PMP Certification: How I Earned Mine Without PMBOK – Jackie W. Gibbs

One grouse that majority of students of PMP certification have is that they need to study PMBOK guide. I too didn’t enjoy reading pages and pages of tedious text, nevertheless I stuck with PMBOK as it is the source of majority of questions on the exam. Even now I recommend PMP aspirants to keep PMBOK as one of their study resources.

It is not everyday that you find someone that did NOT use PMBOK and passed the exam. So far I have come across very few people (almost single digit) that have done this. Jackie is one of them.

Read through her exam prep strategy and tips to plan your own PMP prep, and decide for yourself whether you want to give PMBOK guide a miss. 🙂


pmp certification without pmbok jackie

In April 2016, I began earnestly studying for the PMP certification – with the goal of passing on the first attempt! On October 3, 2016, I earned this prestigious credential and here is how I did it!

My PMP Study Books

pmp-without-pmbok-jackieThe two resources I used were the Head First Book, and the infamous Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep – Fifth Edition. I read the Head First book first to gain a basic understanding of the PMP concepts and then I tackled Rita’s book. (Learn Rita’s process chart).

I did not read the PMBOK Guide – Fifth Edition, I only read the glossary. In my opinion, above two resources form the perfect knowledge base for preparing to pass the examination. After all, that is the goal, right?

After devouring these books, in July I began to focus on my study notes and learning to write the process grid as well as the EVM formulas. A great tip I discovered is that the best way to learn all the processes chart is left to right – up and down. That one tip proved to be invaluable as I began to learn to think the PMI way. I practiced writing my brain dump on a daily basis.

Scheduling my exam

I submitted my PMP application on August 23 and it only took one week to be cleared. I was planning to sit for the exam on October 8th, but when I was ready to choose that date – that option was no longer available. I ended up scheduling the exam for October 3, 2016.

Also Read: Teaching PM Concepts is the Best Way to Remember ’em – Martin Cortez, PMP

Some more PMP study material

After I was comfortable with the study materials, I started taking sample PMP tests and keeping track of my test scores. Please use the exams in Rita’s book as well as the sample exam questions that are offered by the authors of Head First PMP. I believe their sample exams are online.

I also downloaded apps on my iPhone with sample exam questions. Additionally, I joined Facebook groups and answered questions there (PMP Exam Notes, Tips and Resources).

I found many other valuable resources for sample tests; however, about 3 weeks before my exam, I paid for the PM Prep simulator by Cornelius Fichtner. Access to this wealth of PMP sample questions cost $125. I never took a full exam using this simulator; however, I did do the quizzes. I also liked the fact that I could target my questions for a particular knowledge area. The PM Prep simulator questions were very difficult. The questions I found that were most like the real PMP exam were Rita’s.

The last two weeks before the exam, I took two full sample exams from Exam Central. This resource is free and you can also take timed quizzes here.

Also Read: Treat PMP Exam Preparation as a Project: Alan Lin, PMP

About ITTOs

As others have stated, please don’t focus too much time on memorizing the ITTO. I may have gotten just one question asking about an input….. The test is comprised primarily of situational type question… of the type, ‘What does the PM do next?’

I honestly did not feel that the exam was as difficult as I feared. The hardest part is the preparation….. just make sure you KNOW exactly what a PM is doing in every situation and how to handle the next decision. I did not take a break during the exam.

My PMP certification exam strategy

I had about 5 EVM questions total. My strategy (I HATE math), was to answer every question and mark all the math questions for later. (I went back and answered them after answering the rest of the questions). This strategy worked for me. I completed the exam in 3 hours. I did not go back and change any answers because I was confident that I knew my stuff!

Finally, find a method that works for you, exercise good time management strategies, and gain an understanding of the PMI methodology for managing projects and you will succeed. I studied an average of 3 hours on weekdays and 8 hours total on weekends. This WILL consume your life! However, the reward will be worth it!

Reading others’ success stories also encouraged me… who better to learn from than people who have already mastered this exam?

I know this prestigious credential will help me to further my career goals.
Good luck to all!

Jackie W. Gibbs, PMP

Also Read:How I Aced my PMP Success In Spite of Not Studying PMBOK– Tara M. King, PMP

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