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TOPIC: 4 Months of Studying and passed the exam with Proficient in all 5 Domains...

4 Months of Studying and passed the exam with Proficient in all 5 Domains... 11 months 2 weeks ago #6686

  • Andrew Smith
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Hello, I am happy to report that I passed the PMP Exam on the first attempt on Dec. 14th, 2105! Thanks be to God, my family and all those that supported me during the 4 months that I put my life on hold (so to speak, I still went out on weekends and did things normally but most weekends I studied for 8 to 12 hours per weekend). When I considered taking the exam I had over 40,000 hours of project management experience. this experienced helped little in preparing for or taking the exam. It is all the PMBOK way or the highway... In fact, the experience I had was a detriment at first because the PMBOKK is written as if your projects exist in the land of multi-colored Unicorns, rainbows and lollipops... If you apply your practical experience to answer questions and do not consider the PMBOK way it will be very difficult to comprehend the material and pass the test.

Being 51 years old and not having studied for 35+ years it took me 3 weeks just to figure out how to study again. Once I got into the groove I studied 2-3 hours per night and 8 to 12 hours each weekend for 4 months. I used the following materials:

1) PMBOK Guide - Read it once cover to cover and then,
2) Read the Head First PMP book... this is a rather silly book but it did help me grasp some of the concepts. Then I read...
3) CAPM/PMP Project Management Certification Exam Guide, Third Edition, by: Joseph Phillips... This book comes with a DVD with all sorts of material and an exam simulator. I HIGHLY recommend this book for your arsenal in learning. He has an excellent writing style... and the DVD is worth it's weight in gold..... very helpful!
5) I re-read the PMBOK guide and then the day before the exam I read the entire glossary, again (I read the entire glossary twice).... this is KEY! Read the glossary at least TWICE! Know the terms as best you can!
6) I purchased the "PMP Quick Reference Guide" by Sohel Akhler but rarely used it though it is nicely arranged.
7) I made my own flash cards like everyone says to do but realized that these are more for memorizing and so I rarely used them... If you think you can memorize the ITTO's and pass then good luck to you, no way I could remember over 600 ITTO's (that is actually the total number of places the ITTO's are USED) and where they all go.... You MUST know how they are used in each process group and knowledge area or you will have a difficult time (unless you are one of those genius' that can memorize!)
8) I made my own Excel-based ITTO spreadsheet and sorted them by Input, T&T and Output... This was THE MOST HELPFUL thing that I did... I would randomly say.... "What is the output(s) for Define Scope?.... answer in my head and look at my sheet... that helped teach me where they are used and how....

As soon as I was notified that I was eligible to sit for the exam I scheduled my exam on Dec. 7th... a few weeks later I got to thinking that it would be a little bizarre to take my exam on Pearl Harbor Day, so I postponed it to Dec. 14th. I changed jobs after 16 years just 6 weeks before the exam. My wife was freaking out that I would be unable to start a new career and study for the test!. I had a longer commute so I listened to the PM PrepCast on my commute... There are A LOT of podcasts! I listened to almost everyone up until 3 days before the exam. I kept a log of all the sample questions and free questions I answered in an Excel spreadsheet and I made a graph to show my progress. I answered over 7,000 questions! I started answering questions as soon as I had completed the PMBOK Guide. I was getting 65% to 70%.... toward the end I was getting 80% to 85% correct. I sat for 12 each 200 questions exam simulators! Some tests at the end I was getting 70% to 75% again. I realized that I was getting burned out on the subject matter.... 3 days before the test I took the last PM PrepCast Exam simulation and got 82% but i was BELOW PROFICIENT in 3 of the 5 process groups... How can this be? It really shook my confidence at first and then I realized that I had taken too many exams and I was toast... Either I knew the material enough to pass the test or not.... my fate was in God's hands now.

The day before the exam I went to a Christmas play and just looked over the glossary breifly. The morning of the exam I skimmed the glossary of the PMBOK guide but did not really study. I never did drive to the test center prior to exam day. I knew where it was and I left 2 hours before the exam for the 20 minute drive. I arrived very early. They let me start early. I went out to the car, pounded a Monster, ate a sandwich my wife lovingly made for me and then headed in...I was PUMPED! I am glad I brought my own ear plugs as previous posters have said it is loud and distracting... and it is, I have no idea what tests other people were taking but some of them were just typing so fast and banging on their keyboards it distracted me a few times and I had to refocus.... without the ear plugs I probably would have lost it! I brought my own ear muffs but they would not let me use them... I did not use the ear muffs hanging on the cubicle, only my ear plugs.

So I took the first 15 minutes to do my brain dump during the tutorial like everyone suggests... I practiced doing my brain dump EVERY DAY for 2 WEEKS before the exam, this REALLY HELPED! Do it!....Especially the table 3.1 in the PMBOK Guide, draw this chart over and over again until you can replicate it on paper in 5 minutes or less .... YOU HAVE TO DO THIS ONE! as well as the formulas... even if you think you know the formulas you do not want to risk freaking out that you forgot or get confused as to which EAC or ETC to use....Write the reason to use each EAC, ETC, etc. like EAC (variances will remain) = BAC/CPI, etc... So I started answering the questions and the first 4 were easy for me... and then then the next 4 were easy and then I was on a roll.... I am sure that these were hard questions but I had practiced so many questions that ....having answered 7,000+ questions was my saving grace I think. I finished the 200 questions at the 3:45 hour mark... I took my time answering the questions. I read each questions at least twice... Sometimes I read the answers first, then the last sentence (which contained the real question) and then the entire question... again 2X! I also read all the answers at least 2X! I think I marked 20 or so questions and went back through them the last 15 minutes.... The test timed out on me and I was unable to review all my questions... at that point I thought it would be impossible for me not to pass the test... The survey at the end is not fun but I took it anyway, didn't want to jack anything up! The wait is painful.... the PASS is glorious.....I almost broke into tears and I was seriously choked up... tears came to my eyes but I composed myself.... I was committed to passing this test, I did not want to go through it again...especially since the test is changing on Jan 15th or sometime near there... When I checked out and saw that I was Proficient in a 5 Domains I was stoked!

I am so glad that it is behind me and I look forward to using my new found knowledge in my new awesome job! One more tip... Do not let the people that tell you this test is super hard or freak you out! Fear will undermine you... I am sure that the exam is hard for some, I am no rocket scientist! If you answer a ton of questions and study hard and open your mind you will pass the test! Good luck to all of you aspiring PMP's and I hope this long entry was helpful to at least one of you!
Last Edit: 11 months 2 weeks ago by Andrew Smith.

4 Months of Studying and passed the exam with Proficient in all 5 Domains... 11 months 4 days ago #6766

  • Debbie Kiefiuk
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Congrats! Thanks for your insights and journey regarding your preparation and experience as a PM. I like how you stated it is the PMBOK way and since I am relatively new as a PM with 10,000 hours, it helps to know that. Breaking into good habits from the start to know the standardized processes will serve to be an advantage once I get into an official PMP role.

I am going into my 4th month. "Life is what's happening to you when you study for the PMP." Like you, a lot of things in life from new job, family funerals, holidays, and 'stuff'. I did begin my journey with the Phoenix Chapter where they use Rita Mulcahy's materials and met 1x week on Saturday to review the questions; but when I began my new job I had to make use of my weekends. Like you, I am studying full-time on the weekends. Originally I thought that I could take the exam after 8 weeks but then I realized as I got more into it, the more there was to learn.

I signed up for Praizion Media's work by Phill Akinwale, PMP, CAM, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP. It is AWESOME! I have found the personal coaching support along with the materials very effective and engaging.

I decided to change my test date planned January 2nd until late April with the intent to take it sooner. I think my mistake was setting a test date before taking mock exams. I think once I get to the level of proficiency through the mocks, THEN I will scheduled my PMP EXAM date (earlier). Right now I would be freaking out if I were to take the PMP January 2nd which was unrealistic, hindsight being 20/20.

Again - congrats! I definitely can relate to the 'burn-out' factor so at times I had to take some time out to refresh and recharge.

4 Months of Studying and passed the exam with Proficient in all 5 Domains... 11 months 11 hours ago #6781

  • Debbie Kiefiuk
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I haven't taken the test yet and studying is going well. I do enjoy the materials provided and the practice exams from this site as well, most definitely! I believe there are several resources that one should leverage. The learning experiences from others is valuable - thanks for this site too.
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