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The first thing I did was start by approaching my study similar to a project. I set a goal to pass the PMP exam within 120 days. I spoke to the stakeholders involved, mainly my wife and boss, to gain their support and understanding.
I then set milestone dates as to where I wanted to be in my studies 90 days, 60 days, 30 days and 1 week from the exam date. That helped tremendously as it was very overwhelming when I started. This not only made it less stressful, but also helped me stay on target and measure my progress, identify gaps and take corrective action.
In addition to the PMBOK, I chose the PM PrepCast and Andy Crowe’s study guide for my material. I focused on one knowledge area at a time, reading and / or listening to the PM PrepCast. I found the PM PrepCast to be very helpful to not only better understand a given topic, but also to break up the amount of reading involved.
As I studied, I made my own flashcards by using 3X5 index cards. Just writing a card helped my understanding and retention of the given content, but by having them handy it was another portable way to study and to involve my wife and kids (they would quiz me from the cards every so often). The cards also added another format of study to keep things fresh. I have over 200 index cards of my own now.
After I had read the PMBOK & Andy Crowe’s book, and listened to the entire PM PrepCast, I began to take practice exams. You need to be able to control your anxiety, build your endurance (reading that many questions can be mentally and physically draining), and develop a test-taking strategy that works for you. This was extremely helpful to me as I learned to pace myself in a manner that allowed me to finish on time, but I also learned how to slow down and read (my first practice exam was little more than a disaster as I missed key words from either the question, or the answers).
I took Cornelius’ advice from the PM PrepCast and found the testing center the week before the exam. I had never been to the area, and let me say I can’t recommend this enough. The Prometric testing center was tucked away in a place that, while I found the general area quickly enough, was not easy to find. Knowing where I was going the morning of the exam gave me less to worry about.
Which brings me to the day of the exam: Be sure to give yourself every little advantage you can. Again, know where you’re going. Do you really want to have to worry about having the printed copy of MapQuest handy? Or would you rather have one less variable to worry about? Have your snack made the night before. Have your lucky socks washed and ready. Make sure, if you need to like I did, that you made arrangements to get the kids to school. Take the day off work (and don’t check email). Turn your mobile phone completely off. The idea is eliminate any and all possible stress points from your day; you want to be able to focus on the task at hand.
The testing center had cameras all over the place, including one on top of the monitor I was sitting at. That can be distracting, so be mentally ready. The proctors also walked around several times throughout the exam. I took two breaks and had to sign out/in each time, and go through a security check when coming back in. That added a few minutes each time, so again, be prepared and plan for that.
That is my PMP story, and I am sticking to it! I am not sure if she will ever ready this, but I want to thank my wife for standing by me while I was more obsessed with the finer points of what goes into a work package than I was engaged with certain family affairs. You’re the best, My Love! Thank you for always being there for me.
This interview with Simona Fallavollita (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the magnificient Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. We discuss the how, what, why and when of the changes that are coming to the PMP exam.