I am hugely relieved and happy to say that I passed on my second attempt!! Like many people, I was rushing to try to pass the fifth edition before it changed. I wasn’t completely comfortable but was hopeful I would receive a passing score. It was such an awful feeling when I pushed the button and saw that I hadn’t. I dutifully ordered a copy of the new edition but couldn’t bring myself to open it. About six months later, I ended up leaving my job and moving back to the mid-West to be near my elderly mother. As I started looking for a new job, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a project manager anymore. However, I had a lot of free time while I was looking for work – and the certification kept nagging at me. I figured it was now or never and called PMI. The one-year time frame had just expired, but they gave me a three-month extension……so I started studying again.
I needed access to exam simulators and the PM PrepCast site was ideal. The price was quite reasonable and gave me exactly what I needed. The first time around I paid three times more for live classes and used their exam simulator. When I took the actual test, I found their practice test questions really didn’t equate to the actual exam. I’m very happy to say that wasn’t the case on the second round. The PrepCast test questions were exactly like taking the actual exam.
I often read the posts of people who’d just passed to see what they’d done to prepare. I found their recommendations very helpful. Through those posts, I read about ricardo-vargas.com. I watched his video and downloaded his PMBOK flow. After watching that, I totally embraced reading and studying solely by process group – because that really is how your tested. Ninety percent of the time, you can discount two options immediately, but you need to know which process you’re in to be able to choose the correct answer between the two viable options. I would read/re-read all processes in Monitor and Control, take a 50 or 100 question quiz and then read the results – each and every question and all the possible answers so I understood why an answer was incorrect, etc. I don’t think it’s possible to take too many quizzes!! ALWAYS read the actual question before reading the full question in detail. If it says you’re initiating a project or closing a project, just focus on that and not all the added detail they might add from another process group. Also, know the difference between an audit and an inspection. That was a reoccurring theme at least for me.
I memorized all the processes (a must in my opinion) but couldn’t bring myself to tackle the ITTO’s. I had too many other things I wanted to focus on – and I never felt like I had enough time. However, I had a breakthrough that really helped me. The most significant thing for me to remember was the KEY OUTPUT(S) of each Process. Once I memorized and fully comprehended the key outputs of each process, everything changed for me and the ITTO’s started to flow much more easily. As you are memorizing the processes, memorize their primary outputs - Develop Charter: Project Charter and Assumptions (Constraints) Log; Define Scope: Project Scope Statement; Create WBS: Scope Baseline, WBS Dictionary; Define Activities: Activity lists, Activity Attributes, Milestone List, etc., etc. That was a key shift in my thinking and studying.
Third, if you are a member of PMI, a benefit of membership is a downloadable copy of the PMBOK Guide. I found it much easier and faster to hit ‘control F’ to locate what I was looking for rather than trying to locate it in the hard copy version. Quite often, I would be reading in the paper version and searching in the electronic version – both going at the same time.
Finally, you have to be honest with yourself. Some of the people who left feedback acted like they skimmed the book, listened to a half hour of audio and breezed through the test. I’m happy for them, but that wasn’t the case for me. I really had to work at it. If I was honest with myself, I was nowhere ready to take it the first time. I felt much more prepared the second time. Pick a date to take it (3 or 4 months out) and really work hard the first couple of weeks. You can always let up if you’re doing well on all the quizzes, but you can’t get the time back that you’ve lost if you haven’t committed.
I got my PMP and then started my new job a week later. My new job isn’t as a Project Manager, but I am doing a lot of project related work. My new manager was thrilled when I mentioned I had my PMP. It really is worth having and I’m so happy that I pushed myself to achieve it. I hope that all of you find what works for you as well. Best of luck!