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TOPIC: May way to PMP exam

May way to PMP exam 2 years 2 months ago #4484

  • Obreten Obretenov
  • Obreten Obretenov's Avatar
I decided to take PMP Exam in order to improve my professional understanding of PM. Although I am on senior management position in IT, my company develops intensively new products and services and good project management is vital for success. Used to be on PM position 10 years ago without formal preparation than.

It took me 9 months to prepare and take the exam (yeah – it is comparable to having a baby :)) although with 1.5 months interruption in preparation for other priorities. I didn’t had any formal courses or trainings – all you need for 35 hours is Cornelius PM PrepCast, one month after work hours and a lot of dedication. Actually PM PrepCast took for me far more than officially needed 35 hours – maybe 60 or 70. But it is worth every minute – be sure that Cornelius knows what is important, on what to stress and how to explain it. For example such not easy areas as Earned Value and risk – you will understand them for sure! Thanks again Cornelius for bringing this wonderful PrepCast!

For preparation I used a commercially available book for PMP training and an exam toolkit with 1800 questions. What was unexpected for me was that some questions in full length preparatory exam got repeated after the first pass, which distorts the result slightly. In general questions on real exam were easier than ones in preparatory exams. Be prepared – on real exam words “NOT”, “BEST” and such are NOT uppercased or anyway highlighted in contrast of preparatory exam toolkits.

Another important thing is that every questionnaire toolkit has its own style – with one you can get consistently 80% and when trying other you can get disappointed from having only 60% success. But fear not – practicing mock exams is the right tool: have it used!

I didn’t read the PMBOK end to end. For me it is not necessary – it is the standard and is not intended to simply "read" it. The way I used it was as reference from the preparation book and exam questions. But read the Appendix A1 (The Standard) and the Glossary!
Took 4 full length 4 hours mock exams and numerous 20-40 questions mini exams. Results were slightly going up – from 65% to 75% and up to 83%. This is absolutely enough and with more you risk overlearning, which actually is not necessary for the exam. Listen to Cornelius and train yourself until you get at least 80% on mock exams.

Believe me – this is HARD exam. It is not like in the college or university – this is entire profession to learn! Have full respect, prepare at least several months for at least 2 hours per day. Dedicate several weekends for mock exams – it not realistic to take 4 hour exam after work and then have additional 2 or so hours for results checking, referencing PMBOK and having lessons learned (which we all know are the holy grail of PM). Spend several weekends for mock full length 200 questions 4 hours tests – you will not regret this when you write “PMP” in your LinkedIn profile! I had last week before the real exam in home making mock exams and reading, rest on Sunday and exam on Monday @ 9AM. Have you project plan for preparing for the exam, monitor closely its TCPI (yeah, PMI-ism :) ) and you will succeed!

Exam day was actually calm. Prometric people were very professional – they assisted in any way they could with logistics and technical details. It was a little bit cooler in the room, may be they overworked somehow, but – Cornelius mentioned this, I should listen and have a light jacket!

If you are taking exam matter very seriously technically, you can take a paid trial of Prometric exam - visit their web site for reference. It is absolutely realistic.

During the mock exams I set myself a rhythm – 1 minute per question as average. Be prepared – some question for network diagramming or “complex” (in quotes) calculations can take 5 minutes or more – so you should compensate with other more simple questions and mark them on first read for 5 seconds or so. I didn’t use mark and review feature – actually on the real exam it took me every single minute to work on the “forward pass” answering questions and I had not chance to review back answers. But check your attitude – if you mark, you should dedicate time to review.

I am very good with numbers and numerical questions were as balm to me. If you are not – practice formulas more and it will happen. Calculations on PMP exam are very simple – the most complex is “a = b /c” style, but you should memorize ~ 20 formulas.

Don’t try to memorize ITTOs – they should come to you logically. But Table 1.3 from PMBOK and formulas are a must – practice braindumping them every morning for several months and on exam you will be grateful for this. Otherwise you will lose your precious exam time trying to figure out what this formula was, which under stress sometimes does not work.

Good luck and take the exam!

Obreten Obretenov, PMP
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