Craig Becker, PMP – Meticulous planning and some Shakeology Shake for PMP

Thanks for everything Shiv. Here is a Lessons Learned that I put together. I also submitted this to the PM PrepCast Forum. I’m hoping it gets picked up for one of Cornelius’ emails.

PMP Exam Lessons Learnedpmp-CraigBecker

  1. I started the PMP Certification Process in March of 2015. I first read the PMBOK guide cover-to-cover. I immediately noticed the importance of Table 3-1 in the PMBOK guide and decided to memorize this information by writing it down multiple times and then reviewing it 3-5 times a week by writing it down from memory. This was very valuable throughout my studies.
  2. I purchased the PM PrepCast and PMP Exam Simulator as a package. I looked around and found this as the most affordable and highest rated product on the market.
  3. I Listened to each of the introduction lessons of the PM PrepCast. After about 5 lessons, I realized that I could speed the podcast up to 1.5 times and still keep up with Cornelius. His presentation of the information is excellent.
  4. I Listened attentively to ALL the podcasts for each chapter that related to the PMBOK guide.
  5. I took my PM PrepCast final and added my 35 hours of education on my PMI application.
  6. I started taking practice quizzes by knowledge area using the PMP Exam Simulator to determine what areas I needed work on.
  7. An important part of taking the PMP exam is to prepare your application. I reviewed multiple sites online that described how to properly describe your past projects on the application. I liked the narrative approach more than the list approach. The application process took a full week to get everything organized and to collect pertinent information of my prior projects. I also took the time to contact my former employers to let them know I was applying for my PMP and would send them a copy of my application to review in case I was audited. My thought was to prepare for the worse and hope for the best. I found a spreadsheet from “Passionate Project Management” that was extremely helpful in completing this requirement. (Shiv: here’s a simpler version of the PMI application spreadsheet) Then I just simply copied and pasted my experience into my PMI Application. My application was accepted and I was not audited.
  8. I scheduled my exam for September 19th. I had approximately 7 weeks to prepare.
  9. After about 3 weeks of taking quizzes, I sat for a full exam. I scored 74%, but was having difficulties with applying ITTO’s. I purchased Cornelius’ guide to ITTO’s. I decided I was going to memorize all of them, even though this was not suggested. After 4 days, I had memorized all the ITTO’s for Integration, Scope, Time, and Cost using a method mentioned in the guide. This was not going to work. However, what this technique allowed me to see was the relationships between the Knowledge Area and the ITTO’s. Also, I enjoyed that I had the ability to still memorize this amount of information and recall it for the remainder of my study time. Memorization is not required. However, building connections and understanding the links between knowledge areas is required.
  10. I used the statistics from the quizzes to review specific areas of the PMBOK Guide. I would take a 20-25 question quiz, then review each question. Both the correct ones and the incorrect ones. I reviewed the correct ones to make sure my thought process was correct and the wrong ones to find out what I had done wrong. I would review “lost” concepts by going back to the PMBOK Guide or searching with Google.
  11. About five weeks out from sitting for the exam, I found the site that is run by Shiv Shenoy. This was what I needed and just at the right time! His notes redirected my studies to what was important and gave me a direction for the final push. Over the last month, his notes became my guiding light. I felt that his SmartNotes and his email class were invaluable in my success.
  12. I also was reading so much about the equations piece of this exam that I decided to purchase “The PM Formulas” from Cornelius. This helped me organize my thoughts on formulas, but the PMP exam questions were much simpler than the questions in this guide.
  13. I spent 50+ hours on the PMP Exam Simulator during my study time. Nights and weekends were turned into study “parties”. I also scoured the internet for every test question I could find. I tend to over prepare for things. However, I never really felt comfortable that I would actually pass this exam. This drove me even more!
  14. I completed seven full exams from the PMP Exam Simulator. Each time I improved slightly and was scoring in the 82-85% range.
  15. The last week before my exam I worked on my brain dump and would do 100-200 questions a day from multiple sources of free tests online. Be careful when you do this. Some tests are very difficult and can destroy your confidence. I just took those tests scores as a learning opportunity and reviewed what the questions were asking. I was very prepared for this exam and only referred to the brain dump two times during my exam.
  16. Since my test site was 3 hours away, I stayed at a hotel three miles from the test site. I managed about four hours sleep. I woke up tired and confused. I was worried that I had forgotten everything that I had studied for. I decided to warm up my mind with a ten question quiz from an app on my phone. I got three correct out of ten! I had forgotten everything! I made myself a Shakeology Shake with some Focused Energy and headed to the exam.
  17. I arrived plenty early for the exam and was seated 45 minutes early. After 35 questions, I looked up and realized that the first 35 questions had taken 55 minutes. I was falling behind. My mind was still not clear. Then I refocused and started really concentrating on the questions. The exam seemed to get easier and my confidence grew. I had marked and skipped all the equation questions. I went back and completed the skipped questions. I completed the 200 questions in 3.5 hours and took a 5 minute break. After I returned, I reviewed the first 35 questions that I felt I had really messed up on. As it turns out, I only changed two of these answers during the review. I finally clicked the “End Test” button with ten minutes to spare and waited…and waited…After about a minute, the longest 8 question survey in my life about the test site came up. I completed the survey and once again had to wait about a minute for the “Congratulations! You have passed the PMP Exam” screen! I received Proficient in each Process except Closing, where I received Moderately Proficient.

Other important things that are needed for the PMP Exam but not taught from a Podcast, Book, or Test:

  1. Goal Setting: Set an end date. Schedule your exam!
  2. Planning: You must plan your studies. There is no time to waste. Have a plan and follow it. Your ROI will be large!
  3. Confidence: If you’re feeling down, find a good YouTube video on motivation. I’m a Zig Zigler fan. Attitude makes all the difference!
  4. Support Group: For the last thirty days, studying for the PMP became my life. I am a very goal oriented (most say OCD) individual. Without the support of my wife over the last two months (and even before that), I would not have been successful. She put up with a lot and throughout the entire process she supported me in my goal. Her support was singularly the most important factor in my success and I love her for that.
Craig Becker – PMP

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