Hi Everyone. I passed the PMP exam this week and I want to share my lessons learned.
Total Study Time : 3 Months
PMBOK Guide Fourth Edition
Read 3 times. I never saw v3 so I can’t compare the two but I actually found the PMBOK quite readable. By the third pass through all the concepts fit into place most especially Section III – The Standard for Project Management.
Pay attention to the Appendix on Interpersonal Skills. I believe you do not need to memorize the ITTO if you have a good handle on how the processes and knowledge areas fit together. Having said that , for the exam I would place much focus on the Tools and Techniques used in Quality Management.
A Project Manager’s Book of Forms – Cynthia Synder Stackpole.
This book really brought the PMBOK to life. It has templates on all the documents and plans mentioned in the guide. Like the exam , it is organized by process group. I created my own personal project and used the forms in this book as if I was managing a large project in the real world using the PMI approach. Really helped. Recommended.
The PM Prepcast / The PMP Formula Guide.
Highly recommend. So much so I’ll say it again. Highly recommended. The interview with Quentin Fleming on Earned Value Management is worth the price of admission alone. Cornelius breaks down the PMBOK guide process by process and makes everything understandable. I listened to the prep cast everyday for almost 3 months and I used this towards my 35 contact hours. I would not have passed the exam without this tool. Amazing value. Thank you Cornelius.
I used the Formula Guide to get a handle on all the formulas you need for the exam. Gave me a lot of confidence going into the exam that I could answer any of the questions they would throw at me. Turns out the questions were very straightforward on EVM. However, knowing all the possible calculations will take the edge off. Recommended.
Rita Mulcahy – PMP Exam Prep / FAST TRACK
I’m conflicted on this book. On the one hand it is an indispensable guide to studying for the exam , it’s just a shame that the overall tone is so condescending and patronizing. To get to the end of the book and have to read the final chapter entitled ‘Reasons you might fail the exam’ , is a real kick in the teeth. The exam is NOT as hard as she makes it out to be.
The only part of the book where she doesn’t cop an attitude is Procurement. That should indicate to you how seriously you should take Procurement.
Overall : recommend , just don’t let the tone get you down.
The Fast Track exam simulation is not cheap but if you can try and buy it. It does give you a sense of where strengths and weaknesses lie. It’s also good to take 1 or 2 full length exams. YMMV but I found the actual exam much less wordy and involved than the sample exams here. Towards the end I was scoring 80+ on chapter tests. And around low 70s on the full exam.
Andy Crowe / Kim Heldman
I didn’t read these books in as much detail as the RMC. However , I liked the approach that Andy Crowe gives and he really places more emphasis on the ITTOs. The chapter questions are much easier than the actual exam but they will give you a good sense of understanding.
I read the Heldman book in a week , just to get my head around the overall approach one more time as she breaks down the PMBOK by process group. Nicely written but a lot of reading. If you have the time do it but it’s not essential.
PMP Study – 4 simulation tests
I actually only did 2 full exams as I was worried about question fatigue. I highly recommend these. The questions are very similar in style to the PMP exam in the sense that the actual exam had questions that were 1-2 lines. Less wordy than RMC.
I scored high 60s on both the full exams.
Please note I came across two TCPI questions where I believe they were using the wrong formula. If in doubt always go with the PMBOK guide.
The Exam Itself
I arrived at the test centre early so they processed me there and then and let me start straight away. I took the tutorial and during the 15 minutes I brain-dumped all the formulas from the PM Formula guide – EVM , Pert , EMV, Standard Deviation , Estimates etc. I also reproduced the chart on the mapping of the 42 processes.
This really helped in the exam.
The first 20 or so questions were very straightforward and I was wondering when the difficulty kicked in and then BAM! I had a run of questions where I was struggling to figure out what was actually being asked. I read a LL from a PMP on this forum where they said if this happens to you DON’T PANIC, these could very well be from the 25 non scoring questions. This is great advice. And I wish I could remember that person’s name, I would thank them. So the big thing is don’t panic.
Also , watch out for answers that are correct statements but don’t apply to the situation that you are in.
My strategy was to break after every 50 questions , but on my third break I was warned by the invigilator that I was close to exceeding the max combined break of 10mins. So please check with your testing centre as this was something I wasn’t aware of.
It took me the full 4 hours to answer the questions, review marked and review overall. I was half way through my final review when the screen went blank as I was out of time. I filled out the survey , took a deep breath and waited… until Congratulations came up on the screen. Phew!
The exam is not out to trick you. The preparation is the hard part. Always pay attention to where you are in the process. Take practice exams and keep focused. At the 3 hour mark I was really tired and had to rally. Answer question by question.
Based on the LL from previous PMPs I believe the exam hasn’t changed drastically.
That’s it. I’m now a PMP. My heartfelt thanks to the people who run this site and also to the Project Managers who have posted their experiences. It feels great to be part of this community