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TOPIC: PMP Exam Lessons Learned

PMP Exam Lessons Learned 4 years 7 months ago #4540

  • Josh Merkle
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Hello prospective PMP-ers,

I'm pleased to say I took the PMP Exam yesterday, and I'm even more pleased to say I passed! Before I dive into my "Lessons Learned", I first want to thank...
  • PMI-OC and all of it's wonderful presenters/teachers/lecturers/etc. Without you, none of this would have been possible. So... a big heart-felt thank you to each & every one of you who invested your personal time & energy into advancing our careers. Greatly appreciated.
  • Second, I'd like to thank my fellow classmates. I'm sure we'd all agree... those eight Saturdays (or however many it was) were tough. But your commitment empowered my commitment, and ultimately helped drive me to the finish line. Your thought-provoking questions and insightful answers very also very appreciated. So thank you.

But enough with the sappy stuff... let's move on to sharing "Lessons Learned".

Going into the test, I felt prepared, but I also felt skeptical of whether or not I knew the material at the "expert level". With that said, I felt that I was OVER prepared and UNDER prepared in certain areas. I felt I was OVER prepared when it came to knowing the individual processes (think PMBOK page 61 ... Rita's Process Chart for those that used Rita's Mulcahy's book). I just didn't think there were as many questions as I anticipated, that would ask you which processes fit into which Process Group / Knowledge Area. I spent hours memorizing page 61 and I don't think I even referenced it / used it once in my brain dump .

Another category where I felt I was OVER prepared was when it came Earned Value formulas. My experience was that most of the Earned Value formulas I needed to know were the basic ones. I spent A LOT of time trying to nail down the various different EAC formulas for the various different keywords (fundamentally flawed, no variance / same rate, atypical, typical)... and quite frankly there was maybe one question that pertained to this. There were, however, a handful of questions pertaining to CV, SV, CPI, SPI. There was also a handful of questions pertaining to triangular dist. and beta dist. But IMO, those were easy.

So where was I UNDER prepared? Well, for one, I was stunned at the number of questions I received re: the Tuckman ladder model. I must have had about a half-doze questions on that topic. Maybe it was just me, but I was only anticipating about one. I was also stunned (& slightly disappointed, to be honest) that I didn't have any questions re: Professional & Social Responsibility. This was disappointing to me, because I do believe ethics is a big part of not just project management, but business in general.

Going into the exam, I felt under prepared when it came to the Critical Path Method (largely because I was worried about whether to use 0 or 1 method), but coming out of the exam, this is another area that I can say I was waaaay OVER prepared, minus one small except (in which I felt UNDER prepared). I had a question that asked about the Critical Path Method, but it wasn't a "simple" critical path method question. By this, I mean, it actually gave one task that had a Lead time, and seeing as how I didn't recall ever discussing an example like this in class - or seeing a similar example in Rita's book - I was completely at a loss and had to guess on this question. Not sure if this was one of those "25 questions or whatever that doesn't count"... but I did not appreciate this one :-)

I was UNDER prepared when it came to Quality, Risk, Tools & Techniques, and the Detailed Process for Making Changes / Integrated Change Control. I was a bit surprised at how many questions there were regarding these topics, especially the later. NOTE: the one Saturday workshop class I missed was... Quality. Go figure. :-)

Another thing that hurt me, was I think my knowledge was more book knowledge (definitions, sequential order of things, key words, etc), but the EXAM was more practical usage. This was not a surprise, because I know everyone used the phrase "you have to have been there", and all I can say is... boy was that ever true. So... I guess my final bit of advice is... trouble yourself with trying to know everything in the PMBOK / Rita's book... instead, try to focus more on practical applications/situations (I know... hard to guess/makeup, right?).

In case anyone was curious as to how I prepared for the exam... since the beginning of our 1st class, I've been studying/reading Rita's book for 2-3 hrs a night... M thru F... and then studying/reading Rita's book on the Saturdays & most Sundays after the last class of our Workshop. (But as I stated above... I felt this "book knowledge" wasn't as valuable/applicable as I thought it would be; as again I felt the exam was more practical knowledge). I went over every end-of-chapter quiz in Rita's book, and I took the 101 PM Prepcast questions. While I felt the PM Prepcast questions were definitely good to know, if I had one recommendation/suggestion, it would be to add more questions about the knowledge of the material, rather than formula-based questions.

If this "Lessons Learned" helps even one person obtain/achieve their PMP, then this was a success. I hope if you made it to this part, you found this email to be quite helpful. I look forward to seeing many of you again, and I'm already looking forward to starting those PDUs and assisting with the next PMI-OC Workshop class(es).

Best regards,
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