how i cracked the pmp

This is a PMP exam lessons learned by Mr. Samuel Ofori Odjelua who is a visitor of this blog and passed the PMP exam.

I passed my PMP exam on 20th May 2019. Here is a detailed description of how I did it.

Where My Journey Began

I came to know about the PMP certification exam when I was pursuing my Project Management degree in 2015.

I did some research to learn about its importance and growing recognition; it became my next career goal. I enrolled in a 35 hours training course in February 2017 with BENCHMARK Executive Business School in Accra, Ghana. Then I went back to school in August 2017 for a master’s program in Project Management.

After graduating in November 2018, I felt I was ready for the PMP certification exam. In early February 2019, I again attended a PMP training for a recap–sort of–with the introduction of the PMBOK 6th Edition.

How I Studied

I began my studies on February 25th of 2019 and studied for 3 hours every day and 5 hours on weekends. I often pulled all-nighters, losing sleep, because this was a big deal for me. I used the PMBOK Guide, RITA, and Headfirst for my studies. 

My strategy was as follows: I picked one knowledge area, like Scope, from RITA and digested it, then read the same chapter from Headfirst, and then from the PMBOK Guide. I repeated the same method for all the knowledge areas, one after the other.

This gave me a good grasp of the fine details. Then, I attempted the trial questions and reviewed any incorrect answers.

Then I invested time in understanding the process group/knowledge area chart. This is very important.

I tried to understand the ITTOs, their importance, and how they are used. I did not try to memorize them, as this is difficult and dangerous.

The Resources I Used

Apart from the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition, I used:

I watched the process group and knowledge area videos by IZENBRIDGE, EDUHUBSPOT, RICHARDO VARGAS, and other free online resources.

My Application

I applied for the exam on March 20th, 2019, and got approval after one week. I made the payment and scheduled; fortunately, I was not selected for an audit, so I scheduled the exam for the 20th of May 2019.

I attempted eight mock exams and my scores were 70%, 72%, 90%, 86%, 68%, 80%, 76%, and 76%. I reviewed my wrong answers and got my concepts right. This was my way of closing my knowledge gaps.

I followed Fahad’s PM study cycle blog. Here, he explains in specific detail the differences and similarities between frequently used terms in project management. This blog was my savior.

I bought his 400 PMP Question Bank, which is compliant with the PMBOK Guide 6th edition. Questions in this eBook were similar to what you will find on the exam–the bank is very difficult, and it will get you in shape for the real exam.

The Day of the Exam

I got enough rest the day prior. On D-DAY, the 20th of May 2019, the testing center called me early in the morning to give a reminder and to ask me if I was interested in attempting the exam as early as a seat was available. 

I was scheduled for 12:30 pm, so I got there at 10:30 am, and after going through the checks (ID, foreign materials, etc.) I was allowed into my cubicle, logged in to the terminal, and I started the awareness sessions. These tutorials take you through features of the exam system and how you can use them, like strike-through, highlight sentences, etc.

I started the test at 11:21 am. At first, I was tense, but my tension eased as I progressed. The exam was very difficult, and I had a hard time working on the questions. I had a few earned value questions, but most were centered on RISK, STAKEHOLDER, and INTEGRATION Management. They were all situational questions and hard to crack. I got about 20 long-form questions.

After reviewing the marked questions, I finished the exam with only three minutes remaining.

While waiting for the results to pop up, I was asked to answer a questionnaire relating to the exam and the test center.

Then came the results–I was shivering, anxious, and the next thing I saw was “CONGRATULATIONS! You passed your exam and have successfully earned your PMP PMI Certification. This is a tremendous accomplishment!” I nearly screamed! I felt like punching the sky! Wow, a dream came true!

I had ABOVE TARGET in ALL DOMAINS. I was so excited–my hard work paid off!

I couldn’t wait to share the good news!

Suggestions to Other Aspirants

  1. Please know that it is not by your own might or strength but by the direction, guidance, and grace of GOD ALMIGHTY. So seek God, commit your preparation and the exam to Him and He will see you through.
  2. Don’t forget to skim through the PMBOK Guide cover to cover, including the appendix and glossary–it is important.
  3. Use the PMP exam content outline. This document is not included in the PMBOK Guide, but you can download it from the PMI website. It is critical to know the tasks the PM performs in all the domains.
  4. Attempt as many mock exams as you can. The more you practice, the smaller your knowledge gaps become.
  5. Follow Fahad Usmani’s PM study cycle blog. It’s insightful and vital for your exam preparation. It is always my reference point. He is readily available to answer your questions anytime, any day! Try it for the best results.
  6. Also, try to watch the “New elaboration of the processes flow of the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition” by Ricardo Vargas.

Many Thanks.

Samuel Ofori Odjelua, PMP, MSC, PMD Pro 2