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Roger, Chou, PgMP: How to Overcome the Challenge of New PMP Exam

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Roger Chou PgMP

Roger Chou PgMP

It has been almost two months now since the PMP® Exam adopted the 4th edition of PMBOK. So far our pass rate gets back to normal. The alarm is off. Some Americans asked me how we helped our students to achieve so even facing the challenge brought about by the new exam. After some discussion, I think I know why.

They told me how they prepared for the PMP Exam. They used the so-called “Magic Three” method. What is the “magic three”? To read through the PMP textbooks three times. So, usually they have to spend six months reading through these big books. For PM-ABC’s students, this kind of long term preparation would only generate a pass rate of around 50%. Because after six months most would have given up, or, would have been pressured back into dealing with the challenges or tasks needed for their business work.

The truth is, I have never let any of the 2,700 PM-ABC’s students read through PMBOK once, let alone three times. I guide them with the PM-ABC’s unique lesson learned method. Some of our PMP call it “Smart Shortcut”. Even after they took the exam their PMBOK’s looked new, looked like they had been rarely touched, but their pass rate had always been as high as 99.5% (and this didn’t include any exam retakes). They all prepared successfully for their exams within a very short time, usually around two to four weeks after finishing their 35 hours of basic education. Therefore I often call this method “the longest way, but the quickest way.” Why is that? Let me explain.

Where did the PM-ABC’ Lessons Learned (Smart Shortcut) Method come from? Actually, I have my father to thank and I want to dedicate its success to him. I developed this method whilst I was the information management Director for ASE Global and I was going to take the PMP Exam. My father was very sick. He was sent to the hospital for numerous check-ups and we could not find the real cause of his illness. We transferred him to different hospitals for treatment and check-ups and my study time became very fragmented as I stayed in the ward taking care of him. I could not study the PMBOK without interruption. But my desire to get the PMP credential was so strong that I didn’t want to postpone taking the exam. Therefore, I evolved my method. As I stayed in the ward taking of him, I had been constantly flipping through my PMP books as I looked for something I didn’t understand based on my test quiz results. I found that chasing correct answers, flipping backwards and forwards through my books, gradually increased my knowledge, helping me build an effective understanding of PMBOK. This method was refined over the years, as I worked with others in project management and started teaching PMP, and became PM-ABC’s smart shortcut method. When you become one of our students, or use one of our simulation exams, you need to learn how to use the PM-ABC’s “smart shortcut” method.

You might as well treat PMBOK as a dictionary. When you do not understand a certain term or concept, look it up and look at it. Since you are using it as a dictionary, you should not read it through in detail, from the first page to the last. You only have to look at key points and the parts you don’t understand.

The greatest value of PM-ABC’s method is that you can apply it to the preparation for any kind of exam subject. Whatever you are faced with, regardless of how difficult it may be, you can use this method to help you conquer the exam, and greatly shorten your preparation time. So, whilst a lot of people may need to spend six months for preparing for the PMP exam, with this method you may only need six weeks.

I called it the “the longest way, but the quickest way.” Even if I claim this is the quickest way, it won’t work for you if you don’t overcome any doubts you may have about our method. You may have a degree, be a teacher or professor, and have your own proven system, so why should you change? But when taking the exam, you will find there are questions on ideas or terms you have not studied in detail before and you can’t figure out the right answer. Other students, who just follow our instructions, even if they didn’t get a great degree, will pass the exam quicker than you. Don’t think I am joking! This has already happened to quite a few university professors and college teachers.

The reason I said this is “the longest way” was because this method will force you to master every part of a specific concept. In the long run, it guarantees your success at the exam with first attempt. So, this is “the quickest way” of passing the PMP exam.

How to do the PM-ABC Lessons Learned

Generally speaking, with your own study method, you will usually score around 60% on practice tests or advanced practice tests. In other words, you will get 4 out of every 10 questions wrong. Each of the wrongly answered questions will take you 30 minutes to study in a Lessons Learned session. This means you will have to spend two hours study them in total. You may say, “Only an idiot will spend so much time on wrongly answered questions!” I would reply; if you don’t spend time on studying your wrongly answered questions, what else should you spend time on? Those you have already got right? Or on chapters you already understand? Then why bother to test yourself? Therefore, these four wrongly answered questions, which have identified your areas of weakest understanding, are exactly where you should be focusing your study. So, how to make use of them? Over 30 minutes, use the wrong answer to move from a specific idea in the correct answer to the wider PMP context of the correct answer to gain a better understanding of the question you got wrong. You should spend 20 minutes finding the correct answer and then understanding why it was the correct answer. Then spend 5 minutes on the answer you picked, understanding why it was not the correct answer. Then spend 5 minutes on each of the other answers, understanding why they were not the correct answers.

These are the three principles of this method: finding the right answer, understanding why it is the right answer, then understanding the wider context of the correct answer and the other answers.

Methodology Content
Right answer (20min)
1. Mind-mapping
  • Find out the context of the correct answer
2. Weaving a Web – deeper into each idea
  • A specific concept will have a wider context into which other ideas will fit, and which link it to other, different concepts.
  • Study each keyword carefully. E.g. The right answer is CPM. You should also read Monte Carlo, PERT, three-points estimating, analogous estimating, parametric estimating…in case you see any related questions in the future.
3. Broaden the under standing of the concept
  • Broaden your understanding of the concept by reading through other pages that it appears on.
Wrong answer (5min)
4. Differentiate similar ideas or confusing ideas by looking at the wrong answer
  • Why did you choose the wrong answer? Find out the section and pages your ‘wrong’ answer appears on. Make a table, comparing the differences and similarities with the correct answer.
The Other Two Choices (5min)
  • Understanding why they were not the correct answers

There is a free e-learning session about how to properly do this lesson learned method (except): On our website, (http://www.pm-abc.com/Products_PMP.asp) a complete e-learning course is also provided, where we’re going to show you an example and take you through it. You may want to take out your PMBOK and follow us.

Now, with the new exam getting even more difficult, any long term, repeatedly, un-targeted reading method won’t make you ready for the Exam. I hope, our method gives you an idea, how to study efficiently, which enables you to have comprehensive knowledge and clear understanding of the concepts. I hope you all find your way to PMP Exam.

Roger Chou, PgMP

Advanced Business Consulting Director


1 comment to Roger, Chou, PgMP: How to Overcome the Challenge of New PMP Exam

  • Gabriel Garcia

    I wanted to thank you for sharing your PM-ABC methodology to review wrong questions. It was very useful to pass the PMP Exam and raise my scores to what I was needing. I passed the test today, so I wanted thank you.