Kenneth Lewis has been serving in the United States Air Force for past 19 years in various capacities. He is a B.Sc. holder and is currently pursuing his MBA. With a keen focus on continuous learning, Kenneth also helps military members, project managers, and process improvement professionals bridge gaps between experience and opportunities.
When Kenneth passed his PMP® exam on first attempt, I knew his approach to preparation could be quite different.
Curious to know how he approached?
Kenneth shares his exact PMP® exam prep strategies and techniques in this ‘PMP® Lessons Learned’ article. Anyone seriously preparing for the exam would be hugely benefited by simply copying Kenneth’s approach to PMP® exam.
What event or experience triggered your desire to take up PMP exam?
I decided to take the PMP exam because I wanted to improve my ability to manage projects in general, but specifically to make me a better process improvement facilitator.
I did not do any research beforehand and was not aware about other project management certifications outside of PMI.
It wasn’t until I started studying that I learned that Prince was another widely adopted certification.
A PMP boot camp was offered at my place of employment and that’s how I became interested and involved.
How PMP may impact your work?
I am currently an active duty service member in the U.S. military.
I mention that because the PMP benefits me for professional development. However I don’t foresee major changes in my current profession.
It has benefited me as far as the mini projects I work on. For example, how I approach risk management and consider my stakeholders.
Which study resources did you use for the exam preparation?
I used a wide variety of resources for preparation.
First I attend a 40-hour boot camp by Vets2PM. They provided a lot of videos and study material.
I complemented that with a study group.
I also watched a PMP Exam Prep course on LinkedIn Learning.
Finally, the week prior to testing, I took a week off and focused on studying.
How did you approach the exam and what was your study plan?
We formed a study group that met once a week for 2-hours.
We divided the material by Process Groups and only covered one chapter per week.
The approach required every member to read the applicable pages in the PMBOK guide, watch a related video located on YouTube and answer practice questions.
During our study session, we reviewed the exam questions and discussed in detail any questions that were answered incorrectly.
The biggest issue I faced was time management.
While I was preparing between March and Jun, I was also enrolled in two college courses as I was finishing my Bachelors degree.
Studying for the PMP requires a lot of time to study for and my time was split between requirements.
How did you prepare in the week prior to the exam?
I took the week off from work and spent my days at the public library.
From 9am until 7pm, I was studying. Monday and Tuesday I worked on the practice questions and watched videos in Aileen’s material.
On Wednesday I took Oliver Lehmann’s 200 question exam. I practiced as if it was the real deal.
Afterwards, I categorized all my wrong answers and determined where my weak points were. That took most of my day on Wednesday.
Then Thursday through Sunday was hitting those weak areas as hard as possible.
What was your exam experience like?
My exam experience wasn’t as bad as I mentally prepared for.
Once I sat down and began my exam, I was pleased with the system.
There was an option to highlight words within the test question. This was useful as I tried to search for key words in the question and wanted those to stick out to me.
The second feature was the ability to strikeout answer choices that I knew were incorrect.
Using a process of elimination during the test was a great method for me and even better that I was able to visually line out bad answers.
Overall, it took me 3-hours and that allowed me plenty of time to review any flagged questions.
Would you have any study tips for PMP aspirants?
The first tip I would suggest is to pick a test date as early as possible and write it everywhere.
Put it in your calendar, on a sticky note on the fridge or bathroom mirror, or anywhere that makes sense. Do this even if you haven’t submitted your application.
In my study group, the ones that did better were the ones that lick a date and held themselves accountable to that date. The other 2 member continue to wait until they feel ready. My experience, you’ll never “feel” ready.
Next, get involved with your local PMI chapter and attend meetings. Connect with experienced project managers that can help paint things into perspective if you get stuck somewhere.
And lastly, don’t underestimate this test. As you do prestige questions try to figure out what phase, process group or knowledge area is this situation currently in and what is the real problem.
Then remember that a project manager is a problem-solver. So look at what solutions SOLVE the problem and is also be proactive. We don’t sit and wait.
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