Lisa Dudenhoeffer is part of our LinkedIn support group, and passed her PMP exam recently. In this post she shares the exact steps she took to get her PMP certification – including her exact 12-week PMP exam prep study plan!
Lisa is currently employed as a Technical Project Manager for the commercial real estate industry. She is a constant learner, striving to find ways to better communicate with stakeholders and help champion the project teams that she works with.
1. What event or experience triggered your desire to take up PMP exam? Did you consider any other project management certifications?
My entire career has been in the IT space, however I had just landed a new delivery management position with a software company that was significantly behind in the PM and implementation process.
Quickly, I discovered that management wasn’t interested in broadening their vision and practices.
It didn’t take long until I had become very dissatisfied with my latest adventure, so I decided to use the time to focus on getting my certification as a way to educate myself on newer tools, processes and understanding before venturing out looking for a new job again so soon.
I researched several options and choose the PMP as it appeared one of the most respected certifications for all varieties of projects.
2. Now that you are PMP certified, how this may impact your work?
I believe having the certification will open opportunities in my career but also allows for networking connections. One area that I focus on is continuing to pursue education opportunities to maintain my certification which allows for enhancing my skill set.
3. Which study resources did you consider, and eventually used for the exam preparation?
I chose a 6 week online boot camp training session sponsored by PMI where we met every Saturday for 6 hrs.
The focus of each session was around the knowledge areas and what potential information would be required for the exam. Throughout the week, I would relisten to the previous week’s session and review any areas that I struggled with, mainly formula areas. I also read the PMBOK guide 3 times front to back.
4. What was your PMP exam prep study plan?
I completed the boot camp and was determined to take the exam quickly. However when I searched for available testing dates in my area, there weren’t any dates available for few months!
I outlined what chapters to read + review each week along taking a sample practice test of 200 questions.
Further, I would take the test at the beginning of the week, then review each question that I did not get correct throughout the week along with any resources that I could find to ensure I understood the topic well.
Also, I practiced writing out the Knowledge Area +Process Group grid along with formulas and tid bits of information that I needed to know for the exam.
During the last 2 weeks, I reviewed all tools, inputs + outputs and made a set of index cards to have friends and family test my knowledge.
5. Can you please tell our readers about some of the issues you faced during your PMP journey, and how did you overcome them.
I was eager to learn and understand as much as I could and therefore sought after any resource I could find. This quickly proved overwhelming so I had to narrow down to 2-3 source web sites, PMBOK Guide and the boot camp training videos.
I also reviewed several blog sites for encouragement and feedback. Studying everyday was very taxing on my life in general, so I reserved Sundays not to study at all to give my mind a break.
There were times where I just couldn’t focus my mind on the “set” topic, so I would switch topics around or find a YouTube source for a change up in my routine. This helped considerably.
6. Taking Sundays off looks like an awesome strategy! How did you prepare in the week prior to the exam?
For 10 weeks straight, I was studying close to 5-6 hrs, 6 days a week.
However, the last week I took 1 practice test of 200 questions every day except for the day before.
Then I would write out the Knowledge Area / Process Group grid and my quick notes, which generally took around 2 hrs.
The day before I wrote out the Knowledge Area + Process Groups grid right before I went to sleep.
7. What was your exam experience like?
I went to the exam site a couple days prior because I wanted to be absolutely sure I knew where I was going and that I would arrive on time, so was able to meet the staff prior to the big day.
The day of, I arrived early to the exam center and waited until the doors were unlocked. The staff was very friendly as I was checked in.
I was provided a locker to store my keys + belongings in. If I needed a snack or refreshments, I had to bring those items with me.
They allow you breaks but time does not stop during the break.
The exam room was in a cubical fashion, very quiet and cold. There were approx. 15 other test takers at the same time. Test takers were given 2 sheets of white paper where notes could be jotted down or used for calculating formulas during the test.
I completed the test with 12 mins remaining of the 4 hour test time.
I took my scribble notes and pencils to the administrator which then revealed my passing results. It was surreal, I was elated because the test questions were often vague and the majority of the answers didn’t seem to fit the questions at all.
Also, I found myself analyzing out of the options, what answer seemed the most reasonable out of everything known but possibly not completely aligning to the question.
Some of the questions had a word thrown in that would completely alter what you might think to be correct.
So, read the question thoroughly!
8. What are some of the specific study tips, advice, techniques, or strategies you’d like to share with those preparing for their PMP exam?
- Find 2-3 reliable resources to study from. More than that may prove overwhelming and confusing.
- Find resources that match your style, just because they are highly rated, doesn’t mean they fit your style or level of learning. I found Praizion.com to be helpful when trying to learn formulas and complex topics.
- I would highly recommend creating a project plan and working that plan. It helps put into practice what you’re learning.
- Be kind to yourself and listen to your body. If your focus is becoming challenging consider taking a break, or find an alternate place where your focus can be restored.
- The time invested is well worth the reward. Take time make your own PMP exam prep study plan that suits your unique circumstances, and follow it along.