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by Bill Meacham, PMP
Originally posted on http://www.bmeacham.com. I passed my PMP exam on April 30, 2002, with a score of 83.5% (167 questions answered correctly out of 200 total questions). I agreed not to divulge the content of any of the questions, but I believe the following tips, including some information about the format of the exam, are permitted. Please note that each test is unique; they select a set of questions out of a universe of many more. This means my experience may not match yours. For instance, I had no questions about standard deviation and none about present value. That does not mean you will not have any. Your mileage may vary. General The exam covers lots of ground! If you are weak in a certain area but strong in the rest you will probably do OK, but if you are weak in many areas you might have trouble. Make sure you are very strong in your strong areas. You definitely need some on-the-ground experience managing projects. Format of Questions You get a question and four possible answers; you must pick the correct answer. Some of the questions have diagrams, charts or other exhibits associated with them. Read the question and think about it before looking at the answers. Read the answers from the bottom up. This is a tip I got from Rita Mulcahy, and it seemed to help. It prevents you from latching onto the first answer, which may be plausible but incorrect. Often you can eliminate one or two obviously wrong answers right off the bat, but the other two are both plausible. You need to get in the PMI mindset and know the PMBOK to answer them correctly. Study Tips You only need 69% to pass, but aim a lot higher! Rita Mulcahy's book was very helpful. Kerzner was useless for me. An excellent source for information about earned value and many other topics is Harvey Levine's writings. The exam prep course given by the Austin chapter of PMI was invaluable. There are lots of things you need to know that are not in the PMBOK, and the course covered them well. Here is my strategy. (Remember, what worked for me might not work for you. Know your own learning style.)
I read the entire PMBOK and underlined and highlighted it before the prep class started. Each week I re-read the chapter for that week, and did the exercises the night before. In cases where I knew I needed more information, I did extra research. After the class was over I went through Rita Mulcahy's book. Thus, I had three passes through the materials. I scheduled my exam for about a week and a half after the last class, so the knowledge was pretty fresh in my mind. I scheduled the exam on a Tuesday so I could take Monday off for study. I studied the weekend and the Monday before, quitting early Monday evening when I could not stand it any more. I worked with a study partner (my wife, Patricia Michael) during the weekend. She asked me questions from the sample exams, and we would talk about the answers. She manages projects too, so we had a common basis for understanding. In addition to reading and working exercises in Mulcahy's book, I took a lot of sample tests. That seemed to help. It certainly pointed out where I needed additional study. I had a big breakfast, extra vitamins and some caffeine ahead of time. I picked a day and time when the moon was not void and my intellectual biorhythm was at its peak. Shave the odds in your favor!
In the Exam Room You are given two pencils and six sheets of paper. If you ask, you can get a four-function calculator and a set of earplugs. You will need all these materials, except maybe the earplugs. You have to return them at the end, and the test administrator will check to see that all materials are returned. You may not take any paper home. You have fifteen minutes to go through the tutorial, and you will not need all of that time. Use some of the time to write down all the formulas you can remember. (Memorize them ahead of time!) I was able to write down formulas before I even started the tutorial. I did not use all the formulas I wrote down, but I was glad for the ones I did use. You can mark questions in order to return to them later. Do not mark questions which you are confident that you answered correctly. Do not mark questions on which you just took your best guess. Very seldom will a second guess be better than your first one. I marked all the questions that involved calculations (e.g., earned value and critical path) and a few others. I did not change my answer on the calculation questions, and did change my answer on a couple of the others. I have no idea whether my changed answers or my original answers were correct.
To me, it was a little chilly in there. I took a zip-up vest for warmth. It was very quiet in the exam room, and I had no trouble concentrating, except when a woman sat down next to me wearing very heavy perfume. That was annoying. Lots of people are in there taking lots of tests. Most tests do not seem to last four hours, as the PMP exam does, so there was some coming and going. I had no trouble ignoring it. You can get up for a bio-break whenever you want, but the clock is still running. It is a rather grueling four hours, and I needed some breaks. I got through it OK, although I was hungry at the end and had a wave of tiredness at about three hours into it. You do not get to take a watch in the exam room, but the computer shows you how much time remains. I noticed at least one way in which one could probably cheat, but I am bound by the PMI code of ethics not to reveal it. You're better off not cheating anyway. Spend the effort studying instead of figuring out how to cheat. Earned Value You need to know the theory behind earned value analysis as well as the formulas. You may be given some information from which you will have to figure out what is not given and how to calculate it. If you do not know the meaning of EV, PV, AC, etc., you will not know how to calculate it.
Some of the earned value questions were straightforward: given values for EV, PV and AC, calculate the cost variance or schedule variance. Some of the questions say "EV (BCWP)," some say "EV" only and some say "BCWP" only. You need to know both sets of terminology. I needed to know the formulas for calculating EAC. Network Diagrams and Critical Path Questions relating to critical path are straightforward. You just need to calculate correctly. Rita Mulcahy had a good tip: List all the possible paths (e.g. A-B-C-D-E, A-B-H-G-E, etc.) in some logical order so you do not overlook a path. Then calculate the duration of each path. The same example can appear in more than one question. For instance, you may be given a network diagram from which you have to calculate something. The same network diagram may appear in another question, where you are asked something different about it. On your scratch paper, write down the question number that pertains to your calculations, so you can go back and look it if the same example appears in another question. If you are sure that the examples are identical, you can reuse your calculations from the first question.
Situational Questions Many of the questions are situational: given a certain situation, what should you as Project Manager do next? To answer them you need to know what the PMBOK says about the sequence of events, you need to have some actual PM experience so you know what they are talking about, and you need to know the code of ethics. The same situation can appear in more than one question. Professional Responsibility I only had a few questions that obviously dealt with professional responsibility. Some of the situational questions required knowledge of the code of ethics as well as good project management practices.
PMBOK Taxonomy There are questions about the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of the various knowledge areas. The more you know, the better.
Cleared PMP: Karne se he hoga :)
Submitted by rahul178 on Sat, 06/18/2011 - 11:20
PMP Exam Tips, Tricks and Lessons Learnt.
Hello All, First of all big thanks of PMZilla and its entire member to helping me on time and motivating me. Let Initialize: January: Took the Classroom session. Instructor told us that try to give the exam within 1 month. I knew that World cup is coming and cannot miss matches so gave the deadline of 27th April. February: Did not study much, too much work in office. Just read through Head First causally and kept on collecting whatever I can get on PMP. Videos, Pdf all ethical things that PMI tell us I hope you got the point. March: Head first continues. India vs. Aus and India vs. Pak awesome matches. Just my luck when I submitted my form for pmp certification it stated Your form has been selected for Audit, you are required to send following documents. Shuts yaar!! Well got all the documents that were required and send it to US of A. Rs 1000 ka chuna. April: Yipeeee India won the world cup. Got a mail from PMI that Audit process is over now you can selected a date. Got distracted due this Audit thing and did not study much. May: One of my friend referred me to PMZilla and I instantly liked it and got hooked to it. Every day I use to open PMZilla and read about the achievement and tips shared by member on PMP. Very motivating stuff and reference were great. PMzilla member motivated me to be serious and go for it. My really studies has started. Books referred and read: Rita: 2 Times Head First: 1 Time PMBok. 1 Time Wanted to give the test on 31st May, so before that as referred by many member gave the oliverman mock test. Got 50% on both 75 and 175 question set. Did the RCA on it and found out that: 1. I was not reading question properly 2. I was not evaluating the options properly. Well gave Rita 200 question: It was so boring. Long questions, many times I had to read question 2-3 times. Got 54%. RCA: Same as above and got frustrated after 150 question.
After the disappointed result got the date from Parametric Center for 17th June. June: Read Rita line by line. Rita count now (3 times) and read PMBok line by line(count 2) You must be wondering why the article head line says Karne se he hoga . Well its because of Baba Ramdev. He also got into act in month of June and when ever I felt Shut so much to read more I kept telling myself Karne se he hoga.. hai same way Baba says in his camp. He he.. Well it helped.. One of the member suggested that PMStudy is the very good so here it goes: PMstudy Test 1: 78% Wow.. Reaction.. Yahooooooo Josh mein purchased the entire set: PMstudy Test2(13th June): 74%...Yahooooo (Some question were new to me, Aisa maan mein socha) 14th and 15th June: PMBok (count 3) PMStudy Test3(15th June): 71%..Yahoo(Hmmm ..) PmStudy Test4(16th June): 68%..(Silence ..) Well reviewed all the wrong answers on 16th night. D-Day: Schedule at 9 AM. Raat bhar need nahin aayi. Reached the center at 8:15 AM. They allowed me to wear the clothes other than that everything was taken away from me. Tip(Take PAN with you that is one id allowed inside) Start the exam: Wrote all the formulas in the rough paper, wrote Page 43 PMBok with outputs. All done in 13 min. Skipped though the tutorial. First question, bouncer, second .. Marked, third.. Googly Fourth wanted to hide somewhere . Marked thought Gaya beta tu Then Lets focus relaxed myself and put my mind aligned to PM and then started getting things right Took the first break in 100th question . Completed my exam in 3hs 40 mins.. Reviewed for 20 mins. Ya I was slow but did not wanted to make mistake on not reading the question and evaluating the answers properly. After all was done by heart was beating like drums and then . After a wait Fill the survey . Abe yaar CONGRATULATIONS
So, thank you all . Note: Reading though the forum I always thought yaar mein bhi likhunga jab pass ho jaaonga.. I did it
well filled it with shaking hands . And then a wait