I have been thinking about the PMP certificate for the past several years, and in December 2016, I decided to apply for it.
Looking back on my process, I feel it was the toughest project of my life.
Before starting my preparation I read several lessons learned of successful exam takers and drafted a plan for my study. This is an important step; create a good plan and don’t forget to follow it.
I started with reading Rita’s book and created my own notes for later review. Then, I went through the PMBOK Guide. I found it helpful because it provides a clear picture of connections among the processes.
After reading these books, I started attempting mock tests to find my weak points.
My weak area was connections between processes, so I needed to study this more but I didn’t want to reread the same books.
While looking for ways to fill my knowledge gaps I found Fahad Usmani’s site, and it became a solid foundation for my knowledge base, especially the comments and knowledge transitions under each post. I collected all the blog posts in a word document and printed it to read in my free time.
After reading Fahad’s lessons learned, I decided to read Kim Heldman’s book. I again created notes.
I focused on mock tests and fine-tuned my timing so I could do well on the real exam.
- Rita-PMP Exam Prep 8th Edition
- The PMBOK Guide 6th Edition
- PMP Exam Study Guide–Kim Heldman
- PM Study Circle–Fahad Usmani
- PMI Code of Ethics
The first questions I addressed were found in Rita’s book, which I answered after completing chapters with an overall result of 75%. After that, I attempted around 1,800 questions from different resources. These resources were:
- Oliver Lehmann (online)
- Edwel Mock Exam
- Oliver Lehmann (downloadable PDF)
- Simplilearn Free PMP® Mock Exam
- PM Exam Simulator (free 7-day trial)
- PM Study Circle
- Kim Heldman’s book
- PM Study
- PMP Practice Questions Exam Cram™ 2 (online book)
- CertGear (simulation)
I scored 67% on average in my first round and after reading Kim Heldman I scored 74% on average.
PM FASTrack was the most important tool for my preparation. I spent the largest part of my preparation time on it. I attempted 15 tests and scored over 90% in the last five. The tool has a way to search topics by keyword and then provides practice questions. I found it very useful for my studies. For example, you can search “conflict” or “audit” and practice questions related to these concepts are given.
I took a computer-based test because paper one was not available in my country. I reached the test center ahead of time, and they checked me with a metal detector like a criminal. They told me to put all my belongings (watch, mobile, and wallet) into a box.
Afterward, I could enter an examination hall which had four PCs. They gave me a paper, a pencil, and earplugs. There was a glass window behind me, and an exam monitor was watching me from another room. The most irritating thing was the walk-through patrol by the staff every 10 minutes. After each check, I had to reread the question I was on.
I had a PRINCE2 Practitioner certificate, so I thought I knew how much time I would need to spend preparing for the PMP exam; I was wrong. This preparation took more time and effort than I expected. I spent around 400 hours and practiced approximately 7,500 questions.
The planning phase is the most important from an exam point of view. After that, I focused on other process groups, Initiation, Executing and Closing. These three groups have 12 processes and covered 51% of my exam questions. I learned the ITTOs and all the steps from Rita’s process chart. I memorized which processes used Work Performance Data or Information or Reports, Reserve Analysis, Stakeholder Register and Delphi Techniques.
In the last week before the exam, I repeated the following:
- I reread Fahad Usmani’s posts (from the pages I printed out)
- I practiced all the questions from Initiation, Executing and Closing from PM FASTrack
- I went through my notes twice
- I reviewed the ITTOs and Rita’s process chart
- The day before the exam, I took a complete rest.
I passed the exam with the following results:
- Initiating, Executing, M&C => Moderately Proficient
- Planning, Closing => Proficient
I want to take this opportunity to thank Fahad for everything, and especially for his great efforts in sharing his knowledge on project management.
Did you pass the PMP exam and want to share your lessons learned with the community? Please contact me at [email protected]