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Thanks Cornelius, your products (Prepcast and Exam Simulator) were invaluable to my effort. Because of the work involved just to qualify to sit for the exam and the effort to pass the exam, I can't ever recall being more gratified to pass an exam. I initially began preparations for the test in spring of 2013 then postponed taking the test until PMBOK 5 came out. A change of jobs put the test on the back burner for several months and a family issue caused me to reschedule the test one more time. It feels great to have finally taken and passed the exam and having the credential. We all have busy lives, but I'd encourage anyone preparing to perservere even if delays occur.
PM Prepcast: I have a 50 minute one way commute, so the prepcast was essential. If I had to do it over again, I'd study the PMBOK Chapters concurrently while listening to the same chapters on the prepcast (not while driving though!). The prepcast does a great job of covering the PMBOK AND topics which are not in the PMBOK.
PM Exam Simulator: I took 7 of the 8 full exams provided. My scores ranged from 79 to 83%. This was done over a 3 week period. In hindsight, I would have started taking the tests a little earlier because it's difficult to make a dramatic improvement if you only have 3 or 4 days between practice tests. At the end of my preparation (3 of the last 9 weeks) my main focus was the simulator practice tests. I'd spread the tests out a bit more if possible. The tests are brutally effective in exposing your weaknesses. I then reviewed each test and made flashcards of week areas.
PMBOK 5 Maybe I'm old school, but the electronic version of the PMBOK was not sufficient for me. I was extremely frustrated with not being able to copy and paste from the electronic version (it's locked). I just wanted to paste PMBOK text in my areas of weaknesses into one document. Finally, three weeks before the test, I purchased a hardcopy of the PMBOK. I went through it and highlighted it, and also sat down with the book and wrote an outline with a focus on ITTOs and the hows and whys more than just naming ITTOs.
BrainBok.com This site has some helpful little tools. I purchased a 3 month subscription for $20 (roughly). After a rough day of work when I didn't have it in me to study in-depth, I'd take these quizzes. The ITTO quiz has a nice mouse-over function which explains the reason for an item being an ITTO for the specific process. The other quiz I used was on the PMBOK glossary. A thorough command of the PMBOK glossary can help in "Banking" the easy questions on the test.
Test Day: I'd strongly recommend planning a strategy and honing it on a few full 4 hour practice exams. I had a good command of mapping out the 47 Processes and Knowledge Areas and wasn't going to write those on my Brain Dump. I didn't want to exert any excess mental energy. BUT, it turns out I was pretty nervous. After writing my equations I still had 12 minutes before the exam and decided to write the processes out. I'd liken it to warming up for a sporting event. It helped get me in the right frame of mind and built my confidence. A 4 hour test can be a roller coaster.
One plan that I stuck to was to keep moving quickly through the test on my first pass. I probably mark more questions than most people. 60 to 80 I would guess. I wouldn't attempt this without doing it on several practice exams and having a good sense of milstones during the test. If I'm through 75 questions in the first hour, I'm OK. So when I sit for a test, if I know the answer, I answer and move to the next (no mark). If I think I know the answer, I answer and mark it for review. If the question seems convoluted or I don't know the answer, I mark it with no answer. I immediately mark any "Math" questions and move on. My goal was to make a quick first pass, bank a lot of correct answers, and build my confidence (I must admit to being a bit afraid of this test). On my second pass I completed all the marked questions with no answers (including the "Math" questions). My third pass was to complete marked questions I had already answered but wasn't certain. A second pass through these often provides some clarity on what the question is actually asking, and can pick up some tricky gotcha type questions. After the 3rd pass there were a handful of questions I had left marked because they were really tough. I think there were two questions for which I had no clue. None of the answers seemed appropriate. I used all 4 hours to get the best possible score but made sure there was no danger of having unanswered questions.
I had planned on taking 4 breaks. I was unprepared for the "airport" like security to get back in the testing room. It is quite disconcerting to stand in line while someone is being swiped with a metal detector and you know your clock is ticking. So I took 2 breaks. The bite to eat and big drink before the test helped.
As for the test. No surprise, it was difficult. I was a bit taken aback by the wording on the test. It was almost written in laymen's terms. Project Plan in place of Project Management Plan, Quality Assurance instead of Perform Quality Assurance. It threw me off balance slightly. While it's a difficult test, I suspect the passing score is considerably lower than 80%. Getting 80% and above on the PM Exam Simulator tests was my goal leading up to the test and it proved to be a useful milestone in passing the exam.
Absolute keys for me:
- Understand the ITTOs rather than just memorize (Prepcast).
- Take several practice exams. I also took the Oliver Lehmann exam just to see a different angle and different wording.
- A good command of the PMBOK glossary helped me get the easy ones.
Thanks again Cornelius and to all the folks on this forum who provide valuable insight. I'm going to take a well earned few months off before diving into PDUs to maintain my certification.
Cornelius, do you have anything in fiction for my commute?
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.