Congratulations! Let us know your lessons learned and how our products have helped you prepare.
Please remember that you are not allowed to discuss any specific questions that you encounter on the exam.
I just passed my PMP exam yesterday with 2 P and 3 MP! I am very excited and proud of the achievement. I found the lessons learned here helpful so I thought I would provide my own which I hope aspiring PMP candidates will find beneficial.
I completed an online course through SkillSoft for the required 35 PDUs. This was provided as part of outplacement services as the result of a recent job elimination. I then read Head First once and completed all of the exercises. I also read Rita's book twice and skimmed twice, and I skimmed the PMBOK once. I then began taking the free exam questions online which I would not recommend (see lessons learned below). After the free questions, I purchased the PMP Exam Simulator which was much more helpful and definitely worth the investment. I completed 4 exams with scores ranging from 83% to 89%. I intended to complete more practice exams but with 4 exams averaging in the mid 80s, I felt confident about sitting for the exam.
My Lessons Learned:
1. Rita's book was very helpful and I would highly recommend it as a study guide. Additionally Head First was good as well. I would recommend reading the study guides before reading the PMBOK. A great tip is that you can sign up for a free trial at Safari Books Online and just read the book for free before the trial expires.
2. As others have stated, do not attempt to memorize the ITTOs. You really just need to understand the process. However, you do need to memorize all the relevant formulas and I would recommend memorizing the process group chart as well.
3. Once you have finished studying and are ready to begin taking practice exams, it is tempting to just start with the many free exams available online. Many recommend this as a best practice but I would disagree. Some of the free questions are good and some are not. I even found a few blatant errors which caused confusion. Some of the free exams are too easy and will give you a false sense of confidence. Others were more difficult than the exam and may cause you to become discouraged. Even though these questions are free, your time is very valuable and is better spent with high quality practice exams that replicate the the actual PMP exam.
4. Invest in the PMP Exam Simulator! It is worth the money! These questions have a similar structure, length, and level of difficulty. With 8 practice exams plus the ITTO exam, there are more than enough exams to get you prepared and confident. I spent hours with the free questions and this time would have been much better spent with just the PMP Exam Simulator instead.
5. As you complete a practice exam, mark any question that you are unsure of. Once you are complete, study all of the questions that you missed and/or marked before tackling a new practice exam. This preparation is very helpful in filling in your knowledge gaps to prepare you for the real exam.
6. Some of the free practice exams have questions that reference material other than the PMBOK and cannot be answered from the PMBOK. While it is possible that the real exam will include such questions, I don't think this is where your limited time and memory is best spent. If you find one of these questions on a practice exam just take a guess and move on. Note that my PMP exam did not have any questions that could not be answered from the PMBOK. While it is good learn topics outside of the PMBOK for your career and professional growth, it is highly unlikely to help you with the exam. Spend your time and memory on the information contained in the PMBOK.
7. Drive to the testing center before the exam so you know exactly where it is and how long it will take you to get there. My testing center was new and not in my car's GPS database, so I had to spend about 15 minutes driving around to find it. You do not need the added stress on the day of your exam.
8. Arrive at the testing center early on the day of your exam. You don't need the stress of a traffic jam or road construction before the test.
9. One the day of your exam, make sure you are hydrated but don't over do the fluids. I drank plenty of water prior to the exam and felt the urge to go in the middle of the exam. The last two hours was less than pleasant because I did not want to give up the time to go to the bathroom before finishing the exam. This also brings up another point, make sure you go to the bathroom at the facility right before your exam.
10. Others have suggested using the time during the instruction presentation for the exam to do a memory dump before the clock starts ticking on the 4 hour exam time. I was not permitted to write anything down until I started the exam. I skipped the memory dump and just jumped into answering questions. I knew the formulas well enough that I didn't need to have them written out prior. I did do a memory dump on the planning process group of the chart which I found helpful and was prepared to complete the rest of the chart if I needed it.
11. The actual exam has a couple of features that I was not aware of. You have the option of highlighting text. This is done by dragging your mouse of the text and then a small pop up box will populate. When you click on the box, the text will be highlighted in yellow. I did not use this feature but others might find it helpful. Additionally, you can right click on any of the answers and it will put a "strike through" on the text. I did find this to be very helpful in quickly ruling out answers that I knew to be incorrect.
12. I have read others saying thresholds for practice exam scores anywhere from 75% to 85%. I would suggest using the PMP Exam Simulator with at least three consecutive scores of at least 80% to feel confident about passing the test. You should be able to pass even with 75% practice test scores but that would be cutting too close in my opinion. If you are consistently scoring in the mid 80% range, then you should feel very confident about passing the exam.
Thank you! I pursued my PMP after having my position eliminated, so studying for the exam was my full-time job. I was studying about 40 hours per week for 6 weeks. The first week I spent completing the required training. The next four weeks I spent studying Rita's book, Head First, and the PMBOK Guide. The last week I spent taking practice exams to ensure I was ready to complete the exam.
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.