PMP Exam: I’d Recommend Taking At Test Center – Tiffany N. Budzinski, PMP

PMP exam at test center is beneficial - Tiffany

You are ready to take your online PMP exam.

You are in front of your computer, talking to the proctor.

Your pet barks and you get up for just 15 seconds to let him in.

The proctor terminates the exam, right then and there.

What would you do?

Exactly what happened with Tiffany.

Well, she took charge and got PMI to reschedule.

Then she took her ‘revenge’ by hitting the home run, perfect Above Target score. 🙂

Tiffany N. Budzinski is the President and Founder of the Ellsa Group.

She has over 20 years of experience in business start-ups. And 13 years of experience in administration of public programs.

Tiffany has received the 2009 Environmental Justice Award and the Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement Award from the U.S.EPA.

She answers all the questions you need to know answers to, including whether she got PMBOK 7th version based questions on the exam.

Let us hear from Tiffany.

What made you take up PMP?

PMP TiffanyThe Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is valuable for companies like mine in the professional consulting industry. It offers professional recognition and credibility to my line of work.

Ellsa Group, the company that I founded, offers a full cycle of project management services from start-to-finish. This includes organizational capacity building, securing funding, project implementation, and evaluation to scaling impact.

Having the PMP certification allows me to showcase my values as a professional with the necessary skills and experience to execute a job. It also gives me the credibility from a highly recognized industry leader, the Project Management Institute.

Aside from the PMP, I also considered the Agile Certified Practitioner.

What was the core benefit you expected from the certification, and how do you see with PMP?

PMP Above Target score by Tiffany I expect the following core benefits resulting from the PMP Certification:

  • Access to more job opportunities that need a PMP designation
  • Increase in salary/pay rates
  • Enhancement of skills and knowledge in the areas of leading people, managing change, and applying project management processes.
  • Increase communication skills to work effectively with other project management professionals and stakeholders

PMP has already helped me apply these skill sets to manage Change in organizations of my clients.

According to you, what is the one thing a PMP aspirant should do, to prepare well?

Passing the PMP hasn’t been easy, as it took me about a year to get around to study all the materials, as I was also working full-time.

If I had to estimate the efforts and convert to hour/time, then I would say 20-30 hours per week for 4-6 weeks would be needed.

Of course, your existing knowledge and experience in project management also decides the level of effort.

I have been working on numerous government-sponsored projects ranging from health programs to workforce development programs for the past decade.

Therefore, I felt familiar with many terminologies.

I also felt comfortable with the knowledge required for project management such as developing a project charter, managing stakeholders, managing project costs and resources, tailoring strategies for different projects.

Which study resources did you use for your exam preparation?

The PMBOK 6th version with Agile Practice Guide, and PMBOK 7th version, were the only ones I used as my study materials.

Once I felt comfortable with the knowledge acquired, I practiced a few online tests.

Can you share any challenges you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?

While I passed the PMP exam the first time, navigating the new changes to the PMP exam was a confusing process as my enrollment for PMP exam was within the timeframe when PMI released the new test in January 2021.

To make matters worse, while PMI modified the exam to include new information, it failed to release the PMPOK 7th edition on time.

The 7th edition was only made available in August 2021, an 8-month lag time from the date of the new test.

The new exam led to yet another issue for me, deciding which guide to study, the PMBOK 6th edition or the PMBOK 7th edition.

In the end, I decided to stay on the safe route and studied both the PMBOK 6th edition, PMBOK 7th edition, as well as the Agile Practice Guide.

3 minute 3 step resources plan

Click to discover how to choose PMP resources based on your learning style

To practice for the real exam, I also invested in a PMP simulator online, to identify questions that will be on the exam as well as to understand how much I know.

In the end, I’m happy that I passed with flying stars.

The week before the exam is crucial. How did you prepare during this week?

The last 4 weeks before I took the PMP exam, I studied for approximately 20 hours per week.

I also enrolled for an online PMP practice exam.

In the last week, I practiced through the exam twice and felt confident.

How was your exam experience?

In the midst of 2021, the global pandemic COVID-19 took center stage, and consequently, the way we take exams was also affected. Social distancing restrictions, business closure, reduction with staffing, etc. was felt at all levels, and at testing sites.

So, I initially signed up to take the proctored PMP exam online in the comfort of my home, but it turned out to be a nightmare.

First, it took me over 2 hours to prepare and format my computer in order to download the exam to my computer.

To make matters worse, PearsonVue mobile support staff went on and offline as I rid my computer of all and any apps incompatible with PearsonVue requirements.

Finally, when the computer had been rid of my everyday apps, the exam finally downloaded.

Before the exam begin, I was guided through a tutorial screen.

At this moment, my dog started barking, so I got up to open the door for him, left my seat for about 15 seconds.

Immediately, PearsonVue’s proctor terminated the exam.

Long story short, I ended up frustrated the entire day and no test was taken. Not one question was answered.

I made several attempts of calling PearsonVue to no avail.

I called PMI a few days later and the customer service investigated the issue, apologized for the inconvenience, and reissued the PMP exam.

After the horrendous online testing event, I went to the PearsonVue center and took the exam in-person, and passed with Above Target score.

I was able to manage time very well on the exam and answer all the question within the stipulated time of 230 minutes.

My advice is: Save yourself the headache and your computer, and take the exam in a test center.

I highly recommend going to a test center over taking an online proctored test at home. There may be apps that you use that may be incompatible with the PMP exam and must be removed.

Till this day, my calendar has not synced properly in my computer. 🙂

A million-dollar question: did you come across any questions from the PMBOK 7th version?

Yes. I would focus on development approach and life cycle performance domains.

I find that both the PMBOK 7th and PMBOK 6th will be necessary to know in order to excel the exam.

Would you like to share any specific study tips for PMP aspirants?

Here’s how PMI determines your score.

PMI uses Subject Matter Experts – project professionals from around the world and many disciplines – to determine how many questions you must answer correctly to pass the exam.

Each scored question on the exam is worth one point; and your final score is calculated by totaling the points you have earned on the exam.

Most of the questions on the exam will involve a scenario.

You need to don the hat of a project manager in that scenario and answer the question. That means that studying the content alone does not cut it.

Prepare for as many scenario-based questions as you can.

I would also recommend registering as a member with the Project Management Institute.

You will find numerous resources that will help guide you with the exam, including of course a free PDF copy of PMBOK guides.

In the last week of February though, PMI announced that it will soon discontinue print, e-book, and PDF version of PMBOK 6! Thus, if you are planning to take your PMP exam, do that as soon as you can.

All the study resources I mentioned earlier were through PMI – including PMBOK 6th and 7th editions, and the Agile Practice Guides.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. I hope you learned a thing or two from my experience with the PMP exam. And can use it for your advantage.

I wish you all the best!

Tiffany N. Budzinski, M.P.A., PMP

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