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TOPIC: Passed the PMP first try, lessons learned from studying and the test itself

Passed the PMP first try, lessons learned from studying and the test itself 2 years 7 months ago #13251

  • Robinson Kapano
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After deciding I wanted to get this certification late last year, I knew I needed help where to start and what to study. After looking over various home study programs, comparing costs, reviews, and content. I went with PM PrepCast. It provided a great framework, strategy, and guide to some successful study techniques to get me where I needed to be, and fast. Here are the things I learned going through this process and the steps I took to get there.

1. I watched all the overview videos. Yes some were common sense and maybe a bit long. But I was really starting from a very basic knowledge here and they were entertaining enough, had a positive vibe, and I at least wondered what Justine would say at the end of them.

2. OK I had the basics and the structure. I then joined PMI and got the PMBOK guide. I read the whole thing. Although daunting at first, this was huge. If you break it down to smaller chunks you find its not that bad, a chapter at a time or so. Also, there are a ton of graphs, charts, and other things in there so its not all reading. Last tip of the PMBOK guide is as you go through it, it starts to reference other areas you have already gone through, so it starts to get easier to digest.

3. I finished all that, plus some of the other pre-requsite stuff like passing the PrepCast test and applying to take the PMP. I had pre planned a day I thought would be ready by and I finished the reading and main videos about a few weeks before my exam date. Now to test simulator!

4. I did a lot of test simulations, but never a full 200 question one. Nightly for those few weeks I had I would do 20, 30, 50, or 100 question quiz's, always writing down problem questions. The 100 question ones were pretty grueling, but definitely helped me to understand the timing on the test. Biggest take away here is that the simulator was really great for me for understanding project management and problem solving, but the questions definitely didn't match up to my expectations at the test (more on that later). Bottom line however, it was invaluable to have, and since I passed with flying colors on my test, it must have been pretty useful even with how I felt at the actual exam.

5. Besides the test simulator, I memorized the process group and knowledge area mapping page (table 3-1 in the PMBOK), and most of the formulas. I'd say again doing this was amazing to help in my actual knowledge of project management, but I'm not sure on the test so much. It helped mostly in the way that I understood the flow of things without thinking about them, but I didn't actually need to have this written out in front of me as I thought I did. Obviously you have to know the formulas, but I didn't feel too many questions were on that.

OK so this is getting long :) On to the actual test and test site experience. Here are my tips for that.

1. Get to the test site early, and go in! I waited in my car because I was so early and had looked over my last second materials enough. When I got inside however there were a lot of other people too. And they were slow to check them in. They have all kinds of strict rules to follow, so getting in and out isn't easy once you start. I didn't end up getting to my actual test chair until about 30 minutes after my scheduled time. Its not held against you, but I could have got in line way sooner.

2. Be ready to be fast. If you have done the exam simulators you start to get an idea. For me, I thought I had timing down pretty good, but found the pressure at the test site making me feel like I was short. After the first half the questions I was behind where I expected to be and I had to go to the bathroom (which takes a longer time than you would think when you have to check out, check in, and run through security protocol). However I started to speed up and finished with about 15ish minutes left. I used those to go over questions I had marked, I did not get to all the questions though.

3. Remain confident. After the first 50-100 questions I thought maybe I was bombing this thing. But I kept saying, eliminate the obvious wrong answers, read what is happening in the question again, choose the answer you feel is best. When I clicked finished I was worried, but when I got my score I passed with what I would guess was a B+ or something, I could have missed a lot more and still passed.

Last tips are on questions on the exam.

1. I had an expectation that a lot of questions were going to be on ethics. I though those would be no brainers given I feel I am ethical and can pick the right answer. When I took the test though I don't feel like I had that many, maybe they were hidden or I was too into it and didn't see it.

2. I thought I might bomb the ITTO questions because there were way to many of those to memorize and know. Fortunately there were way less of these questions that I expected as well. I did study ITTO a lot which helped my overall knowledge, but I don't think I had too many direct questions that I was so scared of.

3. The most common question to me, and what I feel like the majority of the exam was were questions centered around a scenario, with the end question being what would you do as a project manager. While these were great questions, I didn't feel the simulator was asking as many of these (although there were certainly some). The simulator I feel like helped me to learn what to do, but the questions on the actual exam had some really close answers so I wasn't sure I was answering them correctly. So bottom line here, understand the project lifecycle, the ITTO on a global level (not necessarily each input and output where it is), and have a good feeling about what you would do as a project manager in a lot of different scenarios.

I hope this was helpful to all of you out there, if there are any questions I will pop back in here for a little bit and try to answer them.

Robinson PMP

Passed the PMP first try, lessons learned from studying and the test itself 2 years 7 months ago #13253

  • Ty Weston, PMP
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Great feedback, thanks!

Passed the PMP first try, lessons learned from studying and the test itself 2 years 7 months ago #13259

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

Congratulations on passing your exam!

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Good luck in all your future endeavors.
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