Saturday, May 3, 2008

PMP Lessons Learned (Journey to PMP Certification)

This is to share my experience of preparing for PMP Certification and successfully passing it in first attempt.

It took me 7 weeks of preparation time excluding the time taking a break for a week while application was being processed.

Started with “PMP Project Management Professional Study Guideby Joseph Phillips. This is an easy to digest book but I would like to point out that this book should not be taken as a basis to remember stuff. This book is more like an easy way of making you understand PMBOK better.
Then read through PMBOK making sure that I understand the language, terms and the finer details of how the variances are between Practicality and PMBOK defined “Best things to do” (More like How/What/When to “do”).

I also registered for PMPCampus to earn “35” hours of Contact hours. Their material consists of quick to read condensed notes and also “1320” questions which are of good standard.

Besides this I read Kim Heldan’s book which I found to be of very good standard and was covering the topics Process Group wise and thus helps go through the Life cycle differently from how it is mentioned in PMBOK and Rita Mulcahy’s (Both of which covers more like Knowledge Management Areas sequentially). I went through PMBOK and Rita once.

Regarding the sample tests I covered the following
1. Kim Heldan’s practice questions
2. Rita’s Fastrack
3. Oliver F. Lehmann’s 175 plus 75 questions
4. HeadFirstPMP’s practice test
5. PMP Study’s practice questions
6. PM Hub’s sample questions
7. PM Hub’s Forum has lot of useful stuff
8. PMP Exam Cram
9. Q & As for the PMBOK® Guide
10. PM Zilla (They have formulae and easy to remember ITTOs tricks)

I collected some more sites but did not really go through them
11. http://www.projectseminars.com/pmp_practice_exam.php
12. http://www.bestsamplequestions.com/pmp-sample-questions/pmp-sample-questions.html
13. http://www.pmexam.com/14.html

I found Kim Heldan’s and Oliver F. Lehmann’s questions of very good standard. Rita’s fastrack questions are more helpful to summarize all that is necessary and sufficient to clear the exam in the very first attempt. Each practice test was equally important in the sense that more one practices, more is good for confidence. But I would like to caution that questions should not be done so many times that one starts answering them without completely reading the question. This might result in trivial over confidence.

Besides these I went through Vijay K Verma’s delegation

And last but not least is the PMI site itself where there is a link “eReads & References” that has some very good eBooks

I did not really memorize ITTOs but I did take a print out and stuck on a board to refer it easily and also understand the flow.

I spent three days prior to the exam day practicing all sample tests (roughly 700 questions per day). My intention was to practice sitting for 4 hours and practice to answer 200 questions on a stretch. I stopped studying since evening one day prior to the exam. Had my exam scheduled at 1:30 PM and was at the Prometric center by 12:40 PM. They allowed me to start my exam early. There were roughly 20 systems and the place was half occupied but luckily there was no noise and it remained quite peaceful throughout. I did brain dump all formulae while the tutorial time was ticking. Initial couple of questions were little tricky and maybe this was more because of the churning in my tummy. Nevertheless I marked them for review. After that my nerves were settled and then from there on I sort of enjoyed answering the questions. All those practice tests helped a lot especially Kim Heldan’s and Oliver F. Lehmann’s long description questions which gives one the much needed practice of reading through essay questions. One good part about the questions is that they do highlight and capitalize the words EXCEPT/MOST/BEST/NOT and it is difficult to miss. I got around 10 questions which were directly asking about the ITTOs. I also got around 10 questions on Mathematical formula which were fairly easy and straight forward. Surprisingly I did not get a single question in which I had to draw a network diagram. There were more than couple of questions on delegation. Unlike someone pointed out, questions were not in an order from Initiation to Closing and then Professional Responsibility.