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TOPIC: Passed PMP -- FWIW, what worked for me.

Passed PMP -- FWIW, what worked for me. 1 year 2 months ago #12155

  • Mark Lacattiva
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Hi All! Your mileage may vary ....but here are some thoughts/notes from my journey. (YOU MAY SKIP TO THE END FOR MY RECOMMENDATIONS)

I passed on my first attempt...which was unexpected, but in retrospect, made sense. (I'll explain later)

My preparation started about 4 months before when I began planning a relocation and a slight career shift. I took a general continuing education Project Management Overview class at a local technical college (6 nights, 3 hours each, over 6 weeks). At that time, I knew of the PMP certification but not much about how to attain it...and I figured I was not PMP caliber, anyway. This class gave me an excellent foundation to build upon (learned about comm channels, critical path, qualitative risk analysis, float, etc. etc.).

Once I began taking the general course, I joined PMI and I began to look into what it would take to earn the certification. Since I had accumulated the relevant experience/hours required over the last eight years to apply for certification and work toward taking the exam, I figured that I would go for it....and, even if I didn't take it, I would learn much on the way. Partway through my course at the local tech college, I started to look into Prep books and online PMP prep classes as I knew FOR SURE that I'd NEVER just be able to simply read the PMBOK and pass. I carefully Googled this and that... looking for a reputable prep course (this was very dicey...because there are lots of them out there...even promoting themselves as the best, on other websites). I settled on Rita Mulcahey's Prep book and Cornelius' PMP Prep Cast (WITH EXAMS).

Re. PMP Prepcast...When I initially signed up I was considering NOT paying the little bit extra for the EXAM SIMULATION....but decided to do so as I wanted to give myself the best chance I could of passing the exam. I'm convinced that the decision (to purchase exam simulation) was a crucial one and was THE most important factor in my passing the exam! I found the Prepcast to be of extremely high quality and to be as engaging as the material POSSIBLY could be. I'm convinced that my ability to stick with the lessons and absorb the material were due to Cornelius' narration/style. After 20 some lessons... was I running to my tablet for the next?...NO...but it made it bearable...and although some of the lessons seem duplicative, redundant...it was exactly that which reinforced my understanding and my retention of the material.

re. Rita's Book... This is where your experience may differ. Some of my peers swore by it...and their positive feedback was echoed by many online reviews and testimonies. I found it valuable as a tool but not significantly. I read the book, and took the exams, but jumped over some of the exercises as they did not seem to be giving me much more than I got from the Prepcast and other sources. Important: This is just MY experience...we all have different learning styles!

re. PMBOK Guide ... Yes I read the PMBOK and referred back to it many times during my journey. But I'm telling you...it literally put me to sleep...like I imagine a tranquilizer gun would. A couple pages, zzzzz.....wake up, couple pages zzzzz. I'm not even kidding! This is not to say it is not important! On the Contrary....It is the authoritative source for the material and our practice. However, I found that reading it and referencing it AFTER I had completed a good exam prep course was the way to go for me. The course gave the concepts and context, the book was a more of a reference for me. I do recommend reading it at least once, cover to cover...but after some quality exposure to the concepts.

Recommendations: Based on MY experience:

1) MOST IMPORTANT: Take as many quality timed exams as you possible can. Review what you missed and understand why you missed it. The PMP Prepcast Exam Simulator makes that very easy to do (I can not speak for others). As others mention, it is important to sit through an exam, real time, as you get a feel for the pace and the mental effort involved. You are literally mentally, physically, and emotionally conditioning yourself for the real thing. When you don't have time for the full 4-hour exams, take quizzes (again, easy to do with this product, can't speak for others). I took 9 full 4 hour exams over my prep period and countless short (10, 20 question quizzes). I answered thousands of exam questions. I'm absolutely convinced this is why I not only passed the exam...I did VERY well. (I've read the opposite...but to me, the PMP Prepcast Exam questions were MORE difficult than the actual exam...which is how you want it be)

2) If available, take/retake a basic project management class, first. I have done project management regularly throughout my career but never had formal training until I took this class.

3) Take a quality exam prep course...I personally liked the online approach...because I could spread it out over time... at my own pace...and go back to what I needed. I highly doubt a condensed boot camp would have worked for ME.

4) Read the PMBOK though, carefully, at least once...but, ONLY after you have a good understanding of the concepts. Of course, refer to it regularly, as needed.

5) Do not try to memorize the ITTO's , understand them...think about the logic behind them.

6) While repeatedly thinking through the logic of it...Memorize the (47 for now) processes and which knowledge area and process groups they fall under. I never thought I could do this...but they begin to make sense and I soon knew them... this helps with "what next" types of questions.

7) Create a mnemonic for the formulas and write it all out (brain dump) on a single page on a regular basis. Believe me...If I can memorize these, anyone can...the mnemonic helps greatly...do it the same way EVERY time. DO IT DAILY until the test...should take only a few minutes by test day.

8) Pick an exam date and work toward it... too far out is as bad as too soon. I studied very intensively...and was worried that I "peaked" a couple weeks before the exam. Although I ended up doing very well...I suspect that test performance would have gradually degraded the farther out I scheduled it....even if I kept studying.

In closing: By talking about falling asleep and how dry the material was at times, I do not mean to disparage the practice or the certification. On the contrary...achieving PMP Certification was one of the best (and proudest) moments of my life. It's just that...no matter how motivated you are... the material can seem very dry at times and the journey endless...and, like me, you may have to dig really really deep to push through it.

As I mentioned, I have performed Project Manager duties since early in my career but the pursuit of this certification has already filled some gaps and markedly improved my understanding and abilities. I've already been able to put my gains into real-life practice.

Mark
The following user(s) said Thank You: Mark Bushong
Last edit: by Mark Lacattiva.

Passed PMP -- FWIW, what worked for me. 1 year 2 months ago #12166

  • Stan Po, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM
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Dear Mark

Congratulations on passing your exam!

Thank you for sharing your success and lessons learned. We are glad to hear that our products helped you prepare for and pass your exam.

Enjoy your brand new PMP certification. Good luck in all your future endeavors.
Regards,
Stan

Passed PMP -- FWIW, what worked for me. 1 year 2 months ago #12181

  • Mark Lacattiva
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Thanks Stan!

Others: I should have mentioned...I also used flashcards whenever I had a moment or two. I purchased Sohel Akhter's box set off of Amazon and created my own for formulas and to learn which processes fall under which knowledge areas and process groups. I found the flashcards to be a nice change of place and would keep them on my nightstand for review before sleeping.

Mark

Passed PMP -- FWIW, what worked for me. 1 year 2 months ago #12185

  • Alistair Duguid
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Thanks Mark for the detailed and interesting description of your journey! I also found that studying for the PMP was quite a task, but Cornelius' engaging style in the Prepcast and the solid exam simulator proved to be very valuable tools.
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