Mark Crowe, PMP – 3P for PMP Success: Preparation, Practice & Patience

pmp-lessons-learned--mark-croweNote from Shiv:

In the month of August Mark wrote to me the following. I was quite impressed with the methodical approach he was taking to his PMP preparation.
Here it is –
pmp-lessons-learned-mark-croweAs of this morning, 8/31/15, I’m scheduled to take my exam at my local Prometric Testing Center on Friday, 9/11/15.  Yes, I know the significance of that date, but I’d like to think it’s a date of victory for me as your testing notes, guidance, tips & tricks are probably the one thing that has helped me get to this point.
I’m quite nervous about it, even though for years I’ve taken various IT Certification exams through Prometric and am fully aware of what the testing center environment looks like, but that was years ago.
This test is giving me butterflies in my stomach because of the cost, the 5 months of preparation (yes, I said 5, but that was before I discovered your blog), and trying to fight back the demons telling me I’m going to fail!  Pitiful how we are most often our own worst enemy, isn’t it?

So, here’s what I’ve been doing since I finished my classroom studies in April:
  1. May – No studying, just applying and validating with my leadership that what I’ve entered on the various projects were accurate descriptions and times.  Lesson learned:  You can Fast Track by studying while applying!
  2. June – Half-hearted study in the evenings at home with little progress to show for it.  Bought an exam simulator (not any you’ve recommended) that does not simulate the same level of difficulty of exam questions I’ll see in the actual exam.  Lesson Learned: Research the various free PMP exam simulators as well as those recommended by Shiv!
  3. July – More intense study, including:
    1. Most breaks between meetings at the office…
    2. Re-reading notes from class and taking more notes on areas of weakness….
    3. Cutting off my study time at home when my mind starts to drift (usually around 12:30am)…
    4. Remembering to balance study time with my family (yes, this was actually a very important part of my study was to remember why I’m studying to improve myself; for my family and me).
  4. August – Made the payment for my exam and was selected “randomly” for an audit.  It took two weeks to get all the signatures (one leader had to review the projects twice as he did not follow the PMI instructions).  Lesson Learned: Make sure your Communication Method is appropriate for your stakeholders and sponsor!
  5. August (cont’d) – Sent the audit packet back to PMI overnight on 8/27/15, received confirmation notice from PMI that they’ve received it on the morning of 8/28/15 with an approval email within 60 seconds of the first email.  Pretty impressive turnaround time!
  6. This past Saturday and Sunday drilled into
    1. Began Memorizing AT LEAST the Outputs of every process knowing that the output from most of the processes becomes the inputs to others.
    2. Next, begin memorizing AT LEAST the T&T of process that have 3 OR LESS T&T.
    3. Sunday evening, analyze my level of preparedness for the exam by taking a few of the free pmp exam simulator questions with 90% accuracy.
  7. Conclusion:  Take the next two weeks and focus on the following:
    1. Continue memorizing the above Outputs and T&T.
    2. Retake full 200 question exam from classroom studies.
    3. Retake all end of chapter questions from the two supplemental books purchased for the classroom study (Crowe & Brunt).
    4. Take all free pmp exam questions from the following (I highly recommend these):
      1. PMP Exam Prep – QuizWorld (Free exam questions, flash cards, explanations, matching, true/false, etc…) and is VERY handy on my mobile phone).
      2. Pocketprep: Loaded on my iPad and includes a free full 200 question exam with a question of the day, past exam scores, strategies, and on top of that you can purchase even more!  I have just the free version and it’s highly effective as the questions are tuned towards the long, complex, tricky questions I may see in two Fridays.
      3. PMPro – Similar to Pocketprep, but again, it’s different questions showing a variety of types of phrasing, includes all the formulas, ITTO’s, Dictionary, and even a mini and full pmp exam simulation!
That’s a lot of material to cover, but as you stated, the moment you actually schedule your exam you’d be amazed at how razor-focused your study time will be.
Final Lesson Learned:  Don’t wait so long after your classroom study to apply and schedule your exam.  I could have enjoyed a little bit of my summer if I had just put this step in front and not on the tail-end.
I’ll let you know the result of the exam.
Mark Crowe
Chesapeake, VA
Then, just few days ago, as expected, I received this mail from Mark – letting me know that he has passed. And of course with his exam prep advice. I am more than happy to publish it here for the benefit of you all.
I just wanted to follow up and let you know I passed the PMP Exam Friday, 9/11.  I have to tell you and your subscribers of my experience and hope that my experience helps encourage and strengthen those that may feel they just can’t do it!

My PMP Preparation

 I was a little worried that I might have to reschedule my 8:00am exam as the testing center had technical difficulties that delayed me for over an hour!  Talk about a nail-biter!  To calm my nerves, I went back to my car and studied during the wait.
Once I was allowed into my cubicle, I took every minute of the 15 minute review time to brain dump.  It was worth every second to write down areas that I may not be able to recall quickly.

PMP Lessons Learned

Lesson Learned #1:  Take the time to dump your brain…….it pays huge dividends!
Yes, THE TEST WAS HARD!  Four hours to complete 200 situational, tricky, calculating, integrity challenging questions can be overwhelming.  But I truly believe that preparation, patience, and practice truly pays off!  Between family, job, and many other responsibilities it took me five months of study to get to a point of confidence in my knowledge to pass this daunting test.  And I took every last second of those four hours available to answer and review my exam questions.
Lesson Learned #2:  Don’t mark too many questions for review and NEVER change questions during your review unless you are absolutely certain you have a better answer! I had 60 seconds left in my exam and 20 questions still to review, so BE CAREFUL AND FOLLOW YOUR STUDIES, NOT YOUR INSTINCTS!

Study Advice

1. Shiv has already said it, but I’ll repeat it here; more than 3, leave it be! What do I mean? I mean any more than 3 study resources and you’re wasting your time. You end up wasting valuable minutes switching between books and blogs. Pick 3, then let the rest be! And yes, Shiv’s study material is SOME OF THE BEST out there!
2. It took me on average 6-8 hours a night the last 4 weeks before my exam to truly “get it!”. My efforts until then were 4 or less hours and not really enough to fully retain the information.
3. Don’t memorize! You must understand and comprehend the information so you can apply it in the real world!  Your exam will have real life situational questions that you will have to apply your knowledge to even come close to answering the question correctly.
4. Practice, practice, practice! Find PMP Exam Simulation products that can mentally challenge your comprehension, not your memorization skills.

Test Day Advice

1. Stay calm and chive on! It’s just another day and by now you’ve created a daily study routine that included exam simulation, so tell yourself that this is just another practice exam.  Be sure your eating brain food, exercising to keep your stress levels under control, and you’re going to bed at a reasonable time to give your mind time to simmer on your new knowledge.
2. Don’t panic if you end up with “technical difficulties”, and have to wait until the testing center fixes the problem. When life hands you lemons, make iced tea!  Go back to your car, review your brain dump, kick into a practice exam on your mobile phone, etc….  Just capitalize on the time you have.
3. When you pass (and you will pass the first time if you follow Shiv’s advice), be sure you feedback to your brethren your highs and lows, for it just may make a difference in someone else’s PMP goals!
Thank you for all your great material and for keeping this blog going,
R. Mark Crowe, another new PMP!
Note from Shiv:
If you feel this advice can help any of your friends please share this page. Thank you!

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