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TOPIC: Passed on second try. After a ten year break.

Passed on second try. After a ten year break. 3 weeks 4 hours ago #18651

  • James Keuning
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"Until next time" is my PMP siren song.

I decided, back in 2007, to get my PMP certification. I prepared for the test using the Prepcast way back in 2008.

I scheduled my exam right up against the last opportunity to take it before a big exam change. The week before the exam my car was stolen, along with all my notes and my books (my paper pmbok and my Head First PMP book). I was crushed. I did not have time to get replacement books, because the local bookstores were all stocking the new books for the new test. Well, I did what I could, I took the test and I failed. The failing was no surprise but it was definitely the rotten cherry on top of my mess of a life. I do not remember how the prepcast was involved with that first go around, but I do remember that I did not take the preparation seriously and that I treated the exam as a trial run; if I fail it I will prepare better and take it again. But then I delayed it so long that I ran out of time. I took the exam on June 29, 2009 because it was changing on June 30, 2009. After the stolen car and the failed exam, I could not pick it back up again. I did my job, had some adventures, and I aged ten years.

I wish this story got better.

In late 2017 I decided that wanted to try again so I reapplied. I had a lot of similar projects this time around so I recycled some of the original application. I got audited. I complied with the audit requirements and I GOT REJECTED! So now I have to rewrite the application. I sweated over that from Nov 2017 through April 2018. And of course when you fail an audit you automatically get audited again. I fulfilled the requirements of the second audit in July 2018. On July 17, 2018 I was finally clear to register for the exam. My eligibility end date was July 16, 2019.

I said July 16, 2019. But I am writing this in October 2019. I will get to that.

So, in July 2018 I am cleared to register for the exam. In October 2018 I signed up for a week-long boot camp prep class to take place in February. I live in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, USA, so I figured I could hunker down and study all winter. Well… time flies and February came and I had not done ANY independent preparation. So I took that class. I did not get much out of it. Sitting at a wobbly table in a small ball room in a suburban hotel. Zzzzzzzzzzz

Life REALLY got in the way and spring had sprung and I was all about that outdoor activity know what I'm sayin? Well that July 17 deadline was looming large and I knew that I needed to act.

Well I didn't act, and February turned to June and I decided to go on the PMI website and register for the test. There were no spots available! During a minor freak out I emailed PMI and was all, "My eligibility runs out in like two weeks and there are no exams spots available." while freaking out I figured out that they were getting ready to cut over from Prometric to Pearson. The web links were going to the Pearson site, but Pearson did not show any dates yet, presumably because, well, I don't know. So I'm thinking to myself, "dude, you blew it, your procrastination finally caught up to you and you are going to run out your eligibility and will need to apply AGAIN!"

Then an angel named Tiffany from PMI emailed me: "Your Project Management Professional (PMP)® eligibility period expiration date has been extended to 16 Oct 2019."

Are you kidding me? October? It's currently June. That's all the time in the world! Let's start studying. Well, it's only June, we still have time.

Summer goes by pretty fast.

In August (of this year, 2019) I go on the website for the boot camp that I took so that I can take a couple of practice exams. "Oooh! This is nice; I like practice exams!" Well guess what, I had waited too long and my access to their test bank ran out! So now I need some practice exams right?

What about that smooth-talking Cornelius guy who said "until next time?" Yup in August I signed up for the prepcast and listened to some of the podcasts. (Listened, not watched. I can listen to a lot of podcasts on 100 mile bike rides!) I quickly realized that I needed the exam simulator too.

My first exam clocked in at 75%. That put a smile on my face. I mean, the podcasts were actually penetrating my brain! More practice exams - 82%, 79.5%, 75.5%, and 83.5%. I also did a lot of ten-question quizzes. For the quizzes I always selected "Include only unanswered questions." After every exam and every quiz I would review the wrong answers and the questions that I flagged. I took notes on the explanations and I read the PMBOK references. I answered 1,426 questions. So I only had 184 left. In the last week I started to include the ITTO questions but those tanked my scores so badly that I decided that this level of truth was bad for my self-esteem and I stopped doing that.

This week, with a few days left before the exam, I started to freak out. Why had I relied solely on the prepcast? What if the questions are not valid? I read some pointers on the forum here and other places. It seemed like a lot of people were suggesting that we do not rely on one source, that we need to take practice tests from various sources. So I took out my Rita book and did the practice questions for my two worst knowledge areas.

(I gotta tell you, I was prepared to fail again. To fail and register for the test again in the next 13 days, before my eligibility ran out. This was not a do-or-die situation.)

I was scoring like 60% on the Rita questions. I literally have two days at this point and I decide that it's too late. I am going to go all in on this prepast and I am going to trust that they've mastered the nuance of language that the PMP Exam is going to use. I also extrapolated this thinking to conclude that the language (wording) on the actual exam will be even more easy for me to understand because it must be more validated that the prepcast, right? That is how I got to sleep at night.

The day before the exam I read the PMP Examination Content Outline in the hopes that some material might stick somewhere.

The day before the exam I do some prepcast quizzes because those are like my security blanket now. I scored like 50% on one. And then 60%. And now my world is falling apart. My security blanket is strangling me. Just go to sleep, right? No. Stick with the process. Review the wrong answers. Harass Stan and Donald the other end of the live feedback. Make my notes. Do it.

My biggest stressor was not failing. I can handle that. My stressor was the contingency plan. What do I do tomorrow if I fail today. Do I retake right away? Do I let my eligibility lapse and reapply AGAIN and retake before the exam changes in 2020? That's a big change coming. I need to pass this thing. I just do. I have spent A LOT of time taking practice tests, reviewing answers, taking notes. A lot of time. Instead of going for a bike ride, or a walk, or watching a movie with my family I was taking practice tests, reviewing answers, taking notes. I did not know if I could go back to that life!

Ok now it's test day. I have no brain dump. I have not read the PMBOK cover to cover. I have not made any effort to remember ITTOs. I did not try to memorize the Processes. I knew four formulas: CV, CPI, SV, and SPI. I do not know critical path method. If I got a CPM question my strategy was to look for two answers that were within one day of each other and then see if the scenario started on day 0 or day 1 and then pick the lower or higher of the two numbers.

So now I am taking the test. And I am smiling because this thing is singing to me. I mean, the prepcast prepped me proper and I am seeing through the nuance. They are asking for a process, that answer is a document. The question says that the corrective action will extend the schedule, that means do not pick the answer that says to analyze the results of the action, because the analysis is done. Even though you like that other answer, pick the answer with the OPA because that other answer is included in the OPA, even though it's not explicitly stated. All of that stuff that drove me crazy; all that nuance. There it is in black and white and I see right through it. (Those are not actual exam questions, just examples OF COURSE.)

At around 175 I take a break. Come back and get to 200. I flagged about 20 questions. I review them with fresh eyes and change like maybe three. I still have 40 minutes but I really want to hit that button. END. DONE.

The screen said congratulations. I am a little embarrassed to say that I got a little teary-eyed. What a journey. I'm done. (AT x 5)
The following user(s) said Thank You: Abhinav Budhiraja
Last edit: by James Keuning.

Passed on second try. After a ten year break. 3 weeks 3 hours ago #18653

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

Congratulations on passing your exam!

Thank you for sharing your success and lessons learned. I remember the valuable inputs that you submitted through our simulator’s Live Feedback™ support feature. 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

Passed on second try. After a ten year break. 2 weeks 6 days ago #18664

  • Donald Terry
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James,

Congratulations on passing the exam! I am very pleased to hear that the Exam Simulator and Live Feedback feature were beneficial with your exam preparations. Best of luck in your future endeavors.
Donald Terry, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP
Independent contractor at OSP International LLC
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