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A long journey supported greatly by PrepCast and the many moderators who answered my questions along the way.
I just got home and have to say that although I received 5 P's, I was not absolutely sure that I would even pass up to the 200th question! I used a lot of course material, with my main stay being Cornelius and PrepCast, without which I would surely be looking at a repeat.
I started studying for the PMP in Oct 14th and within a month had gained the necessary 35 contract hours through another online education provider in combination with the PMBok guide. Despite this, I felt like I didn’t really learn (or understand) anything so I looked for another course. I found PM PrepCast and immediately realized that there was a lot to learn.
From Nov 2014, I studied PM PrepCast together with recommended reading for 2-3 months but then due to work commitments had to scale back significantly on study time. Initially I was studying 1-2 hours per day. Fast forward to Sep 2015 where I picked up the study in earnest, listening to Cornelius for hours at a time whilst driving (Cornelius recommends that you limit yourself to an hour or so – good advice as I found my mind wondering after 1-2 hours, requiring constant replay). I got most out of PM PrepCast when I was more dedicated to watching and listening - which for me was on an elliptical in the gym or in a study environment (dual benefit – thank you Cornelius). I found myself studying 2-6 hours per day every day between PM PrepCast and several books – I bought all of them. The only books that I can really recommend as a must are Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep 8th edition and obviously the PMBok guide. There were a couple I referenced or read once, and one which I threw away after the first couple chapters and chapter tests. I went through RMH and the PmBok guide multiple times with my core focus material still remaining PM PrepCast. Indeed if something was a little hazy I just went back to the PrepCast and always found clarity. At the end I had 75 pages of type written comprehensive notes drawn from all sources.
In Feb I started using the PMP exam simulator in my final drive towards earning the PMP. The PMP exam simulator is also must, as it exposed my weak areas and expanded my notes. I did 5 practice exams scoring mostly in the mid 80’s with one 79. ITTO’s seemed to be an issue for me, so I made a concerted effort based on good moderator advice to better understand (never remember) the ITTO’s. I also used BrainBok, which I found to be a good tool for tracing the ITTO’s and improving my understanding. Note: originally I had thought I would do a bootcamp or class towards then final preparation, but realized that with discipline I had all that I needed material wise.
Application and Exam Day
With the pending exam change in Jan, I decided to wait for the new material and the new exam so revised my plan slightly for a March exam. In part this delay was due to my trying to get copies of my academic records from the UK which was a process all by itself.
I made sure to appraise those involved in my projects of my application should I be audited. It took a full week for my application to be processed after which I immediately booked the exam. I had a rough couple of work days so in preparation for the exam, I drove to Raleigh and visited the test site, before staying overnight in a nearby hotel. I like to be prepared, so against all advice I studied right up until just before the exam but, the best preparation was an excellent glass of Merlot the night before with dinner and a good nights rest
I arrived early at the test center feeling pretty well prepared. The test center itself was friendly, although I did remark that the preparation and entry requirements for the exam seemed more onerous than gaining my US citizenship the previous year. My exam was set for 1:30pm but I was ushered in early. For the exam, remember to take ear buds (no wires), to help reduce noise during the exam.
I was reviewing the forum the night before and a poster who had also taken the exam in Raleigh in Feb 2016 made some observations which proved to be spot on. The exam itself asked questions in ways I had not experienced before despite the PM exam simulator, BrainBok and InSite quizzes. My approach was to follow my preparation, going through all 200 questions (hopefully in 3 hours) and marking those which I wasn’t sure of (I still made a choice on those questions marked in case I ran out of time). My target was for 50-60 questions to be marked at which point I would take a 5 min break before review. As advised, I did my brain dump of formulas and processes which took more time than expected but I ignored the time it was taking from the exam and got the info down on paper. Write small because apparently if you need more scrap paper, they take the old including your dump – wow.
After 50 questions I found I was marking at a higher rate than anticipated because the question format seemed foreign to me and there were far more scenario questions than I expected. At 100 questions in, I was a bit concerned but settled myself in the knowledge that at the very least this exam would prepare me for the next. I continued through the remaining questions and finished in 3 hours at the end of which I had over 60 questions marked, coupled to the thought that even with the books in front of me I might still not be able to find the answers for many of the 200 questions. PMI were indeed testing your understanding, and in my case I often fell back on my general business experience. One thing that helped me was compartmentalizing each question so that regardless of how I felt with one question, it did not occupy my mind for the next. I focused on each question individually, and specifically. At the end of my first pass I was not confident of success.
During the review, I ignored any that were not marked and concentrating purely on those that required my attention. If after a review the answer seemed reasonable, I immediately unmarked and moved on leaving the most difficult questions for my 3rd and final review or best guess. On past moderator advice, I only changed 3 answers and treated each question as if it was essential to my passing the exam. I hit the end exam and then went through the survey before the moment of truth just hoping for a pass.
I passed and to my utter amazement had 5 Proficient’s. I felt like a tremendous weight was lifted off my chest and felt especially good when they remarked that it was the first time that they could remember seeing 5 P’s. Personally I think this exam will get more difficult as more material is added or separated out. There were very, very few calculations, yes/no, or diagram questions. There was a clear emphasis on scenario/experience based knowledge and understanding. I’m not saying it is horrendously difficult, but at least for me it was a test which I’m happy I won’t have to repeat.
Good luck to all and if anyone has any questions that I am able to answer about my experience, I’ll check in to hopefully provide answers and pay back for all the help I received on my PMP journey. Apologies for the tome.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Magroud Noreddine
Last Edit: by C. George Morris PMP CSM ITIL. Reason: Adding more info
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.