To pass PMP exam along with work and family is a challenge for many, and I loved how creatively Dana carved out time for study.
It shows that with commitment, you’ll find a way to work around any constraints and make progress towards your goal.
Dana Spencer has been a Project Manager for several IT/Software and EHR organizations for 10 years & currently resides in Raleigh, NC.
In this article, Dana shares how he made time to study in spite of the busy schedule he has. And how strategically he went about clearing his PMP exam.
Do not miss the part where he does the analysis of his exam (questions to expect, and more).
I was interested in learning better ways to implement various software projects. PMP pursuit seemed like a great choice to educate me on bettering myself as a project manager.
I never considered other certifications outside the PMP before, but I am interested in researching more about the CSM certification and how it can help me move forward.
The biggest benefit of being PMP certified for me is knowing a proven methodology to implement my projects in every aspect of the project.
Which study resources did use for the exam preparation?
For study references, I used these –
- PMBOK guide,
- Rita’s study guide and Flashcards,
- Head First PMP,
- PM PrepCast videos, and
- PrepCast exam simulator
While #3 gave the high-level understanding,
#1 & #2 gave deeper insights,
#4 nailed the concepts for me through video watching,
#5 helped test my understanding of all concepts AND
practice to answer each question at around a minute.
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How did you approach the exam, and what was your study plan?
My schedule was chaotic with a full-time job (my wife too has a full-time job), being a FNP student, and 4 children in school.
I basically read several chapters a week, took & reviewed notes, and then used the exam simulators to test my understanding.
Managing to get some study time, that too quiet time, was my biggest obstacles as it felt like I had neither with my work/family dynamics.
Thus, I took advantage of downtime at work by taking permission from management to study, as the PMP will help in my role.
Plus, I used every spare minute I could get, whether it is late night, or while sitting reading in my car waiting for kids to complete their activities.
How did you study in the week before your exam?
In the week before exam, I only focused on studying my study notes taken in my notebook.
In addition, I did at least 100-200 exam questions every single day.
After taking the test, I would spend time to understand why I got few questions wrong, and study more about those gap areas.
How was your exam experience?
I took the exam online.
On the day of my exam, my in-laws took the kids and my wife was working, so I had the quiet I needed to review before the test.
I mainly reviewed the process chart, EVM formulas, and glossary from PMBOK guide.
The examination process was straight-forward. The proctor had me move a few pens on my desk, and verified that my additional work monitors were unplugged. Then the online instruction started, then the exam.
Everything went smoothly, and the online choice was a convenient, easy, and efficient way to complete the PMP.
How about the questions?
The vast majority of questions on the exam were situational. I had few formula based questions, such as critical path problems and Earned Value Method based ones.
I feel nothing on the exam should come as a shock or surprise as long as you understand the processes, how the project manager should act in various stages of the project.
The exam also asks about the expected actions to be taken by the project manager at various stages of the project.
Would you have any advice for aspirants to pass PMP exam?
To pass PMP exam, you need a bit of planning and dedication to study every day.
Here are 3 things I would like to suggest –
- I would concentrate on understanding the processes.
- Know the role of each process in the project based on knowledge area and process group that it belongs to.
- Understand, but don’t memorize ITTOs, know the outputs, and what outputs are common inputs into other processes.
Trust yourself, remain calm and confident!
All the best,