Getting Over Exam Fear is Key – Camille Dingle, MBA, PMP

pmp exam lessons learned camilleI am a Communications Project Manager for a University. I have always enjoyed taking on small projects and seeing them through completion. In 2016, I wanted to learn about the “proper” way how to handle a project. I took the Georgia Tech Project Management Certificate program.

Prior to this, I was not sure if I wanted to become certified, but during the program I decided to give it a shot. The program was great foundation, but I truly was not prepared when I took the test the first time in 2017.

Camille Dingle pmpMy timeline for studying was completely off and I was also involved in several other programs that cut my studying time down.

I failed my first attempt. Locked all my materials up and did not look back…until I noticed my PMP test qualification was close to expiring.

My Why

I debated if I should take up PMP exam again…and I convinced myself to do it (the application feels like a test…why let that expire)!

After failing the first time, I felt defeated, but I also felt I had to prove to myself that I could accomplish this personal and professional goal. So, it became a must…and I knew I could not give up that easy just because of the fear of failing again.

My study resources

  • This time around I read and took notes on every chapter in the PMBOK (first time I just skimmed and focused on Head First).
  • Reread HeadFirst PMP
  • Skimmed through Rita’s book (but purchased that fast track and did practice test; first time I did PM PrepCast)
  • Phone apps (pocket prep and ITTO app)
  • Watched a lot of YouTube videos

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My study approach and study plan

This time I studied for four months, four times a week for about two hours a session. I almost felt like I was not studying enough, but I refused to push myself too hard. On the weekdays I would study in a closed room at the library – this was where I was the most productive.

But it wasn’t a smooth ride for me.

  • I never scored high on my practice test, but I would write down what I missed and why, studying my gaps. My range was high 60s to mid-70s. Yes, there was practice tests that I scored 90s on but I wasn’t sure if it was because I memorized all the answers to the practice questions.
  • I never took a full four hour mock test…just did not like that idea. I would do 25 to 50 questions at a time and then review.
  • My main practice test questions came from fast track, but I did about seven online practice test from Oliver to PMStudy (I actually scored a 72% on Oliver’s test).

My prep the week prior exam

  • I decided not to overdo it
  • I did not do any more practice tests (you can study gaps, but do not take any new practice test). I did not want to lose focus by seeing a score.
  • Picked the top three areas I struggled with and practiced them using different resources
  • Practiced my brain dump and formulas in the last week (this way they will be fresh)

Also Read: How Visual Study Approach Reduced my PMP Exam Preparation Effort – Plaban Roy Bhowmik, PMP

The exam day

Both times I felt unsure during the test… but the second time I knew I gave it 100% and just went with my gut. There were always two really close questions. I was really slow the second time almost running out of time, so the last 75 questions I had to go with my first choice (that may have helped).

  • The questions were similar to some practice text, but PMstudy and PM PrepCast were the closest to the actual exam. Rita’s were way wordier and tricky; but a great study tool.
  • Pace yourself accordingly, do not spend too much time on a question. Mark it and come back at the end.

My study tips

These are few tips from my experience –

  • Don’t go crazy with the brain dump (if you know it then your good; the brain dump cuts into your test time)
  • Yes, it’s hard, but it can be done. So stay focused.
  • If you fail the first time, DO NOT wait 8 months to retake. Try your hardest to keep studying and then retake. Of course, I remember some stuff, but I felt like I was starting over with many things.
  • Whatever you do – know change management!!
  • ITTOs, this is a hard one, but I just tried to study the process…I could never memorize them all (they don’t expect you to either)

I hope this helps other PMP aspirants.

Stay Charged!

Camille Dingle, MBA, PMP

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