Soon after attending the PMP training course, I started reading the PMBOK Guide’s knowledge areas. I purchased a mobile app, “PMP Prep,” which helped me prepare for the exam. This app’s questions were not similar to the PMP exam, but they pushed me to go through the PMBOK Guide.
After reading each knowledge area, I evaluated my understanding by using the same app. Since it was a mobile app, I had the flexibility to take tests anywhere and receive immediate feedback. It was convenient.
After completing the PMBOK Guide for the first time, I concentrated on process groups, and it was like reading PMBOK the second time with a focus on the process group. Afterward, I took the tests in Kim Heldman’s book, which had questions according to the process group.
I started remembering keywords and mapped them in my mind with relevant topics (to name a few: “Guide-plan.” The project management plans usually serve to guide the project manager on a particular process or knowledge area; “non-value-added activities”…process analysis; “accuracy, standards”….quality; “best practices”…benchmarking; “stability”….control limit, control chart; “systems interact”…..context diagram; “pre-qualified stakeholders”….focus groups; “decide”….decision tree;).
Meanwhile, I started applying some of the PMBOK processes to my two scrum projects. It gave me confidence, improved the team’s morale, and helped me relate the PMBOK knowledge areas and process groups.
I kept reading, slowly and steadily, but didn’t know when I should schedule my exam. I wanted to give myself 45 days’ lead time before I appeared for the exam. I scheduled the exam, and my preparation pace increased speed, and I was spending no less than 4 or 5 hours a day reading the PMBOK and taking practice tests.
After scheduling the exam, I asked the PMI India customer-care for a link to the mock test. I took the test once and got an idea of the questions. I got to know where I was lagging and re-took the mock exam a couple of days before the final exam. This helped a LOT!!
As supplemental learning, I read through “Head First PMP,” and it helped me understand some unclear concepts, as the book narrates concepts in a simple way. I was able to recollect and understand the forward pass and backward pass concepts and much more using the Head First PMP book.
I tried reading through Rita Mulcahy’s book, but I could not connect much with the book for some reason. I was more comfortable with PMBOK itself. I just took two or three tests from Rita’s book but did not proceed any further. (This is just me. Many have found Rita’s book to be useful. So, please don’t take this as a lesson from me. Each of us is unique, and we connect to different authors in different ways.)
In the spirit of testing my understanding, I used Christopher Scordo’s book of 1,000 questions also. (Got through most of it, couldn’t complete it all.)
Another mobile app that helped me was Telegram. I subscribed to the Project Management books channel. There, I took the quiz questions regularly, and it helped me reinforce my understanding.
I started taking full-length tests almost four weeks before my exam date (some continuous and some with breaks). I was able to score an average of 73 to 75% only. Probably achieving 80% plus during the practice tests would have given me more confidence to face the exam. I took many tests that might have included no less than 3,000 questions overall (various sources: Christopher Scordo, Kim Heldman, Head First, the app PMP Prep, PM Study Circle…).
A day before the exam, I stopped taking tests and used the time to read all the knowledge areas where I was lagging, especially integration management, which is essential for a Project Manager. I would advise you to stop taking practice tests, if possible, two or more days before the exam, and concentrate on revising concepts.
On the day of the exam, I did not open any book or app. That helped me have a calm mind before the exam. This truly helps. Please try it!
One mistake I made was, I did not know that questions were asked based on every task mentioned in each of the process groups and that I was graded as scoring Low, Medium, and High on each of these tasks. So, please pay attention to every single task in the PMP outline. Once you score in the Medium or High range, you can score Target and Above Target on all process groups.
All the best!