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Today's Expert: Mixie Morales, MBA, PMP From: Virginia Beach, VA Industry: Information Technology/Government Contracting PM Experience: 1 year
In July 2015, I attended a PMP boot camp training. I took the exam a week after my training and did not pass. I tried again in September, and again, I did not succeed. Two exam failures were discouraging and disappointing to say the least. The worst thing was having to call my program manager to tell him I did not pass. Every time, he encouraged me to test again. Without his caring support, I would have given up the first time I failed. Each time I tested, I knew in my heart that I was not ready to test, but I sat for the exam anyway since I was required to satisfy a job requirement within a specific time frame. As I reflect on my exam failures, the biggest mistake I made was testing when I knew I was not ready to test.
Early in May 2016, I received a friendly reminder from PMI that my last date to test within the one year PMI imposed time frame was approaching. Per PMI, I was due to test no later than 7/17/2016. Since I had already invested time, money, and effort up to this point, I decided to try one more time. This time, however, I set my own parameters, stuck to a schedule, and studied rigorously for 5 weeks.
Schedule the Exam: The first thing I did was schedule my exam. I scheduled my exam for 6/24/2016.
Find Time to Study: Finding time to study was a big challenge. I work full time, and when I am not working, my husband and my two year old daughter have my full and undivided attention. For the 5 weeks prior to my exam, I studied 35-40 hours per week (before work, after work, and on my days off).
Select the Training Materials and Resources you will Use: I attended a PMP boot camp training in July of 2015, so I went back and reviewed the training materials I had. Note that the PMP exam changed on 1/11/2016, so please make sure that you use training materials from a PMI registered education provider who is using updated training materials per the new PMP exam content outline. Since this was my last opportunity to test within the one year timeframe established by PMI, I purchased the following training materials from OSP International LLC: (1) the PM PrepCast, (2) the PM Exam Simulator, and (3) the PMP Formula guide. Last year, I purchased RMC’s PMP Exam Prep, Eighth Edition and McGraw-Hill's PMP Certification Mathematics with CD-ROM. I used both books, my PMP boot camp materials, and the OSP training materials to complement the PMBOK guide, 5th edition.
Make a Plan or Plan to Fail: I am not sure who owns this quote, but I first heard it during my PrepCast. It is absolutely true. After I scheduled my exam, I created a plan with all the work I needed to accomplish prior to 6/24. In fact, the last date in my plan reads: 6/24/2016 - Take and Pass the PMP Exam; Celebrate.
Measure Yourself: Before sitting for the exam, your degree of confidence about passing must be high. If you know you are not ready, reschedule the exam. Measure your confidence by your success rate. Take plenty of mock exams and keep track of your scores the first time you take each exam. While I certainly encourage you to review the questions you miss, I do not recommend that you take the same exam twice. You score is likely to improve the second or third time around due to memorization rather than understanding. While you may get a boost from raising your scores the second or third time around, in the real exam, you only get one try: "Remember, boys [& girls], no points for second place" (Slider, Top Gun). Measuring your confidence level, therefore, can allow you to gauge if you are ready to test for the real exam. Here is some insight on measurement from H. James Harrington: “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
Before the Exam:
• Do: Memorize the formulas, the 47 process chart, and time yourself to ensure you can dump this information in less than 15 minutes. You will need this information during the exam. Ensure that you are ‘Proficient’ in Planning, Executing, & Monitoring and Controlling. These three domains weight the heaviest in the exam. You can be ‘Proficient’ in Initiating and Closing and still fail the exam if you do not get at least a ‘Moderately Proficient’ in the three domains above.
• Do Not: Memorize the ITTOs. You need to understand them rather than memorize them.
During the Exam:
• Do: Create a dump sheet with the formulas and the 47 processes. Manage your time wisely. Mark difficult questions for review and come back to them later, at the end.
• Do Not: Rush thru the questions.
After the Exam:
• Do: Share the news with friends, family, and colleagues.
• Do Not: Share specific content from the exam or training materials from PMI authorized education providers. Sharing any of this information is a violation of the PMI code of ethics since training materials and exam content are the intellectual property of the vendors and/or PMI. You could also face disciplinary actions if you do not respect the property rights of others.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Mark Wuenscher, PMP
Congratulations in passing the exam and for persevering! What a great story. Love the quotes as well. I especially like the quote "Take and Pass the PMP Exam; Celebrate."
I rescheduled my exam once when I knew I was not ready and that was the best thing I ever did. Very sound advice. Thank you for sharing your experience on the forum.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Mixela Morales
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.