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TOPIC: Just passed on first attempt

Just passed on first attempt 2 years 10 months ago #12322

  • Justin Leach
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I passed on 10/31 on my first attempt, above target in all five domains.

Tools
  • I started with the Rita Mulcahy book. This book was very helpful in just understanding the framework from a fairly practical standpoint. The focus on this book is the application of the material, not just memorizing material. I went through this book over a few months studying just on weekends. I'd try to get through 2-3 chapters per weekend. At the end of each chapter is a short test on that material. I took each chapter test and kept track of my score by knowledge area. This gave me a sense of the knowledge areas where I was strong in also where I was weak.
  • PMBOK - While using the Mulcahy book I had the PMBOK with me at all times. I downloaded it from PMI so that I could have it on my iPad which just gave me fewer books to lug around. I usually had it open to the Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping table. This was just a good reference for understanding the layout and where Mulcahy was going. Mulcahy is organized by Knowledge Area (as are most books) so it's good to be able to picture things by Process Group to get the general flow. This wasl also a great way to learn what the processes are and where they fit.
  • Andy Crowe's book and Head First Project Management. I lumped these together because I kind of used them in the same way. Once I had a good sense of my biggest weaknesses I used these two as a second reference to go through those areas. For example, I found that I struggled getting my head around some of the details in Quality Management so I went back through the knowledge area in Crowe's book. He explained things a little differently or just had a different approach to the information that helped me get it. Hey also emphasized some points that I didn't pick up on from Mulcahy. I used Head First the same way and even for some of the same topics. Head First books are really good and they walk you through material in a really engaging way so you're bound to pick up something from them that you may not have gotten before.
  • Phone App. One thing I did when I first started studying was downloading an app to my phone. This app gave me the ability to have a reminder every day to answer a question. I could also then do ten question quick tests whenever I wanted. A free version gave me very limited access to the question bank but helped me see the value so I gladly paid the 18-20 for the app. This gave me full access to a large question bank and more abilities to track my scores and get feedback on how I was doing. With this app I was able to take exams whenever I was waiting for something. If I was waiting somewhere for 20 minutes, I could knock out two or three short tests and continue to gauge my strengths and weaknesses.
  • PM PrepCast I really just started using this the last few days before the exam. However, I really wish I had discovered it much earlier and incorporated it sooner. I started with the free 30 question tests and went through those one after another. This gave me a good feel for how the exam would be but obviously in a limited way since it was just 30 questions per exam. It did give me a real exam feel though and a sense of how I was scoring. From there I paid for the basic version. If I'd had more time before the exam I would have gladly paid for a higher subscription for more access to information but I was only two days out and had to just take practice exams. Truthfully, I only took two full practice exams. The day before the actual exam I took one in the afternoon, took a break and then took another one starting about 8 PM. I really should have done these sooner as I didn't have time to incorporate any feedback from them with the exception of quick reviews but they did give me a real feel for how long it took to answer 200 questions. It's good to feel that pace and start getting an idea if you can take breaks, etc. Those tests take a lot of focused attention.

Lessons Learned
  • You really need to understand how the material is applied. The exam is really designed to see if you understand the material rather than just memorized the PMBOK. There are a lot of questions that make you have to apply your knowledge of what is meant to be happening and then determine what the appropriate answer is.
  • When you have long questions, read the last part first where they ask the actual question. Sometimes long questions have additional information that you don't need to care about. It's helpful to start with what is being asked and then filter the question accordingly.
  • Practice writing the formulas down. Even if you think you know it and it's an easy one, just write it down. I understand EV calculations well but when doing practice exams I found that I would frequently use the SPI formula when I should be using CPI. I was just rushing so by writing them down and starting each one with referring to the formula I forced my self to slow down, think, and apply the proper formula.
  • Know what other things trip you up that you have to refer back to and write them down. Same concept as the formulas. The less I had to dig in my brain for when the question came up the more likely I was to answer correctly. For example, I felt the need to write down the Power/Interest grid. Not because it's super complicated, it's very logical. But when the question came up, it was good to have it as a reference so I didn't need to reassemble the information in my brain. It was right there.
  • Know PMBOK terminology. I know this seems obvious but if you're using other materials to study (such as Mulcahy) you may learn some things that really help you understand a concept but you may not pick up on the PMBOK specific terminology that is being asked in the question. This is kind of a subtle detail but I think it's important to know. I'm not saying memorize the PMBOK because, again, you need to know how it applies in practical ways. However, you need to know what terms PMBOK uses so you can understand the question or what some of the possible answers are referring to. This can help you eliminate some options because you can more easily spot terms that are clearly not PMBOKisms
  • Definitely take test questions. As I said before, I should have taken the full exams offered on this site much earlier. Practice questions are how you'll be able to get the feedback to identify your strengths and weaknesses. I recommend an app for your phone so you can take short tests whenever you have a few minutes. This gives you quick and frequent feedback. Combine that with the tests on this site. I only wish there were more short exams on this site because a full 200 question exam takes a lot of time and mental energy when what I want is to see how I'm doing. I would rather take shorter tests and have time and energy left to go study those weak areas for the next hour or two rather than answer more questions.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Sophia Andrade, Priya Leo
Last edit: by Justin Leach.

Just passed on first attempt 2 years 10 months ago #12323

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

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.

Good luck in all your future endeavors.
Regards,
Stan

Just passed on first attempt 2 years 10 months ago #12367

  • Jada Garrett
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Thank you Justin. Your lessons learned are very thorough and will definitely be helpful to others. Congrats on obtaining your PMP
Jada Garrett, PMP
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Just passed on first attempt 2 years 10 months ago #12379

  • Lindsey Bredin
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Hi Justin, congrats! What phone app did you use? cheers, Lindsey

Just passed on first attempt 2 years 10 months ago #12383

  • Justin Leach
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Thank you!

The app I used is called PMP Exam Prep 2017 Edition made by Pocket Prep

Just passed on first attempt 2 years 10 months ago #12388

  • Anonymous
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Thank you! Will check it out
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