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Despite the bundle of nerves that was my body, I was able to step in and pass the PMP exam on the 1st try with a "Proficient" rating in every process group except 1; which was "Moderately Proficient".
My approach was fairly simple...
I started with the PrepCast. I went through almost all of the lessons, taking notes as I watch the presentations. I didn't really refer back to my notes much during studies, but writing notes as the material is being presented really helps me to retain the information. I did not listen to any of the interviews or other items in the PrepCast, but I did take many of the quizes at the end of each chapter.
The second part of my preparation was to get with a few people in my company who were also preparing for the PMP exam. We read through key items of each chapter in the PMBOK Guide together and at the end of each chapter we took a quiz from the associated chapter in "Project Management Professional Study Guide - Fouth Edition" by Joseph Phillips. This study guide gives you a blank quiz and then show the quiz with the answer filled in and why the right answer is right and the wrong answers are wrong. This was my first introduction to the how the questions are ofter worded in misleading ways or gives more information than needed. It was also my first exposure to needing to pick the MOST Right answer from multiple right answers. A good lesson for the exam.
The most beneficial part of my studies was to answer practice questions. The above mentioned study guide contained a CD with 2 exams 200 questions each and a way to access a 3rd 200 questions exam online. In addition, I downloaded every free app I could find for my iPhone and Andriod tablet that gave practice questions with answer explanations. I am guessing I answered about 1500 practice questions. The great thing about the apps is that many are 25-50 questions long, so you can answer a few questions whenever you have a free moment.
The last thing I did was to create a data dump sheet of key formulas, definitions, and other items. I practiced recreating this a couple of times. For those of you who don't know, there is a 15 min tutorial on how to use the computer for the test that does not count against your test time. You can use that 15 min to write down as much information as you can remember on the provide scratch paper so you can refer to it during the test.
The day my test was stressful for me (nerves). I had to drive 1 hour to the testing location and twice my GPS took me on routes where the road was closed. Good thing I left plenty early. At the test center they confirmed my reservation and had me read the rules for the exam. I was then pointed to a lock to put all my stuff in, but my ID and shown a restroom (much needed). They had me sign in, took my picture, had me turn out my pockets and pull up my pant legs, and then the wanded me (metal detector). After all that, I was led to a room computer stations (much like a library) to start the exam. You must confirm who you are and the test you are taking within 60 sec. Then the tutorial starts and you are on your way.
I started to do my data dump on the scratch paper, but the hard I thought about what to put, the more my brain started to lock up. Therefore, I just took 2 deep breaths, told myself "you've got this", and went into the exam. I marked questions that I was either not certain of or one that seemed to have more than 1 right answer. This was a good practice, because often there was a question later on that didn't seem to have more than 1 right answer and helped to identify what I thought was the most right answer when I reviewed those marked questions. After reviewing all the marked questions at the end and clearing them, a few button clicks and the exam is done. While the computer is grading it, you take a short survey about the test and testing facilities. When you get done with the survey, the computer shows you your results. It was hard to contain my enthusiasm when I saw the PASS on the screen, but you have to remember that you are in a quite zone with others taking tests.
Once results are obtained, I left the testing area, they gave me a certified printout of the results and I had me sign out. From sign in to sign out, the whole process took me 2.5hrs, so I would say my preperation techniques worked well. I grabbed my stuff from my locker, got in the car, and drove the hour back home with a big smile on my face.
I highly recommended taking as many practice questions as you can before you take the exam. You can study the PMBOK guide all you want, but a key to getting the correct answer on the test is your ability to do reading comprehension. You must understand what you are being asked in order to choose the most correct answer. Taking many practice exams that will give the correct answer with an explanation really helps you understand how to read the questions and the answers.
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.