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TOPIC: Passed on first try - 6 weeks of self study.

Passed on first try - 6 weeks of self study. 3 years 3 months ago #3522

  • Ron Cruz
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Started studying on May 15th and passed with 4 proficients and 1 moderately Proficient on June 29th.

Here's what I used:
- PM Prepcast
- PMP Exam simluator (OSP)
- PM Study Prep by Rita M

Lessons learned:

- Do your braindump daily until it's second nature and talk yourself through it
I did my braindump twice a day (once when I woke up and once again before I went to bed). My braindump was essentially the 4-3 table and the following calcs (EV, PV, CV, SV, SPI, CPI, EAC, EAC - budgeted, EAC CPI/SPI based, ETC, VAC, TCPI, TCPI (from EAC), NPV, Future Value, AC from EV, Number comms channels, Pert, Pert Deviation, PTA)

And don't just write it down talk yourself through it! That's the most important part. For example don't just write down the chart of processes left to right. Talk yourself through it for example I'd say, "First I create the project charter, from that I go and Identify the stakeholders, then I need to start planning and these include..." and so on and so forth. You'll feel silly but just knowing what processes fall in what knowledge area isn't very helpful talking yourself through the interactions really helped.

Same thing with the formulas. Saying "To complete performance index is the Total value minus what I've earned divided by.." Is far more helpful than (BAC-EV)/(BAC-AC)

Take as many practice exams as possible - Find the ones that tell you what you've done wrong with a reference
In this case the PMP Exam simulator was PERFECT. Yeah I wish it'd tell you why you were wrong more often but the important part was to go through later on the ones you got wrong and it would tell you the page of the PMBOK that discussed what was asked. I would take a test at night then during lunch I'd check what I got wrong and reference that back to the PMBOK and read why I got it wrong. Also I'll admit I DID NOT read all of Rita's book I mainly just took the practice tests. There were several times where I felt trolled and several times I did not agree with her answers but they taught me how to look pass the "trollish" nature of the questions and get what they were actually asking.

Realize your real world experience will both help and hinder you
In talking to some people that have taken the test and failed they largely relied on their real-world experience to answer questions. You shouldn't necessarily ask yourself "What would I do?" You should be asking "If I had the perfect setup with puppies, sunshine and ice cream what would I do?" For example: In my industry there are a lot of contracts so the procurement part was all pretty much known to me, so that was good. But also remember that the PMI expects you to be partners with your sellers. I'm used to being strong armed by our customers and in turn strong arming our sellers, so that was bad. That was definitely a liability that I had to overcome.

Keep centralized notes
It took several hours but I created an excel sheet that had all the processes and their ITTOs on one sheet and all my notes another. This was very helpful. Especially when I would read a note and think "I wonder what processes take in WPIs?" I could go to the other sheet, apply a filter and see right away.

If at all possible, get a really bad flu halfway through your studying
I had intended to take my test after 4 weeks of studying. But in about the third week I got a terrible flu that knocked me out for a few days (and obviously pushed back my test date). But the derailment of a few days really let the facts sorta settle and become a cohesive whole. Given my aggressive time line I was always studying and taking tests. And while that was good, I was always so consumed with that, that I never let my brain have time to tie it all together, after I emerged from the flu everything just "clicked" because it had time to settle.

Read the PMBOK...but not how they tell you
Rita said in her book you should cover the PMBOK three times and Cornerlius said at least once, maybe twice. Because of that I began to read through the PMBOK right away at the beginning. That was a waste of time. Everything just sorta bounced off as "Yeah ok, whatever" and I gave it up. After I listened to the PMPrecast and had time to get used to the concepts and had them explained in further detail I went back to the PMBOK and then it made sense and it stuck. Reading it before that, or to get an understanding of the concepts was a waste of time for me until I first understood the concepts, then the PMBOK just cemented it in

Visit your testing center. Bring brain food I took Cornelius's advice and went to check out the testing center not just to map out how long the drive would take but see what it was like. I saw something I did not expect. People had brought bottles of water and snacks. I asked and they said they'd let you out of the testing center and have any snacks you brought with you. If I hadn't known that I would've just tried to drive through the whole test. It turns out taking breaks was crucial in my test taking strategy. Knowing what your testing center is like and their rules is important.

Sub divide your test into multiple passes When I took the actual test I set it up so that I would make multiple passes. In my first pass I was only answering the questions I knew I had correct and questions that did not require a lot of time. I marked a question if I was not fairly certain of the answer or if just by glancing at it I knew it would take longer than a few seconds to figure out. I went through the whole 200 questions like this. I ended up marking like 60 questions and taking 2 hours to answer the rest. Then I went outside, took a break, had some snacks (I had peanut clusters, yum!) got a drink, went to the bathroom and stretched. I then went back to the 60 questions, did the work for the long ones and answered the ones that I was fairly certain on. But I left about 20 that were really difficult marked for further review. That took about another 40 minutes. I got up took another break, cleared my mind. Came back finished the 20 outstanding questions then used the rest of the time to look through all 200 questions again. Lucky for me I had time to do that because there was at least one question that I would've missed because I had missed the words "Procurement" in the line "what is the next close procurement process you would do?"

I hope this helps and good luck to all!
Also thanks Cornelius and OSP for getting me there!
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