A Guide To Passing Your PMP Exam Before Jan 12, 2016
What is the significance of the date – Jan 12, 2016?
You are probably aware that PMI changed the syllabus of PMP exam earlier this year. They planned to switch over to new syllabus based exams in the month of November, but then decided to move the date to 12 Jan, 2016.
You can read the entire 3-part series of the whys and hows of this new syllabus change, here.
Note: You can download this guide from the bottom of this post.
Now that the inevitable is around the corner, let us see why does it make sense to get your PMP before the new exam.
It is not uncommon for PMI to change PMP syllabus. In fact PMI has been regularly doing this once every 4-5 years. This is done for a pretty good reason – they want the PMP exam to represent real-world trends and needs. This makes PMP credential more useful and relevant for project managers.
Which is a good thing.
But there is a twist in this change that PMI has brought about.
Each time a major change is introduced to PMP syllabus, there is a bump in PMBOK version – and the latest developments in project management field is updated with new processes and/or changes to existing ITTOs.
This time there is no change to PMBOK guide at all.
This means that understanding the changes to PMP syllabus is left to interpretation.
One way to understand PMI’s expectations from new exam would be to hear about it from people that have taken the NEW exam. Then slowly their ‘collective intelligence’ will give some sort of help to prepare with confidence.
This might happen over few months’ time.
Note: By now most of the REPs have upgraded their teaching material and methods to include the updated parts from the PMP syllabus. So please make sure you check for a free upgrade from the author of whichever study resource you are investing in.
On the contrary, if you study PMBOK-5 and attempt the new exam, you would be walking a mine field.
That’s why it would be much better to give it a shot on the current exam before Jan 11, 2016.
If you are thinking that the time is less, well, that’s exactly the reason I’m writing this prep guide for you. 🙂
Know that many people, like Noorulayn, have passed their exams in as less as 2 weeks of preparation.
So if you can put your mind to it, this is definitely possible. Hope this guide will help you in reaching this goal.
Prep Plan For Your PMP Exam Before Jan 12, 2016
This is just one of the possible ways you can approach your PMP exam, but this is not the ONLY way. I have prepared his plan based on what I have learned through my own exam experience, and that of over 617+ people I have had PMP exam strategy discussions with over past couple of years.
Step 1: Lock your exam date
If you have not already, please schedule your exam date immediately. There are many people looking to get through PMP exam before Jan 12, so if you can’t get a slot in the exam center in your town don’t be afraid to book in some other town that you can travel to.
Step 2: Lock down 2-3 study resources
Well, like it or not PMBOK has to be one of the study resources, at least for reference. Which means you need to pick at least 1-2 more study resources for your exam preparation.
The trick is to identify the instruction type you enjoy and pick study resource that will teach using this.
Some people are ‘auditory learners’ and they enjoy when someone reads out to them the subject. I remember my brother always studied this way while in school. My mother would read him out the book and explain difficult concepts.
Some people are ‘visual learners’. They need to see something being explained either live or through a video.
Some people are ‘Kinesthetic learners’. Wikipedia explains this as a learning style in which learning takes place by the students carrying out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations. [source].
Let me explain using my own example.
I had to learn over 9 new frameworks/software languages in my software career. Beyond this I had to learn many completely new subjects during my management studies. Each time I had to study a new subject I looked for videos that explain the concept. I could study faster and more vividly when someone explained the concepts visually. This was a huge time saver for me.
Naturally, when it came to PMP exam I was on the lookout for ‘visual’ study resources.
I have been a fan of Head First series and so HeadFirst PMP became my natural choice of book. Then I researched Internet for a video course, and after comparing several finally decided to invest in Cornelius’s PM PrepCast – a comprehensive video course taught by Cornelius. I found this, along with the PMP Exam Simulator, extremely useful in clearing my PMP exam on the first attempt.
What is important is that you enjoy learning from the study resource you choose. This is crucial.
Based on your learning style pick 1-2 other resource, apart from PMBOK.
Note: In case you wish to invest in PM PrepCast, I want to let you know that you can get my ‘PMP Last Mile’ prep books & ITTO mindmap to further ease your efforts. Moreover, Cornelius has promised a free upgrade to the new version that covers the new exam.
Step 3 – Prepare a crash-study-plan
What is a crash-study-plan?
Well, quite simply – you are going to retrofit your study plan against the exam date.
On an average you may need at least 60-80 hours for one round of end-to-end study for the first round. For the second you may need about 30-40 (assuming you have a video course and can run the videos at 2x speed).
The actual duration for you might vary, depending on your familiarity with PMP subject material and project management experience and so on. But these numbers should be good enough to come up with your study plan.
Now, create your milestones. For instance,
- Milestone 1 – first round of end-to-end study
- Milestone 2 – first 4hr mock test
- Milestone 3 – second round of end-to-end study
- Milestone 4 (last 3-4 days) – final push
|Milestone#||Scope||From date||To date||#study hrs/day|
|1||First round of end-to-end study||4 (2hr morning + 2hr night)|
|2||First 4hr mock test & results analysis||7 (4hr exam + 3hr analysis)|
|3||Second round of end-to-end study||5 (2hr morning + 3hr night)|
|4||Final push||10 (off from work)|
With this now you know how many days do you have for your exam and how many hours a day you need to study. I would suggest plan the same number of hours for the weekend as for the weekdays. This gives you the cushion of weekend, if you fall back on the plan. You can study more and make up on the weekend.
Tip: This one can be a huge time-saver. Pick one Knowledge Area and go over your study resources, studying just this one KA. Then move on to the next KA. You’ll remember more, and for longer time. In short, what happens is that our brain’s ‘implicit assumptions’ while studying a new subject is brought out when you learn same concepts through different presentation styles. This gives you a deeper understanding of the subject and valuable insights.
Step 4 – The final push, before the exam
You remember the suggested milestone #4 above? That is for the final push – ideally 3-4 days leading up to the exam.
Tip: try to take off from work at least 4-5 days before the exam.
This will, (a) shield you from any spikes/fire at work (b) helps you get into the right mindset with some focused study
By now you should be done with the second round of end-to-end study.
Here is is what you can plan for –
- Revise your study notes.
If you are using a video course such as PM PrepCast make sure you run through the videos at 1.5x or 2x speed. You may need to download the videos and run by a player such as VLC Media Player.
- Take 4hr mock tests.
As many as you can. While doing this you will be able to (a) identify any gaps in your study (or weak areas), (b) strategize to utilize 4hrs in the best possible way so you can answer most questions in least amount of time.
Here’s one such highly popular technique you can try on one of mock tests and see if it works for you. For few this can a exam-saver. Click on this link and search for “proven strategy” on the page.
A word of caution – if you are taking any free tests please make sure they are updated for PMBOK-5. If you take PMBOK-4 based tests many questions can confuse you because quite a bit has changed from PMBOK-4 to PMBOK-5.
- Create and practice your brain dump.
Brain dump is a useful technique for CBT (computer based test) takers. This is the best time to create your brain dump because you will know what exactly will be you grey areas.
You can read more about brain dump strategy and use my brain dump to prepare yours, here.
It’s important that you are able to write this down under 10-12 mins during the exam. Therefore practice on a daily basis during your Last Push days.
These are typical tasks you will do during your Last Push days, but when you get there you may have a bit of different things in your plate. Just know that if it happens it’s okay. Having a plan is very important.
Here’re few tips that might ease your exam stress –
- Visit your PMP exam center few days prior to the exam. Make sure they have your slot blocked for you, you get a sense of how long it takes to travel to the exam center so you can reach couple of hours before your slot.
- Once at the exam center, ask them if you will get paper and pencil during the exam. Some centers give laminated sheet and white-board marker. You need to insist on paper and pencil if you are planning to use brain dump strategy.
- Also, ask if they provide noise cancellation headphones. When you are at the fag end of your test, there will be many people finishing theirs and there’ll be some chatter with the assistance staff. This is also a time when the concentration levels are lowest, and you may find it hard to concentrate. These headphones will be handy.
- Initiating and Closing domains have a pretty thin percentage of questions. However they themselves have passing thresholds. This means you have a small number of questions that you can afford to get wrong. People that have done well in other domains can fail the exam if they don’t cross threshold in one of these two domains. Hence give special focus while studying these two domains.
There you have it! A 4-step study plan to crush your PMP exam. Hope you will find this useful in planning your PMP exam. I will await to hear from you about your results and experience.
Please write to me at shiv(at)PMExamSmartNotes(dot)com
I wish you all the success,
- PMP Exam Changes (from PMI.org)
- Ultimate guide to PMP exam changes in 2016
- PM PrepCast and Simulator review & bonus page
- PMP Beginner’s guide
- Spend Just 10 mins A Day To Gain Enormous Confidence in Your PMP Study
- How to remember ITTOs
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