views, clearer explanations, and reinforcement. PrepCast’s PMPBOK Guide Study Plan, Formula Guide, 101 Questions also were invaluable study aids. With these aids, I was able to keep my study progress organized and focused.

The next step was filling out/entering my project experiences onto the PMI online credential application, which is a bit daunting and time consuming. The best way to tackle this task is to compile your PM experience offline using a spreadsheet to enter the hours you spent managing, leading, or directing each activity within the projects you have undertaken or participated in. (TIP: No need to reinvent the wheel here. A blank, formatted experience/hours Excel spreadsheet is available from PrepCast for a small fee. Get It!) When done compiling your project experience/hours, simply transfer your project experience data onto PMI’s online application.

Four days after I submitted my complete application, I received email notification that I was eligible to take the exam and had one year to do so. I scheduled my exam for June 30, eight weeks before the 4th edition was to take effect on July 1.

I committed to a goal of no less than 2 hours of daily study for eight weeks. I began each study session mapping out the knowledge areas and process groups on a blank sheet of paper. (By the second week of study, I was able to map all the process groups and knowledge areas without looking at the table on pg. 70(PMBOK, 3rd edition). I then read a chapter section from the PMBOK, simultaneously listening to the corresponding Podcast module.

In the sixth week I included the memorization of earned value formulas as part of my pre-study routine. I wrote out the formulas on a blank sheet of paper and cross checked them with the PrepCast formula pocket guide.

In addition to the PrepCast practice exams, and chapter quizzes/tests from the Andy Crowe and Head First books, I took free online simulation/mock tests which were extremely helpful. Take as many mock tests as you can, they’re free!. Start with a 10 question mock test, then 25, 50, 75, 100, etc. The PrepCast study guide has a list of websites that offer mock exams for free as well as those that can be purchased. Your choice.

Exam Time
On the day of the exam, I checked in ½ hour early at the test center. I was assigned a locker to secure my wallet, coins, watch, bottle water, and snacks. At a few minutes to the hour, my name was called, I signed a document and was led to a cubicle equipped with a chair, keyboard, mouse, headset, and a flat screen monitor. I was given 2 pencils and blank sheets of paper. I did my formula brain dump and used the remaining time to go through the exam tutorial.

The first question was not difficult to answer. However, I just could not seem to grasp the context of the next four-five questions. I marked these for review and moved on. I marked for review about 8 situational questions and about 3 formula questions. I came back to these questions after No. 200 and answered them as best I could. I had eight minutes left and used it up to recheck my answers on the formula questions.

At the end I filled out an on-screen survey, my screen went blank and in what seems like forever, I received the congratulatory message I passed. A most welcome relief!

There is a ton of advice out there on how to study for and pass the PMP exam. I’m sure they’re all good. I chose PrepCast, Crowe’s The PMP Exam, and O’Reilly’s Head First because they were 1)inexpensive and 2)customer reviews were very positive. Again: Your choice.

Good Luck!
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