Passed PMP - 1st attempt in 7.5 weeks
Passed PMP 2 weeks ago (1P&4MPs). Thanks to pmzilla folks for answering my queries.
My PMP certification was long due. Seven years ago I got 35 PDU online for cheap, studied Andy Crowe. But my plan slipped away, got busy with my new born.
This year I promised that before my birthday in Dec, I need to get PMP certification. Without any second thought I joined a PMP class starting mid-Oct which was every weekend. It gave me a whole following week to digest what I learned in class. All Sunday’s and during week days about 3-4 hours I was studying for PMP exam. My wife took care of all the house errands and our 2 kids.
In class we got exam tips which you can also find on Edwards or other blog’s. Class room instruction helps to get your question answered immediately, and get timely help in filling PMP application. Luckily I did not get any query, application got accepted in 1 week, took the date one month from the last day of the class i.e Dec 8th about four weeks to go.
Studying material: My PMP class provided Andy Crowe book, online videos, and class PowerPoint. By this time I have read Andy 3-4 times, finished all the tests behind each chapter (Got 75-80% on them). Went once through the PMBOK online version. I should have read PMBOK multiple times and Andy once. But in my class and on the blogs I heard folks referring to Rita’s book. Initially I was hesitant but then I immediately bought it, and also I bought a quick reference guide with all imp topic from each chapter (just 4 laminated pages). Rita’s process flow really confused me but I had already mastered our PMBOK 47 processes flow (on YouTube they have good video, I combined tips from them). As I read Rita’s process many times later it became clear, don’t get stuck to it. On Rita’s chapter-end test I was getting 70%.
Meanwhile I found Edward blog, very useful, it has good PMP problems, and notes on every chapter. Don’t read any online PMP chapter notes as most of them are based on old PMP versions. Once you have done good studying (which you feel is never enough) start doing full test.
Now with only 2.5 weeks to go, I started looking for free full exams. ON PMI website, they have a free PMP exam prep by Christopher Scordio, I started with this set of 50 qn. I used to get 75-80% on this. And then came the Oliver Lehman questions, they are the toughest (it uses many sources other than PMBOK for its questions). I could never complete all the questions on time, I got 55-60% on his 75 set questions. But I did realize based on the attempted questions for 150 question set, I still got 70% which was some solace for me. I then took full test from Andy, I got 88%. I felt his questions were easy compared to Oliver. Wanted to know my real strength in real time, and everyone suggested to go for simulation exams. At home I used to take one break during the 4 hour exam which was not going to be the case in the real exam.
Another 7 days to go, I went ahead and bought PMP Exam simulator by OSP.LLC. Got a good holiday coupon too. In next 6 days I did 5 test, I was getting between 75-80%. It also had processes related 200 question, got 85% on it. On the last weekend (my birthday) I again did a full revision. Last day before exam went to work, in the evening I reviewed EVM questions on Edward website, glanced on all the 47 processes, for the last time I practices all the exam dump, and went to bed early as my test was early in the morning.
On the D-day I reached early as my exam was at 7.30 am, they didn’t allow me to wear outdoor jacket, good I had sweater on. As the initial pre-PMP 15 min screen time began I completed my brain dump, and had 3 minutes left. I felt like using the restroom, I just rushed out and came back quickly, the exam center folks performed their routine body scan on me, and you have to sign in. So keep in mind the extra time you will lose if you take a break during the exam. Meanwhile my screen was just waiting for me to click start PMP exam.
My plan was to do about 25 questions for every half an hour, i.e. 50 question in 1 hour. As the exam started I got situational questions “what you will do as a PM” which took some time. Till 1.5 hours I was keeping up my pace, time spent on tough question were compensated by easy questions. But then I started slipping back with about 10-15 questions. As while solving question I used to look at the watch which made me nervous. Negative thought started peeping in my mind, O again 2nd time, again PMP A to Z.
So I just meditated for a few second and said in my heart, lord you are the one who makes my questions. I stopped looking at the watch, fun part began lots of mathematical problems started coming. In last 45 minute I was again keeping good pace, basically neck to neck. Throughout, I used to mark tough question but I always selected answer for them. Till the last minute I was doing my test. No break.
Finally the clock stopped & the exam ended. I was relaxed, stayed in the meditative mood, I kept faith in myself. Survey questions came up, I happily completed the survey, and then the waiting period BIG PAUSE, and boom Congratulations. Thank God. I came out, and conveyed news first to my wife, and then my PMP teacher and my Senior Manager/mentor.
To summarize in short: First read Andy Crowe, it gives quick essence but I felt it doesn’t go deep. So read PMBOK carefully and understand it. Rita book has good explanation (too much) with good hands-on exercise. Make quick notes or have ready-made concise notes. All the 47 process flow as you read more & more, you will learn to connect different process inputs and outputs them, but memorize 47 process matrix. Print them out, and go through them daily. Practice EVM questions.
Once you have understood all the material start doing question exam as much as you can. Practice REAL SIMULATION EXAM if you want to pass PMP.
All the best.