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TOPIC: Passed 10/5/16 but didn't feel adequately prepared

Passed 10/5/16 but didn't feel adequately prepared 5 months 2 weeks ago #8510

  • Martha Raney Taylor
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What to expect: I agree completely with Ganavel Dorai Rethinam's assessment of the current exam -- see his post "Passed My Exam on 2nd Attempt (2P & 3MP)" about the types of questions on the current exam. His description of the exam exactly aligns with my own (passed on 10/5/16 with 1 P, 4 MP) and that of two colleagues who passed in the past two weeks. That said, the mock exams out there do not adequately prepare you for the exam that is currently being administered, because the sims all provide a range of question types and challenge levels and tends to favor easier questions, while the exam that appears to be the standard at present is 95% situational questions: an all-text scenario, including information you need as well as distracters you don't, which you have to diagnose for what process or ITTO this is / comes next/ precedes / follows / should have been done, etc. I found this overwhelming focus on one question type to be so monotonous it was hard to stay focused for the entire 4 hours. By the end I was reading questions 2 or 3 times before they would be more than just a string of words. There was simply very little variety in the exam, and thus it was hard to maintain focus.

How long it took: It took me 1:16 to get halfway through the exam, and another 2:25 for the second half, leaving 19 min to check marked questions. This was considerably slower than in my mock exams, primarily due to the lack of varied question types, and you can see I was slowing way down on the second half due to the fatigue with the question type. I got through most of my marked questions before I timed out. I had marked the first 7 questions which unnerved me at the start, and when I went back through them, I found them only slightly less confusing the second time. Maybe they front-load the exam with tough questions to test your nerves.

I will say that because of the overwhelming focus on situational questions, you need to know your 47 process table 100%, as well as every ITTO you can retain, both when they are used and all the interchangeable terms. Definitely know all the key/unique ITTOs. Focus your brain dump on this, as you will NOT need that entire page of formulas you are told to memorize (forget Mr. Rethinam’s page 2 of his brain dump!). Just know the most basic formulae: 5 EVMs (EV, CV, SV, CPI, SPI) plus the PERT formula and the communication channels formula. You probably already know them without a brain dump! It’s good to know how to create AONs and calculate float/free float, but there are at most only 2 questions about that, so if you struggle there, don’t waste your effort. The only thing I’d add to Mr. Rethinam's review is that there are a couple of questions on contracts (what type to use when) and a couple on NATMA-PESEA (types of Positive or Negative risk).

What I studied: Over 7.5 weeks, Cornelius Fichtner’s PM PrepCast lessons were my constant companion on my work commute, but I never got past Chapter 8. I purchased but abandoned the RITA book early on (too much additional stuff in it to learn, e.g. she defines 85 processes – as if 47 isn’t enough?!) I took a 35 hour crash course along with 30 colleagues presented by Global Knowledge and afterwards, studied 90% of the 1000 or so pages in that curriculum, used their flash cards for ~2 hours, and read 30-40% of the PMBOK. I found searching the online PMBOK super helpful for understanding how PMI uses terms. Edward-designer.com has some great blogs that differentiate similar terms such as QA vs. QC and Verified vs. Validated vs. Accepted. These were short, and very helpful. Oliver Lehmann and PM PrepCast exam sims are the best, but I did not purchase any. I used the PM PrepCast Formula Guide which would have been great, IF there were any questions on the exam about this stuff. In other words, don’t waste your $20 on that.

Practice scores: My lowest practice score was 60% (pretest for Global Knowledge the day before training) and the highest was 100% on a GK chapter quiz. Most of my scores were 70-85% whether total exam sims or short chapter quizzes. Oliver Lehmann 175-questions = 70%. All of these, including my pre-test, felt easier than the real exam. For reference, I am a 55 year old native English speaker, BS degree and practicing aspects of project management in varying degrees for 15-20 years.

Side note on the whole process: In my college career, I always aimed for 90-95% as my personal benchmark for success, and a score <80% was not acceptable. This is clearly not the case with PMI, where it is rumored that you will pass at around 65%. It was uncomfortable for me to readjust my expectations and plan to score around 70%. In my opinion as a professional educator, when you have to set such a low standard for success among diligent, motivated professionals, it signals one of three things: you are poorly presenting the material, you are presenting unnecessarily complex material, or you’re failing to construct an exam that will accurately measure what was to be learned. In the case of PMI I think it’s definitely the last two. But since I can't fix PMI, I just had to remind myself when I was taking far more WAGs and SWAGs (wild-a$$ guesses and super wild-a$$ guesses) than I was comfortable with, that I was still likely to pass. And I did. Professional PMBOK overhaul and PMP Exam re-design to come later :)
The following user(s) said Thank You: Edwin Volante , Hazem Ibrahim

Passed 10/5/16 but didn't feel adequately prepared 5 months 1 week ago #8529

  • Kevin Nason
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Congratulations on Passing the Exam!

Thank you for your detailed write up on your PMP Exam experience, I know others will find this helpful!


Passed 10/5/16 but didn't feel adequately prepared 5 months 1 week ago #8534

  • Hazem Ibrahim
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congratulations , can you please advise us about the relation between the exam content outlines and the exam questions, I mean there are many topics in exam content outline which is not directly included in PMBOK knowledge areas but trainers say that still to be heavily questioned on the real exam, what is your experience about that please?

Passed 10/5/16 but didn't feel adequately prepared 5 months 1 week ago #8542

  • Martha Raney Taylor
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That's a good question. Let's just say that I did not study material that was not addressed in the PMBOK or the PMI Code of Ethics, and I still passed. I noticed that I missed several questions on the Oliver Lehmann 175-question mock exam that came from additional resources, and when I went to look into the links that the answer key provided to those resources, they were broken, because PMI no longer maintains that library resource. So I said forget it. :) I can think of one exception: employee motivational Theories X, Y and Z were asked on several mock exams so I took five minutes to learn about what they are. I may have seen a question about that on the exam, but I'm not sure (mock and real questions start to blur together). I also did not review the additional practice standards that PMI publishes (www.pmi.org/pmbok-guide-standards/framework). I stuck to materials published by the prep course I took from Global Knowledge, materials from Cornelius Fichtner's PM Prepcast (the curriculum from this website) and some supplemental material that helped to illustrate/delineate the concepts in these materials. Hope this helps! Good luck!

Passed 10/5/16 but didn't feel adequately prepared 5 months 1 week ago #8546

  • Ganavel Dorai Rethinam, MSc, PMP
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Hi Martha,

Congratulations to you! I have to agree on how the exam focus have very heavily shifted towards situational based type of questions. Not adequately knowing the interaction between different processes will surely will surely confuse the PMP aspirants to understand the questions.
On my dumpsheet page 2, in real exam I only wrote the EVM plus the graph. Others I omitted as I was almost reaching the end of the tutorial session. I wasn't worried that much about the remaining stuff on page 2 as I have most of it at my finger tips. Like you mentioned, those are much easier formulas to recall.


Passed 10/5/16 but didn't feel adequately prepared 5 months 1 week ago #8552

  • Mark Wuenscher, PMP
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I would still be sure to study the PMI Code of Ethics for the exam even though it isn't included in the PMBOK. I don't recall any ethics specific questions on the exam but ethics were certainly imbedded in some of the questions and you needed to know how you the project manager should respond from an ethical point of view to pick the best answer.

Mark Wuenscher, PMP
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Passed 10/5/16 but didn't feel adequately prepared 5 months 1 week ago #8561

  • Martha Raney Taylor
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Absolutely agree, Mark. I did include study of the Code of Ethics.
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