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TOPIC: How I Trained for This Marathon and Came in First Place (First Try all ATs)

How I Trained for This Marathon and Came in First Place (First Try all ATs) 8 months 6 days ago #19277

  • Inge Tomlin
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Two months before the exam I started taking practice exams
- 1 test per week on a weekend
○ Studied ALL questions and answers during the week not just the incorrect ones
○ Retook tests before moving to next one but only for tests 1 & 2
- Adjusted strategy to take just one test per week and study all the other days for remaining tests
- Focused on knowledge management & learning during this time
○ Took the tests with the clocks running but did not structure breaks or test environment
§ Drank and ate snacks
§ Sat in lounge chair with ottoman and cats/blankets
§ Took many breaks
§ Got frustrated and annoyed and lazy a few times
○ Some tests I didn't complete my review of marked answers and the timer ran out
§ This was a good experience to know what that felt like if it were to happen during the real exam
□ I passed them on the first try anyway
□ I think it was getting closer to crunch time and I was starting to panic a bit taking the practice tests

- Additional Notes:
○ Got lazy last 2 weeks and didn't do 7 & 8 until crunch time one week before exam
§ I failed the ITTO test but passed the actual exam with Above Target for all 5 areas
□ ITTO test is good for testing knowledge but not realistic to the actual exam IMO
○ Test 2 fail on 2nd attempt due to PC crash
○ Test 4 fail on first attempt due to laziness in reviewing marked items/rushing to complete I can't remember
○ I did purchase the formulas material from PrepCast as well and went through some but not all of the material. Honestly there are so many formulas in the PrepCast materials it started to overwhelm me so I focused only on the ones I was seeing in the practice tests

One week before the exam
- I preemptively took vacation a week before my exam in case I needed catchup study time
○ I didn't actually need this time to cram which was great though I did focus on a few areas as needed
○ I revised this "crunch time" into endurance training for exam day - I THINK THIS WAS KEY FOR ME
§ I took one test every day and simulated as best I could the conditions of the testing center
□ Faced a wall and closed the door to the room to minimize distractions
□ Sat in a desk chair and used a mouse (was using the touchpad on the laptop prior)
□ Took minimal breaks away from the desk and tried to think about how long it would take to get in/out of the testing area in addition to the actual break
® Usually only one break halfway through to use the bathroom and maybe grab a snack, 15-20 min total time max
□ Practiced 'break' techniques while confined to the desk/test area
® Closing/covering/rubbing eyes with my hands
® Relaxation techniques if I started to get panicky that I didn't know the answer to a question or wouldn't finish the exam in time (deep breaths, etc.)
® Seated stretches that wouldn't be distracting to other test takers (neck rolls, arm stretches, straightening my legs or moving them a little under the desk, stuff like that)
® Self coaching when I wanted to get up or quit or just stop reading stupid questions that I was tired of looking at every freaking day because I just wanted it all to be over and done with dammit
§ I also really focused on how my whole exam day routine would go and tried to simulate that schedule
□ I experimented with this schedule early in the week and then the day before did a dry run
® Waking up, exercising, eating, reviewing, and then driving to the testing center, clothes I would wear, etc.
□ 3 days in the middle I had family engagements (Thanksgiving) so I just took the tests when I could those days

Non PrepCast Study Materials
- PM Sheet (Pro) was a useful app for me to memorize the process groups and is available for both Android and iOS. I highly recommend getting this for your phone for three reasons
1. There is a "puzzle" mode that tests you by making you add the correct processes in the chart
2. The regular mode has a nice drill down feature into the process group description and associated ITTOs; it will further drill down into each ITTO and explain each within the context of the process
i. The study sheets I got from my prep class were not organized in a way that made it easy/useful for me to associate everything well
3. I tried writing out the whole chart a few times and found little use in the exercise
i. The chart is too big (or my writing is too big) to fit on a normal sheet of paper without squishing all the lines together to make it fit. I ended up breaking out process groups per page and lost the consolidated view of the whole chart. This made it harder for me to remember everything
ii. Repeatedly writing all of it out didn't help me learn/memorize the chart at all
1) For me, it was better to use the puzzle mode and learn to recall it in my mind as a printed picture and not my handwritten notes. My learning style is best with this technique; I could then zoom in/out in my head to the process associated with the test question, and see where it was in relation to other processes
a) I didn't draw this mind image down to the next level of drill down for each process (description and list of ITTOs), but it probably wouldn't have been a bad idea and I probably would have passed test 8 if I had
- I started reading portions of the PMBOK to study incorrect answers on test 1 but it actually confused me so I stopped
○ I did NOT find it useful to read the book at all; I'm sure it will be handy later as a reference but in terms of preparing for the test I didn't use it or any other book to prepare. Some people may have a different learning technique and like reading everything but for me it was overwhelming and did not help
- It has been over a year since I took my prep class (Project Management Academy) and while I did use some of the quick sheets as a reference when I would review practice tests I didn't use any of the other materials to study for the test

Exam Day
- I was incredibly nervous even after a good night's sleep and a morning jog
○ I spent a little time reviewing the processes chart on the PM Sheet (Pro) app and writing down some formulas but I ended up spending most of my time psyching myself up by repeating "you are going to pass this test" over and over again in my head and trying to stay calm and collected. I could tell I was starting to panic at the thought of failing and wanted to remain focused
- The Pearson Vue testing center I went to was in a large office building
○ I had driven there about 3-4 times already and walked in once to find the testing center so I knew where to go
§ There was a sign on the door saying I couldn't go in unless I had a test that day; not sure if this is standard
○ I pretty much new what to expect after viewing a few videos on YouTube, looking over the Pearson Vue site and reading the lessons learned
§ They DO have earplugs available for you or you can use the noise reducing headphones plugged into your test cube, just ask for the earplugs if you want them
§ My test center had a calculator you could take in with you but I also had the option of using one on the screen (I liked using the manual one)
§ I got a multipage laminated legal sized writing notebook and a fine tip marker to use as scratch paper
□ The marker didn't really erase so I would have to scratch out things
□ I never used more than one page
§ The proctors had me turn out my pockets, remove my glasses and pat myself down the first time I went in, but not when I returned from my break. I don't think this is standard procedure so expect to repeat everything each time you enter
○ The bathroom was actually outside of the testing center and I had to walk down the hall to get to it when I went on break. Might be different for other testing venues
- The test itself looks and is worded differently than the PrepCast tests, but not in any extreme ways
○ There is a simulator that you can use on the Pearson website that can give you a feel of the interface for test day if you want to check it out before hand
§ It doesn't simulate the review experience but it's pretty similar to the PrepCast tests
§ As someone mentioned prior, the timer at Pearson is in minutes not hours
○ It's hard to explain how the questions are different (and you basically sign an NDA before the test so I couldn't tell you specifically anyway) but they just are. For me, some were much simpler and some were much harder. I ended up flagging a lot more for review than I usually did on the PrepCast tests
- I took basically the whole 4 hours to take the test
○ As stated before I flagged a lot of questions for review, probably twice as much or more than on my practice tests, but I was still able to review them all (I started to speed review the last 10 or so) before the timer ran out
○ I took one bathroom break around the 2 hour mark for about 7-8 minutes and finished the exam with less than 4 minutes on the clock
○ I think I started to cry a little bit when I saw my congrats screen lol. So happy it was all over and I DID IT
○ You get a printout of your results when you leave with your pass/fail and breakout by process group. It's nice to see that PASS and Above Target everywhere after all of that hard work

If I can do it, you can do it too. Just train yourself for the marathon that is this test. Good Luck!
Last edit: by Inge Tomlin.

How I Trained for This Marathon and Came in First Place (First Try all ATs) 8 months 2 days ago #19300

  • Elizabeth Harrin
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Congratulations, Inge! What a marathon, but you got there!
Elizabeth Harrin
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