Passed 1st Try - 5 Weeks Prep
I only recently discovered PMZilla, but found the Lessons Learnt to be very helpful in comparing my mock exam scores right before the test, so I thought I would give back by sharing my experience.
I passed on the first try with 5 weeks prep time (sick the 5th week). I decided to take the exam in Dec, when I found out it was going to change on Jan 11, 2016. I had been approved to take it in March 2015, but was kind of blowing it off. I had been managing large projects off and on for over 10 years, but had no clue about PMI standards prior to these 5 weeks. I had Rita sent to me 2-day shipping so I could get started, as there was no time to lose. Here’s how the 5 weeks went:
- 5 days of reading Rita cover to cover - no tests, just for comprehensive understanding.
- 4 days reading Headfirst - took chapter and final test
- Planned to spend a week reading PMBOK but it looked more like a reference manual. I ended up just using the I/O appendix in the back to make note cards. I filled the “TTs” in from the Headfirst book.
- I laid the notecards out on my table like a process chart and quickly realized that the combination of a mnemonic I picked up on youtube, and the order of the processes, was going to be easier for me to remember than that giant grid everyone tries to duplicate/memorize. So I used the mnemonic “In school the calculus quiz has created really poor scores” for the knowledge areas, but laid it out like this:
I-Dev proj plan
S-Dev scope mgmt plan, get rqrmnts, define scope, WBS
T-Plan Sched Mgmt, define, sequence, est rsc, est dur, dev sched
C- …and so on, you get the idea – this group uses every knowledge area
Execute - No STCR (which I read to myself like “no stacker” meaning categories STC and R don’t have anything)
I-Dir/Mng Proj Work
S T C
Q-Fill in like above in planning
M/C - no H (which is no HR stuff):
I-M/C Proj work, Perf ICCC
S-Validate scope, control scope
T- …and so on
I – Close proj/phase
P- Close proc
I know this looks long on here, but I could write this easily on an 8 ½ x 11 turned landscape and folded in half. I did my formulas on the other half. So, an area about 8” x 5”. This was so much more clear to me.
Thanks to the Praizion videos on YouTube, I only needed to write down about 8 formulas, as the others became very easy to memorize/understand. I wrote down the 4 EAC, TCPI, PTA, and FV.
After my initial reading, all I did was take practice exams and watch YouTube videos. I researched my incorrect answers on each mock exam, as well as ones I got correct only because of a good guess. I did the following mocks over the course of the last 2 ½-3 weeks:
Headstart Final Exam – 66.6%
Preparepm.com 75Q – 68%
Preparepm.com 200Q – 82% (way too easy, IMO)
Exam Central 200Q – 77%
PassionatePM.com 50Q – 76%
10 days out…Oliver Lehman 75Q – 69.3%
Android App Mini PMP – 70%
Exam Central 100Q – 79%
5 days out…PM Study 200Q – 61.7%
3 days out…PM Study II 200Q – 71.43%
2 days out…PM Study III 2ooQ – 58.6 ( I was sick with a fever and kept falling asleep…also super burnt out).
I was a little freaked out after that last score, but I knew I was burnt out. I just relaxed and did flashcards the day before, and the day of I only ran through writing my brain dump a few times. I actually never referred to the brain dump on the exam. I think we do that for peace of mind only. I mean, if you can dump it on paper it’s already in your head, right? I did it, but I think it was kind of silly. I felt like my scores were really borderline when compared to Lesson’s Learnt here, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was not only surprised to pass, but to pass with 3 Ps and 2 MPs.
- Knock out the reading fast and get on to exams
- Focus on lots practice exams and studying the wrong answers from the books or vids
- YouTube vids, especially Praizion
- If writing things down helps you commit to memory, especially if you have a bit of a photographic memory and can “see” the flashcard in your mind, then make flashcards, even if you don’t use them much. The act of writing things down helps.
- I also typed all the ITTOs in to Excel, just like my note cards, but in a way where I could filter by one, and see all the others that were impacted. That was helpful for seeing patterns because I could look across groups, across knowledge areas, by input, by tool, etc…and, again, the act of typing it in to the spreadsheet helped me to retain a lot of it.
- I did see Nair’s notes 2 days before, but it all looked familiar to me so I didn’t really use it. Very well done, though.
- Please don’t waste time trying to understand network diagrams from rita when you can watch a youtube video and think “well that’s easy” in 10-15 minutes.
- The PMPro Free Android App is great for studying on the go. You can go through all the flashcards by knowledge area and bookmark the ones you didn’t know, then you can go back and review just the ones you bookmarked, over and over. Similar to the logic for taking mock exams.
- NO QUESTION – THE PMSTUDY EXAMS AND FORMAT ARE SPOT ON TO THE PMP. Purchase the 4 test pack. Totally worth every penny.