How to prepare for the PMP certification exam
I just passed the PMP® exam last week - and as with any project closure one needs to file away lessons learned. But first some comments on project management and the PMP® certification exam. Having gone through the exam, I now more firmly believe that project management is common sense. (The project management story) Here is the overview on program/project selection:
- Decide on your organization’s strategy; i.e. your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)
- Determine where you currently are; i.e. how far are you away from achieving your strategic goals
- Determine the steps you need to do reach your strategic goals
- Group the steps. These groups will form your “Program”
- Under each program, determine the gaps that will prevent you from reaching your strategic goals
- Determine the initiative/s needed to complete each gap. These initiatives are your projects
- Perform discounted cash flow analysis to prioritize your projects. Be objective about which project/s will maximize your return for the current year. Be cognizant of the market conditions. Project prioritization must be evaluated frequently
- If you do not have a Project Management Office (PMO) then develop (or get your project managers to develop) templates and other “cookie cutter” documents to help with the management of projects
- Once you have a filtered and ranked list of projects for the year use project management best practices to successfully complete your projects. This is the critical phase where studying for the PMP® exam will help you. Remember, all the great planning in the world will come to naught if poorly executed
While the PMP® certification process touches some of all the above points, it is the understanding and implementation of the best practices in managing projects that is the core focus of PMP®.
So here is how I worked on passing the exam (includes suggestions on hindsight):
- Read Rita Mulchay’s PMP® Exam Prep (or any equivalent book). The objective is for you to understand the project management methodology and best practices in an easy to read and understand format.
- Once done, then read AND UNDERSTAND the PMBOK.
- I used the local PMI-NB chapter’s study group to complete my contact hours. The prep questions we used in that study group helped align me mentally on how the questions were framed and the approach to take to answer the questions.
- Read the PMBOK again.
- I then took two tests from pmstudy.com and, on hindsight, found questions were quite similar in complexity to the exam questions.
- Read the PMBOK again. It takes a few readings for the PMBOK contents to sink in. I did not read it three times- though I would have liked to review it at least twice. I managed to go over it just once.
- If you score close to 80% in Rita’s end of chapter questions and between 70% to 80% in the pmstudy.com exams, the actual exam should be a breeze. I would recommend just doing the exams and focusing on your weak areas in the last week leading to your exam.
- Understand (and memorize if you want) table 3-45 in PMBoK 3rd Edition (table 3-1, page 43, in PMBok Fourth Edition). IF you do not understand this table, then you are going to have a hard time preparing for the exam.
- I did not memorize the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. Understanding the above referenced table will help immensely you with this.
- I found the exam questions were relatively easier to comprehend and answer than Rita Mulcha’s PM Fastrack® Simulation Software. However, in other forums I have read comments that indicate otherwise.
If you are looking for additional inputs and would like to chat up feel free to contact me.
All the best for your exam prep.Project Management categories.