My background is in computer science but I have been doing project management for over 6 years. Getting the project manager certification has been in the back of my mind for a while but with two kids who have very busy schedules, I knew it was going to take a lot of commitment to pull it off so I kept thinking, “maybe next year”.
However, since last year things have gotten shaky at my job and realized that I had to take this leap and take my project management career to the next level. So, in November of last year, I started working on my plan.
I had a goal of studying 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week (weekends were too busy for me to find any time). I fell off the wagon during the Christmas holidays, come mid-January I realized a needed a PMP crash course. So I did my research online for some tips on how to stay focused.
Below are the resources that helped me work through my PMP study journey.
Study Plan and material
1. PMP study blueprint (free email course) from PMExamSmartNotes.com – gave me a good starting point.
All the daily reads and the PMP Exam preparation tips– great resource! These really kept me motivated since I received one email every day for each knowledge area.
The ‘Last Mile’ prep books gave what I needed in the last week of my study. These are a must have!
2. Introduction to the Project Management Profession (PMP) certification exam preparation with Sandra Mitchell on Lynda.com – these are great videos that are based on the PMBOK and her PMP exam tips came in very handy! Also, an equivalent of 35 contact hours (a requirement for the PMP application) certification helped me fulfill exam needs.
3. Head First PMP book – this is a great read and simplifies the concepts in the PMBOK with pictures and down to earth examples. Was definitely a great help to me and a great alternative to the lengthy PMBOK.
4. PMBOK guide – read this through once and used it as a reference throughout my study. This is where most of the questions come from but I must warn you, it is not an easy read. Stick with it and you will not repent.
PMP Mock Exams
It doesn’t matter how many books or hours you read, if you don’t do mock exams you are doing yourself a disservice. Mock tests are an absolute necessity for the project manager certification exam.
I used the following mock exams –
1. PMP Simulator on PMPrepcast – did 4 mock exams and worked through the solutions at the end of each.
2. ‘Ace Your PMP’ Series – 250 Best PMP Sample Questions from PMExamSmartNotes.com (part of the ‘Last Mile’ prep package)
3. Head First PMP – chapter and the 200 questions at the end.
What worked for me
1. Dedicating study time every day was one of the keys to my success but I have to say, without Shiv’s “Crack the New (2016) PMP Exam in 4 weeks” series, I don’t think I would have gained the confidence or passed my exam the first time around. Thanks Shiv! And keep up the good work and those daily emails, they were a great motivation for me.
2. Memorized the key formulas and the processes in all the knowledge areas, Table 3.1 in the PMBOK.
The PMP Exam Day
I am a morning person so I scheduled my exam at 8 am. I arrived at the center an hour before time and that gave me ample time to check in and settle down before my start time.
I knew that the exam center did not allow brain dump to be written down during 15 mins prior to the exam. But I still went ahead and did my brain dump for the first 8 minutes of the exam and paced myself through it, reading the questions over twice where necessary and marking any I was not sure of.
I was able to go through the 200 questions in 3 hours, then took a break for about 10 minutes. After the break, I reviewed all the marked questions and was done 10 minutes before my 4 hours elapsed.
It was such a relief to see the ‘Congratulations’ when I finally worked through ending the exam.
The project manager certification exam is certainly difficult, but it need not be for you. With a bit of planning and 100% study commitment, you can pass the exam with ease.
Good luck to you and I hope my experience will be of help to you as you pursue your PMP journey!
Dee Oyana, PMP
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