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TOPIC: Passed my PMP on the 1st attempt

Passed my PMP on the 1st attempt 9 months 4 days ago #6890

  • M Bond
  • M Bond's Avatar
I took the PMP exam on the 29th of December at 1:30pm and passed on the first attempt. I got 4 MP and 1 below proficient (Executing). I will admit that I did not expect to pass the exam. I had never scored above a 79% on the Prepcast Simulator. And, on occasion I scored a 72 % with the exact same number of questions answered correctly (3 times in a row). Needless to say, I did not feel ready. A friend of mine had once stated that you never actually feel 100% "ready to take the test". I am a nervous test taker to begin with.

My PMP journey began in late 2014 and I took about 6 months to fully prepare . I had a number of false starts as life got in the way :)
I had taken a boot camp and exam prep class through RMC in late 2014. Then, my studies were stopped due to work and life constraints. In 2015 I had heard that the test was changing, so rather than have to potentially throw my old textbooks and notes out the window I decided to knuckle down and study.

I used the following materials during the course of my study:

2. Rita Mulcahy's prep book
4. PMP Prepcast and PMP exam simulator
5. Dave Litton's PMP Primer
6. Head 1st PMP
7. TSI Process Map (shows how all process groups and knowledge area's interact).

Study Process:
I went through Rita's book 1st in the boot camp, but found it difficult at 1st to follow. So, after the boot camp was over I picked up Head 1st PMP and read through it cover to cover (as it's more visually oriented and fun). I made notes in my notebook along the way. Once I had finished the book I went through the PMP prepcast looking through the video's in the area's where I seemed to have the most difficulty learning. (I admit I did not make it all of the way through all videos). Once I had completed Head 1st and some of the video's I took a practice test in the exam simulator to see how I was doing. The great thing about the simulator is it tells you which area's you need to focus on (so I could dive back into my notes and look over my weak area's).

After my 1st practice exam I picked Rita's book back up and began to re-read it. This time it seemed easier to understand and filled in some of the gaps from Head 1st.

Once that was complete I took another practice exam.

I continued to take practice exams and quizzes until I had answered about 1200 in total.

I still felt like I was not completely understanding the project management process and I was starting to feel overwhelmed. I had purchased a great deal of other books and materials as well, but they did not seem to help. So, when the PMP study coach group came up with Dan Ryan I was excited to be able to partner with someone who had already taken the test to help educate me on how to focus to pass the PMP. The study sessions were a source of encouragement and it was really beneficial to speak with other members of the study group who were also studying for the PMP. We had independent breakout sessions of our own where we would get together and work through problems on our own. This was very helpful (as each member of the group had their own perspectives and interpretation of potential answers.

At this point, I also started to document my PM experience (There was a great application spreadsheet provided by Dan that really helped me know what to document and how).

I would continue to read in the morning and then watch video's while taking the train (morning /evening commute and lunch).

My application was approved within 4 days without an audit!! (although I had given my former boss a heads up that I had applied and could possibly get audited).

I scheduled the test and the week before I began to study about 4-6 hours a day (focusing on weak area's)

I read Rita's book again and this time went through the PMBOK guide (which I had not done previously) althewhile taking 4 hour practice tests each Saturday.

The key part I believe to this is knowing your limits. There were times where I knew physically I need to step away and take a break. I had reserved Sunday as my day off (to rest and relax). I think picking a day that was just mine really helped my refuel my energy reserves.

On Testing Day: I got to the testing center about two hours earlier (I had driven to the testing center the day before and decided that taking the train was the best course of action (as parking was difficult) to be able to relax and to gear my thoughts up for taking the exam. I checked into the testing center and was escorted to my station. I did my brain dump and then started the test. My heart was pounding. Then, about 10 questions into the test a strange thought came over me. I decided at that moment to make friends with the test. As strange as that sounds, I was able to re-orient my focus to treat the test not as the enemy which could possibly defeat me, but rather a friend who was there to support me and at the very least teach me something. This feeling made me relax. I smiled, sat back in my chair and calmly resumed answering the questions. My strategy was to mark all of questions requiring calculation, and then all of the questions that seemed wordy so that I could come back to them later. About 3 hours into the journey I had completed the 1st pass. I then went back and answered all of the wordier questions and did the calculations. At the end I started to review my answers and found myself starting to second guess them. I got 10 questions into it and then stopped. My friends voice rang throughout my head: your 1st choice is typically the right one. So. I stopped. I took a short survey and then waited for what seemed like an eternity and then the message popped up that I had passed. I could not believe it

Lessons Learned: The key tip I can advise here is listen to your body and mind. I knew when it was time to take a step back and regroup (as the more I tried to force the information into my head, the more frustrated I would become. In addition, the exam simulator was a life saver. It helped me determine my weak area's and. Lastly, DO NOT be afraid to switch study materials. I had tried multiple resources and found that some (the ones listed above) stuck with me more than others. It was at times frustrating, because I never really thought that the information was sinking in and was looking for one definitive resource to help me gain an understanding. In the end, I settled on the books listed above. Lastly, I would encourage anyone to view the test not as an enemy that must be conquered, but rather as a friend who is there to help you see things from the PM perspective. I find that if you see it this way, the stress will abate and you will be able to focus more on the task at hand.

I wish you all the best with great success!

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