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TOPIC: Strategy for passing PMP on first attempt

Strategy for passing PMP on first attempt 5 years 3 months ago #4359

  • Dan King
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Hello PMP aspirants,

I passed my exam on the first attempt on 6/23/14. Here is my successful strategy.

I studied for 4 months, 3-4 hours daily M-F. Then I switched to full time study the last 2 weeks before the exam. For me, I can say every bit of that was needed. The exam really tests your in depth understanding of the PMBOK framework. Very few of the questions seemed to be straight forward. Many were tricky in how they asked the question. Many required a round-about way to get the correct answer, and lots of questions on how to correctly apply the PMBOK guidelines in various scenarios.

The tools I used were:
PMBOK guide, 5th edition
PM Prepcast
PMP Exam Simulator

I watched all the videos in the Precast. I took notes while watching each video, then read the corresponding section in the PMBOK. This was a nice approach to tackle the PMBOK guide, versus trying to read all 600 pages in a few sittings.

I ended up with 175 pages of notes containing the salient points. This was much more manageable for targeted study. Two weeks before the exam, I went through all my notes again, and read the entire PMBOK guide one more time.

I took several sample tests from the PMP exam simulator. This worked great to identify areas needing focus. After each exam, I would review the incorrect items, and items I marked indicating I wasn’t comfortable with my response. After follow up study of my deficient knowledge areas, I would go back to the PMP exam simulator and take questions just on those knowledge areas. The PMP exam simulator is awesome for that. You can take an entire 200 question exam, or select items from specific knowledge areas.

To study the ITTO’s, I did two things. First, I spent considerable time analyzing the data flow diagrams for each process in the PMBOK guide. This shows how the processes are integrated, with each output being an input for another process. I documented the entire flow for key items such as Change Requests, Work Performance info, Deliverables, etc. After a while, the big picture started to emerge. Next, I created a spreadsheet of all knowledge areas, process groups, processes and ITTO’s. From that I created a pivot table in Excel. This allowed me to see patterns of the ITTO’s across the processes. I documented these patterns for study/review. Can I recite ITTO’s for each process? Absolutely not, but my knowledge ended up being more than adequate for the ITTO questions on the exam.

My strategy for formulas was memorizing about 20 key formulas and writing those on scratch paper in the test center during the pre-test tutorial. I felt confident answering the math/formula questions in the exam, as these were some of the few straight forward items. No ambiguity in mathematics, right?

During my application process, I was selected for an audit. While this may sound intimidating, it ended up being a non-issue. I sent PMI a copy of my college diploma, my PM Precast PDU certificate, and signed verifications for my project management experience. PMI approved my audit/application the same day they received the materials, notifying me by email that I could schedule the exam.

You definitely want to be on top of your game the day of the exam. Getting a good night sleep resulting in the ability to focus clearly for 4 hours is critical. The test is timed at 4 hours, and I completed the 200th question with only 3 minutes left and no breaks!. Was I slower than most folks who posted their experience in Lessons Learned? Yep, but the test items were tricky. I took my time, making sure I fully understood the question and answers. I ended up with essentially no time for review, but it turned out not needed since I took my time on each item.

I hope these lessons learned helps you on your journey to become a PMP.

Best Regards,
Dan King, PMP
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