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I had experience with projects in different industries from IT, academic world to a big engineering project but I had no formal project qualification. PMP seemed like a viable option and I got genuinely interested in the subject. I simply wanted to know more. First I only considered CAPM. I took the online course (Essentials of Project Management) before it occurred to me that I had enough experience to go for PMP. Nevertheless I don't regret taking that course because it gave me solid basic knowledge (it is hard to read PMBOK® like a novel). Some of the questions in that online course were no less challenging than those in the actual PMP exam. The difference is that CAPM exam would take 3 instead of 4 hours and it probably goes into slightly less detail. Nevertheless, if you're new to PMI, I consider this to be a very good start. Don't feel embarrassed if you feel more 'experienced'. It's no shame. It's worth it.
Once I was past that (having done all the simulator questions there), I read the entire Rita book. Rita is good because she gives you that different perspective. It is not just about processes and ITTOs, there is more of that 'humane' touch and you learn to read between the lines for the first time. Plus, some of the questions really humbled me. You simply start to learn the tricks and get acquaianted with the PMI way of thinking. This took me about 1.5 months of serious work.
I took PMP Prepcast by Cornelius Fichnter as part of the 30 contact hours requirement to take PMP exam. I knew I was running out of time and so I knew I wouldn't be able to listen to all the prepcasts before the exam but I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. Not only I liked the guy's style very much (including his nice 'foreign' but very clear accent), it also gave me opportunity to uncover the gaps - and whatever I hadn't got so far. I was meticulously taking notes.
I used MySQL database with a search function instead of a notepad. It is more time consuming in the beginning but saves heaps of time later on. I was writing down all questions I hadn't passed, in all three courses to identify my weak spots. Whenever I got a question wrong, I noted why and searched for previous instances of it. When wanting to clarify something I searched for the term and found the answer, possibly in all three courses. It is always good to have more points of view than just one.
Tip: Record what you've done wrong and have some kind of search functionality so you can search terms. Things repeat and sometimes you need a few times seeing them before they stick.
3 and a half months into hard study and my results were NOT fantastic. In other words I was not excelling.
I was achieving about 65% to 76% score, occasionally getting slightly more in some areas but nothing that would give me confidence. At first I was scared of the formulas only to find out later that questions with formulas were actually my friends and I started to wish for more of those at the exam. The formulas are easy. The hard part is the interpretation but even that can be learned. Not wanting to leave anything to chance I included the PMP® Exam Formula Study Guide™ in it too. Again, no regrets. It helped me solidify my knowledge.
But I felt I really needed to wrap my effort into some kind of a schedule just like the PMI preaches. I planned to do all 9 simulator exams in the Fichtner's course. Because of other commitments it was not always easy to find a four-hour time slot so I figured I would need about a month to do that. The practice exams were very solid and very well thought out. I was thrilled and angry with myself at the same time because in every knew exam there was something I still hadn't uncovered or fully understood. It's like - after each one you're trying your to plug all holes and leaks only to find out later that you're still leaky. So yes, I was a bit frustrated with myself. There is one more important aspect of preparation here. When you go through the simulator, you get the 'feel of time'. The clock is unforgiving and you simply don't have time to check seconds during the exam (well, maybe just 'milestones' with every hour).
My initial self-assessment results in Fichtner's course weren't that great either.
I knew I needed more. Luckily, I already knew by weaknesses by now and I concentrated on those. I was even sort of hooked on the simulator because it felt a bit like a game. I guessed this was time I had the biggest "momentum" and this was when I booked the exam with Prometric.
Last Edit: by Rado Folwarczny. Reason: No feedback
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.