Passed PMP on 19th Jan 2012,first attempt
I was a silent lurker on PMzilla during my preparation for PMP.I did read forums,lessons learnt and exam experiences from time to time and benefitted from them.So,today is my turn to share my experience and lessons learnt.I took my exam on 19th Jan 2012 and passed it in my first attempt.Following were my proficiency levels:
- Monitoring & Control - Proficient
- Closing-Moderately Proficient
My study plan was as follows:
1)Head First PMP,one reading: 3-4 hrs a day on an average for about 20 days to complete it.
I initially started with PMBOK 4th edition and like everybody says it is more of a guide/book of knowledge on PM practices than a book that you could otherwise start with and digest completely.So,I switched to Head First.Though not extensive,it is a good book to start with to get a fair idea of all the processes and motivate you to go further.
I read the book end-to-end,all exercises were solved except the final mock 200 Qs at the end of the book.I made notes in such a way that,I have only one page of notes per knowledge area(i.e per chapter) having a table of process,process description,process group,inputs,outputs and tools and techniques.Also,noted what each input,output contains (like a project charter contains objectives,assigned PM and authority,high level risks,summary milestone schedule,etc) in the same table and also notes for tools & techniques wherever I found necessary.
The point of this whole exercise is to have with me all processes from all KAs,ITTOs,what each of them are in a concise,precise manner that could be used as a quick reference later on.This was later refined as per Rita & PMBOK that I read afterwards where each of them talk of other things a input/output or tool may contain.
This was very useful as it prevented me from memorising the ITTOs when I started PMBOK or Rita Mulcahy further as I had the flow in my mind and automatically remembered it instead of working hard to remember.
2)Rita Mulcahy 6th edition and PMBOK 4th edition,one reading each: 3-4 hrs a day on an average for about 30 days to complete them.
>Read each chapter first from Rita Mulcahy,made notes from it,read the same chapter from PMBOK,identified differences and made notes of all that is extra in PMBOK and not in Rita Mulcahy or ITTO notes previously made.So,I had notes from Rita Mulcahy,PMBOK,ITTO for each KA seperately at the end of it.
>After every chapter,I solved the exercises in Rita Mulcahy,checked for the answers and made a note of why every answer was answered wrongly and even read through all the solutions for the right one.I had one spreadsheet at the end highlighting points on what was wrongly answered and lessons learnt as bullet points which I just went through before going for the exam.This helps in not only identifying knowledge gaps,but PMI-sms as required for the exam and the attitude that Rita Mulcahy tries to build as required for the exam.
>I scored about 70-80% on the exercises at the end of each chapter.I had notes from Rita Mulcahy,PMBOK,ITTO for each KA and a common spread sheet of lessons learnt bullet points at the end of this.
3)Rita Mulcahy Fast track V6- about 1 week
>After I m done with the intial study as above,I took SuperPMP, from Rita Mulcahy Fasttrack and I scored only 60% which was extremely demotivating.Dont under estimate sitting through for 4 hours for the exam and answering 200 Qs with full concentration from different knowledge areas at one go.It is not very easy.Nevertheless,I went through all the solutions again,and added why I went wrong with each question and what was important in answering some Qs right( there were Qs which I felt I answered right but for wrong reasons,have to carefully identify these as well) to the lessons learnt as bullet points.
>I went through the notes I made from ITTO,Rita Mulcahy,PMBOK,Lessons learnt again and then sat to give another SuperPMP, this time only 100 Qs instead of all 200.This time I scored 90%.
>I also happened to take PMP,25 Qs, from Rita Mulcahy Fast track, 50 or 100 at a time and I consistently scored above 90% each time.
>I also tried answering Qs by some process groups(initiation,closing,planning ) and from professional & social responsibility from Rita Mulcahy's fasttrack, took test on about 100 each and scored above 80% all the time.
Apparently,once you have done one or two super PMPS on Fasttrack and exercises at the end of each chapter,you realize that Fast track starts giving you repetitive questions.Thats the time you should realise you have to stop and move on with other stuff.
4)Mock Exam,Head First PMP 200 Qs-86%
Found this exam fairly simple,finished in 2 1/2 hours.Target for 80% on this.The actual PMP exam is a little tougher than this one and has lengthier questions too.Once again,went through all wrongly answered Qs and added as bullet points to Lessons learnt.
5)PM Study,free test,200 Qs - 76%
Found this exam a lot similar to the toughness level of actual PMP,took 3 1/2 hours to complete it,questions are similar in length to those on the actual exam.It includes a lot of Qs on terms only found in PMBOK guide and not Rita Mulcahy or others.Careful analysis of wrongly answered Qs and updating bullet points in Lessons learnt is very helpful and helps in identifying those areas that you must stress on,in the PMBOK guide.
6)Oliver Lehman 175 free Qs-70%
Found this exam tougher than the actual PMP,took about 3 hours 40 min to finish it.There were a lot of terms which I was completely unfamiliar with and on analysis of wrongly answered Qs,found that they were actually from PMBOK guide as it specifies references to it.Came as a complete shocker and made me doubt my preparations as I gave this test only 2 days before the actual exam.Dont panic and identify gray areas and learn from them.The actual exam was not this tough.
I did all the mock exams the week before the actual exam and revised lessons learnt,ITTO notes,Rita Mulcahy notes and PMBOK notes,too.
Some points to note:
>There were a lot of questions on ITTOs.Make sure you actually understand the process,what is inside each input,output,tools& techniques,project documents,who all are involved in the process,who is primarily responsible for the process,whose approval is needed for specific documents,etc.These are questions which you should never miss.
>Rita Mulcahy encourages a certain way of thinking and answering the questions.Not many questions on the actual exam require you to think so much but it is always good to be prepared at a higher level.
>Stress on points,terms,diagrams,graphs,etc which are in PMBOK guide but not covered in Rita Mulcahy and Head First.When you write PMStudy and Oliver Lehmann mock tests,you will actually know what I am talking about. These kinds are sure to be on the exam and will also motivate you to go and read PMBOK guide once again to see what you missed out on.
>Make sure you have exhausted Fast Track and have given the 3 major mock tests by sitting for 4 hours each.Carefully document why you have answered Qs wrong and revise that list finally.It really helps.
>I dont suggest taking too many mock tests.I have taken only the free and standard ones.While it is important to understand what kind of questions come and how to answer them,taking too many tests from too many sources will only add to the confusion.Just try the standard ones,not any and every sample test you find.Some of them are not reliable enough and even give you the wrong answers misleading you.
>There were a good number of mathematical Qs on the exam,simple ones,concepts already covered in Head F first and Rita Mulcahy.Not to worry much if you are confident with those in the books.You should get these right on the exam.
>Understand who is the buyer,seller,customer,client,sponsor,subcontractor,vendor,etc Relate to procurement.You should understand whose PM are you,what are the duties you internally do with your organisation,which ones involve the other organisation,which changes are approved by yours,those by other organisation,etc.These kind of ideas took me a little longer to think before answering.
>Finally,on the exam,I did not make any memory dump of ITTOs or formulas as I thought it was not required for me.Took the 15 minutes before the exam to just relax and wrote a breakdown of how many questions I should complete in how much time.Roughly planned for 1 minute a question.
>The first 100 Qs on the exam were lengthy(4-5 lines on an average),had to think before answering and took more than a minute to answer.By the time I was done with 100 Qs,I realised that I took 2 hours 20 minutes to complete them,much longer than I planned for.I was tired and desperately needed a break.Took a break for 5 minutes and returned to finish the next 100Qs in 1 hour 15 minutes leaving me 20 minutes to look at the marked Qs.The next 100 Qs were short in length,simple to answer and even my mind was fresh after the break.
>When I initially marked questions for review,I marked them with my best answer and also on the rough sheet what could be the next best answer for those questions,if not this.So,when I did a final review of marked questions,it was easier to relate to the next best answer for the Q,instead of reading the entire Q and all the choices and eliminating them once again.Changed some of the marked answers,left some of them unreviewed before my time was out.
The screen blanked for a good amount of time,making me worry if everything was ok,before the survey started.I quickly finished the survey and the testing system processed the results for a while before giving the much awaited,'Congratulations!' screen.I breathed a sigh of relief,for all the hard work finally paid off.
The exam preparation and the exam answering time may vary for others as I have done my preparation during the second & third trimesters of my pregnancy and gave the exam in my third trimester,which did slow down my preparation a bit and affected my concentration from the usual.
On a final note,with good and systematic preparation,it is not very tough to clear the exam.Also,it is important to be alert and not panic on the final exam day even if the first set of questions take longer.Keep your cool,stay focussed and do your best.All the best for the people preparing for the PMP,hope you come out with flying colors!