How and Why I Passed the PMP Exam

Filed under PMP | Posted by PMStudent

If you will be taking the PMP exam in the future, please read on. This is my story with regards to my pursuit of the PMP Certification.

General Test Tips

  • Many questions involved picking the “best” of several correct answers
  • The technique of eliminating 2 answers first didn’t work in some cases…for many there were 3 correct answers to choose the “best” one from
  • I don’t remember any questions that involved picking which answer is NOT correct
  • There was a calculator program built into the CBT software, was not allowed to bring in my own calculator (it may be different for you, I suggest you check with your examination place beforehand)
  • I brought bottled water and some light snacks, and took a break at least every 45 minutes.? It was good to just stare out the window and clear my mind of PMP-related thoughts for 5-10 minutes.
  • It took me only 2 1/2 hours, but I could see how if you are not a native english-speaker it may take longer to interpret the questions properly.

My Preparation

  • PM Prepcast (comes with some sample questions, study guide, etc. and gives you the required 35 contact hours of education)
  • PMBoK Guide (reference only, I never read through it)
  • Using the concepts whenever possible on my project
  • 2 weeks before the test, no more studying.? Only sample questions.? All the free sample questions I could find plus the ones I got with the PM Prepcast

My Favorite Tool

I listened to the PM Prepcast on drives to and from work, and because he gives so many examples of real-world situations it helped me “internalize” the concepts so I really understood them.

I didn’t spend any time trying to memorize inputs and outputs, etc.? If there was something I needed to see, I made a mental note and then when I got to work or home I’d pull out the PMBoK guide and reference the section in question to better understand it.? For the most part, I just used the graphics and flowcharts in the PMBok guide for reference.

Another great feature of the PM Prepcast is the dilligence with which the company keeps the training up to date when anything changes. When PMI moved to the PMBOK Guide 4th edition, the training was revamped. When updates were made to the exam on August 31, 2011 there were a host of new tutorial videos specifically addressing the update.

Why Did I Pursue The PMP?

The primary reason I did the PMP was so I can have it on my resume and not get it thrown in the trash before a potential employer even talks to me.? The PMBoK is a standard, not best practices.? It’s a framework, not a methodology for how you should actually manage a project.? I know some have said that some firms actually screen out people if they have a PMP certification.? That is a very small number indeed, and truthfully I wouldn’t want to work with them anyway.? If someone ASSUMES incompetence on the basis of having earned a certification, then they are more consumed with their own ideological stance on the matter than hiring a qualified candidate.

No, the majority of employers who know anything about what the PMP is are screening for it, not against it.? Therefore, it is important to me from a pragmatic standpoint that I put myself in a position to best support my family with the value I bring to the firms I work with.? The PMP is but one of many things I’ve done and continue to do in order to market my skills and value effectively.? I understand that this certification does not certify me as a project manager, nor does it certify any level of competency.? I think it’s a signal that I have a minimum level of knowledge about project management and have some familiarity with formal practices laid out in the PMBoK standard.

The REAL Benefit

Now, the primary benefit I’ve received was NOT as a result of earning the certification.? It was during the process of studying for it and applying the concepts in my day job, alongside other frameworks and methodologies and specific processes necessary for my project’s situation.? When I wrote a management plan that was not in line with the PMBoK, I understood exactly how and why, and that there’s nothing wrong with that.? I can’t stress enough the value I received from the PM Prepcast.? It’s worth 10 times what I paid for it.? It was so much better than any boot camp, training class, or prep book.? I wasn’t about to pay upwards of $1,000 for a boot camp or training class.? Those things mostly focus on memorization or take a lot of time and money.? I studied while I was driving and got lots of real-world examples to bring the concepts to life.? I’m confident that if I took the PMP exam again a year from now, I’d pass it with no problem because I know this stuff, I didn’t just memorize it.