Interim Manager’s Guide to PMP Prep Exam – Jacqueline Johansson, PMP

PMP exam prep notes shared by jacqueline. PMPJacqueline Johansson is a self-employed Interim Manager based in Munich, Germany. She supports companies on internal and customer projects, practicing Waterfall and Agile Project Management.

She felt that need to better serve her customers by taking up the PMP certification. She took the exam on recently and passed it on her first try.

It was only right for me to try and glean from her the secret recipe she used for acing the exam on first try. And she did oblige! Read on..

You already have a project management consultancy. Why PMP certification?

jacqueline-pmpContinuing education is a key factor for my business. I need to stay up to date and competitive.

It only made sense for me to take up PMP and upgrade my knowledge.

Good thing is that I am an action-taker and I intend to apply this knowledge quickly and successfully on my projects.

How may PMP knowledge impact your business?

I am member of the PMP club now, which means I can talk with other PMP holders and we use the same PM language.

I have better and wider opportunities on the market, and with increased hourly rates.

What study resources did you use for the exam preparation?

PMBOK Guide is what I have used for the first 4 Knowledge areas (Integration, Scope, Schedule, and Cost). I think these 4 knowledge areas are sort of a ‘foundation piece’ of the entire PMP syllabus and need to be studied thoroughly.

I used Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep book.

With this book I used every free minute I could gather in my day for PMP preparation.

I bought audio CDs that I would listen during my drive to work every day. On days of heavy traffic I end up studying more while my fellow drivers are seen cursing the traffic! On an average this strategy gave me every day 2×45 minutes of listening to PMP material.

But what helped me the most was the course, PMP Exam Prep Seminar by Joseph Phillips (his PMP book here) and PMP prep exam.

Also read: Hamza Madany shares his simple and frugal PMP prep plan here.

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

The good and bad new was that I had only 6 weeks to prepare for the exam. Bad I say because I felt 6 weeks were less, and I say Good because it gave me intense focus. This focus built a good study momentum, which ended up me coming out of the exam room with flying colors.

I studied full time on 5 weekends and the entire last week before the exam.

Being a ‘last minute learner’, meaning I need the pressure in order to really focus on the exam. This short time frame really helped me in that sense.

I am a structured learner – I studied each Knowledge Area separately and made notes on the most important topics.

  • First I read the PMBOK for first 4 knowledge areas.
  • Then I read the remaining Knowledge Areas in Rita’s book.
  • Next, I watched the Udemy course on that area always taking notes while reading and watching/listening.
  • Then the PMP prep exam – at the end of each knowledge area there were questions on this topic, very similar to the ones in the exam.

I recommend to take all the test questions in Rita’s book as well as in the Udemy course after each section.

What I do not recommend is to take the 200 last questions at the end of the Udemy course – they are not close to the real exam questions.

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Can you please share some the issues you faced and how you overcame them?

Often I felt it was too much learning material in order to manage everything on time. It took me some days/weeks to ‘get into the groove’ with the material.

What I felt most important was that when you get past the Knowledge Areas of Integration, Scope, Schedule, and Cost Management – it gets easier as a lot of the concepts (tools & techniques as well) will be repeated.

I do recommend this – study the 10 knowledge areas in the same order given in PMBOK Guide – they feed into each other and help you recall processes better.

How did you prepare in the week prior to the exam?

My exam was on a Friday and the days before the exam were tough.

I took off from work and studied Monday until Thursday 12 hours each day, not leaving the house.

The night before the exam, I memorized all the graphs and the EVM formulas.

Also read: Step-by-step guide to submit PMP application, and a free data-collection template

What was your exam experience like?

I had about 98% situational questions and only 3-4 very easy questions on calculations. It was very much about Risks.

Don’t memorize the ITTO’s – there is no need to do it!

I passed on my first attempt, and the moment of seeing congratulatory message on the computer screen is memorable!

What are some of the study tips you’d like to share with PMP aspirants?

If you have time you should start studying directly after your PMP exam prep course (35 hrs contact education), following by taking the exam.

That is the best way to take the momentum from the course and carry it through to the exam.

Due to some ongoing projects, I took the exam 1 year after the preparation course – which I regretted afterwards because I had forgotten most of what I’d learned in the class!

Stay focused while studying. Don’t let yourself get distracted by anything.

Set your daily goals, for instance, one Knowledge Area per day or one in 2 days – however it works out for you. Structure your studies.

Make a study plan, just like planning a project! It really helps.

Good luck and all the best.

Jacqueline Johansson, PMP

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