PMP Exam Lessons Learnt by pangsw

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									PMP Examination Lessons Learnt Shu-wing Pang, PMP
Resources 1. The following were all resources I utilized in preparing for my PMP examination: (a) Books:  “Guide to PMBOK” by PMI  “PMP Exam Prep” by Rita Mulcahy (b)   Articles: “PMI’s Code of Conduct” by PMI ( “Delegation in Project Management” by Vijay K. Verma (extracted from book “the Human Aspects of Project Management: Organizing Projects for Success, Volume One”; Mock tests: “Q & As for the PMBOK® Guide” by PMI ( Honest PMP ( Headfirst PMP ( Oliver Lehmann’s test (75 questions) ( Oliver Lehmann’s test (175 questions) ( Websites: Yahoo PMPbest group (

(c)     

(d)    2.

Lessons learnt: (a) I only utilized free resources (except PMI membership and examination fees which had to be paid anyway) and I felt that the above were sufficient for preparation. (N.B.: Rita’s PMP Exam Prep was given by my ex-classmate so it was free). (b) The diagrams on process interrelation on Guide to PMBOK are poorly made: they do not even outline all direct interrelations they describe on ITTO. I find it helpful to add them when reading the book, to make these diagrams more complete. (c) Wikipedia is very handy for quick checks on terms that look unfamiliar to me, e.g. critical chain management, etc.

Study Time Frame 1. Around 2 1/4 months (mid-Apr to 21-Jun)


Lessons learnt: Time never seems sufficient for examination preparation, but 2 ¼ months is very sufficient. Spending more time is actually not beneficial as one may keep forgetting the materials and need to refresh.

Preparation Progress 1st phase (5 weeks, mid-Apr to mid-May) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Study time: on weekdays, about 3 hr on average; on weekends, about 6 hr on average. I read Guide to PMBOK for the 1st time, supplemented by Rita’s PMP Exam Prep. I studied the 44 project management processes based on sequences as outlined on PMBOK’s 5 process groups. When reading the materials, I associated the content with projects I was involved and made notes of my experiences to reinforce understanding. I made all my notes on guide to PMBOK so that this became my core reference (both for examination preparation and future personal development). At the end of this phase, I built a “PMP Dictionary for Exam Prep”, which was an excel spreadsheet listing terms and concepts in each process.

2nd phase (2 1/2 weeks, mid-May to early Jun) 1. 2. 3. Study time: on weekdays, about 4 hr on average; on weekends, spend about 7 hr on average. I read Guide to PMBOK for the 2nd time, also supplemented by Rita’s PMP Exam Prep. This time, I studied the 44 project management processes based on 9 knowledge areas. This shift on focus was helpful to me to understand interactions among different processes in different process groups. I started reading PMI’s Code of Conduct in this phase, supplemented by Rita’s PMP Exam Prep (professional and social responsibility chapter). I continue to make notes on new findings, understanding, observations, etc. on Guide to PMBOK and refine my “PMP Dictionary for Exam Prep” spreadsheet. I am a learning-by-writing person, so I also built three other documents to help consolidate my learning:  “PMBOK Process Map for PMP Exam”  “PMBOK Change Management”  “PMP Professional and Social Responsibilities Exam Prep Summary” All were in excel format. After studying each knowledge area, I attempted Rita’s PMP Exam Prep practice tests; at the end of this phase, I attempted HeadFirst PMPpractice test. The following are my score for reference. HeadFirst PMP Practice Test Area Score Whole Exam 85.5%

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Rita’s PMP Exam Prep Practice Tests Area Score Integration 65.9% Scope 90.0% Time 81.4%

Cost Quality Human Resources Communications Risk Procurement Prof & Soc Resp.

84.6% 82.9% 83.3% 66.6% 73.5% 92.7% 64.5%

3rd phase (1 week, mid-Jun) 1. 2. 3. Study time: on weekdays, about 4 hr on average; on weekends, about 7 on average. I read Vijay’s article in this phase (I studied so late only because I was aware of its existence by now). I reviewed all 4 my documents to consolidate my understanding. Once I found out what I was unfamiliar with, I re-read the Guide to PMBOK and Rita’s PMP Exam Prep and refined my understanding. I attempted Q&A to PMBOK, Honest PMP and Oliver Lehmann’s sample tests. The following are my score for reference. Q&A to PMBOK HonestPMP Test Oliver Lehmann 75Q Oliver Lehmann 175Q 90.0% 80.0% 77.1% 78.0% For questions which I answered incorrectly, I re-read relevant sections on the Guide to PMBOK and Rita’s PMP Exam Prep. 4th phase (1 day before examination) 1. 2. I re-read my 4 documents. I practised examples to calculate critical path, float, PERT and variances to reinforce my understanding.


Lessons learnt 1. When studying ITTO, I find it helpful to summarize them with creative words, e.g. BIRD – brainstorming, interviews, root-cause analysis, Delphi technique (on risk identification process); WISE - weighting, independent estimates, screening, expert judgment (select seller process); etc. to reinforce understanding. A few ITTO are confusing that it actually pays to memorize (but not all). For example, administrative closure procedure is an output of closing project process, but this term seems more like an input (and it should be part of organizational process asset from my view), so there is no harm memorizing it. Do not study too many similar processes continuously on the same day because it could be confusing. It helps to study ITTO by both process group sequence and knowledge area sequence. By doing so, I remember all processes, their sequences and phases easily without memorizing them hard.


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Know your learning style and stick to it: I am a learning-by-writing person so I build so many documents. I believe some would do equally well by, say, practising as many questions as possible. PMI’s Code of Conduct should be the basis for professional and social responsibility study because it differentiates what “members must do” and what “they could do for the extra mile”. Understanding this difference helps answer many questions. Among all mock tests, Q&A to PMBOK and Honest PMP are closest the actual examination in terms of question structure and format; Headfirst PMP test was too basic; Oliver Lehmann’s tests covered something which seem out of scope. HeadFirst PMP had an excellent answer section. It explained why each option was right or wrong, which ones were tricky etc.; Q&A to PMBOK and Oliver Lehmann’s tests only quoted where on PMBOK (or other materials) the correct answer could be found, which was bad because they should also explain why the wrong answers were wrong.

Examination 1. 2. 3. 4. I came to Prometric centre around 40 min before the scheduled start time. I could start taking the examination right away. I felt not very focused at the beginning, probably because of unfamiliar environment. Thus, I marked a lot (½) of questions on the 1st 70 questions I attempted. I finished the 1st 100 questions about 1 ¼ hr after I started. It was quicker than I planned. I took a 5-min break. I finished all 200 questions about 2 2/3 hr after I started. It was quicker than I planned. I marked much less questions (¼) on the remaining 130 questions. I also took a 5-min break. I reviewed all marked questions from the first to last. I did it slowly as there was plenty of time. Some marked questions required 3rd round of review before I could select an option confidently. There were 2-3 questions I absolutely had no clue. I finished reviewing all marked questions 25 min. before the examination finished. Then I did a quick check of all questions and answers. I ended my examination 10 min. before it finished. I filled in the questionnaire and then saw that I passed the examination. Lessons learnt: (a) Beware that the timer on examination shows you how much time remained. It is different from what I get used to, which is how much time I have spent (I prefer knowing how much time I have spent so I know if I am on track). People who track time in the same way as me needs to pay attention to this. (b) My most important trick to speed up answering and avoid confusing questions read options first before questions. It works well personally. Sometimes I already knew which one is the answer by just reading options. Then I reconfirm by reading the questions. (c) In my examination, there were surprisingly few (2, I think) questions which required calculation. They were both related to earned values and even had the same figures, e.g. PV, EV, AC, etc.

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(d) I find my “PMP Professional and Social Responsibilities Exam Prep Summary” very helpful in tackling professional and social responsibility questions. For some questions, I could select an option right away. Actual Examination Domain Initiation Planning Executing Monitoring and control Closing Professional & social responsibility Results Moderately proficient Proficient Proficient Proficient Moderately proficient Proficient

Further Information The 4 documents I mentioned above could be found on my Docstoc account:

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