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TOPIC: July 29th. PMP Exam passed [5P]

July 29th. PMP Exam passed [5P] 1 year 2 months ago #5953

  • Francesco Lertora
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Dear All,

Lets start at the end of the story: I passed my PMP exam July 29th with 5P.

I started to prepare for the exam about one year ago. Unfortunately I don’t have too much free time to study so I had to set-up ’late night’ sessions. My target has always been to better understand the concepts than to ‘simply’ pass the/a exam, to be a better PM in my working life.

About the Prep books I used
My general suggestion is (if possible) to read more than one Prep Book. The following is a suggested reading sequence between the ones I used:

1) Head First: it has a great approach if you need to start reading/learning about the PMP. Strongly suggested to start with this one.

2) Andy Crowe: good, but at least the fifth edition is very concise. Good pictures and schemes but in many paragraph it seems more a list of ITTOs with related definitions. Very good Q/A sessions, to me the best part of the book.

3) Rita Mulchahy: I still consider this one the most complete Prep Book I have, but not as the first one to read. The approach of the book, in particular in the first chapters, is somewhat discouraging (and annoying) “if you don’t manage at least 1K guys and 1B$ projects you can’t and will not understand this” :) but even if you (as me) will not like the approach, this is a reference Book.

About PMBOK: it is a great one, but like most of the professional manuals it should be read by someone who already knows about the matter. I read it cover to cover a couple of times, in particular in the last phase of my preparation for the exam. It is useful to fix and to clarify in your mind the most important concepts you previously read from the Prep Books. It is also a precious reference once you start answering sample questions.

With the Prep Books I used the PMPrepcast that has an impressive cost-benefit ratio. It enables you to get the required 35 hours with lots of videos, hints etc…you can play everywhere, anytime.
I think that most of the PMPrepcast customers will agree over the fact that the value of the product is well beyond its price.

About Sample Questions
I think that during last year I answered to about 5k sample questions...
One of the most important thing here to consider: avoid wasting time to find out around the web tons of free questions. To me there is nothing as bad as to test yourself over a set of bad questions. We are talking about your life, your job, it is your profession, so lets find out and use the best you can find out. The final exam is tough, so why do get crazy about something with poor or no value? To study at night it is not easy, so I ended up quite upset each time In the
middle of a test (found out over the web), a question/answer was actually... 'garbage'.

Some sources I used
1) RMC PMFastrack. Good questions but the overall product quality (for example the software engine and licensing technology) to me is not aligned to its price & the Rita Prep Book.
Further I had very annoying software installation issues.
I had about 5x200 exams with scores ranging from 80% to 85%
2) PMZilla tough questions. Nice small/cheap book. Interesting if you want to have
a ‘reference’ for difficult questions: my scores here ranged from 48%(!) to 65%
3) Lehman 175: good set. I had here 75%
4) several Smartphone applications. One of the best set I used
(unfortunately not to many questions) is from the ‘PMP for dummies’ app
5) obviously the sets available from the prep-books: Crowe, Rita, Head First
all have good test sets

Last, but not least, a month before the real exam I started using the PMP exam simulator.
Very good questions. I did many tests ranging from 10 to 150 questions and with scores
between 80/90%. I found out very useful the mark question feature to be used strategically during the test to mark topics to be however reviewed at the end. Find the correct amount of time to review the wrong questions and the marked ones. This is one of the most valuable thing to do with a simulator. Don’t make this kind of review if you are ‘burned’ after the test session (for instance on a late night session...). Take your time to review everything with your brain in a 'good shape'.

About the real exam
During last year I did a lot of sample questions, so I think I have a good understanding about
an easy/difficult question set...and honestly I think my real exam was not so easy...a lot of tough questions. Many questions where I had really no idea what could be the ’right’ one.
Someone says that the questions are not there to trick you but I don’t fully agree: double negatives, explicit tricks (for instance with numbers and percentages) and so on.
In just one sentence: you have to be well prepared.
The exam does not test (only) your PMBOK knowledge, it tests your capability to reason as a PMP should reason and while it can be more or less easy (I have for instance, an engineering background) to learn about a specific topic, it is not quite easy to start reasoning as someone else mind, ”what I’d answer if I was the guy who wrote the question?”.
Many questions were wordy but honestly not as wordy as some example available in the simulators.
I think that the simulators try to prepare you for worst cases.

Regarding the ITTOs.: there were some questions to test you about ITTOs and process sequences.
During the preparation I set-up some flashcards with all and only ITTOs for all the processes for a given knowledge area. My position is: don’t try to force you memorizing everything, but obviously if you are able to remember as many as ITTOs as you can, the better is. Relax yourself about this. If you can’t remember a weird combination of EEF or OPA as inputs or missing input for a given process, this will not make you a bad PM. This is the reason there is the PMBOK.

By the way, I answered 100 questions, had a small break to drink some water and a second session with the remaining 100 questions.
I end the test only 5 minutes before the deadline, just the time to double check I answered all the questions and to review some marked ones (but I did not change any answer).

I was not sure about the quality of my answers. There were too many questions where my first reaction has been “what?" followed by "read again"...”what?”..."read again"..."no, it’s not possible"..."read again"...."mhhhh" :) , but the 5P seems a very good result.
After almost a year of ‘late night’ studies it meant a lot.

Wish you all the best
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