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I have to say that I thought this process would really not be that difficult. I mean I had been doing project management for many years and I knew the process. Boy was I mistaken! I have been in the IT field for over 35 years and this is by far the most difficult learning process I have ever faced.
The sheer volume of information that must be consumed to pass the PMP exam is staggering and overwhelming. After struggling for close to a month I realized I needed a plan. The reviews of the many that have been through this process helped considerably and I used there advise.
My first effort was solely spent on reading the PMBOK guide. This was my first mistake. The reading was just way to dry and was just blah…blah…blah. I needed visuals and it needed it to be interactive. I then latched onto the PREPCAST and began watching the videos. This was much better but still I was swimming in the volume of information.
I created a project plan using MS project and built a task list of each item that I needed to concentrate on. I had goals, tasks to complete and I was organized. But still connecting all the dots was just not happening. Then I read a successful exam students story. He talked about table 3-1 and how essential it was to get this table. Not memorize it, but have it make sense. This was the beginning for me. I began to study the table every day until I could walk a project through the entire table step by step. Every project needs to at least consider each processes within a process group within a knowledge area.
I began taking extensive notes that I could then review offline from my technology devices. Then came the Glossary of terms. I concentrated on the ones with associated acronyms and those that were not just common sense. I spent hours memorizing the formulas, all of them.
I also purchased the Head Start book for a bit different type of learning process. For those that are more visual learners this book is excellent. I personally found the PREPCAST simulation testing and review of every missed question the most rewarding study technique for me. I did not start the simulation testing until I had completed chapters 1-13 of the PREPCAST videos.
I spent 2 months studying the videos, then 2 more months studying and taking simulation tests. I did not schedule my exam until I took the first simulation test. I wanted to see how much additional time I would need to prepare. I simply cannot say enough about using the PREPCAST product. After I took the first simulation test and scored 53%, I decided to try out the learning quizzes. These quizzes were a great way to learn and I took many of them (at least 20 at 20 questions per quiz). I then started to take the 4 hour simulation tests 2-3 per week. Yes they are painful but it is a necessity to gain experience in the process. If I scored less than 80% I would review all questions I missed and take the same test 2 days later. Every morning when I got into work I would write down table 3-1 and all of the formulas.
There are nine 4 hour test in the PREPCAST product and I took each of them at least 2 times. I would suggest that you need to score at least 85% consistently in these simulation test before taking the real test. The last test is solely centered on ITTO’s. This was a significant challenge area. Everyone says do not memorize…I would add…”How could you!” There are simply too many to memorize. I found a link through google where a gentlemen put all of them in a spreadsheet. I downloaded arranged by Process Group and printed it out. I reviewed it during the simulation testing. You will find that most just make common sense once you get the process flow down. You will also find that many of the same I/O’s are used in other linking processes. I could do a brain dump of table 3-1 and all the formulas. But ITTO’s, well you just have to know them and understand the process flow.
The test itself
I scheduled my test for Monday morning at 9am. I did take the entire day off from work. If I passed I wanted to celebrate and if I failed I wanted to hit the bar anyway! The weekend before the test I rehearsed my brain dump each morning and studied the PMBOK guide. I skimmed through the guide looking for anything that I knew I had issues with during the simulation testing.
Remember…life (personal and work) gets in the way…it is life. You have to make time for the studying, but you cannot stop life. Better to take the time that you need… patience will prevail. I personally paid the $30 and took the “Test Drive” and it was worth every penny. On the day of the actual test I did not have any concerns about the physical environment, check in process, how the testing area was setup, using the on screen calculator, etc.
The brain dump is critical… You will have at about 13 minutes to dump to paper, that is assuming you already watched the tutorial during the test drive! You must know table 3.1 and the formulas. Get them down on paper. I will say I was ready for the formulas but my test had fewer than a dozen formulas, which I have to say actually made it more difficult.
I felt I knew the information very well. I knew the formulas by heart, I had the processes all down, I knew all the people and everything that they had done throughout their lives. I was scoring 90% on most simulation tests. But oh man…the questions were very vague and worded differently. The pressure was on, the clock was ticking. You have to relax. I personally did NOT take a break… I just did not feel that I could afford to waste the time…and I needed all of it.
Oh by the way…eat a good breakfast and empty your bladder before you start!
I have to say when the “Congratulations” came up on the screen I almost screamed out…what a relief. I texted my wife and we met at the bar for lunch. What a great feeling it is to accomplish this process. It is grueling…but it was so very much worth the effort.
Good luck to all…
Bob Williams, PMP
The following user(s) said Thank You: Mark Wuenscher, PMP
Congratulations on passing the PMP exam. Thanks for posting your experience and lessons learned. I passed my exam on June 1st and much of your story is very similar to my experience! I only wish I had found, and had time to watch, the PM PrepCast videos before my exam. Thankfully I found the PM Exam Simulator which was critical to my success. As you know the PMBOK guide doesn't get any "wetter" after reading it multiple times.
When you schedule your actual PMP test date, you will also receive information about taking a TEST drive.
Basically you pay $30 and schedule an appointment just like it was the test day... I scheduled mine for a Saturday two weeks before the actual exam.
It allowed me to drive to the testing center, do the actual check in process, go through the screening process, finger print scanning, filling out the paper work.
Then to actually go through the 15 min. tutorial on the PC. This allowed me to get use to the mouse, the environment, on board calculator and how to answer and mark questions.
So on the actual test date... I knew the procedure and could use most of the 15 minute tutorial to do a brain dump to paper...
At first I questioned if it was worth spending the $$$.
For me... worth every penny.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Hazem Ibrahim
Thanks a lot for this valuable information, I agree with you that it wort every penny you spent but unfortunately I scheduled my exam on 12/12 and I didn't get any notification about that test driver neither from PMI nor from the center so I don't know how I will take it.?
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.