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I passed the PMP Exam on my 1st try on June 2, 2014 after 11 weeks of preparation. This is the method I used and my lessons learned. I had structured my training plan in 4 phases:
Phase 1 (about 1 week): “Market analysis”
Since I was on a tight budget, I was looking for an affordable online training. I’ve tried several of them for free, and I found that they were all boring (tone, support), except the PM PrepCast. So I signed up without any further hesitation! Phase 2 (about 4 weeks): “Getting to grips with the PMBOK concepts”
I watched the PM PrepCast actively. Since I had the opportunity to be on my computer, I used the multi-window to have each related PMBOK chapter and the PM PrepCast lesson at the same time on my screen. This method “brought the PMBOK concepts to life”.
During this phase, I took some notes in a little notebook that I kept on completing during all the other phases. As an output, I had also the list of my “weak points” I had to study further.
At the end of this phase, I was confident that I could pass the exam with an achievable level of work, so I finalized my inscription to the PMP exam and fixed my exam date. Phase 3 (about 3 weeks): “Advanced analysis of the concepts”
I read my hard copy of a preparation book, and made a lot of online research on my “weak points”.
During this phase I also completed my personal notebook and came again on some of the PM PrepCast lessons and parts of the PMBOK. Phase 4 (about 3 weeks): “Questions and exam preparation”
I started the formal questions phase, with more than 2600 questions including 4 full 4 hours mock-up tests (to get used to the time factor). I kept track of my results, what helped me to get more and more confident that I was ready to pass. The exam
The day before the exam, I reviewed my notes and my brain dump sheet during 2 hours, and enjoyed a very relaxing day. The day of the exam, I arrived 30 mn earlier and could start immediately. I felt confident. The level of difficulty was as expected, but I marked more than 30 questions for review. It took me more than 3 hours to finish (whereas during my mock-up tests, I used to review only a few questions and used to finish in less than 3 hours). In addition, I changed a lot of answers during my review phase (something I had hardly done during mock-up exams). I’m still trying to figure out the root cause analysis of this situation: where the questions finally trickier than my mock-up exams? Or was it a kind of situational stress effect? I think it is a combination of both factors…
But finally I clicked on the end button, and was very happy with my result: proficient in 4 domains and moderately proficient in 1 domain.
My lessons learned
Phase 3: This phase presents many risks; the main one is that you can get lost in many resources on the WEB, sometimes not always consistent. My lesson learned is that I should have better structured this phase, with a list of topics to cover, one or two online resources to look at, and that’s all.
Phase 4: My lesson learned is that, just like in phase 3, I got lost in many online free questions. Some of them made me sometimes confused. Again, I think that I should have kept one or two resources and sticked to them. The more is not always the best, as for scope creep! The other lesson learned is also that I should have started this phase before, overlapping with phase 3. Indeed, answering question really helps you to better understand a concept and then progress in your knowledge.
Finally, The PMPrepCast was the cornerstone of my project. I would definitely recommend it. A big thank you to the PM PrepCast team!
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.