Passed PMP 8/11 with 4Ps and 1 MP! (See my lessons learned)
I scored P in all but Closing where i had MP!!
May 2012 - I bought Rita's book and read through that along with PMBOK . Took me about 3 and a half weeks to do this, just so I could figure out the scope of what i was studying for. My average score across all her exercises was 82%. After this, i proceeded to schedule my exams for Aug 11, with a plan to give myself 4 weeks to study plus 1 extra week for a buffer. My friend suggested Rita and PMStudy, also gave me Rajesh's notes and Jaya Prashins ITTO table. These I would incorporate in my study plans
Overall Study Plan
Plan was to read all the material in 2 weeks and then repeat- that equated to:
Week 1: 1 chapter a day during the week after work and 2 chapters each on Saturday and Sunday.
Week 2: 1 chapter a day during the week after work through Thursday. Fridays were spent reviewing Rajesh's notes, Rita's process charts, explanations for the questions I missed on Rita's chapter questions, Rita's flash cards, formulas, and Jaya Prashins ITTO table. Then Saturday and Sunday, I took practice exams.
I repeated the above one more time with some adjustments. Then used the last week for reviews
How it all unfolded
Week 1 & 2: July 9th thru 22nd, this time I read Rita for the 2nd time and HeadFirst. Did all the exercises in both books. I used PMBOK as a reference this time. After getting through the material, i did Oliver Lehmann 75 (73.3%) and Exam Central (83%).
Week 3 & 4: July 23rd -Aug 5th.. I only read Rita's book. I decided to do the PMStudy free exam at the end of the week 3 and half way through the material, after reading on PMZilla that it was the closest to the exam and how it breaks down your score by knowledge area. I scored 77.14% on the PMStudy Free Exam. Continued the material through week 4 including focusing MORE on PMBOK because a lot of the PMStudy exams were exact sentences from PMBOK. My weaker areas corresponded to HR, Risk, Ethics - these were the areas i had planned to study during week 4 so it worked out and i didn't have to change my study plans. I supplemented with Rajesh's Notes plus the ITTO table from Jaya Prashin. Toward the end of week 4, i bought the PMStudy 4 exam pack, took Exam 2 (since exam 1 in the 4 pack is the free version which i already took) and i scored 86%. On that weekend, i did Exam 3 (85.71%) and Exam 4 (86.29%). I redid Rita's chapter end questions with each chapter during this 2 week period and i averaged 89% across all chapters (up from 83% average the first time)
Week 5: At this point, i had 1 week left before my exams i used this time to revise the chapters i felt were harder for me- Time, Cost, Risk, and Procurement. For other chapters that i was good with, i just reviewed Rajesh's notes and just spent time really understanding the ITTOs. I chose not to memorize it. It was just too much and i didn't have it in me to memorize. I would make up stories for each process and that way i really got to understand it. I also found relationships that helped me e.g Variance Analysis is almost in all M+C processes, Reserve analysis is found where there might be risk in estimating e.g Estimate duration, costs, budget, monitor + control risks. Performance reports are in Control scope, cost, schedule (think baselines), etc. I did not do any mock exams in this one week.
I also found WPI/WPMs very confusing. Someone on PMZIlla pointed to this article- http://www.deepfriedbrainproject.com/2009/09/work-performance-information-reports.html i read it once and i was never confused again. FANTASTIC article.
I took friday Aug 10th off from work- i reviewed Rajesh's Notes, Jaya's ITTO, Rita's process chart, and formulas. Light reviews on all these..
About the Exam
The scratch paper i think is like 6 pages of normal 8 by 11 paper. More than enough to get you through the exam. I dumped out Rita's planning process chart plus all the formulas, after spending 7 mins on the actual tutorial. Layout is very similar to PMStudy except the inbuilt calculator.
Alos Similar to PMStudy in terms of situational questions. It had very few direct definitions from PMBOK like the PMStudy exams, i think PMStudy does that to make sure you really understand and know PMBOK. I only remember one exact PMBOK definition on the exam which was the definition of a checklist from Plan Quality. There were other definitions on the exam but not phrased word for word from PMBOK like PMStudy does it. I thought the exam was a bit harder than PMSTUDY.. just a tiny tiny bit.
Not too many calculations- about 8-10. A lot of them were easy and very direct. I found maybe 1 or 2 took me a bit longer to figure out but i was able to. It took me 3 hrs and 10 mins to get through the exam.. I was averaging about 2 and a half hrs on PMStudy exams 3 & 4- the last mock exams i took. When i went back to review marked questions, i got through most but not all of them before the clock timed out.
Waiting on the score at the end while the computer is saying: Updating...pls wait was nervewrecking. I felt i did OK but you never know.. Then they prolong it even more when they make you take the survey. Then I saw that i passed!! woohoo..
- It took a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to stick to the plan. I was studying an average of 3-4 hrs a day after getting off work. mainly because i was tired after working all day. Weekends I was spending 6-8 hrs studying. It probably took me longer because my current employer does not have a great methodology for project management so it took me longer to learn the concepts and i was determined to pass it at first try! I cut out many extracurricular activities- no gym, rarely going out on weekends, no tv, internet, etc. It was only for 5 weeks, it was worth the sacrifices.
- PMZilla lessons learned forum was invaluable. Reading peoples experiences helped a great deal.
- Rita's book is the best.. You will learn the stuff. Her questions are harder than the real thing. Yes, she has a negative connotation and i envisioned her as my mother standing over me with a whip making sure i was doing my homework lol. My only issue with Rita is she doesn't present the ITTOs in a big picture view.. she makes you understand the details.. this is where Jaya Prashin's ITTO table was invaluable (see below)
- HeadFirst was great to help me understand some areas i struggled with on Rita's because it makes it fun to learn. I only read this book once. I would not 100% rely on this book to study. It had typos and a few discrepancies from PMBOK.. It explains the material in a fun real world manner but i think it also what makes it lacking in value. Use this for areas that are hard to understand. I wouldn't use it as a main study guide.
- Rajesh Nair's notes- wow, what a treasure!! I did clean up these notes a lot for my own use. I found some discrepancies against PMBOK, removed the typos, and highlighted all the exam spotlights in red color. I also added some of my notes here as well..
- Jaya Prashin's ITTO doc- LOVED this too.. i could take this to work with me and review at lunch time.
- Practice exams are a MUST!!!! Can't stress this enough.. When you think you know something, you realize you don't know it as well when you see it on the practice exam and are struggling with answering.
- Oliver Lehmans 75 exam ( 73.3%). Much much harder than the real thing but def a must take.
- PMStudy- The situational questions were similar to the real thing but all those PMBOK defintions on their exams were very few on the real thing. I think they place them there to ensure you know PMBOK. I scored 77%, 86%, 85%, 86% respectively on Exam 1-4. Definitely worth the investment. Take the free exam once you have been through the material well enough at least twice then you can use the results to know where to focus your efforts.
- I had an issue with PMStudy- : they vary their dummy questions every day on the paid exams! So if i go in today and take the exam, when i go in tomorrow to review, my score would have changed because the dummy questions from yesterday are not the same as dummy questions from today. Yet they keep your answers the same. I found this annoying because unless you review all your answers same day, you wont really be able to tell for sure which ones you missed and where you needed to focus. I was very surprised that no one else complained about this. This is not disclosed on their site, i had to email them for them to get an explanation. If you do the free exam, all the questions change daily so those might not be all the same questions you took, yet your answers stay in place. .
- ExamCentral- Very easy. I only did one exam here and scored 83%.. Its a good starting point but like others said, its much easier than the real thing, don't spend too much time doing these
Good luck to others! I'll be happy to share my notes or study plan docs with anyone or answer questions
Ms. T PMP :)