Second-Time-Wiser PMP Experience – James Bethea, PMP

pmp-james-bethea-lastmileThis week I have a special student of mine sharing his PMP preparation journey and insights.

James Betha has had very interesting PMP journey and I do believe that if you are preparing for the new exam, there is SO much you can gain from James’s experience.

As a project manager, James has operated as the cornerstone of working partnerships, being the liaison between organizations and their stakeholders to provide solutions that ultimately benefit everyone involved.

James has been handling Communication Resources & Support project for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention for over 4 years. He has more than 25 years of experience in audiovisual, multimedia technology, and technical communications support.

What made you take up PMP?

PMP james bethea Last MileI was inspired to achieve PMP through a coworker and friend who had already achieved his PMP while working with a previous company.

I had just become a project manager for my company when I met him. He shared with me the benefits of having a PMP and the process he took to achieve it.

At the time I did not qualify to take the exam, but our conversations sparked my interest. And I never considered any other project manager certification.

How would you see PMP benefiting you going forward?

I am sure that the core benefit that most project managers expect from PMP is increased opportunity for professional advancement, which is good.

But my situation was a little different.

After being out of the workforce for over 4 years, while being the primary and full time caregiver for my extremely ill wife, my expected core benefit of PMP is to increase my opportunities and options to return to the workforce as a project manager. Proving that even with a 4-year gap in employment I still possessed the knowledge, skills, and competencies to be a valuable asset as a project manager.

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Which study resources did you use for the exam preparation?

Originally, I considered taking one of several project management workshops or boot camps offered at some of the local universities.

Most which were pretty expensive, and yet limited. But after searching for resources online I discovered the “PM Exam LAST MILE Prep Program”.

This PM exam prep resource allowed me the flexibility and time to prepare for the exam at my pace, even with a chaotic home schedule.

Plus, it was an all-inclusive program with tons of study content, best practices, and exam strategies, all organized in various on-demand modules.

Not to mention the one-on-one exam prep and strategy sessions with the instructor (Shiv Shenoy) that turned out to be invaluable.

Also read: Abhijeet’s PMP preparation experience and delightful insights!

I understand your journey wasn’t void of challenges?

Of course. And I’m sure your readers would benefit from my experiences.

First, I would tell other PMP aspirants NOT to take the approach that I initially took preparing for the exam.

Even through college, I had rarely been one to participate in study groups or have a strategy to take an exam. I mainly focused on the content, yet I was a fairly good student.

That is NOT the approach one should take for the PMP. Focusing only on study content is not the way for approaching PMP exam.

Identify the prep resources that work best for you, research and/or develop testing strategies for the exam, and practice, practice, practice.

Mock tests are your friend. If I had followed this formula or taken advantage of all the resources available to me initially, I may have passed the PMP exam on my first attempt.

Failing the PMP exam was humbling experience and an eye opener.

Once I made the decision to get rid of my own pride and follow the approach and strategies laid out in the PM Exam LAST MILE Prep Program, I received the success I had hoped for… I aced the exam!

Also check out: Cornelius Fitchtner’s 2021 New PMP Exam FREE Simulator

The week before the exam is crucial. What was your approach to study during this week?

The week before the exam I mainly focused on mock tests and review.

And then I would return to my mind maps and selective study to review the areas that I got incorrect on the mock tests.

This approach helped me plug the gaps in the vast amount of study I had to do for the exam. This this in turn helped me gain the confidence I needed before the exam.

What was your exam experience like?

My most recent PMP exam experience turned out to be smoother than the previous.

This just may have been the result of me implementing the study & testing strategies Shiv taught me through the ‘Last Mile’ program and our one-on-one calls.

There were less calculation questions on this exam… maybe only 3. This was a bit of a surprise for me.

I actually completed the exam with 14 minutes to spare.

However, I did have some challenges checking in for the exam (online). I had to submit my testing area photos more than once before the system would receive them.

Then once I had completed the check-in, I still had to wait almost 15 minutes for my exam to start. But the video proctor reassured me that I would still have my full 4 hours of testing time.

I understood that these could be the logistical challenges PearsonVUE had and waited patiently trying to recall the main brain dump study points I had put together.

As they say, all is well that ends well! I was extremely happy and satisfied that my hard work had paid off when I saw the Congratulatory note on the screen.

Also read: Mariia’s amazing PMP story (make sure you take notes!)

Any study tips for the new exam?

I understand that the new exam has more content to study, but I do believe the study approach would still be the same.

  • PMP preparation is a long term game, so plan ahead of time keeping your other commitments in mind
  • Treat PMP preparation as a project – work out study schedule, stakeholders, cost, risks etc – and achieve this goal just like one more of your projects.
  • Choose a well-rounded study resource that helps you study better
  • Find a mentor that is experienced in helping students with PMP and work with him/her. Even 15 mins of 1-1 time gives you the benefit of their years of experience & expertise in this area.
  • Like I said earlier, mock tests are your friend. Invest in a good one.
  • An attempt wasted has lot of negative repercussions – financial, emotional, and in terms of opportunity cost. So do not make any compromises, and give your 100% commitment.

All the best!

James Bethea, PMP


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