“Study plan for PMP exam is a must”, says Pam Matalone, who recently got her PMP certification. I’m truly amazed by the insights she has shared in this post along with the exact study process she used to prepare for the exam.
Pam has over 30 years of experience in the IT industry. She began her IT career learning desktop computers in the 1980s and was encouraged by her boss to obtain her bachelors degree in Computer Information Systems.
This allowed her to grow into a developer and eventually land into a project management role. Pam enjoys facilitating and coaching teams to see them move into high performing teams.
What made you take up PMP certification?
I have done project management for a long time and held various level of positions. Several years ago I made the choice to step down from a senior leadership position.
I had acquired my Scrum Master certification and wanted to get back into working directly with the project teams.
Four years ago I was hired as a Project Manager and I told myself that if I really wanted to pursue my PMP, now was the time.
How would this PMP impact your work?
The PMP allows me the opportunity to network with other project manager in my industry and gives me the flexibility to pursue opportunities that will keep me actively learning and growing.
I am looking at increasing my skills and obtaining Lean Six Sigma training in the near future.
Which PMP study materials did you use?
The choice was clear – self-study with a video course.
Thus I invested in the PM PrepCast, which included the Exam Simulator as well. Later I got Rita Mulcahy’s book apart from using PMBOK guide as reference.
I also used articles from your blog PMExamSmartNotes for my studies.
Can you share your study plan for PMP?
About 3 quarters ago I began watching the PM PrepCast videos and studying Rita Mulcahy’s book. I would watch a knowledge area on the videos and then study the corresponding chapter in the Rita Mulcahy book.
My problem was I went against the advice from Cornelius Fichtner at the PM Prepcast and did not create a study plan.
So the holidays came at the end of the year and I stopped focusing on the PMP studies.
Early last quarter I decided I needed to get in gear and get my PMP done.
I created a study plan watching the videos, reading the Rita Mulcahy book and the corresponding pages in the PMBOK. I diligently stayed with the study plan and spent an average of 2-3 hours per day.
Well, I did not start the PM Simulator until I had completed all the videos, chapters and questions in the Rita Mulcahy book and reviewed the PMBOK.
Then I came across your site, PMExamSmartNotes blog, and started reviewing various articles to help give me confidence on what I was learning. This blog gave me another way of viewing the PMP study material.
What was your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I had besides not having the study plan initially was the fear of completing the PMP Application with a fear of audit and the fear of failing the PMP exam.
When I read that 45-50% of people taking the PMP fail the first time I wanted to make sure I had the best chance of succeeding the first time.
Thus I completed the PMP Application and reviewed it with my boss to ensure if an audit occurred there would be no issues.
I did not get audited. Then I scheduled my exam to make myself set a date to get me to the finish line.
How did you prepare in the week before exam?
I took the week off before my exam and started taking the PM Simulator, practice exams from PM PrepCast.
Practice exams do help. I was scoring upper 70 to mid 80 scores.
It felt like the scores were lower than recommended to sit for the exam but I charged forward.
I took six full exam simulators the week before the exam for a total of 24 examination hours.
In addition, I practiced my brain dump every single day.
How was your experience of the exam?
I visited the exam hall the day before and talked to one of the staff so I knew exactly what to expect.
On the day of the exam I arrived early but could not sit in the waiting room and study. So I went to a break room in the building to study before they were going to start checking people in for their exams.
I was put in a room off to the side since the PearsonVUE knew I was taking a four hour exam where as others were taking short exams.
They provided me with a laminated 8 x 14 sheet and a dry erase marker. And not sheets of paper.
I did not do the brain dump but just started on the exam to see how it would go.
My first break was at the end of 3 hours. I got through all 200 questions at the 3 hour mark and took a short bathroom/water break.
Then I went back into the exam room and reviewed the questions I had marked.
I then reviewed the first 50 questions to make sure I felt comfortable with the answers.
I was more nervous at the start of the exam so it made me feel better to review the first 50.
With ten minutes left I decided to not review further and start second guess myself, I click the finish exam. I happily saw the “congratulations” pop up and was so relieved.
Also read: My recommended PMP exam prep resources
Any suggestions or tips to those preparing for PMP exam?
If you are not sure of an answer and still think one of the options is the answer, mark it that and mark the question for review. At the end when you review marked questions, change the answer ONLY if you are absolutely sure of it.
The PM PrepCast gives you clarification on all the answers so you can see even if you got it right why the other ones were wrong. That helped out a lot.
The main tip: I highly encourage everyone is to listen to the advice from trainers and first develop a study plan for PMP, especially if you are doing self-study.
I wish you success,