Passed with 4 Proficient / 1 Moderately Proficient
I passed my PMP exam on the first try earlier this week with four Proficients and one Moderately Proficient (darn Closing process group). I wanted to share a few of the lessons I learned on the way. Some of them rehash others' lessons learned posted here, but hey, adding supporting evidence is never bad.
1. I used the PMStudy.com online study modules. They were pretty good. The videos are engaging. Even though a few of them have editing problems, it's not really that distracting. They're also accessible by a mobile app, if you find it helpful to listen to the audio in your car (I did).
2. The best part of the PM Study materials was the bank of moderately hard practice questions. There are about 1,000 provided as chapter tests, and four practice exams available. Admittedly, you'll recognize some of the chapter test questions in the practice exams. I'm not sure what percentage is reused.
3. You should also buy or find additional practice question sets. The PM Study questions kind of condition you to expect that questions and responses will be written in a particular style, and that wasn't the case in the test. Plus, you'll want to try out some harder and more real-life-application-based ones, as that seemed to be what the test mostly consisted of.
4. Give yourself enough time to adequately cover the material based on the time you have available, but have a scheduled test date to work toward. If you drag it out too long, you'll start forgetting things and get diminishing returns for your study time.
Testing Tips and Tricks
1. Probably the most important testing trick I learned is, instead of trying to figure out the correct answer out of four choices, go through each one and try to figure out why it's NOT the right answer. You might get lucky and have one answer that's obviously irrelevant to the question, but typically all four look kind of good on the surface. However, usually at least two of the four have some detail that make it so they can't possibly be the right answer, e.g., they require an input that hasn't been developed yet, they name a tool from the wrong process, the response is too extreme (look for words like always, never, refuse, confront, etc.). Even if two possible answers remain, and you aren't sure, you have a better shot picking from two than four.
2. If you're very good at memorizing things, you might find it helpful to memorize the order of each process, and maybe even the Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (but that's a lot of content, and it may not be worth your time unless, again, you're very good at that). If, like me, you're not too good at memorizing, at least have a general grasp of which processes feed which other processes, because then you can eliminate a lot of wrong answers based on things being out of order or not directly related.
3. I got fewer math questions than I expected, but they're easy if you know the formulas. While I was studying, I practiced writing down all the formulas I could from memory, and then I did the same thing on my scratch paper as soon as I sat down to do the computer tutorial for the test.
4. Questions on the Project Management Quality knowledge area stood out to me. It was helpful to know how to tell the difference between the Perform Quality Assurance and Control Quality processes, as well as Tools and Techniques used in each.
**TL;DR - Do lots of practice questions from different sources. Know the general interactions between and order of processes more than anything else. Eliminate wrong answers first. Spend some, but not too much, extra time on the math formulas and perhaps the Quality processes (YMMV).