Cracked my exam on 02/24/2014 on first attempt
I passed my PMP exam on 02/24/2014 on my first attempt. My Domain Proficiency breakdown was 4Ps and 1MP (Initiation). Thank you to this forum (aspirants as well as current PMPs) for sharing tips, answers, explanations and general guidance through the maze that is PMP certification.
A few quick pointers or lessons learned (makes sense to use the right terminology now ;) ) based on my personal study experience:
1. Since I did not refer to multiple books/authors for my study preparation, I am unable to comment whether a particular author or book is complete in itself for studying for the exam (Though from a chapter on CCM I managed to read from HeadFirst, their writing style and content is very friendly and engaging!)
2. However, I did study (NOT read BUT study) PMBOK 4 times, front to back (including Glossary), and to me that is the key to having confidence that you have a grasp of all concepts. There are many who may claim that the exam is not based on PMBOK and there is no need to read it, but if I had to do the exam all over again, I would still stick with PMBOK. Its the most important material you can lay your hands on.
3. Become a member of PMI before you pay your exam fees. Its cheaper by a few dollars, but more importantly you get a free copy of PMBOK guide, which you would otherwise try to get from friends or colleagues (and would be considered unethical as you would come to know from PMI Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct!). While it is not convenient to study from a PDF copy, it is good to keep it handy when you want to search a particular term/phrase, or print out a particular page(s) for notes purposes.
4. Keep a date (or atleast a range of dates) in mind for exam. While it is not possible to schedule your exam the instant your application is approved, bear in mind that you do not want to let it linger too long before you schedule the date as that would drive you to prepare serioulsy and gauge your preparedness at appropriate junctures.
5. Chart out your study schedule. Depending on your professional and personal setup, you may or may not have ample time on a daily basis to study for the exam. However, I strongly recommend committing to atleast one hour a day once you are assured of appearing for the exam.
In fact, use the Decomposition technique (you would either already know it or come to know about it in due course!). Breakdown your study material (PMBOK as I mentioned in point #2 above) into chunks that you think would be achievable on a daily basis, and stick to it.
From my personal experience, I found that one Process Area (start to end including ITTO) in one session (45 minutes to 75 minutes depending on your speed, grasp etc.) is a reasonable target. Once you have gone through the entire material once, the subsequent passes become faster and easier.
6. Once you have gone through the entire content atleast couple of times, then start practicing questions, short quizzes. This is the most important step in completing your preparation for the exam. Studying for exam is 50%, rest is practice. You should aim to go through at least 1500-1600 unique questions before you sit for the exam. There are plenty of sites and forums that will provide you with the questions and mock tests. Start collecting them early in your prepartion and keep a track of which ones you have gone through and your scores.
7. Finally, keep our focus not only on the exam itself, but beyond the exam as well. That is what will keep you motivated in your preparation and focussed in your exam. The immense satisfaction and sense of achievement that you will get once you pass the exam is to be experienced to be believed. And that belief starts right now!
All the best to all the aspirants!
Abhinav Praneet, PMP