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Topic History of : Passed the PMP exam with online proctored mode!

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1 week 4 days ago #21885

Gabriella Dellino, PMP

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I don't know why I wasn't notified about the replies, so I've just found them out. Sorry about that... Thank you all for your messages!
1 month 3 weeks ago #20938

Robyn Joseph

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1 month 3 weeks ago #20936

Eric Wanyutu Kahiga, PMP

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Thank you, Gabriella.
Your post has lots of helpful content and I do not mind the length of it as it also has depth.

I particularly liked "...From that moment on, I rearranged the way I practiced my simulations: I started answering the first 90/100 questions, revising the marked ones, and then moving on to the next half. This helped me a lot once I took the real exam, as I knew how to manage time accordingly..."

This is exactly what happens in the real world and we need to be ready to flow with the change.

Once again congratulations!
1 month 3 weeks ago #20893

Yolanda Mabutas

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Congratulations for your great achievement and thank you for sharing your journey!
1 month 4 weeks ago #20885

Farzana Rahman

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Thanks for sharing the detailed experience. very helpful.
1 month 4 weeks ago #20879

Gabriella Dellino, PMP

Gabriella Dellino, PMP's Avatar

Hello everyone!
Last Saturday I passed the PMP exam above target! I am glad to share some lessons learned with you all - hoping this would be helpful for you.

My first recommendation is: once you decide to start your project of getting PMP certified, try to study regularly on a daily basis, possibly avoiding any break longer than a couple of weeks. I stopped for too many weeks around Christmas, and it was so hard to restart with the new year.
I drafted a preliminary study plan, which I adjusted as needed: some topics I was more familiar with were easier for me, so I went faster studying them, while others took me longer. I tried to study at least 2 hours a day, and I found it more helpful for my learning process than just studying the entire weekend (almost) full time: it was easier for me to concentrate, while on the weekends it was just exhausting.

I bought the PM PrepCast Premium package, which included access to the PM Simulator: I loved them both and they have been crucial for my preparation. I watched the video lessons and followed along from the PMBOK Guide, taking notes particularly on those topics that were only mentioned (if any) on the PMBOK Guide. Then I spent time studying the PMBOK Guide in more details, the main goal being gaining a preliminary understanding of the whole Knowledge Area, and the way the processes interrelate and interact with each other. I didn't try to memorize any ITTOs - I knew I wasn't good at it, so I just didn't do that. At the end of each chapter, I took the test from the PM PrepCast and revise all those questions answered incorrectly.
I also had the Rita Mulchay PMP Exam Prep Book, which I tried to study after each chapter from the PMBOK, but I noticed it was not working for me. The approach the book has did not suit me at that stage of my preparation, because many exercises required a deeper understanding of some topics, which I felt I didn't have at the time, so I stopped studying it because I felt it was frustrating rather than helpful.
When I completed all training lessons from the PM PrepCast, I went back to the first chapter of the PMBOK Guide and went through it all over again, this time with a different aim: get a deeper understanding of each process, and focus more on the tools & techniques used by each process, to learn what was the purpose of each of them, what it was bringing to the process and what the result was. In this pass I benefited more from studying from the prep book by Rita Mulchay too. It provides a different approach and offers a different perspective, which I personally found very useful at times, but somehow misleading on specific topics. I loved the procurement management chapter above all! I went through the exercises and the tests at the end of each chapter: I found them particularly useful to test my understanding more than my knowledge.

After this second pass, I felt ready to complete the test at the end of the PM PrepCast course and I got the 35h certificate, which enabled me to complete my application.

Meanwhile, I started focussing on the process interaction, drawing flow-charts for some of project documents and artifacts:
- I wrote 49 post-it notes, one for each process, and I started reproducing Table 1-4 from the PMBOK Guide 6th ed on my wall reshuffling all the post-it notes and rearranging them on a daily basis. It was fun and incredibly helpful!
- I added small squares at each corner of the post-its, to denote EEFs, OPAs, Work Performance Data/Information/Reports used as inputs and/or outputs of the processes, and that helped me 'visualizing' some of the flows.
- I listed all the project documents, and tested myself on which processes got them as outputs, and which took them as an input.
- I focused on some outputs (e.g., Change Requests, or Deliverables) and drafted the flow they were following, from the process producing them, to those analyzing and 'transforming' them throughout the project life cycle.
These steps have been very helpful to me, and also gave me confidence about some ITTOs, because they proved me I didn't need to memorize them. I have kept reading this warning on lessons learned, forums, social media, and at the beginning I thought it would have been very hard to me, because I wasn't able to memorize them, but at the same time I couldn't see any other way to keep them in my mind. So my lesson learned about this is: don't get discouraged, and don't try to understand everything at once. It will all come together eventually, including the relationships between the ITTOs for all the processes, once you'll gain further insight and a deeper understanding of the processes.

The PM PrepCast Exam Simulator was another great tool! I wish I started using it earlier. I used it for the first time when I felt ready enough to take a full test, but the reason I recommend to use it earlier than that is that it gives you a perspective to the way you learn and approach PMP concepts. To pass the exam, you don't need to know exactly all the definitions and concepts: you need to understand them, and be able to recognize them, and to identify the best way to approach the scenario described in the question. Okay, you also need to study the PMP formulas, but I think I would be no help about this, because that was one of the 'easiest' parts for me - I love math! I highly recommend the related study material from the PM PrepCast website, and - from the free version that I had - I am sure the PM PrepCast PMP Formula Study Guide could be a great tool for those who don't like EVA.
I've never use the Exam Simulator in learning mode, but if you start using it earlier than I did I believe it would be great! I also liked the timed quizzes option, which allowed me to keep testing even when I didn't have four hours available for the full exam sim. I used to mark lots of questions during the exam simulation, because after the exam I tend to revise all the marked questions (not those answered incorrectly only), because even when I got them right, I wasn't entirely sure about the reasons for that - sometimes you just 'feel' it is right. This way I learned a lot!

After 6 months studying - the last 3 being almost full-time - I decided I was ready to schedule the PMP exam. I wasn't lucky, because of the pandemic outbreak, so all the testing centers closed two weeks before my scheduled exam. Long story short, I kept studying and running exam simulations for 1.5 months and two cancellations, until the PMI finally announced the online proctored mode available for the PMP exam as well. From that moment on, I rearranged the way I practiced my simulations: I started answering the first 90/100 questions, revising the marked ones, and then moving on to the next half. This helped me a lot once I took the real exam, as I knew how to manage time accordingly. Also, I liked this organization, because I used to I followed the procedure described: cancelled the (re)scheduled exam at the testing center, and opted for the online mode. Many options available: when I scheduled mine, the first slot available was just a couple of days later. But for personal reasons, I preferred to schedule the exam on Saturday, as I was hoping to have a quieter environment around.

The check-in process was as described. To be ready for it, and have an estimate of the time needed, I run the system test many times before the exam day. The procedure run smooth as I was prepared based on what others described and the recommendations on the Pearson VUE website: so I had a perfectly clean desk, with just my laptop on it. Nothing around.
Before starting the exam, I accepted to run the tutorial (it took around 5 mins, but you can skip it if you want), and I had the opportunity to practice the built-in calculator and whiteboard a bit. I didn't find them very user friendly: for some reason, to use the calculator I had to push the buttons on the screen, as typing them from my keyboard didn't seem to work; I quickly try to draw something on the whiteboard but it was not responding properly (it looked like there was some delay between my clicks and the lines drawn on the screen) so I decided to opt for the text boxes, in case I needed.
As others already shared, the scheduled break starts after 90 questions; before that, you can review your answers, choosing whether to review them all (I would never have enough time for that!), or just the flagged ones - which is what I did. Once you're done, you can decide to end that part of the exam, and you are asked twice to confirm - as it is not possible to review them anymore after that point.
I took almost the entire break (I was back after around 9 mins), and then the second part of the exam started, with the timer starting from where it stopped before the break.
Again you can review the questions at the end, and then confirm once you're done with it. Then I was expecting the survey to start, but instead: surprise! I got the message I passed the exam!!! The report is sent by e-mail and the message prompts you that it may take up to 2-3 days, so I was anxious the whole day before finding the e-mail in my mailbox this morning. After that, you can fill a survey (I did, but to my understanding it was not mandatory) and then... you're done!
This was my first attempt, so I cannot compare with the experience at a testing center, but - as I said - I was comfortable with this option, particularly because I had no idea when the testing centers were going to reopen and didn't want to stay in this limbo for who knows how long. So if you feel ready for the exam, I would recommend: go for it!

As far as the real exam is concerned, I found it harder than the simulator. The wording was very similar, which reassured me - while I got a bit anxious during my preparation, when I tried some other simulators and oftentimes had no clue what the questions were about. The scenarios were described in a clear way, but to me some of them sounded very difficult - particularly under time pressure. In fact, for most of the exam sims, I had no more than 15 mins left to revise each of the two parts (around half an hour overall), so at the real exam I tried not to spend too much time thinking about the correct answer. This resulted in starting flagging a lot of questions, so I got a bit anxious I wouldn't have enough time to revise them. Then I tried to calm down and tell myself: you got this! You can do it!
The day before the exam I even watched one of the videos from the PM PrepCast tool, and Cornelius' words were resonating in my mind: "I promise: eventually a question that you can answer will appear"... And in fact I felt better when some 'easier' questions finally arrived.

Sorry for the extremely long post... I tried to share everything I learned throughout this journey. I truly hope you will find this helpful, and wish you best of luck for your exam!

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