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TOPIC: Nothing like passing on first try...

Nothing like passing on first try... 1 year 10 months ago #4952

  • Jeffrey Tripp
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I studied and took the exam in just under 4 months. I would not recommend this approach, unless one has a lot of time available. My original goal was to complete the studying and test in 3 months.

My strategy was to first find a tutorial that provided the 35 contact hour requirement to apply for the exam. I considered multiple packages before settling on Prepcast. The biggest driver for me was the professional looking slides, but more importantly, the narration from Cornelius. I wanted a tutorial that was well thought out, but felt like I was actually in a class that felt interactive (as best as possible in a video). Prepcast certainly provided that for me.

Before starting on Prepcast, I wanted to be familiar with the content of the PMBOK guide, to allow be to better absorb the information presented in the Prepcast. So I went down to the local library (yes, check out the library for material! Although, look at the material closely as my library had historical guides for material prior to the latest version of the PMBOK Guide) and I checked out Head First PMP by Jennifer Greene, Andrew Stellman. I rapidly went through this substantial tutorial, taking the chapter exams and finally the overall exam. I found the book to be helpful, although I really did not study in depth. In fact, I found some of the terminology to be frustratingly repetitive, although now I understand why as the PMBOK guide is similar in nature and the subtlety of the descriptions was lost on me (I actually went back to flip through the guide after the Prepcast and found it to be very good in content once I took the time to understand the information). Shortly after starting the Head First review, I joined PMI and downloaded my version of the PMBOK Guide. I started reading the PMBOK Guide (ouch, it is a tough read and should be completed over a longer period of time) while completing the Head First tutorial.

After completing the Head First PMP study guide, but before completing the reading of the PMBOK Guide, I started on the Prepcast videos. I really like the way Prepcast is broken into reasonable length tutorials. This allowed me to complete several throughout the day as time was available. My goal was to complete at least 4 hours a day. I actually averaged about 3 hours a day, as absorbing the information became more overwhelming the further I advanced. The strategies provided in Prepcast for the test were important to note and, for me, understanding the Inputs, tools & techniques, outputs (ITTO) was a bit of a struggle. Being a project manager for so long, one uses methods that mimic the PMBOK Guide, but the terminology is different. For me, the nuance of the tools & techniques and where they were utilized was fleeting at times. So, as I went through the Prepcast, I paid particular attention to the ITTO discussions. I also created flash cards for every process that included the ITTO information. I know that Cornelius emphasized not memorizing the ITTO and focussing on the process objectives, but the nuances between the tools & techniques versus processes where they are utilized was not sticking. Plus, when taking the simulator questions, I found that understanding the ITTO for each process allowed me to weed through the answers more efficiently. So I would recommend both understanding what is accomplished in the processes and knowing the use and location of at least each tool & technique, if not inputs and outputs of each process. I studied my flashcards of ITTO process, key definitions, the EVM equations, and several subplans (liking the staffing plan) content for approximately 3 weeks prior to the test. Further, I took every test available in the Prepcast offering, plus several free tests. Although, I found the Prepcast tests to be far superior to the free tests, taking a different style/approach was definitely useful (but probably unnecessary). The simulator was very useful for me as I tend to skim over questions to get to the answer. Many times, upon review of the incorrect answer, I found that I knew the answer but read the question wrong or I read the question correctly and jump at the wrong answer. Whatever the case, the simulator really helped me with slowing down to consider the question and with the pace I needed to maintain. Pace was vital and the Prepcast implementation of the PMP exam format was clearly an advantage.

Even though I was welled versed on all the processes and equations, prior to the exam, I took the 15 minute tutorial time to write down the entire process table broken into the 5 processes and 10 knowledge areas, plus I wrote down all the equations. I actually found this helpful as I went through the exam and would support this recommendation from the Prepcast.

As for the PMP exam, I was surprised to see that the situational questions dominated the exam (I thought there would be more direct ITTO questions - I believe I only got 1). But my understanding of the processes and their ITTO allowed me to easily eliminate 2 of the 4 answers in most cases, but to come up with the final answer it was necessary to understand the question and exactly which process the question was addressing. Often, there is superfluous information that creates a mis-direction to appear that a different process may be the basis of the question, but re-reading the question carefully allowed me to wave off the distraction and come to the correct conclusion. This supports Cornelius' strategy about knowing the process function and about carefully reading the questions. Besides the high content of situational questions on my exam, I was surprised by the number of questions about the pre-initiation process - business case content, contract initiation, product statement of work. There were details in these areas that I did not fully consider and was taken a little aback by them, although I was able to press through them to success. Also, I had many questions about contract types (i.e., fixed with incentive, with awards, etc.) Although I am well versed in these, I did not study them at length and I had to really consider what was being asked. I would recommend understanding the nuances of the different types.

All in all, the combination of the Prepcast and making flashcards was important to my success. I would recommend a longer period to prepare and study.

Nothing like passing on first try... 1 year 10 months ago #4969

  • Daniel Blossey
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Dear Jeffrey, thank you for sharing your experiences! I will also create a kind of own flash cards to memorize the ITTOs. 4 hours a day beside work is a lot. Respect!
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