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I took the exam on August 2nd and passed with moderately proficient in all five process groups. It took me a total of 3 solid months to study for the exam but I reviewed the material a month before I started my actual study plan therefore I had a foundation to begin with.
Balancing studying for PMP and work was difficult but I created a schedule and stuck with it. I studied two to three hours in the evenings and full days on the weekends. Also, I tried to capitalize on my down time (train or car rides).
The exam itself was moderately difficult, I didn’t find it hard but you must know the knowledge, spend a lot of time reading, watching prepcasts or YouTube videos; these help me a lot in rounding out my understanding of each topic. While studying I took a lot of notes and after reviewing a knowledge area I created outlines for each topic. Another key point, I created a dumpsheet of my own which contained a high level outline of each knowledge area and I would review this sheet periodically, therefore, I wouldn’t forget the information learnt. For example, I would review the sheet and try to recall from memory the general definition. The ones I struggled with I would go search for it on my digital copy of the PMBOK to further enhance my understanding.
It was a long journey but one that was worth it. I personally think whether you pass the PMP or not the knowledge is indispensable.
Study Schedule: I created a study schedule that mapped out enough time for me to review the material in three rounds and thoroughly prep myself the 4th round for the actual exam.
1st round I focused on all of the significant outputs and inputs (not common ones) and created a cliff note version of the material (not more than 2 pages). While creating an outline for each knowledge area, I took a practice exam in the end to see how I’m progressing and which areas I need to revisit and restudy thoroughly.
2nd round I focused more on the tools and techniques, the importance, meaning and which knowledge areas it was mostly associated with. I watched videos on how to calculate earned value (schedule and cost baselines), scheduling networking diagramming, calculating expected monetary value (decision tree analysis), creating a RACI chart, cause and effect diagram, etc. I found reading the definition and approaches were not sufficient but watching the videos made it easier to understand. Took another exam at the end to gauge my status. I also read the PMP glossary at the end of the book, highlighted the ones I weren’t familiar with and created index cards to review on the train.
3rd round I actually scheduled the exam and start studying everything over and over again to prep myself for the exam. I did a lot of quizzes after reviewing the each section. Took another exam to test myself.
4th round – I took a week off of work to study and take practice exams. During the week of the exam, I reviewed in the mornings and took an exam in the afternoon. Studied the questions I got wrong and took another exam. By the end of the week I took 4 practice exams. I think that was the key to passing the PMP, take as many practice exams as possible.
Day of the Exam:
The day before the exam I reviewed the last practice test I took and that was it. I watched a movie, took a nice long walk and just enjoyed the summer a little. I closed my shades and curtains, turned on the AC and I lied in bed until I fell asleep. My exam was scheduled for 2 PM the next day, which meant if I woke up at 12 PM I would be fine. I knew exactly where the testing site was located so I wasn’t stressed about getting there.
Pace yourself on the actual exam, I nearly ran out of time and I did not review any of my questions. I kept going until the test itself told me I ran out of time. The dumpsheet helped at a lot, I used the process groups chart to map the question content to the knowledge areas that are applicable and then guessed the answers before actual looking at the choices (while taking my practice exams at home I used the same technique).
1.PM Prepcast – watched these videos during my train ride to and from work – helped a lot (did not watch all of the videos, maybe 80% of these videos). Untilized these videos with the Andy Crowe book to help me grasp 65% of the knowledge.
2.PM Tutor (purchased a package during the 2nd round of studying to help me with areas I’m struggling).
3.Andy Crow PMP Fifth Edition – Read this book thoroughly (round 1 & 2). As a reference during the 3rd review
4.PMBOK – the last two weeks before the exam I read the tougher knowledge areas and would reference the PMBOK for the questions that were incorrect on my practice exams.
5.Rita Mulcahy – purchased but did not use it much – it helped with order of magnitude and contract types but I found the writing style made the material more complicated than it needed to be.
6.PM Exam Simulation – this was my Golden Nugget to passing the exam. I could’ve studied the PMP material for an entire year and still not pass the exam but the practice exam questions helped me tremendously. It exposed my weak areas every single time I took a practice test and I would study the crap out of those weak areas.
In the end:
I think I over did it with my preparation and material, I’ve never been good at taking standardized tests, and if I could pass it, anyone can. I think the most important thing I did for myself during my journey is take time off when I needed it. Leave the material alone for a couple of days and then revisit. The breaks are very important and take as many practice exams as you can.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Nay Lynn Sai, Sergey Gubin, Michael Berenson
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.