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PMP Training Discounts and Offers: August 2017

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Untold Secrets of PMP Exam Preparation

Santanu Deb recently cleared the PMP exam ( PMP number : 1861389)  with flying colors! Here he shares his experience and highlights of him PMP Exam Preparation  that are not discussed very often.

Contact Santanu

 


 

Project Management Professional (PMP) is test of your understanding of project management concepts and application of project management knowledge. It is NOT a test of how well one can memorize or how fast one can read or write.
There are a lot of blogs, videos and online material that describe different aspects of PMP exam preparation and application process. Here I am describing a few which are not found easily.

 

PMP Application Audit Process:

Yes, My profile got selected for an Audit. It’s a random process. The moment I paid my fees, the next page showed a message that my application has been selected for Audit. It took 5-6 business days to get the extra work done (and yes 5-6 business days). My application got selected for an audit on Friday evening, prepared all the paperwork during the weekend, got the signatures on Monday and dispatched the courier on Tuesday. The Courier reached US on Thursday evening (US time) and it was opened on Friday midday and cleared within an hour’s time. So in total 5-6 business days!

Audit is random and does not take much time. Be careful with the courier company as that is where the maximum time is spent.

 

Test of Understanding:

Understanding requires you to get deeper knowledge and put things in perspective. Developing an understanding will require you to read and gather knowledge from multiple sources. For one topic, one source may be good while for another topic, another source may be awesome. I have seen and felt that youtube is the best place to go when things seem to annoy much. Whenever you do not understand a topic (Project lifecycle or Tuckerman Ladder model or Salience model or whatever), just try to get more information from youtube. Videos are easier and quicker to understand. This is one of the things which may take most of your PMP prep time. But the positive side of developing an understanding is that once it is developed, it is not easily forgotten. So concentrate on understanding the basics of the topic rather than trying to cram.

Understanding the concepts is the key to answering the situational questions.

 

Memorizing and Speed:

Both of these aspects are not as important as the previous one but a fair amount of thought and time also needs to be spent here. Though the things to memorize may not be huge but still there are things which one has to memorize. Formulas, Names, Theories etc fall in this category. Just keep a separate list of things which need to be memorized and visit them frequently. This will keep them live in your mind. Speed in reading is also necessary because you have to answer 200 questions in 240 minutes and the exam has questions which are lengthy (8-10 lines average). Keep track of time when you attend mocks and decide if you need to exclusively focus energy on your reading skills.

Regularly rehearse the memorizing topics; Speed of reading and understanding questions is significant.

 

Mock Tests:

Mock tests are an absolute necessity for passing the PMP exam. They will give you an understanding of what “kind” of questions is asked in the exam. The exam would not ask you direct questions or expect direct answers from you. PMI expects you to apprehend a situation and then choose the best solution out of the options provided. There are numerous mocks available which you can take for free. Take care to validate and analyze the mistakes after every mock. A mock without post exam analysis is not worth the time and effort spent on it.

Do as many mocks as you can and doing a post exam analysis is a must.

 

Impact of a Good Training Course:

A good training course is also important for preparing for the exam. One would need 35 contact hours to become eligible for appearing in the exam and the easiest way to get those contact hours is through a training course. I would highly recommend NOT taking the training course as the first step towards PMP exam preparation. PMP syllabus is huge and since all of those would be covered in 4-5 full day sessions. If one does not have any idea of PMP course material, he/she may get demotivated easily. I would recommend doing some self-study first and enroll for the course. While doing the self-study, try to get familiar with PMP course content, try to study and read about various topics, terms and theories to create the basic foundation. Once you have the foundation ready, you can enroll for the course and be able to get maximum benefits out of it.

Enroll for training only after doing some self-study and use the training to understand the critical topics and secure 35 Contact hours.

 

Scheduling of Exam:

The Prometric website is a very user friendly and good website. Scheduling the exam should take not more than 5 mins. Be ready with the Zip code of the city where you want to appear for the exam. One should be able to get the slot for an exam within the next two business days but this is not guaranteed. I would recommend scheduling the exam when you are ready to appear for the real exam. Work towards a tentative date and schedule it just few days before it. Rescheduling is expensive and should be avoided.

Scheduling of exam should be done just few days before the target date. Rescheduling exam is expensive and should be avoided.

 

Pre-Exam Day:

I believe this is the most important day. Staying calm and keeping anxiety under control is the key. I did not appear for any test nor did I study rigorously on this day. I went for an early morning walk with my mother, dropped my daughter to school, spent a quiet day at office (which is when I went through my flash cards and notes), picked my daughter back from school, had an awesome afternoon nap, went to a local mall with the family, ate an early dinner and retired early for the day. Before sleeping, I gathered all the documents (appointment confirmation, passport, driving direction to the venue etc) and kept them in the bag.

Don’t get worried about the exam. Make sure that you have a good sleep so that you are fresh the next day.

 

Exam Day:

This is the D-Day. Remain calm and keep anxiety at bay. Do something that keep your mind cool. I engaged myself in listening to Buddhist chants while driving to the venue. Once there, I had coffee at Barista and immediately after that showed up at the Prometric center. I started my exam earlier than the scheduled time which is such an awesome thing. Yes, in Prometric, if you reach early and wish to start early you can do so provided they have vacant cubicles available.

Be relaxed and generous towards time. Do NOT hurry while going to the venue. The extra time can be utilized to either study or start the exam early.

 

What’s inside the Prometric center?

Prometric centers are highly professional environments. Multilevel checks at different steps by different people are done to avoid any malpractice. Lockers are available to store any valuables. The locker can ONLY fit a laptop bag so be careful on what you might want to store. You will only carry an Original ID and locker key inside; nothing else. You will be given 2 pencils, 1 workbook and 1 calculator (if you want). You can ask for more stationary but you shall have to submit one to receive the other. The seats are not lavish but comfortable enough. Cameras are all over the seat. You have an option to use an ear muff headphone that will reduce any noise that might distract you. I recommend using it. Prometric staff takes rounds in the bay area and keep eye on your activities physically and via camera. Should you need any help, you are expected to raise your hand. Seeing it, one prometric personnel will come to you for assistance. You are not expected to leave you seat without company. Breaks are very expensive as they may take up to 10-15 mins of your time. Through frisking is done every time you go out and come in. Avoid wearing a lot of layers or pocketed clothes as all pockets are checked every time which take a lot of time.

Read the whole story; it might be of great help.

Passing Marks:

This is one of most confusion prone areas of PMP preparation. Different sources of information hint at different passing marks or grades. Passing score or grade for PMP examination is not disclosed by PMI. No one knows how many questions one needs to answer correctly to pass the exam. Even the passing grades are not clear. Many have an impression that getting 3 Moderately Proficient is sufficient for passing the exam but this is not true. I have seen results where 4 Moderately Proficient or 5 Moderately Proficient have failed the exam. Securing 75-80 percent on mock exams is a good indication that one may be prepared for taking the actual exam.

No one knows the minimum passing score for PMI PMP; securing 75-80% in mock exam is a good indication of exam readiness.

Post Exam:

Relax !! You have worked hard for the past few weeks and you deserve some bit of rest and relaxation. Prometric gives you a printed result sheet. The PMI certificate takes a few days to arrive at your mailing address.
Do not forget to thank those who have helped you in your PMP journey. Later you may also want to write your experience and strategy and publish it somewhere so that other PMP aspirants may benefit from them.

Say thanks to anyone you should and do share your lessons learnt with others.

PMP Exam Formula Guide: PERT Explained

PMP Exam Formula questions could make or break your exam result. If you are preparing for the PMP certification you already know, there will be several questions based on the formulas used in project management.
Many times we end up just remembering the formula for the exam purpose and not attempting to understand the underlying principles behind the formula. Without knowing the principles of the formula one  might find it difficult to decide which formula to use.
PM Exam Academy, through a series of articles,is trying to help the PMP aspirants to prepare better for the exam by explaining these PMP Exam  formulas.

PERT Formula Definition

In this article let us discuss PERT, which stands for Program Evaluation and Review Technique.
PERT is used to come up with an estimated time to complete the tasks in the project.
Estimated time Te = ( Tp+ 4(Tn)+To )/6
 
where
 Tp = Pessimistic estimation to complete a task
 To = Optimistic estimation to complete a task
 Tn = Normal estimation to complete a task
PERT is used where there are uncertainties in estimating the time to complete the tasks.
As you see above, the formula gives 4 times more weight to the normal estimation compared to pessimistic and optimistic estimations. If pessimistic and optimistic values are “equidistant” from the normal estimation, Te will be equal to Tn. But when one of them is farther from the normal value, Te will swing towards that value to compensate for the uncertainty.
That way PERT gives a “realistic” value of the estimation, not only by considering the optimistic and pessimistic values( like standard deviation does), but also taking the distance into account.
PERT is a very simple approach to come up with task estimations where Tp,To and Tn could come from expert judgement and past experience. With this information, PERT can easily give you a more realistic value.
By calculating the estimated value for each task using PERT, a project network diagram can be easily prepared.

PERT Example

Do you want to use PERT to see how long will it take to study for PMP exam? Let us do the math.
Let us say Tp = 6 month, To = 1 month  and Tn = 3 months
 
Estimated time, Te = ( 1 +4(3) + 6)/6 = 3.16 month
As you can see estimated time 3.16 months is slightly biased towards pessimistic estimate since it is farther from the normal estimate compared to optimistic estimate.
You can also consider positive and negative risk factors while coming up with To and Tp which will influence the Te value.

Free Access to 1,800 Questions in PMP Exam Simulator

This is indeed a good news for all those planning to take the PMP exam in the month of December. Cornelius Fischener‘s famous PMP Exam Simulator normally costs $99.00 for 90 day access.  The package includes the following:

  • 90-Day Access
  • 1,800 questions / 9 exams
  • Take exams 24/7 “like real”
  • Unlimited exam repeats
  • Detailed review
  • Clear explanations
  • Based on current PMBOK® Guide
  • Realistic environment
  • PMI® R.E.P.-Approved
  • No download necessary

Now, for a limited time, you can get access to this PM Exam simulator for FREE.

Here is what you need to do, to get the FREE access:

  1. Write to support@pm-exam-simulator.com. Request may take up to 72 hours, so please write to them as early as possible.
  2. Attach a screenshot from the Prometric website that shows your appointment confirmation.
  3. Wait for them to send username & password for The PMP Exam Simulator 3 days before their exam
  4. You can then start to practice using 1,800 questions for free.

Note: This offer is valid for anyone taking their PMP exam on December 2013

If you would like to know more about the simulator click here: PM Exam Simulator

 

10 Tips to Give Your Best In PMP Exam

The four hours you spend in the PMP exam room is the most crucial part of your journey towards becoming a PMP. It is very important to make best use of the time and not lose your cool.

Here are the tips to do your best in PMP exam

  1. Do not keep a lot of topics for last minute study. There is nothing wrong in refreshing a little bit on the day of the exam. But, trying to absorb everything in the last minute will confuse your brain more than helping it remember.
  2. Plan to arrive at the exam location about 45 minutes earlier than the scheduled time. When you start from home, account for the traffic delays etc and keep some buffer time. Reaching the exam location in the last minute will unnecessarily cause tension and panic.
  3. Once you enter the exam room and get access to the terminal, you have 15 minutes before starting the exam. Use this time for Brain Dump! In a piece of paper (will be provided in the exam) write down all the formula you have learnt. This will save you lot of time while answering questions as you don’t have to recall them again.
  4. Read questions very carefully. Lot of wordy questions will have few sentences that do not really add anything to the problem statement. First weed out them and focus on what the question is exactly asking for. Don’t get lost in the long sentences that describe the situation. For more detailed guide to answering the situational questions refer to this article.
  5. Then start looking at the answers from bottom up. This trick helps. This stops you from picking the first answer you thought is correct. Remember you have to choose the “best” answer. While scanning the answers first eliminate the ones that don’t make sense at all.  In most cases 50% answers will be eliminated that way.  From the remaining answers, chose the most suitable one.
  6. Double check your calculations. There will be several questions that require computation. Make sure you calculations are correct. These questions are very easy to get right and wrong!
  7. If some questions don’t make much sense don’t spend lot of time thinking about them. Mark them for review and move on. Knocking few questions correctly in the beginning will boost your confidence and relax the mind.
  8. Answer all the questions from PMI/PMBOK Guide perspective. Sometimes your personal experience may be different from what is in PMBOK guide. Go with what PMBOK guide says.
  9. Don’t leave questions unanswered.  There is no negative marking in the PMP examination. If you have absolutely no clue what the right answer is, or you are running out of time, it is better to answer with your best guess rather than leaving them unanswered.
  10. Don’t take unnecessary breaks. While PMP exam rule allows you to take as many breaks as you want, don’t over use it. By taking a break you not only lose the time but also lose the pace you had built in answering questions. This will slow you down drastically.

Final Moments in the PMP Exam

Final moments in the exam are critical. In the last half hour either you could be in one of the three situations

  1. On track to finish questions on time: If you are on track, make sure you have few minutes at the end to visit the questions you have marked for review. If you don’t know the answer, you should at least guess an answer to each one of them. Keep that in mind when you watch the time.
  2. Lagging behind: Now is the time to make best use of remaining minutes. Start answering the questions you know well. Mark the questions you don’t know or the ones too long to read and understand. In the last ten minutes, visit those pending questions and answer them with your best guess.
  3. Done answering all questions: This is the best situation to be in. Use the extra time in reviewing you answers, especially calculations. Remember, review could always add value.

Your Change Management Guide to PMP Exam with PMBOK Guide 5

PMI has released PMBOK Guide 5th Edition in the beginning of 2013. However, until July 31, 2013 the PMP examination will NOT be based on this new PMBOK Guide. The examination will continue to be based on PMBOK Guide 4th Edition, released back in 2008. Starting July 31, 2013 PMI will revise the examination to align with the new PMBOK Guide 5.

As a project manager, this is high time you think about the change management. This is the time to plan your exam preparation and scheduling if you are going to take the PMP examination in next few months.

PMP Exam Change

If you are planning to take the PMP exam BEFORE July 31,2013…

Practically nothing changes for you. You need to use the 4th edition of PMBOK Guide and all study materials and preparation courses based on PMBOK Guide 4th edition. But, now ( June-July, 2013) it is time when most of the training and study material providers start releasing their updated versions of the material aligning with PMBOK Guide 5. You SHOULD NOT use them. Make sure you always use the study aids and trainings based on PMBOK Guide 4th edition.

If you are planning to take the PMP exam AFTER July 31,2013…

What does not change?

  • Qualification and prerequisite to apply for the PMP exam does not change. You don’t have to time the exam based on your qualification.
  • Application process to apply for the PMP exam doesn’t change.
  • PMP examination fee will not change with the new exam
  • PMI has not mentioned anything about the change in PPM exam pattern

What changes and what you need to do

  • PMBOK Guide: The reference book for the PMP exam will change starting July 31, 2013. If you are planning to appear for the exam after that date,  DO NOT use PMBOK Guide 4th edition, instead use PMBOK Guide 5th Edition
  • All  PMP Exam Training Courses: Training providers are in the process of updating their training materials now. But,  not many have released their revised training materials based on PMBOK Guide 5th edition as we write this guide. Please make sure you use revised training materials for your preparation. If you have recently purchased training course based on PMBOK Guide 4th addition you may be eligible for free update when they release new version.  Check with the training providers if they can provide you new training material free of cost based on your recent purchase.

For example PM Prepcast has come up with the following pricing policy when they release new version of Prepcast by end of June 2013

      • Free upgrade for purchases between May-July 2013.
      • A $29 upgrade fee for purchases from January to April 2013.
  • All Study Materials and Practice Exams: They are bound to change with new PMBOK Guide. Again, you make sure to use the new version of the books, formula guides, exam simulators etc for your exam preparation. Here too, you can check with you seller if you are eligible for free or discounted upgrade.

For Example new PMP Exam Simulator will be available with the following discount policy

        • Free upgrade for purchases between May-July 2013.
        • A $9.99 upgrade fee for purchases made between January to April 2013.

Avoid the stabilization phase

The first few weeks after PMI switches over to the new exam, there could be some uncertainties around the questions, reporting etc. It is recommended not to take the exam during that period to avoid you becoming a guinea pig for this change. It is better to avoid second half of July ( everyone will be rushing to take the exam using PMBOK Guide 4 and you may not get the seats etc) and first half of August ( when you don’t have must history to learn from) for taking the exam.

Closely watch PMP Exam discussion forums and mail groups

When it comes to feedback on the new exam, these are your best friends. Here you will get early clue on the new exam. The people who have taken the new exam will be sharing their experience and discussing their lessons learned in these platforms. Use them and get tips for your PMP exam preparation.

How Much Does The PMP Certification Cost?

Lot of times people ask me this question:  How much does the PMP Certification Cost?
Well, I cannot give you one number, because it could vary from person to person based on the books and study materials they purchase.

PMP Certification Cost would include the following:

PMP Certification Cost

  • PMI membership fee
  • PMP exam application fee
  • 35 contact hour training cost
  • Books and other training material cost

 

So, instead of answering the question with a single number, I tried  to give possible cost components for the PMP Certification with and without PMI membership.

Cost ComponentWith PMI MembershipWithout PMI MembershipRemarks
TOTAL
USD 919.00USD 990.00
PMI Annual Membership FeeUSD 129.000Your PMP exam fee discount is more than the membership fee
One time fee for new membersUSD 10.000
PMP Exam FeeUSD 405.00USD 555.00Huge discount for MPI members!
PMBOK Guide0USD 60.00You get free electronic copy of the PMBOK Guide with your membership
35 Contact Hour TrainingUSD 200.00USD 200.00You can get good 35 contact hour trainings from R.E.Ps online for about USD 200.00
Additional PMP Preparation BookUSD 75.00USD 75.00This cost may vary. I have given an approximate cost here
One Exam Simulation SoftwareUSD 100.00USD 100.00A Good simulator will cost about 100 bucks

 

Note: You can maintain and renew your PMI membership and PMP credentials independent of the other. You don’t need to be a PMI member to become a PMP and vice-a-verse. Of course there will be cost difference based on your membership status as mentioned in the table above.

Other than the generic cost mentioned in the table above there could be other costs based on your situation. These are not common. Hence I have mentioned them separately.

Travel and Accommodation Cost:

If your prometric examination center is not in the same city where you live, you may incur additional travel and accommodation costs. That will vary from person to person.

PMP Exam Rescheduling Cost:

  • If you Cancel or re-schedule your exam 31 or more days from the exam date there is NO fee.
  • If you cancel or re-schedule your exam within 30 days to 3 days prior to the exam there will be a USD 70.00 fee charged.
  • If you cancel the exam within 2 days of the exam you forfeit entire exam fee. In this case there is no option to re schedule the exam.

PMP Re Examination Fee:

God forbid, if you fail in the PMP exam, you still have two more attempts to take the exam and pass it within one year of the eligibility period.
The re-examination fee is as follows:

  •     USD 275.00 for PMI members.
  •     USD 375.00 for non PMI members.

PMBOK Guide 5th Edition Is Out… What Do I Do Now?

PMBOK Guide 5th edition is out now… Available in the market. This new edition of the PMBOK Guide has brought in a lot of changes, new additions, enhancements to the project management process. As usual the release of a new book with a lot of changes has put many PMP aspirants in a puzzled state. A Lot of questions arise in their mind- which version of the PMBOK Guide should I read now, when does the PMI switch to PMBOK 5 for the examination, can I use the existing practice exams and simulators and so on. The purpose of this article is to address  these confusions and clarify them for our PMP aspirant project managers.

The PMBOK Guide is  the bible for PMP certification examination. Historically PMI has been releasing new edition of the PMBOK Guide once every four years. Following the tradition, PMI has released the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition by the end of 2012.

PMBOK Guide 5th Edition PMBOK Guide 5th Edition

PMBOK Guide Releases History:

  • PMBOK Guide 1st Edition: 1996
  • PMBOK Guide 2nd Edition: 2000
  • PMBOK Guide 3rd  Edition: 2004
  • PMBOK Guide 4th Edition: 2008
  • PMBOK Guide 5th Edition: 2012

 The Process of Introducing a New Edition of PMBOK Guide

More than a year before the planned release date, PMI begins the preparations for the new book. It conducts studies and research to incorporate the latest industry trends, methodologies and best practices in project management into the PMBOK Guide. Then it releases the “exposure draft” of the new edition of the PMBOK Guide for the public to review and comment. Thousands of project management professionals participate in the review and provide their  input and feedback. Then the draft is revised and the final version is released. For PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, the exposure draft was released in February 2012 and the final version was release at the end of 2012.

 What is Different in PMBOK Guide 5th Edition?

Well, this new version of the PMBOK Guide brings in several changes to the knowledge areas and processes. Some of the main change are as follows

  • Addition of new knowledge area called “Stakeholder Management”. That makes it total ten knowledge areas as opposed to 9 in the 4th edition
  • Total 47 processes are included in PMBOK Guide now as compared to 42 processes in the 4th edition
  • Expanded definition of Project Management Office(PMO)
  • Inclusion of overview of waterfall, agile and adaptive approaches to project management

If you are interested to know more about the changes,  I found this article very interesting and useful in explaining the changes in great details.

How is PMBOK Guide 5th Edition Going to Affect Me?

If you have been using PMBOK Guide 4th edition for your PMP exam preparation, don’t panic just because new edition is out. You can continue your study with the 4th edition and pass the exam. Normally PMI gives a 6-7 month window to update the exam with new edition of the PMBOK Guide after its release. The cut off date for PMP Exam to use PMBOK Guide 5th edition is July 31, 2013. That means, PMP exam will continue to follow PMBOK Guide 4th edition until this date. If you plan to take the PMP exam BEFORE this date, you can follow the the 4th edition of the guide.

I am preparing for the exam now, what do I do?

In short, stay the course. If you are preparing now, we assume you are planning to take the exam BEFORE July 31, 2013. In that case continue to follow the 4th edition of the PMBOK guide. You can confidently use all the practice exams and study guides in the market that are based on 4th edition.

In fact we highly recommend that you take the exam based on PMBOK Guide4th edition, instead of pushing it beyond July 31 and going with 5th edition.

Here is why:

  1. Since 4th edition based exam has been there for more than three years now there is a rich lessons learned information available for you to refer.
  2. There will be a lot of friends and colleagues who have passed the exams that can guide you based on their experience.
  3. All training and study guide providers have fine tuned their content to best help the PMP exam applicants in passing the exam.
  4. Ample practice questions for your preparation

I am planning to take the exam after July 31, what is recommended?

Well, if your plan is to take the exam after July 31st, for sure you must start following the 5th edition of the PMBOK guide. However we strongly recommend not to take the exam right after the switch happens.

Here is why:

  1. All study material providers have just started working on updating their study materials. They are likely to publish revised content about 4-6 weeks before the switch over date. So, you won’t have much time to study for the exam using these revised study guides and other materials.
  2. For most part you will have to rely on only PMBOK Guide which is not a good idea.
  3. It will be hard to find updated practice questions in the market/Internet in the beginning when PMP exam is switched to PMBOK Guide 5th edition.
  4. You will hardly have any lessons learned available to help you prepare for the exam.

Because of all these reasons our recommendation for you is to take the exam before July 31 using PMBOK Guide 4th edition or wait for few months after July 31st 2013, if you are going to follow the 5th edition of PMBOK Guide.

Does the question pattern change with new PMBOK Guide?

No, the current question pattern remains the same with the new edition of the PMBOK Guide also. Back in 2011, the PMI had introduced some changes to the PMP exam question distribution. No further changes are expected at this time in the examination pattern.

Can I use the existing study guides and material with PMBOK Guide 5?

No, since PMBOK Guide 5th edition introduced significant changes to the content, it is not advisable to use the 4th edition based study guides and other materials. All major training content providers have already started revising thier study materials. They are expected to release revised materials sometime in June 2013. So, if you are planning to go with PMBOK Guide 5th edition for your PMP certification, it is better to plan accordingly. Right after the switch ( end of July) there may not be enough reliable study materials available in the market. When we  checked with Project Management Prepcast, one of the leading video training provider for PMP exam preparation, we got a response that they will be releasing PMBOK Guide 5th edition based version by June 30, 2013.

PMP Lessons Learned: Ahirjoy Biswas., PMP

Hi All,

I am very happy to share with you all that today I have passed the PMP exam after 2.5 months of sincere effort. Except closing, got proficient (Above Average) in all areas, in closing I got moderately proficient (average). Here goes my PMP lessons learned story,

Initiation(D-Day- 90 – D-Day – 70)

Started with browsing internet for resources and very soon got overwhelmed by the information overload. However started with PMPrepCast by legendary Cornelius Fichtner.  Though I had gone many internal PM trainings and also lead up to 18 member teams, I was not sure whether those will be counted for 35 contact hours, so didn’t want to take any risk. More than the contact hours, the style of Mr. Cornelius motivated me a lot. I used my blackberry to listen to the PrepCast on my way to office and home. Applied for PMP and application was approved.

Planning (D-Day- 70 – D-Day – 60)

i.   Enrolled in few high quality groups like PMZilla, PMHub and DeepFriedBrain. I am sincerely thankful to all the excellent and kind people who have given valuable suggestions in these forums, those were real eye openers. I read a lot of lessons learnt, specially from those who have failed, hats-off to these brave-hearts who wanted to fight back again. I have read somewhere our life is not enough to learn from our own mistakes, so I tried to understand what I can plan better. I guess that’s what LESSON LEARNT are for J . Specially, Rajesh Nayar’s note from PMZilla was an invaluable gift!

ii.  I also enrolled for two good newsletters. Considering these are free, those were of high quality.

http://www.cornelius-fichtner.com/

http://www.pmplessons4you.com/

iii. Enrolled in yahoo groups, PMHUB@yahoogroups.com, PMPExamForum@yahoogroups.com

Execution (D-Day – 60 – D-Day – 30):

I started reading books now, the books that I have used are:

  1. Andy Crowe – Excellent for Initial Confidence Build Up. To the point.
  2. Rita Mulcahy – Bible for all PMP aspirants, I agree the tone is a bit negative, but who cares if you have such excellent tricks-trade, PMISMs and Situational questions.My technique was read a chapter for Andy Crowe and read the same from Rita to build on it.
  3. PMBOK – Read Only once – I know many people have told it is a bad idea, but I have got very few things extra here (like forecasting techniques etc.). But I think this book has too many negative publicity which Is not justified. I am not sure what people expect – a crime thriller? This is a standard written by experts mostly by volunteering, it is also a good reference, go through the glossary twice… you will notice few interesting definitions like Elapsed Time and Duration.

Monitoring and Controlling (D-Day – 30 – D-Day – 10):

Now it was the time for mock exams. I knew very well I have to work very hard here as this will make or break my PMP dreams. So I have started with free exams with the below sites,

http://www.pm-exam-simulator.com  3*30

Oliver 75 + 175

headfirst – 200

pmstudy  – 200

pmzilla  – 25

And few other sites which I will not mention here because very soon I realized those are not adding any value! Either those are very straight-forward or have a lot wrong answers. I needed process improvement 🙂

So, I started searching for good paid exam sites, after a little research.. my qualified seller list stands like – PMStudy, PMPerfect, PMExamSimulator (Cornelius) and Rita’s Fast Track. All these have very good reputation in market. But my selection criteria being the lowest price for the first try I went with PMStudy and PMPerfect. (Trust me, my fallback plan included buying for the other two if I had failed today :)).

I must say, mock exams(paid or not) really helped me a lot. You must appear for as many good exams as possible, those will clear your concepts. In real exam you will never get any question exactly same, but if you build on your mistakes, analyze why you are wrong, the final exam will be much easier.

Tips:

I will also advice you to must mark those answers which you are guessing, as next time you may guess wrong!!!!

Also, you must make notes of your mistakes for ready reference which you can revise a day or two before the exam.

Closing (D-Day – 10 – D-Day):

I started revising the books, notes in last 10 days, and the skimmed through them again. Stopped appearing for any more exams, partly because I was getting bored and also didn’t want to loose my confidence. When you are ready, you are ready, it doesn’t matter if you get 75% or 85%, judging PMP preparedness based on percentage is not wise.

The day before the exam, I didn’t touch any book, saw some science-fiction movie and my all time favorite TV Serial – “Wonder Years” in amazon kindle. It was a great break.

On the day appeared in the exam hall 30 mins before with my passport (currently I am in USA). Here is the exam exp,

  1. Put the headphones on
  2. In initial 15 mins wrote down PMBOK – Pg -43 and all EV formulas
  3. Promised myself I will not get excited and skip an important word in a question or in an answer (which I had often done in mocks), will read each Q at least twice (Qs were not that wordy)
  4. Initial 30 Q was a bit confusing, I marked 14 of those, but gradually questions seem easier, there was a time I answered 40 consecutive Qs without marking anyone and that ws the time I became confident that I will pass J
  5.  Questions seem quiet easy to me.. trust me.. I am not exaggerating , if you read Rita cover to cover understanding the concepts and not just memorizing ITTOs and Practice so many questions you have to be familiar with the concepts, they can not create concepts out of the blue after all ;-), will somebody need to tell you there is a diff between crashing and fast-tracking/QA-QC/Scope-Statement and Charter? You should be confident enough to apply these concepts based on the situation given?
  6.  For the situational questions, the page-43 was really handy, you have to think where you are and you have to decide your action mostly based on the next logical process
  7. There were few questions on ITTO which I can easily answer, I have never memorized those, and I will advice nobody to do so, if you understand the process and TT why should you waste your time?
  8. Finished 200 Q in 2hr 40 mins, had gone through the marked Qs (around 35) in next 30 mins,
  9. Took a break and in last 40 mins again quickly browse through all Qs, this time I have changed around 7 answers, and I am sure most of those are for good.

 

Closure Report: 🙂

PMP is a tough but an interesting exam, but not scary at all. You need to have a good plan and discipline to follow the plan. May be you have to postpone some personal activities for few days. But the final outcome can give your career the needed boost. This should be enough motivation for you to prepare yourself for PMP. All the best.

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