PASSED PMP EXAM! - July 8th, 2013

I have not been a very active member of this group but used this form to gather PMZilla OPAs of "Historical Information" and "Lessons Learnt (LL or Postmortem)" during my journey to becoming a PMP. 
I thought I would "Close Project or Phase" and contribute to the Knowledge Base (KB)!
You need to think of your journey to becoming a PMP AS A PROJECT IN ITSELF! :)
Words of Wisdom
- Main thing which will help you is determination!
- "If you fail to plan you plan to fail"
Study Plan
1.) Read Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep Cover to Cover
    - I thoroughly studied 1 of the 9 Knowledge Areas chapters a day.
    - Solved problems at the end of the chapters.
    - Did Rita's process game 3 times (this helped to instill in which Process Groups each process lies as well as process ordering - which most important in Planning Process Group)
    - Highlighted and noted knowledge gaps along the way (especially with any missed end of chapter questions)
2.) Read course notes  
    - This was a PowerPoint slideshow from a Project Management course I took 7 months prior - provided a good point form summary to instill everything I had just read. 
3.) Read PMBOK - including PMBOK Glossary and Definitions
    - Took a few added notes along the way.
4.) Read the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) Handbook
    - PMP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct are a part of this document.
5.) Read Andy Crowe - The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try
    - Solved problems at the end of the chapters.
    - Noted additional information (I found that Andy dives deeper in such topic as leadership, constructive/destructive team roles, "decomposition" of the components of the Project Management Plan and has a different approach then Rita to exam question types and strategies)
    - As well, found that Andy help me to "connect the dots" with regard to ITTOs with his approach after reading Rita.
5.) Took Andy Crowe's Final Exam (200 questions)
    - Timed myself
    - Noted knowledge gaps which were not filled appropriately.
6.) Took Head First Exam (200 questions)
    - Timed myself
    - Noted knowledge gaps which were not filled appropriately.
7.) Read Rita Mulcahy again and referenced PMBOK
    - Retook problems at the end of the chapters (as book recommends). 
8.) Took further tests
    - PMZilla Tough 30 Questions 
    - Oliver Lehmann 75 Free Sample Questions (online) & 175 PMP Prep Questions (PDF)
9.) Took ITTOs Specific Tests
    - Exam Central (great site, free to join):
10.) Read my summary notes as well as Rajesh Nair / Abhishek Notes
    - Just referred to them in last few days before the exam.
I DID NOT MEMORIZE ALL the ITTOs - but I made sure to understand KEY ITTOs as outlined in Andy Crowe book; the rest you should be able to figure out with elimination and common sense. 
Study Tips
1.) Have something to keep you motivated as a goal to complete your PMP
    - Something like a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant or a good wine. Kept it safe and use it on the day you pass the exam!
2.) Put away the distractions (gadgets) while you study
    - Nothing else than study material while you are studying!
3.) Listen to classical music
    - I find classical music helps me relax and improves my ability to retain more information while I am studying. Studies have also shown this correlation (called the "Mozart effect"
4.) Tape up ITTO sheets / Process sheets in your study
    - I printed out Rajesh Nair's ITTO sheets, taped them together and pasted them on the wall.
Days Before The PMP Exam
1.) Got some moderate exercise. 
   - Went for few runs (whatever workout routine works best for you!)
2.) Ate smart and healthy. 
    - Drank lots of water and didn't overdo the caffeine to get the sleep cycle out of whack!
3.) Got a Prometric email confirmation of exam appointment time.
    - If you are unsure, call to confirm your exam appointment!
3.) Tried to get some sleep.
    - A well-rested brain is a sharp brain. I did not want to sit for the exam feeling tired, sluggish, and worn-out.
Exam Day
1.) Got to Prometric 40 minutes early
   - Make sure you take into account the traffic and other issues!
2.) Completed formalities
   - Read Prometric personal information gathering policies / general exam center polices
   - Went to the bathroom 
   - Emptied and turned out pockets 
   - Placed items into an assigned locker
   - Went through metal detector
   - Signed name and time
   - Entered exam area with ID, scratch pad (6 pages), pencils (2), a basic calculator and ear plugs.
3.) Did a "brain dump" sheet at the start of the exam (beginning 15 minutes).
   - Jotted down formulas, all 5 process groups, and 9 knowledge areas, and 42 process groups on a scratch paper. Added the quality experts (JJ, Deming, and Crosby) as well.
   - Used about 13 minutes to do this (use shorthand!)
Lessons Learnt
1.) Headaches
The night before the exam I TRIED but did not sleep well and woke up with a slight headache.
I found that but the time I got to Prometric (1.5 hour drive for me) and ready to take the exam; my headache had gotten worse.
I only had time for 1 pass at the questions and was not able to take extra time to review the questions I marked!
I estimate I lost about 30 MINUTES trying to process information because of being under the weather!
Plan Risk Response:
Mitigate / Avoid - carry pain medications or having some stored in your car if you are prone to this!
Also eat a snack BEFORE you go into the exam room - even if you are not hungry - 4 hours is a long time to suffer through a headache with no food! Believe me, it makes trying to understand questions a lot more difficult!
2.) Wordy exam questions
I had a number of wordy situational questions which stalled me for time as well.
I caught myself reading these questions 2-3 times in my condition. :(
Plan Risk Response:
Mitigate - learn how to interrupting WHAT these questions are asking without "dilly dallying" or reading too much into distractors. Maybe train yourself to recognize these questions types and read the last sentence first as well as ALL of the possible answers.
3.) Number of mock exams taken
The 2 mock exams I took I found to be easier than the real exam I had. Especially in the state I was in!
Plan Risk Response:
Mitigate - Take at LEAST 3 or more mock exams of 4 hours before the real one!
4.) PMI audit
I was one of the lucky ones to be selected for audit by PMI.  I found that I lost about 2 months of prep times trying to track down a couple of old managers of mine for the requested personal referral audit information.
Plan Risk Response:
Mitigate - Keep the lines of communications with old management references open or use manager references that you KNOW will be more responsive in cause this risk occurs!
Otherwise they can end up being constriants on your PMP journey! 
Hope this helps you out! All the best!
BONUS INFORMATION: PMP - Top of the list for certifications!
admin's picture

 Congratulations on your PMP. Thanks for good post.