How I Passed PMP® With Above-Target Score On Second Attempt – Stefano Bertazzi, PMP

Stefano explains how he failed PMP exam, and then reflected hard and used lessons to pass PMP with above target score!With a focus to make a shift to pure project management role, Stefano worked hard towards his PMP® dream. He didn’t succeed the first time unfortunately. But then he took a hard look at the attempt and identified 2 rock solid lessons (that he will share with you in this article) and in the second attempt, he passed it with amazing Above-Target score.

Stefano Bertazzi lives in Italy, has a masters in Electrical Engineering and more of 20 years of experience in Power Energy Sector for Oil & Gas and Photovoltaic industrial sectors.

He has held several and growing job positions as Designer, Electrical and Quality Engineer, Production Maintenance and Logistic Manager, Project Manager etc. When not thinking about effective ways of managing projects Stefano is found playing soccer, tennis, or playing guitar.

What made you take up PMP®?

stefano bertazzi pmpI’ve move into project management (in Power Energy for Oil & Gas sector) just few years ago. For the major part of my job life I’d been working on operations and maintenance area, facing projects just as an end-user or stakeholder.

The first time I heard of PMP® and PMI was in 2018 during a very complex project I was assigned to.

It was a tough situation with multiple consistent deliverables, involving a lot of stakeholders and a very large multinational project team. I have to confess that during this period there were many moments of pure pressure.

Stefano's PMP score

Then I came in contact with a very experienced project manager on the seller side, of one of the critical deliverables.

I noticed immediately how smooth his approach and behavior was, and how it was sure of what he was doing, and how cooperative he was compared to others .

He talked me for the first time about PMI, PMBOK and PMP® certification, underlining their importance for a professional approach.

This is the reason why, as we neared the end of the project, I decided to take up PMP® certification.

Also read: How Anupam passed with perfect Above Target score on first attempt

What benefits do you see now that you are certified?

As we learn in the first chapter of PMBOK, all projects are ‘unique endeavors’. Thus in spite of managing many projects, every project brings with it newer challenges.

Now that I am PMP® certified, I understand how knowing the best practices of project management could really help manage complex projects that challenge your limits.

I have seen that in operations and maintenance area fast solutions and lean thinking are a must, and I believe to have a natural and native “agile” approach to my projects. I am feeling more confident of managing the projects now.

Which study resources did you use?

For the 35-hours of course I could use a generic project management course purchased by my organization but I did not find it useful for study.

Thus I studied from Rita Mulcahy and PMBOK, and I practiced on two different exam simulators.

How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?

My first attempt at PMP® was not successful. I took preparation lightly, studying just twice at week. Also, I let my experience and confidence overshadow the need to prepare extensively for PMP® exam.

From this experience I learned my lessons and focused more about implementing the knowledge as I studied processes and concepts. With the second attempt thus, my approach was more practical.

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The two biggest lessons learned I could share of my journey are –

1. Find someone to study with.

With PMP I was studying after close to 20 years from my university days. Studying alone was not a great experience.

I lacked consistency.

Then thankfully I found another PMP® aspirant like me. She was really smart and in an advanced phase of the preparation, and discussing with her regularly helped me get clarity about PMP® topics.

Thus I highly recommend finding a study buddy.

2. Real exam is a hard experience. So, practice!

Even if Rita’s book had several situational questions, and during the first attempt I didn’t really understand how to handle them. I kept arguing with myself why my choice should be the answer.

Thanks to Cornelius Fitchner’s exam simulator, I could finally overcome this block and understand the true reason behind each answer.

So having a good simulator is definitely useful. Please remember to take many mock exams before your actual exam.

Also read: How Jisha found a simple and sure way to pass PMP® exam

How was your exam experience?

While online exam gives the comfort of home, test center exam removes some of the risks.. such as power failure or internet disruption.

Thus I chose to take the exam in test center.

The pre-exam check by the PMI staff was quite strict.

The 4 hours duration felt tough. Although 4 hours seem a lot of time, spending that much to 200 questions feels like 4 hours are not enough!

During my first attempt, I was not able to manage time and could not even attempt the last 20 questions. Maybe this was one of the reasons I failed.

With that experience, I chose a good simulator before second attempt and practiced answering questions well within time.

Noise can be difficult on the exam. If taking at home, soundproofing the room or having someone outside to control noise is essential. Even in test center, it is better to get noise cancelling headphones.

I found that while being in a stage of focus during the exam and then getting interrupted by any noise makes it harder to focus back again.

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In summary

Finally, I would say that the most important factors to succeed in PMP® exam are –

  1. Get yourself good study resources that help understand the content easily
  2. Try to think practically as you study, so that you will be able to remember without too much effort
  3. Practice taking mock exams and learn managing time on the exam. 4 hours is not a lot of time.
  4. Stick with your plan, study consistently, see the big picture of how PMP® can help your career. This will motivate you.

All the best for your exam!

Stefano Bertazzi, PMP


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