In a nutshell this is what I did to succeed:
Made a study plan for what to read, when to read, and when I’d be taking my exam. I began this whole process in mid-May and just took the exam today, October 8th so as you can see this was a several month long journey.
Read the PMBOK 4th – Chapter by chapter
Concurrently read Rita’s for the corresponding PMBOK chapter and took chapter tests
After completing both books, went on to read Headfirst’s book and took those chapter tests
Read credentials handbook
I probably spent at least an hour almost every weeknight with several hours each weekend reading, taking sample tests, and reviewing areas where I didn’t score as well as I’d like. Then, for the last several weeks I really hit the internet hard to find sample exams that could really test my comprehension.
Some of the things that I did along the way to help with comprehension is what I’d now consider to be overkill. I had made myself some flashcards for definitions and some other flashcards for the processes and their respective ITTOs with the intention of trying to memorize them. Thank goodness I read someone else’s LL not too long ago about not trying to memorize ITTOs. After having taken the exam today myself, I would wholeheartedly agree.
For me, memorization was only good for the EV formulas. The exam is testing your understanding and knowledge of what to do in specific situations for the various processes. The only way to gain that knowledge is to understand each process in it’s entirety: 1)what is the intent of the process 2)what do you need to complete it (inputs) 3)how do you go about doing it (Ts/Ts) and finally 4)what do you get as a result when it is completed (Os).
If you spend your time doing the 4 steps above for each process, you should be good for a very large portion of the exam. Rita’s does a good job covering the other material required not specifically detailed in the PMBOK. I didn’t use Crowe’s book, but understand that it will do the same.
The best advice I can give you is to practice, practice, practice!!! There are numerous free sites that have tests (some with explanations of why an answer is correct) and I used PMStudy’s and Headfirst’s online tests (much like the real thing with respect to the test simulation). Although, I have to admit that I thought the real exam was much harder than the majority of practice exams. I’m glad that I did so many because it helped me find the holes in my understanding. I’d also recommend taking them early so you understand the real nature of the exam.
One word of caution for any upcoming test takers…I sat down at the test center and clicked the start button for the tutorial, all the while knowing that would be a good time to begin creating my dump sheet on the scratch paper provided by the testing center. I was so busy furiously writing down the formulas that I thought I’d need when I looked up at the screen to see that I had only one minute before the exam would end (not the tutorial)…so be careful. Read what’s on the monitor. I clicked the button to actually begin the tutorial and saw that I had 15 min. to complete the tutorial. Once I was safely in the tutorial is when I finished writing my formulas. I really didn’t need them, but it was nice to refer back to them in a moment of uncertainty or panic..lol.
Bottomline, there is no magic to this. You have to invest the time and energy to understand the material to be successful on the test. I’m glad that I did and am glad that my invested time paid off. Got proficient in 3 and moderately proficient in the other 3.
Q&A in PMHUB Forums:
Congrats Gwennie !
I’m not sure I got your point about your start tutorial story; maybe you could rephrase it ?
I’ll give it a try…so as to be more clear….
When I was escorted to my testing machine, I sat down and clicked on a button for launching the tutorial (or so I thought). In retrospect, I believe that it was just an introductory page to the “real” tutorial. I thought that I was in the tutorial and began to write down my formulas when I just happened to look back at the monitor and remembered reading that I had a minute to actually start the tutorial or the exam would end. My guess is that I had only launched what could be interpretted as an introductory screen before the real tutorial where the 15 min. really begin to count down.
A few extra pieces of testing and test center advice:
1)Be sure to ask the testing attendant about what to expect for the tutorial and any other test taking introductory materials that might be demonstrated or displayed prior to the exam. It never hurts to ask to be certain you know what to expect before you actually begin. I’m guessing that had I not glanced back at the screen for what I thought was the beginning of the tutorial, that I would’ve failed if I had gone past the one minute mark as specified on the page (I don’t remember seeing a clock for this either). Luckily for me, only about a half minute or less had elapsed before I noticed it.
2)Make doubly sure that you’re in the actual tutorial with the 15 min. clock ticking before you try to write out your memory dump sheet.
3)Others have said it before, and I actually tried to do this, but the testing center was closed. Relieve some testing anxiety by going to the testing center ahead of time (maybe the week before if convenient) so that you can get a general idea of what it will be like.
4)I took my test in Maryland and found that I couldn’t bring anything into the test center (no water, no food, nothing but the clothes on your back). All else had to be tucked away in a locker. I had even brought a sweatshirt to wear if the AC had gotten to cool, but I was not allowed to bring it into the room. So advice here: it’s best to leave anything besides your required testing IDs and testing appointment certificate in your car or at home. You just won’t need it. You’re given scratch paper that must be turned in at the end of the test and you’re provided a calculator (although one is available electronically via the computer throughout the duration of the test) and two wooden pencils. You don’t need to bring anything else.
5)Also, be honest with your feedback about your testing experience when you complete the survey at the end of the exam. It helps the next guys going through this if they’re are things lacking. I found that the noise level was a little more than I expected even with using the headphones at my testing station. Ask for them ahead of time too if you think you might want them. There were also other testers at my site for things other than PMP, so expect that other people may be coming and going while you’re taking your exam.
6)Oh, and one other note about the time allowed to take the exam. I had completed my exam even with re-reviewing the two dozen or so marked questions with about 50 minutes or so leftover. That’s even with rereading most of the questions more than once. I’m a slow reader too. I took a gamble on my confidence level of the unmarked questions (figuring that there might’ve been 20 or so that I may have guessed incorrectly) and added to that the other 24 questions that I had marked for review and deduced that I was above the 106 correct responses threshold. So rather than spending the remaining 50 minutes rereading all the other test questions, I bit my lip, held my breath, and hit the end exam button. Then, as others have reported it took about 15 sec. before the survey came up. Then, I completed the 9 question survey in less than a minute. Finally after about 15 secs. or so I got my “Congratulations, you passed” message with my proficiency levels listed. What a relief!!!
Hope this helps.