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Hello all. I just passed the PMP exam last week with AT/T/T/T/AT a rough pass and not what I was aiming for but it’s a pass nonetheless.
A little background on me:
I am a former bootcamp software developer (AS in compsci with honours, BA in poli sci, MA in Communications). For the last year I have been working as a Product Manager at a poorly managed ed tech company. I have no experience with formal project management and sought out the exam and skillset because:
a. It was a gate to further advancement in the field.
b. I REALLY needed to instill some semblance of order in my workplace.
Here are my resources. Note: None of this is an endorsement just what I used YMMV. If people ask I can post specific links but not sure if that’s allowed first post.
To get my pdu’s, and prep for what to experience I bought the INFOSEC PMP Bootcamp Prep. This includes your PMP membership, a print copy of the PMBOK, a free test voucher and a FREE test retake voucher if you fail AND you attended at least 90% of the bootcamp AND you score at least 90% on their mock exam. This cost around $2500. Subsidized nicely by my stimulus check. $2500
I downloaded a copy of PMBOK 6th edition online onto my tablet (it was risky and I hope I don’t have some crazy malware now). FREE
I bought the PMP PrepCast PM Formulas PDF and Cheat sheet along with the 105 sample questions(~$50)
I downloaded the following Apps: PMP EXAM 2020 ($12, iPhone), Professional Prep PMP ($19 monthly, iPad), PMP Prep(iPad) I only had each subscription for less than a month but more about that below.
The Vargas Holy Grail of videos (found out about that one here at pmp
Vargas’ free downloadable charts of the Process Areas. FREE
Project Management Videos by Edward Shehab on Youtube. FREE
A few youtube videos by Praizion. FREE
With my resources outlined I will discuss my process as well and in the following section explain tweaks to that process that I recommend: My Process
I paid for my bootcamp on September 1 (this year) for a start date of September 28 to an end date of October 2. INFOSEC recommends taking the exam on the Friday after the bootcamp. I obviously didn’t do this. I also was starting from literal zero as well.
I received my materials (the PMBOK textbook) around September 6th and began my PDU prestudy on September 10th. I rushed through these videos in order to get to the end so I could qualify for my bootcamp. INFOSEC has a decent question bank which I used about 400 questions on daily reviews. They are a bit on the easy side though but great for reinforcing basic conceptual knowledge.
A week before the bootcamp on September 28th I watched the Vargas video and then began using the prestudy videos to go through each of the Processes outlining the Purpose, Key Benefit, ITTOs as well as key terms. I did this by going through each Process in its entirety and NOT by Knowledge Area. The Vargas video was instrumental in opening the door to understanding the interrelationships of each process which was key to me passing.
I did the bootcamp which was just an overview of the same content in the PDU prestudy with a group of other people. We had the opportunity to explain concepts to each other and do a few questions. All in all it was a nice refresher if not a bit pricey.
I then worked through the PMBOK and the toughest area/longest slog was obviously Planning. Once Planning was done I then consolidated the rest of the processes by knowledge area and drilled down that way.
At around the same time I started the bootcamp- 28 September I began using the apps to go over questions. The apps were useful that they tracked incorrect questions and enabled me to return to them.
Whenever I got a question wrong I went and looked it up in the book and I added it to my “Punishment” log. My personal rule was to review the punishment log three times a day.
Following the bootcamp. I set the exam to be about three weeks later- the 23rd of October as I intended to really drill down and master everything in hopes of running the tables with AT’s (yeah right).
I took several quizzes a day even before I finished prepping all the knowledge areas. This was helpful as it forced me to try and think ahead on some questions and bridge the relationships between the individual Processes. Most quizzes I took were 12 questions. I took several 20 question quizzes and as I moved further away from the first two knowledge areas I covered (Integration and Project Stakeholder management) I incorporated them into my quizzes so I was staying fresh on that content. I kept adding in a few questions from knowledge areas I had already covered to keep warm on them.
I did about thirty of the math questions. And I used the online Pearson whiteboard to practice doing them so I wouldn’t be thrown off by using it in the exam. The Exam (23 October) The Exam focused heavily on making real world decisions based on the PMBOK strategies for handling given situations. To explain it better, many of the answers could NOT be directly found in the book- rather you had to use the knowledge from the book and rank the decisions for the MOST appropriate course of action and go with it.
85% of the questions had two answers that could have been the answer. I was honestly shocked and horrified by this. So please if anything- think situational (more on that later).
I took the exam at home. I had to take a picture of my workspace, disconnect my second monitor, you are recorded audio and video through the entire thing so try not to mutter curses under your breath when you get a tough ETC question like I did. When you start you get a single time and even though you can take a 10 minute break whereby the exam timer is paused after around 90 questions, beware as the sections are not individually timed. I made sure to clarify with the invigilator on the deal with the timer as I would have spent the entire time trying to refine answers and been left with little to nothing for the second portion!
The timer stops during the break but I was already heated from the question quality so I opted to forge ahead as I wasn’t sure what I’d be allowed to do in the break (you cannot even have a drink with you during the exam). Refinements to my Process Before you open the PMBOK
Start with Vargas. Download his visual sheets. Refer to them frequently. Make sure you understand how it all comes together. After watching his video and digesting it. Write an essay as if you were doing a complex job application or school course review on how you think it all works to test if you truly understand it. Once you do. Good. Time to move on to the Process Groups and Knowledge Areas.
Jump into the Shehab videos and bust open your PMBOK. You are going to knock out the Process Groups by the sub-process group which will keep your thought process linear and related and prevent confusion. Watch one Shehab video on a topic. Read it through in the PMBOK then do a writeup of the entire Process. Rinse and repeat until you have finished Planning.
Once you are done with Planning you can then deal with the rest of the Processes by Knowledge Area so you understand the relationship between Execution and Monitoring and Controlling.
As you move through, take note of three things and create a separate document to track them: Project Documents, Tools and Technique Types, and PMP Plan Areas.
You want to group your types together such as Data gathering tools vs Data analysis tools, Registers and Plan Materials. You want to understand what each is and how it applies to the big picture- doing this will make the situational aspects of the exam easier. Effectively you should be able to see a particular problem that comes up, mentally place that problem within a particular process (if that info is not readily given) then apply the requisite part of the process to resolve the issue presented to you.
You should be able to knock out 1-2 Process Areas in 2-3 hours of study on your basic knowledge pass. Take 20-30 minutes after your writeup time to read what you just wrote then do a 10 question quiz. Take note of what you got wrong- add it to your punishment log. Review that before bed and whenever you can.
Try to do 3-4 math questions a day even if you’re not at the math portion yet. You want to lock down the process and marry it to the concepts when you get to them. Write down the equations by hand and practice using the whiteboard as that is really good muscle memory and will add to your speed during the exam.
After you’ve finished all the process areas. Now go back and add additional notes as you test and make sure to jot down a situational hypo or two per day as you review Process areas.
Consider hypos like: I’m being asked to start the project without a key stakeholder being available to sign off on the project charter. What do?
We want to review the construction processes of a contractor for quality what can we use to do this? I think the bootcamp and ANY prep to PMBOK has to include time set aside to cover application of the knowledge you have learned to real world scenarios
. You need to understand the multiple ways you can handle an issue as well as the pro’s and con’s of each of those ways and what would be considered to be the best choice given a particular fact pattern.
Godspeed and Good luck to all!