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I successfully passed the PMP exam on my first attempt. And boy was I relieved!
Now, I would like to share my lessons learned with you. I will not to go for a detailed account of my preparation, or of the exam day. Instead, I would like to offer a few recommendations for what I consider key factors of success, based on my experience.
They are what I would tell a "younger me" about to embark on the PMP journey. I hope these recommendations will be helpful to aspiring PMPs.
#1 - Create a rhythm
As part of your study plan, schedule recurring study sessions.
This will help you get into a rhythm. In turn, the rhythm will make it easier for you to study and stay focused.
Try to make the workload challenging, yet realistic.
Creating a rhythm made the whole study process much easier for me.
#2 - Learn through multiple perspectives
Each study source brings a different perspective.
Put this to good use: plan to review the same topic using different sources.
Pay attention to the differences. For every "well, this is new"-moment, pause to think and connect what you just read to what you have learned so far. This will augment and strengthen your understanding.
As for actual study material, I recommend using the PMBOK guide, plus 2 others sources. I chose the PM PrepCast and Rita's PMP Exam Prep book.
My typical sequence when tackling a new knowledge area would be: PM PrepCast, PMBOK guide, PMP Exam Prep book.
The PM PrepCast would ease me into the topic, the PMBOK guide would then brings in complementary details, and lastly the PMP Exam Prep book would round out my understanding with exercices and more advanced notions.
#3 - Understand the key ITTOs
Ah, the (dreaded) ITTOs! First, do not focus on memorizing them.
Rather, I suggest you take these 2 simple steps.
First, mark the key ITTOs for each process (by key, I mean both ITTOs strongly connected to the process' goal, and "uncommon" ITTOs that are used only by a handful processes).
Then, for each such ITTO, formulate in your own words why they are tied to the process at hand.
Focusing on the why (rather than the what) helped me connect ITTOs to processes, and processes to each other in a very natural way.
#4 - Notes are your friends
You'll need notes you can freely review and review again.
Notes with (only) what you still need to remember.
I believe that creating personal notes brings at least 2 key benefits. First, just creating them helps with memorisation and understanding. Second, reviewing your own notes boosts your learning experience, because you tailored them to your needs and learning style.
Try to find a tool and format that work for you (to each his own: actual or Evernote notebook, real or virtual flash cards, smartphone app, etc.).
I, for one, created one big mind map per process. In the last few weeks leading to the exam, I switched to small cards, one per process.
#5 - Your best tool is a simulator
... and try to get close to the conditions of the real exam: 4 hours, 2 pens and a few sheets of paper, no books or any help material handy, Windows calculator-only, and finally food and water in a different room!
The more simulated, full exams you sit through, the better prepared you will be for both the exam's contents and format.
I purchased access to the PM Exam Simulator along with the PM PrepCast. And I was very pleased with how this simulator helped me get ready for the real thing.
#6 - Each mistake is a chance to learn
Every time you are wrong with a sample question, review the correct answer. For complex, situation-based questions, understand the intent of the question and the rationale behind the answer.
Finally, write down a short statement bridging the knowledge gap the question revealed.
I found it useful to review these "lessons learned" before each sample exam.
On occasion, there will correct answers you just do not agree with. Do not let these bug you. They are few and far between. Move on.
#7 - Commit!
Both the preparation and the exam are not for the faint of heart. But on the plus side, I am now convinced that the PMP exam rewards a hard study. So never give up. Stick to your schedule, and feel the knowledge and confidence building up.
Commit, and you will get there!
Lastly, I would like to thank Cornelius and his team for making 2 high quality products that really helped me prepare and succeed with the exam. Tip of the hat, guys!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Rob Alban
Last Edit: by Vincent Fleurant. Reason: Fixed typo.
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.