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SScortan: Passed PMP Exam Dec 2010 – Romania

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I have just passed PMP exam and I want to share with you my lessons learned:

Training materials:
1. Rita (read it 2 times in detail, very good book, thanks Rita, I will light a candle for you!)
2. PMBOK 4th edition (read it 2 times, including Appendix G and the glossary, this is really important!)
3. Delegation (I had about 3 questions from this topic)
4. PM Road Trip online book (see it at http://www.pmroadtrip.com/), very nice and with many interesting diagrams
5. Andy Crowe (only the free online pages, but it is for PMBOK 3th edition, it looked too easy and I didn’t buy it)
6. Ethical Code (you have to know and understand all 6 pages, you can get questions even from the first page!)

Tests:
1. The tests from Rita’s book – very good for situational questions, some very wordy, good level of difficulty. You should have at least 85% to be well prepared for the exam
2. PMStudy free test – result 86%, good level of difficulty, questions like those from the exam (not too wordy)
3. Oliver Lehmann 175 + 75 questions – result 79% for the first, 76% for the second, good level of difficulty, but the terms from various PM books not so useful for the exam
4. Simplilearn 200 questions free real test (free registration at http://www.simplilearn.com/slportal/login/login.do) – result 78%, good difficulty questions
5. PM Road Trip free questions (see it at http://www.pmroadtrip.com/), about 500 free questions
6. Edwel 200 questions free real test – result 80%, you have to register at http://www.edwel.com/courses/pmp-certif … -questions
7. Headfirst free tests (2 web tests) – easier questions than at the exam, result about 88-90%
8. Techfaq360.com 200 questions free real test – you have to register athttp://www.techfaq360.com/pmpmockexamstart.jsp
9. Other free web questions from various sources, see at the end of Oliver Lehmann’s web site (e.g. MyPMP.ie, PMP Question Bank, PreparePM, Voight Project Solutions)

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Study:
– total time: about 4 months, including the 35 hours formal course. I had a lot to work at my job, so I studied mostly during evenings and weekends
– about 200 hours of study, more than 3000 test questions, including about 8-9 real tests (200 questions, 3-4 hours). After every test I have analyzed the wrong answers and I took notes
– in the first pass (about 10 weeks) I have read every chapter of PMBOK and of Rita’s in parallel, and taking hand notes on my notebook (especially ITTO for each process, formulas and the main terms to know for the exam). I tested myself with the questions from the end of Rita’s chapters.
Also I had my formal course (not PMP exam oriented, but interesting)
– in the second pass (about 4 weeks) I had a second pass of Rita and PMBOK, starting from my notes, I have insisted to the more difficult terms or concepts, I tried to understand very well the concepts, the ITTO for every process and the relationships between processes, I took again the questions from Rita’s book
– in the last 3 weeks I took all the free questions and tests mentioned above, this training was very important for the exam
I can tell that at the end I could memorize about 90% of the ITTO, but it is very important to understand what are the inputs, outputs for every process, and why every tool&technique is used in a process
– you should understand the PMI-sms from Rita’s book, and their tips and tricks to study and pass the exam. Also this forum and other online forums are interesting for lessons learned

Exam:
In the morning before the exam I have quickly revised my notes (for formulas and the most difficult terms and principles) and the ITTO.
I was confident enough when I entered the exam room (I had passed another Prometric-like software exam in the past, so I knew how to manage this kind of exam).
I used the headphones, even though the room was quiet enough (there were about 5-6 other persons who passed various exams).
You can take some breaks, go outside the room and eat or drink something, but it is on your time.
In the first 15 minutes of the tutorial I have written on the paper the table with the 5 process groups and the formulas (as stated in all the books), but it was useless because the calculation questions were very easy. I didn’t use the software calculator, it was faster to calculate on the paper.
About the exam level, it was difficult, as usual the first 20-25 questions seemed very tough, just to enter in the exam’s atmosphere. Especially the first 70 questions looked more difficult, but at the end it was easier (probably this was just my impression). Half of the questions seamed easy (especially about ITTO, formulas and critical paths, I gained time picking the right answer), half were difficult (more situational, not too wordy, maximum 5 lines for the text and question). Many of them had to be solved by elimination, it remained 2 possible answers. What was difficult was that the 2 possible answers were very subtle in the meaning, sometimes it was extremely difficult to choose the good one.
I had the first pass in about 200 minutes, with about 40-45 marked questions, I took a few minutes break to rest my eyes and I reviewed those questions in the remaining time, but I didn’t change my first choice for most of them.
I had about 3 questions about delegation, so I recommend you to learn this subject.

Very important:

all the questions (except one) used the terminology from PMBOK 4th edition, it was nothing from outside PMBOK or Rita (like the terms you see in Oliver Lehmann questions, or the famous bipert float!), so it is very important to understand all the terms from PMBOK (including the glossary).
One question was about some motivational theory I’ve never heard, and the options were some names of authors I had never see on the study materials, I have just chosen a name and I have continued the exam.

Some subjects not very mentioned, but that you have to know well for the exam:
– the scope, change and configuration management (including their tools and procedures), you can get many questions about that, some really difficult and confusing
– closing a project/phase or contract, not only normally but also what to do in the case of a sudden termination
– professional and social responsibility, read and test as much as you find about this subject, starting from the Code
– integration management, in general
– test yourself at many activities on arrow (AOA) diagrams, including dummy activities
– many questions about quality, human resources and communication, but not difficult
– easier questions than I expected about cost, risk and procurement (but these subjects remain very important, do not underestimate them!)
– the idea that wordy questions are more difficult is not really true, I had 99% questions for 5 lines or less, but the answers were very subtle in the meaning, making the correct answer difficult to choose from. So the questions are more “tricky” than “wordy”, and you should prepare yourself to understand as much as you can from project management. Practice many tough tests, look for tricky questions.

Finally I have passed the exam with 4 Proficient grades, so all my effort was successful.

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