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This section of the forums was helpful and encouraging to me. Now that I've passed the exam, I'll pay it forward.
I studied less than what a lot of people on here say they did, and I was happy with how I did. I was either moderatly proficient or proficient in all areas - I had 0 sections that were below proficient, and again, I only took the exam once.
I started out by grabbing Head First PMP to answer some questions for a project I was working on. I spent 1-3 hours at a time reading the whole book over a course of a month, and I wasn't sure if I was going to actually take the exam. Head First PMP was very concise, entertaining, and informative. It's the best presentation of the PMBOK material that I've seen. Period.
4 months went by after reading Head First PMP, and I found myself attempting to build my credibility in conversations by saying "Hey! I *COULD* pass the PMP exam if I wanted to." It didn't seem to have the same ring to it as "I have a PMP" would. After saying that enough times, I decided to bite the bullet and take the exam. I needed the 35 contact hours, so I went to watch the PM Prepcast. I love Cornelius. His videos weren't quite as dramatized as Head First PMP was, but his accent and the anticipation of what Justine was going to say at the end of each video made it fun enough. I spent about 35 hours watching the 2/3 of the material that I was most fuzzy on over the course of 2 weeks before taking the exam. The first day it allowed me to take the exam, I took it and passed with room to spare.
I submitted my PMP application (it took 4 business days to get that approval), and while I was waiting a week, I started taking practice tests with Cornelius' PMP exam simulator. As far as taking the test goes, this was invaluable. My first one I took I got in the mid-high 60's. I identified the areas that I didn't do as well on, and re-watched some of the prepcast videos and/or re-read some of those Head First PMP sections.
Somewhere in there, I was approved to take the exam, I went and paid the $$, and then I was informed that I had the privilege of enduring a random audit. At first I was frustrated, but after I thought about it I kinda enjoyed it. I'm a techie, and I don't know if I'll ever have the formal title of "Project Manager" in my career. However, if I ever get into a conversation and someone challenges me on it, I now can say "Well, PMI audited my application and said I passed the test. You can take it up with them if you like." I breezed through the audit. Once I had my sponsor forms, I overnighted the audit package. The very next day, I got the UPS delivery confirmation an hour before PMI emailed me saying I passed the audit.
I let up a bit on studying while going through the audit. Once I got past the audit and had a code to take the exam, I found a good date a week out and signed up for it. I took a total of 4 practice tests. Initially, I responded to broad weak areas in my knowledge by reviewing the PM Prepcast/Head First PMP. After the 1st practice test I could sense the knowledge gaps narrowing from "I don't understand procurement" to more of "I don't know enough about contract clauses", I gradually shifted away from the study materials to researching the areas of the actual PMBOK being referenced. After the last practice test, I only looked at the PMBOK sections on my incorrect answers.
I had scored into the mid 70's on 2 of the practice tests. However, on the last one I took I got a 68% becuase I was literally shivering the whole time. I was in a coffee shop wearing shorts with the air conditioning cranked up too high while, but I couldn't go anywhere because my laptop battery was low. I learned that I needed to dress in layers for the exam, and I'm very glad that I did. The exam was a painful 4 hours. I actually didn't do a brain dump like a lot of people said I should have. I felt very well prepared for the exam format after the exam simulator. I passed right over the tutorial in the beginning, and the post-exam survey didn't feel very long. It felt very good to see the "Congratulations!" message at the end, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it said I had done.
Altogether, I probably studied a total of 8 weeks. I spent 4.5 weeks reading Head First PMP, 2 weeks viewing the prepcast, and 1.5 weeks using the exam simulator/PMBOK. I went in feeling very prepared. If I were to do it again, I'd probably stick with the same amount of time and resource breakdowns.
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.