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In mid-December 2014 I finished employment with one company and began looking for a new opportunity, although I was not desperately in need of work. Having worked 20 years in engineering companies where there were strong and detailed project management methodologies I considered taking the PMP exam. I had 10 years ago read through a colleague's PMBOK Guide and was aware of the Institute and it's work.
I looked online for resources for a few weeks and decided that as a motivated self-learner I would be best to take a companion course alongside my own study. I quickly realized that there were benefits to being a PMI member, not least being the discount on the PMP exam, and promptly became a member. I also reviewed a large number of online assistance methods and decided on the PM Prepcast as the most suitable for my learning style.
As I was not in full time employment (just doing some consulting work) I set myself a very ambitious goal to achieve PMP in less than 90 days, and succeeded in just 62! The keys to my success were the ability to focus all of my time and energy on the preparation and the help of the PM Precast, the Exam Simulator and these fora (I didn't get any further books as I considered these for future use if I did not pass on my first attempt). I also had the advantage of being able to link theoretical ideas to the actual work of project management that I have previously seen.
Actual time spent was probably 6-7 hours per day for 5 days per week during my 9 weeks of prep, so that would be around 250 hours (not to mention dreaming project management!).
My process began with taking a full length exam to baseline my current experience prior to reading through the PMBOK for the first time, taking about 10 hours to do so.
After this I then worked through the entire PM Precast including all the supplementary materials. I am so thankful for Cornelius having such a clear speaking style and the well organized presentation material. I am also thankful for the Apple podcast player that allows you to listen at 1.5 or even 2 times speed. You can train yourself to listen faster at the same time as getting your PMP! [Helpful hint, Cornelius sounds just as good a teacher at high speed!] This took almost 3 weeks, while I took various free exam training resources online - all of which I found through the forums.
Each week after this I completed a further two practice exams and two more the weekend prior to my exam. These practice exams were worthwhile for the practice of sitting and thinking clearly for a long time, as well as for the sense of what a PMP exam is like, and obviously for the statistics of where my thinking was weakest. It was very helpful to note that I marked about 15-20% of questions for review in most practice exams.
I had to fly to another city for the exam and arrived the previous day, being able to drive by the venue location to confirm it was there. There was a ferry boat ride to the exam location which allowed me to reflect on what the exam was for - new opportunities! Arriving at the venue I was surprised that it was not more professional in general but I found out that the location was undergoing change and the Prometric segment of the facility was okay.
The exam itself was similar in style to the Exam Simulator and the sections in the PrepCast regarding exam preparation are invaluable. One key difference was of course the exam questions being slightly different in their wording, but overall if you knew the PMBOK guide and could relate the various ideas and concepts together they were no more difficulty. Psychologically there is the realization that this is the final exam, but other than this a well prepared student who understands the material and the reason for the testing should be adequately prepared.
My first run through the exam took just over 3 hours 20 minutes, with around 30 questions marked for review (all of which I had already chosen an answer). I began to review the marked questions and was able to complete them all, changing about 10 answers, in 30 minutes. I decided to allow the timer to run down to time and randomly reviewed questions that I had not marked and did not change any.
At the completion of time I carried out the survey and then was shown the congratulations screen. On leaving the facility I was given the signed and stamped pass sheet, and took the ferry ride back, enjoying the afternoon.
Lessons learned from 250 hours and approximately 3000 exam questions:
Learn the ideas and the concepts before you focus on the details
When you are thinking right the correct answers are usually obvious
Getting the PMP is only the beginning - now to get a project management job
Thanks Cornelius and all forum helpers [you are too many to name!]
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.