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I did not have the required 35 contact hours and after some research decided to purchase a package that include the PM PrepCast and access to the PMP Exam Simulator. I watched the PM PrepCast initially and this took until mid-February. I would often review the appropriate sections in the PMBOK but not always. I then took a one week break.
After the break I decided to purchase the PM Study Coach. I could have prepared a similar plan myself but felt the price was reasonable and that I would be less likely to make changes to a study plan I invested in. For the next 10 weeks I spent five days per week reviewing a process (ex: Develop Project Charter) in both the PMBOK and PMP Rita while listening to the applicable PM Prepcast material on my commute to work. I also made some limited notes in a notebook focusing on the main points. Starting in week three, I did a full four hour exam with the PMP Exam Simulator and ended up doing a total of seven sample exams.
After going though all of the domains I had approximately one week before the PMP exam. I took this time to skim through the PMBOK and to review my notes. The evening before I enjoyed a nice relaxing time at home and did not study. I wanted to be as fresh as possible. I did not take the day off before the exam but that is a good suggestion if you can arrange it.
I have the following thoughts regarding my exam preparation.
1. Answer as many sample questions as possible. I didn't keep track but know that I answered 2000+ sample questions. These questions were important because they reinforced the PMI thinking and philosophy. I also reviewed each question often looking up answers in the PMBOK and highlighting important and relevant information. This highlighted material helped to focus my review the week before the exam.
2. The full four hour, 200 question sample exams were very important. It helped me to prepare mentally for the goal ahead. It was also the bulk of my sample questions.
3. The PM PrepCast is a wonderful resource. Going though this twice was very important to my preparation. I am confident you can use just the prepcast and the PMBOK and pass the exam easily.
4. PMP Rita is a good resource. The strengths in my opinion were in doing a forward and backward schedule pass, was more detailed than any other source I have seen in procurement, and 95% of the sample questions are difficult but excellent. There were some negatives -- there were times when I felt that I was be lectured to and I felt that some of Rita's material conflicted with the PMBOK (especially Rita's process guide). There were also some sample questions that I feel were either completely wrong or was simply their opinion with no supporting evidence. Overall a good book but I don't know if I would make the same decision if required to do it again.
5. If you score 80% or more on sample exams of the PMP Exam Simulator you are ready to go. My scores were between 75% to 78% for the first six exams and I scored 82.5% on my seventh sample exam. The exam questions are excellent but I would say they need more network diagram and earned value questions.
6. During the tutorial and during the first five minutes of my exam time I did a brain dump sheet. It consisted of a reproduction of table 3-1 (PMBOK 4th Edition page 43) and 15 formulas (11 of them EV). I did this at least three days per week for the 10 weeks before the exam and highly recommend it.
7. I would say that the difficulty of the actual exam was similar to the PMP Exam Simulator. I can't think of a single question that used always, must, all of the above, or none of the above. There were many times when all four answers were correct and you had to pick the best one (often not obvious by the way). There were also very few super-lengthy question like the exam simulators.
I hope others find this useful and good luck on your road to becoming a PMP.
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.