Done ! Here is a practical take on the exam
Yesterday I cleared PMP at first try with 3Ps and 2MPs.
I read almost all the LL from PMZilla since May ’13 and felt duty bound to write this back. PMZilla contributed a lot in this journey.
About myself : I have more than 16 years of experience in IT, more than 7 years on Project Management.
I wanted to appear in the exam by Feb but couldn’t do so. I started serious preparation in May '13 to appear in July.
For span of 2.5 months, I felt I didn’t have much luxury of reading multiple books or reading any book multiple times. I read only Rita as a book. I didn’t read any other book including PMBOK. But yes, I referred to PMBOK on each instance when I went wrong during practice questions.
I would recommend to have the feel and idea of the subject from any of the good book you feel comfortable with. I don’t think any of the books will make you expert. I know, what I am saying here is a bit different and many people may not agree, but even reading PMBOK is not sufficient to pass the exam.
For preparation you need any of a good book + PMBOK + Rofa's PMP Notes + you may consider any other material available on PMZilla.
Rofa's PMP notes are very helpful. It gives simple points chapter wise, which ensures that you didn’t miss anything on those chapters. Also gives some perspective of some sources on the same topic.
Because of short of time, I couldn’t go through Raga's points but I think they are also well worth.
I did the following as practice -
1. All chapter-end tests of Rita
2. Oliver's 175 Q - 67% - I felt this toxic. Do this only if you have luxury of time. If you don’t do well, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t to the other 75 questions.
3. PMStudy 1 - 68% - The result gave me shock as I wanted to score above 80%. It pushed me to have more practice.
4. PMP ForSure - 50% - The morale went down completely. And I thought to postpone the plan of appearing in July and thought of taking the exam of PMBOK5 sometime in Sept/Oct. My wife pushed me
for July and somehow I continued studying.
5. Exam Central - 75% - Felt good but the questions were very easy so couldn’t took this as an indication of future performance.
6. Simply Learn - 65%
7. Scordo 1 - 86%
8. Scordo 2 - 66%
9. Scordo 3 - 72%
10. Scordo 4 - 72%
11. Scordo 5 - 76%
12. Scordo 6 - 86%
13. Scordo 7 - 75%
14. Scordo 8 - 80%
15. Scordo 9 - 78%
16. Scordo 10 - 82%
17. Took PMPForSure the 2nd time - 69%
18. Took all chapter tests of PM Study
19. Took SimplyLearn the 2nd time - 84%
20. PMStudy 2 - 86% - I realized that the PMStudy tests are subsets of its chapter tests
21. PMZilla tough 30 Qs - 53%
22. PM Exam Simulator - Fee Exam - 53% - This was again a jolt. But I felt few questions were deliberately designed to keep the score low.
23. Also practice many questions from Fastrack but didn’t keep the records.
24. All questions from Farndale's guide.
Repeating any mocks/practice questions in short duration has a hazard of familiarizing with those questions, which may unknowingly get memorized. Avoid this.
I booked the exam only in July. At that time all the slots were booked at Mumbai and Ahmedabad. I kept my eyes continuously on the prometric site and found that at times few days were getting
opened because of cancellation. So I could book 26th's slot.
The real exam, as others have mentioned, were definitely different than all the mocks that I have taken. I prepared myself for the surprises. And while appearing in the mocks, it was evident that I had a problem of managing my time during exam. So I took extreme precaution and set a target of 50 questions in first hour. That helped. I crossed the target. At one and half our I got the confidence that I would pass.
Exam had covered all the areas. There were around 15/20 questions on calculations. At least 3 of the questions put problems that I never saw in any mocks or other sources. 5/7 questions were direct ITTO. I didn’t memorize ITTO and I think I was able to answer most of them correctly. I would not recommend memorizing the ITTO. There were questions requiring drawing of network diagrams.
For a good, there was not a single question on ethics. I said “good”, because each site and source had a different interpretation of ethics ! Rita is most strict but on other hand PMStudy doesn’t recommend to take extreme step. It was always confusing because PMBOK doesn’t give any scenario on ethics so it was open for all to apply their logic an interpretation of ethics.
Most of the questions were scenario based. There were around 10 one liner questions.
There was too much stress on Quality. It took left, right and center in quality. I think there was not a single concept on Quality that was not tested.
I planned not to take any break in order to manage time and prepared myself for the hunger during those 5 hrs. (4 hrs. exam and 1 hr. of waiting in the waiting room at the center, security check, first 15 min of demo, exam survey etc.). During this time it was too cold because of the AC. Keep this in mind that as a side effect, your bladder can full very fast. So prepare yourself better.
My recommendation -
Start preparation only and only if you think you will be able to keep your will power up at least till exam. If you are in doubt of spending time for the preparation don’t go to step-2.
Dedication is hard logic here :)
At times I felt the exam is not only testing your Project Management skills but also your reading speed ! If you are good at it, it has two advantages –
your preparation time will reduce,
b. you can better manage your time during exam. Plan your preparation time keeping this in mind.
As described above, read any one book to make your concepts clear.
Keep PMBOK Guide as a "Guide" ! Refer it whenever you go wrong or when in dilemma. As it is the authentic source.
Take a plunge when you are done with 1. and take a mock. That will show you your status, will give some confidence and will also open your eyes.
Practice questions, more questions and many more questions. There are plenty of free sources available online. In my opinion, you will never be able to understand the exam by reading any books, or any source or even PMBOK.
Check yourself that you are able to manage your time
Train your body to either feel hungry during the exam or plan a break and sacrifice your time. If you are able to manage your time extremely well, you can go for 2nd option.
Setu Shah. PMP