Well, I passed the CAPM today.
I spent five weeks diligently preparing for it, studying about 2-3 hours a night. After hearing horror stories about how difficult the exam really is, I actually think I might’ve “overstudied” as I found the actual exam to be refreshingly easy.
Anyway, a bit of background info, before applying to get the CAPM, my only experience with project management was a PM course I took at school last semester. The course alone wouldn’t have prepared me for the CAPM since it didn’t focus a lot of attention on the individual processes.
To prepare for the exam, I used the Insite online course by Velociteach; they’ve upgraded the course to reflect the 4th edition PMBOK. I paid $99 for the one month course and it’s money well spent, I reviewed the course in its entirety twice and did several of their practice exams until I averaged around 90% from their pool of questions. I also used Farndale’s PMP and CAPM prep guide (easily found on google) and took the 248 question test. Obviously, I read the PMBOK as well and used notecards to document the processes and various terms.
1. I actually did not bother memorizing the ITTOs. I think more important than rote memorization is understanding the flow of processes. For example, deliverables from Direct and Manage Project Execution become validated in Perform Quality Control, then become accepted in Verify Scope, which in turn serve as an input to Close Project. The data flow diagrams in PMBOK helped a lot in this understanding. Once I had that understanding, there was really no need for me to be able to recite all the ITTOs for each process, as they just came to me intuitively on the exam. You should definitely, however, know all 42 processes and which process groups and knowledge areas they belong to.
2. I found practice exams to be extremely helpful. I think, in terms of difficulty, the practice questions on the Velociteach site were about on par or just slightly more difficult than those on the real exam. Plus they gave explanations to the questions to all their exam questions. The questions from Farndale’s guide were very difficult (and he even says so!).
3. The brain dump is an excellent technique. I quickly breezed through the tutorial, and used the remaining 14 minutes to write all 42 processes on table like table 3-1 in PMBOK, and all the EVM/communication channels/PERT calculations. I’m glad I did, as it was easy reference.
4. I completed the first runthrough of the 150 questions in about 50 minutes, after which I took a break and reviewed all 150 questions again. Overall, I finished the exam in about 1:25, so I think the time you’re given is quite generous.
5. One thing I found extremely frustrating was that the exam used 3rd edition and 4th edition PMBOK terminologies interchangeably. I’m not sure if this was a mistake, since they had just recently converted to 4th edition, or if it was intentional (since the changes are listed in the appendix and are therefore fair game). Either way, this inconsistency made me livid during the exam, and if you’ve studied ONLY 4th edition, you’re certainly going to get things mixed up. For example, one of the questions mentioned a “Select Sellers” process, which does not exist in 4th edition; it’s now part of Conduct Procurements.
At any rate, I wish the best of luck to anyone else taking the CAPM. Hope to get the PMP in a few years.
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