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TOPIC: Passed PMP Third Ed exam... lessons learned

Passed PMP Third Ed exam... lessons learned 7 years 10 months ago #585

  • Milo Chan
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I passed the PMP exam on June 25, 2009. Here are my lessons learned. The preparation materials I used included:

1. Head First PMP book (good sample test and intro to PMP study)
2. Rita's FASTrack software (excellent product; great for identifying and strengthening weak topic areas)
3. PMPrepCast (engaging and easy to listen to)
4. PMBOK Guide - Third Ed. (tough read, last resort reference)
5. Q&As for the PMBOK Guide Third Ed. (marginally useful, but cheap to buy)
6. Oliver Lehmann's free PMP test questions (not very relevant)

These materials are listed in order, with the most important materials (for me) listed first. As a software development manager with over 20 years of experience, I was familiar with project management principles and techniques, at least in the context of software development. However, I was not familiar with the PMP vocabulary or framework. The approach I took was:

1. Take a sample test
2. Review the questions I got wrong and identify weak topic areas
3. Study the PMP material in these areas
4. Repeat from step (1)

If you are new to project management, I don't think this is a very good way to learn project management principles and techniques. But as an experienced PM, I found it a very effective way of studying for the PMP exam. I spent about 6 weeks preparing, about 10-20 hours per week, with about 5-10 hours of that studying on weeknights after work, spending more hours per week as the exam date approached.

I didn't focus on memorizing any of the ITTOs or processes, though exposure through test questions probably made me familiar with many of them. My approach was to assume that understanding the principles and framework and being familiar with the ITTOs would allow me to deduce the correct answer to ITTO questions through reason. Having a general understanding of PMP processes allowed me to reason through the process-related questions on the exam. I did not encounter many direct ITTO questions in the PMP exam, though of course YMMV. (I don't believe that memorizing ITTOs and processes makes one a "better" PM since, in real life, reference materials are always available.)

I did memorize the formulas relating to Earned Value Management and Estimation; these turned out to be useful.

So, to recap, my approach was to do as many sample tests as possible. Good luck to you all!

Milo Chan, PMP, CSM
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