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TOPIC: ME: 1, PMP: 0 (Passed 1st try, 5 weeks studying)

ME: 1, PMP: 0 (Passed 1st try, 5 weeks studying) 3 years 2 months ago #3640

  • Pablo Simmonds
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Yes, it's official. As of July 27, 2013, I am a PMP!!!

Fortunately, I was blessed to do this with only 5 weeks of total prep, so I'll try to briefly describe exactly how I studied in the hopes that it will help somebody else reach their goal of passing the exam.

Step 1: Listen to the PMP PrepCast - I downloaded all of the podcasts and, in two weeks, I listened to everything except the interviews, the applied concepts, and the episodes on exam logistics. I took notes on everything, especially the inputs, T&Ts, and outputs of each process. I use Evernote so that it was easy for me to go through the episodes at home or during down time at the office.

Step 2: Practice creating a "brain dump" sheet - One of the best suggestions from the podcast was a brain dump sheet. I practiced creating one twice a day for 1 week. In that time, I felt pretty comfortable doing it, so I only did it once a day for the other 2 weeks. My sheet included the chart with all of the Knowledge Areas and Process Groups, as well the formulas (CV, SV, CPI, CPI, EAC, TCPI, Present Value).

Step 3: Read the PMI Code of Ethics - I'm not sure how much this helped, but I did it anyway. It's short enough that it can't hurt.

Step 4: Read glossary in PMBOK Guide - Another great suggestion from the PrepCast. I went through each term in the glossary. If I saw a term I wasn't familiar with, I'd put the term and it's definition in my notes. I also created a separate section of my notes to group similar terms so I could see the differences between them (i.e., Exploit vs Enhance Risks, Enterprise Environmental Factors vs Organizational Process Assets, etc)

Step 5: Create spreadsheet of processes - This was critically important for me. I created a spreadsheet with the Knowledge Area, Process Group, Process Name, Process Definition, Inputs, T&Ts, and Outputs for each of the processes. Once I did, I started filtering the sheet in various ways to better understand how the processes fit together and to see patterns to help me answer questions. For example, filtering for Change Requests on the Outputs column, or EEF on the Inputs column made it suddenly clear which processes included each, and why. And just looking at the processes in a particular Knowledge Area (Quality, for example), made it clear what was being done in each process and at what point the next process started. As stressed in the PrepCast, it's not so important to memorize all of this, and I didn't even try. The important part is to understand what's being done and why.

Step 6: Read notes - I didn't read the PMBOK Guide (well, not completely...more on that later). Instead, I read my notes a couple times. It helped me to remember little details that weren't in my spreadsheet or brain dump sheet.

Step 7: Take practice exams and quizzes through the PMP Exam Simulator - By the time I got to this point, I only had about 2 weeks to study. For the first 3-4 days, I took 50 question quizzes. I then took 100 question quizzes, and finally mixed in a couple 200 question exams (I only took two of these before taking the real thing, but wish I had taken three). I rarely took quizzes/exams on back-to-back days. As I went through the tests, I'd mark a question for review if I wasn't sure of the answer, or thought there could be something on the subject that I needed to read more about.

Step 8: Review all marked and incorrect answers - This is where I read the PMBOK Guide. The great thing about the PMP Exam Simulator is that it'll tell you where in the PMBOK Guide you can find the answer to a question. So for the questions I marked for review or got wrong, I'd read in the PMBOK Guide. Sometimes I'd just read one paragraph, other times I'd read an entire section. It all depended on how comfortable I felt with the subject. The less I knew, the more I read.

Step 9: REST - As you can imagine, this was a pretty hectic schedule. I studied for 2-5 hours 6-7 days a week. So the day before my exam, I just relaxed. No studying, no work. I spent the entire day playing video games and watching movies, and went to bed early. The day of the exam, I ate a light breakfast, practiced my brain dump sheet, read through 5 minutes of my notes, and listened to the gospel station on the way to testing center (oh yeah, lots of praying going on that morning)

Step 10: Pass Exam, Thank God and CELEBRATE!!! (Pretty self-explanatory)

So, that's how I did it. Hopefully that helps, and good luck with your studies!

Pablo Simmonds, PMP
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