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TOPIC: Passed PMP Exam on First Try

Passed PMP Exam on First Try 1 month 4 weeks ago #19391

  • Chris Warren
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I passed my PMP exam on the first try this December. My lessons learned to share:
1. Give yourself a solid 3-5 months to study. Between the contact hours required, podcasts, practice tests, and supplemental books, you will occasionally get burned out. There's nothing wrong with that! It's like when Homer Simpson said "leaning one thing pushes something else out of my brain." The extra time gives you an opportunity to take a weekend off from studying/reading/drilling/testing to enjoy life, decompress, and come back refreshed.
2. Prioritize your weaknesses and compare against the entire scope of the exam content outline. Are you absolutely horrible at trying to figure out TCPI and it just won't click no matter how many problems you do? Then drop it like it's hot and focus on other weaknesses that click and just require more time to learn. You may or may not see a TCPI question on the exam, and encounter one and don't know how to solve it, you still have a 25% chance of getting the right answer as long as you pick an answer. Do not skip entire knowledge areas or processes though!
3. Learn the material as if you are going to teach it to others who don't know project management. Look for ways of simplifying content. This helps to quickly determine if an answer choice is way off-base or close enough to make an educated guess. This also helps you learn the flow of the processes and EVA concepts instead of trying to drill facts into memory. My example would be TCPI. The simplified explanation would be Work Remaining (BAC-EV) divided by Funds Remaining (BAC-AC). Even if you can't remember the formula, knowing that you are low on funds and high on remaining scope could help you narrow down answer choices for a better educated guess.
4. Look at and learn the big/critical Inputs and Outputs for each process. Don't focus as much on memorizing which processes update project documents like the Lessons Learned Register (most do), but look at unique outputs like cost estimates, the risk register, and EEFs.
5. Perfection is unattainable, and you will kill (not literally) yourself trying to get there. I'm a perfectionist, but I also realize that when I average a certain score over several tests, that's where I'm at and it ain't gonna change no matter how stressed I get and how much more I study. I scored 85, 81 (cranky, hungry, and frustrated), and 86.5 (not cranky, hungry, and frustrated) on the 3 practice exams I took using this simulator. I was either Target or Above Target on all process groups for each exam, which pretty well lined up with how I performed on the exam (4 Above Targets and 1 Below Target). This understanding of how I perform on practice exams allowed me to take time to enjoy the weekend (with minor reviews) before my exam.
6. Use additional resources and practice, practice, practice. The exams do go faster than you think. Taking 2 or 3 exams over the same number of weeks isn't difficult and it is 100% necessary to do to be prepared.
I used Andy Crowe's book (purchased off Amazon), which had over 450 additional questions in the book. I made formula flashcards and an ITTO spreadsheet, but they did not help me as much as I thought they would. Mileage for you may vary.
7. Don't discount the Initiating and Closing process groups. Combined, they make up a sizeable chunk of the exam, so you do need to know them inside and out.
8. Lean on personal project management experience and employer OPAs to help answer questions where the answer isn't clear. For example, a practice question asked about a vendor that missed a conference and had questions about a bid. The correct answer was exactly what my projects have done in the past, and recalling that experience led me to the right answer.
9. Take your time on the exam if you need to. 4 hours is a very long time for this exam. I was finishing the practice exams in 2.5 to 3 hours, and finished the actual exam in around 2.5 hours, including reviewing ~15 questions I had marked (definitely mark the questions where you do math. I corrected one where I did not calculate correctly).
10. Remember that these practice exams are designed to help you learn and may not reflect what the real exam is like, and that absolutely should not freak you out. If you are scoring well on the practice exams, then you have the knowledge to pass the PMP exam.

Passed PMP Exam on First Try 1 month 2 weeks ago #19520

  • Elizabeth Harrin
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Learning as if you are going to teach is a great tip. Congratulations!
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Elizabeth Harrin
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