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Passed PMP ALEXEY KHARCHEVNIKOV 1 year 10 months ago #5311

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I passed my PMP exam March 3, 2015. It was quite a long journey. I think about 2 years. I would like to share some of my lessons learnt. Here is my general thought how to approach first.

1. Motivation

At the moment you catch yourself on idea of Why not to take PMP exam take time and try to answer the question why do I need this. Justify it to yourself. This will be a very important moment. It will drive you all through the project and lay the foundation for your success. I said project because you need to treat PMP preparation activities like project. Find a right motivation. You need to set your own compelling goal and plan your activities. If the goal is not too incentive to you, it will be harder for you to get it. You will fight with yourself and find many reasons not to prepare. Develop your business case for this project Pass PMP exam. Answer to yourself what benefits you'll get when you finish it.

Everybody comes at the PMP start with a unique life background. Someone studied hard before and ready for one more new challenge. Others haven't taken thinks that require a lot of efforts to get it. Anyway understand PMP exam is not an easy walk. Your personal background will make this way more or less difficult. It will be easier to pass the exam with good motivation. But be prepared that you need to study hard and regularly to get certified.

2. Initiation

Don't rush with all head in preparation. Make some research in the PMP exam area. Read feedbacks and talk to PMP certified people.
Understand what resource online and offline (preparation books, PMP prep. classes, podcasts, personal coaches, simulation exams etc.) available.
Assess hardiness of the target that you set yourself. At this point it's not too late to withdraw/postpone the exam or take CAMP exam.

I give you an example of a person that refuse from idea of taking the PMP exam after starting preparation. In the past one of my girlfriends of 2-3 years after university graduation decided to pass PMP exam. She had a good opportunity to change the job and multiply several times her salary but there was one condition from the new employer - she needs to have PMP certificate. She had master degree at pedagogue (teaching at school), worked in telecom company at that time as a seller of services to medium and large clients. After 2-3 months of hard reading of PMBOK guide she came to understanding that it is impossible for her with current background now to prepare for the exam. Her perception of PMBOK guide was as it was written by "gobbledygook" and she had few experience of real projects. So she quit.

3. Strategy and planning

Decide on preparation strategy for PMP exam. Decide how you will prepare on a high level. It could be:

- PMBOK reading (1 time) + classroom training + PMP prep tests of 2 different vendors.
- PMBOK reading (1 time) + PMBOK with explanation book (1 time) + PMP prep tests.
- PMBOK reading (1 time) + PMP prep video podcast + PMP prep tests.

- Decide on what tools you'll be using for preparation.
- Decide on the phases (stages) in the preparation and exit criteria.[/li]
- Elaborate your strategy into plan. Decide how, when, and how much time you'll be studying.
- Assess your free time, mental condition, current level of knowledge, envision possible risks that could affect your plan and make correction.
- Set the examination date. It could be in a range but still quite accurate.

4. Execute

- Stick to your plan.
- Register on PMP exam in PMI and have you ticket (code) for exam in hands. So keep in mind you have 1 year to pass the exam after getting approval from PMI.
- The life used to bring surprises as you can't anticipate and manage all the risks. Work with changes effectively.
- Keep in mind your actual date of the exam (+/- several weeks) clearly when something is changing.
- When you fill 70-80% ready for exam register for it on Prometric.
- Celebrate success when it's done.

My personal PMP plan

My goal was not just to get PMP certificate but to keep some knowledge in my head for future use. I split preparation in the following phases.

- Phase 1 - Equitation (6 months)
- Read PMBOK 1-2 times from start to the end
- Read Rita's and Kim Heldman's PMP exam study guides
- Watch PM Prepcast (in whole at least 1 time).

Exit criteria: I feel I understand the whole PM knowledge area theory quite well without knowing all process in detail.
Personally I found books like Rita too boring and time consuming. I read them only on hard topics like hard topics like Quality, Procurement, Risks. Watch podcast sometimes more interesting but time consuming as well. I watched PM PreCast on the way to the office. As it takes sometimes up to 2 hours. I was able to use my time productively. I order not to overload I watched (more listen then watched) 2 episodes in a row then may be 2 more with music breaks in between. If you know how projects get executed then PMBOK guide reading is the best concise way to prepare.

Tips to Cornelius.

The main missing important constituent piece in PM PrepCast is absence of enough practical point. I know you have a separate podcast but add in PM PrepCase some a little bit more practice seemed to me beneficial. I think the hard PM topics in knowledge areas need more than just theory.

Phase 2 in Practicing (9 months)

- Start to teach PM classes as I had such opportunity.
- Read PMBOK focusing on deep understanding of processes and nuances
- Watch PM PrepCast on hard topics[/li]
- Answer questions at the end of PM PrepCast chapters
- Interact with peers

So during this time I was sharing the accumulated PM knowledge with students and thus deepen my understanding of the PMBOK guide.

Exit criteria: I feel I understand PMBOK knowledge area theory very well and know all process ITTO quite well.

Phase 3 in Testing (1-2 months)

- Read PMBOK with focus on processes ITTO
- Take simulation tests in PMP Exam Simulator

Exit criteria: My exam score is constantly around 80%.

My focus in this phase was to experience PMP exam and get feeling that I can do it and focus on studying PMBOK guide processes in even more detail. I passed 7 full PMP exams and had 4 exams with score about 80%. This was most intensive period of my preparation. I recommend to choose a period in your work and life then you have much free time and no stress surrounding. You can concentrate on effective study.

During my preparation I had 2 false starts. First I planned to pass PMP exam by July 2014 then I postpone to the last week of December 2014. My work load was so high that I can't allocate 1-5 month of calm period and I shift the exam for the 2nd times. So only at the middle of January 2015 I throw away all the work and started for final count down. I read through (quickly) PMBOK one more time within 1-3 days. Bought PMP Exam Simulator and started to pass the exams.

Before I stop my chose on PM Exam Simulator I checked Rita Mulchay's, Oliver F. Lehmann's and Kim Heldman's PMP exam prep tools. The Lehmann's questions seemed to me too hard and far from reality, Heldman's ones were outdated Rita's were perfect but too expensive in comparison with Cornelius's product. So my cost/benefit analysis brought me to PM Exam Simulator.
It took me 3 weeks to reach the phase exit criteria. I registered for PMP exam 7 days in advance. That was a moment I was 80% confident in the outcome.
The process on this phase was simple. I was taking an exam and then studying mistakes afterwards. At that time I read PMBOK guide on my weak areas but not to much. During simulation tests I marked for review all the questions that I wasn't sure. After each exam it took me 1-2 days at the beginning up to 2-4 hours at the end to understand the mistakes to do improvements. During the first 4-5 exams I was looking in PMBOK guide during the exam. It helps me to remember ITTO and some peculiar thinks like what EEF or OPA mentioned in PMBOK guide to a process. I was decreasing the number of questions that was looking in PMBOK guide. The explanations on exam's question provided by authors of PM PrepCast were very helpful.

Tips to Cornelius.

Add to PMP Exam Simulator 2 mode of view complete exams 1) all question that was marked for review during exam and 2) view question only that were answered wrong. It could considerably save time of learner on reviewing mistakes. 3) add more questions on CPM

5. Day before exam and exam

Recommendations for PMP exam

- Select high quality PMP exam simulation tool. Without taking of several simulations of PMP test you seriously decrease probability of success and value of time spent on preparation.
- Decide and proof your exam passing strategy on exam simulator.
- Reach for 80% score on 3 sample exam in a row
- Don't study hard 1 day before the exam. Try to sort out and structure the knowledge.
- Sleep well before the exam.
- Be 30 or 45 mins in advance in the testing center.
- Don't drink too much before the exam
- Write down EVM formulas during 15 mins exam demo on a separate list. When the page with formulas is full of text tear it out and use it like a crib.
- Don't plan important thinks like meeting, deals, decisions etc. on the exam day.

I was passing PMP simulation test on the day before and felt tired on the exam. I scheduled exam on 2 PM. I arrived 2 hours in advance on the entrance of the testing center building, checked that my name is in the entrance list and went to a cafe. I had my light lunch. I was in the testing center 15 mins before the exam. I found it not enough to start on time. So 30-45 mins is better. This will allow for you to be in accordance with your plan and don't be nervous.
My strategy for exam was to track the progress by the 4 milestones in 1 hour of each of 4 hours of the exam duration. I set and tested this tracking during testing phase. The plan is to spend no more than 1 hour per 50 questions. During the real exam my deviation on the first 50 questions was 15 mins. from the plan. On the 2nd milestones in 25 mins from the plan (including break). Then I got a grip and after 150 question I almost removed the delay and finished 10 mins before the end. During the exam I mark question for review only those that require my 100% review. I try to answer questions correctly on the first run. I didn't adhere to the rule 1,2 min on a question. Some questions are easier then others. So having 1 hour tracking periods allows to smooth questions difficulty level variation but still track your pace.

Experience form the exam.

- The most surprise for me was that the exam was less wordy and less difficult (in general) in comparison with PMP Exam Simulator ones. Situational questions were quite similar but turned out differently. It took me more time on each question to answer. It took more because I had quite many mistakes in the simulation tests due to my inattention to the question statement. I tried to avoid this risk factor by carefully reading each question several times.
- There were many question on EVM calculations than I expected.
- There were more questions on CPM then I expected.
- It seeded to me 80% of the question were more or less situational that requiring some judgment. I didn't see very simple questions.
- There were less questions on ITTOs. In my test I remember only 3-4 ITTO direct questions.
- I requested a Russian language as the 2nd exam language. I found the quality of translation quite good. I would rate it 4,5 points on 5 point scale. I used English as the main language. The Russian language I used for double checking of question understanding. When I was losing concentration I prefer to read questions in Russian first.

Experience form the test room environment.
- There was another candidate passing a test required a lot of input from keyboard sitting next to my cubical. His buttonís clicks were fast and irritating. I put headphones hanging on the separation wall. But they didn't protect me 100% from keyboard noise.
- It was too stuffy air in the testing room then I got used to. I was very inconvenient for me. Due to this factor and some tiredness I was sometime losing concentration. I took bottle of water with me in the testing center. I took 2 breaks during exam to drink and get back to productive condition.
- The test computer screen resolution and frequency were low and that also add some inconvenience.
- The small windows in the testing room were open a little and as the day went to the end during my testing the number of cars and noise from traffic jam level increased to the end of exam. Even in the headphones the noise was reaching my ears.

Thanks to Cornelius for the good products and good luck to everyone who decided to take PMP exam!

Alexey Kharchevnikov..
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