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Firstly thank you for taking time to read through my PMP journey. It’s certainly been a challenging year trying to balance work, studying and the family, however, it was well worth the effort.
I’ve been a Project Manager for almost 15 years and it is something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. At the same time, I never really had any formal training in this area, therefore, my projects were always planned and executed based on my own best practices. I felt that it was time to look for a more formal framework that was internationally recognized that could help me manage projects in a more consistent and structured manner. I knew of the PMP through colleagues that I’ve worked with throughout my career and after doing some research, I decided to go ahead and embark on the PMP certification process.
Fortunately for me I came across Edward Chung’s website that really helped to break down the PMP journey for me. I highly recommend visiting his website (
) as he has a lot of great content to guide people through the various steps in becoming a PMP. Thanks to him, I came across the PM PrepCast and Cornelius. If you are looking for a comprehensive, flexible and cost effective PMP “study partner” this is the solution for you! Being a father of three, with frequent evening conference calls, the PM PrepCast enabled me to tailor my study plan to fit my schedule. I also like the fact that I am able to access it at any time from any PC or mobile device.
I’m also a type of person that likes to watch a movie first before reading a book. So I took a similar approach with the PM PrepCast (i.e. watching the movie) and PMBOK Guide (reading the book). I felt that helped me to absorb the PMBOK Guide a lot better and in fact it was more like a review since the PM PrepCast does a good job in going through everything in detail.
I slowly started the PM PrepCast in April and I was forced to completely stop over the summer due to work commitments. I was able to ramp up the study again in September and I felt that it was time to schedule my exam as my goal was to be PMP certified before the end of the year. I knew by doing this, it would push me harder to commit myself to complete my study plan. I finally decided to go for November 27th which was perfect for me. Since I work for a US company, by taking the exam during Thanksgiving, it meant I could really focus without being distracted by what was happening at work.
Now that I had a goal in sight, I planned around making sure I was ready by then. The materials I used for my study:
PM PrepCast – listened / watched all sessions and made notes (approx. 4 small A5/8mm books)
PMBOK Guide – read it once and referenced to it from time to time.
The PMP Exam, How to Pass on Your First Try by Andy Crowe - read it once and referenced to it from time to time. I also had the choice of reading Rita Mulchany’s PMP Exam Prep book, however, I found Andy Crowe’s book easier to read.
After completing all the above, I was quite concerned that I was not absorbing the formulas we well as I like, therefore, decided to purchase the Exam Formula Study Guide. The bonus for me was the fact that it comes with 105 sample questions. I found that more valuable than the study guide itself. The “star of the show” was really the PM Exam Simulator which I purchased together with the Formula Study Guide. It does a great job in simulating the real exam with the user interface and variety of questions it has within the database. I also found useful the post mock exam analysis telling me which process group or knowledge area I did well in and which areas I needed to focus on.
My goal was to focus on taking the sample questions one month prior to the exam. That’s when things really started to come together for me. I started by taking small quizzes and over time ramped it up by taking the full 4-hour exam. I also came across several forums like the one I am posting today to read about other people’s experience and also to get access to free questions. I used an excel template (supplied by the PM Prepcast) to keep track of all my scores and timing. Below is a break down:
Exam Questions: Andy Crowe Final Exam (200), PM PrepCast Quiz (680), PM Exam Simulator (2000) – I took all nine exams and re-took two that I failed, HeadFirst PMP Mock Exam (200) and Oliver Lehmann (250).
Total Questions Answered: 3330
Total Questions Answered Correctly: 2706 (81.26%)
I also practiced my brain dumps several weeks prior to the exam, in fact I did it before each mock exam so I can try to simulate the experience as much as possible. I also took quick 2 to 3 minute breaks after 100 questions, again with the goal to simulate the exam as much as possible. Personally the difference with this whole experience was the exam simulator. That helped me to mentally train for a 4-hour exam and to think like PMBOK Guide when answering questions. Interestingly enough, during the real exam I did do a brain dump, however, I did not refer to it as much as I thought I would. I still think it’s a good idea to do one just in case. From an ITTO perspective, I think a little memorization is necessary, however, I knew going in I would not being able to remember every detail. I focused on understanding the flow and how the process groups and knowledge areas interacted with one another. Once I got a grasp of that, it helped me to better understand everything.
My exam strategy was to mark questions which I answered but was not 100% convinced and those that I was not confident in answering (left it blank). I had about 30 questions at the end which I needed to review. I focused first on the ones which I had not answered and then move on to those I did answer, however, was not 100% sure. As I completed those questions, I unmarked them so I could make sure there was nothing I left out. Fortunately I completed everything with 1 minute to spare! It was not as dramatic as it sounds as I was stuck with one final question for about 10 to 15 minutes but decided to just go for it.
If I had to summarize my lessons learned in a few words, it’s very simple and as Cornelius says: PMP (Practice Makes Perfect)!
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.