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Oramirez: Lessons Learned for CAPM ( at 22 – no PMBOK)


Had my exam yesterday and PASSED :) I’m 22 years old, started working as a QA PM in january (I’m a Telecommunications Engineer and I develop software – my IT experience let them give me a try)

This means only 4~ months of experience.. very small.

I thought I was very well prepared, even though having only studied for around 3 weeks. This is what I did.

I did NOT study from the PMBOK. I got this book “CAPM In Depth by Paul Sanghera”

It is a very small and detailed book. For me it had an excellent way of detailing the processes and the ITTOs.

Week 1:
I work but finishing college so have free time on afternoons. I read 1 chapter per day, that was my plan. Took me a bit over a week. After each chapter I took the books question test and marked my results ( 9x%, 8x%, 7x%, 6x%).

Week 2:
After I read the book I reviewed and reread the chapters I had done worse, and skimmed the ones I had done good, and took the questions again, better results now. Took PMSTUDY free test, got 67%. End of week 2.

Week 3:
I knew that wasn’t enough, Luckily the test said the areas that I needed to improve the most (Human Resource and Risk) plus needed 23 contact hours. Signed up to PMSTUDY, got their course for 30 days. They have a list of terms that you must know, ppt presentations with the most important takeaways from each chapter, podcasts, and around 60~90 questions per chapter! (Only takes about an hour the most to review the info on each chapter) Took PMSTUDY course in like 4 days. After that took their practice tests. 80%~ avg on the tests. Feeling better but not yet.

Found PMHUB and found some more questions online from diff sites.
End of week 3.

Week 4:
Reviewed all wrong questions from pmstudy exams and took exams again, 95%+ in 3/4 and 92% in the latter. Now I’m ready (this is week 4 monday, scheduled exam for wednesday)

**As you can see, I DID NOT study from PMBOK.
Exam day:

Arrived at location 30 mins before time. They asked for my 2 ID’s as prometric website said. I filled a form about the security rules and went to the training room. Took a small training and then clicked “start exam”..

Exam Thoughts (all exams are different, this was based on my experience):
Must not be memorized, found them in around 10~15 questions (even though its a lot of questions, common sense will help you, and knowing the processes helps a LOT here)
Inputs and Outputs help more than tools and techniques, and you can deduce the tools and techniques if you know the inputs and outputs! And when everything fails.. expert judgement

Knowledge Areas and Processes:
Should be memorized.
A lot of questions involve processes.. Which ones comes first or after, in which process is X done, in which knowledge area does this occur.. etc. Maybe 25~30 questions about this.

Specific Areas Thoughts:
Risk Management:
A LOT of questions involving risk management.

I had read a lot to memorize the formulas, it does help.

Luckily for me all the questions regarding cost analysis (around 5~8) were calculating the SPI or CPI.. and they gave me the EV, PV and AC so it wasn’t hard.
*8 questions correct is almost 10% of passing grade.

Time Management:
Didnt get any questions regarding critical path nor PERT.

Communication Management:
Couple of questions regarding communication channels, duplicate questions regarding distributing information and importance of communications management.

Finalizing Exam
As you have read before, I also got duplicate questions, meaning the EXACT SAME QUESTION asked with different words and with different choices (of course the correct choice was the same). So you could mark these questions, two that you know ask the same, and can compare them to make it easier to find the answer (hint: if 2 of the 4 choices are the same on those questions, then the answer is one of those 2).

Mark EVERY question you might have the slightest doubt. I finished exam in around 40 minutes and had 34 questions marked. at that point.. 150 – 34 – 15(for the 15 questions that don’t count) I had 101 answers that I positively knew were right.. that’s a 74.8%.. I already knew I had passed..

Then I calmly reviewed the marked questions.. some questions later during the exam might’ve helped me answering them, and only changed around 3 or 4 answers (of the ones I didn’t skip).

took me 10 mins..

total time: 50 mins.

After I clicked end exam screen went blank for like 20 seconds. Then I had to fill a survey.. did that, and clicked end survey, then this progress bar came on, seemed like calculating my grade. Finally after like 10~15 seconds I saw the CONGRATULATIONS message (look in the middle left.. took me a while to see it). And that was it..

I got, 3 Proficient, 8 Moderately Proficient, and 1 Below Proficient (Human Resource, Go Figure..) So I was pretty satisfied with my results, getting PMBOK now (after passing) for references, and actual work experience will help me develop this knowledge.

The best way that I learned was by taking practice tests, and lot of questions from pmstudy were like the ones on the actual exam.
Memorize formulas from time and cost, would be easy points.
Know all processes and knowledge areas (obviously)
ITTOs.. (It helps to memorize them, but since it is multiple choice you will be able to deduce it if you know the input and output.. KNOW ALL THE OUTPUTS)
I did study exam day, it’s like warming up!
Project Management Framework and also Discipline.. learn that, easy questions regarding PMO.
Know all the types of charts and diagrams and what they are used for!!

Nothing else comes to mind.. I think I was well prepared..

$31 -> CAPM in Depth by Paul Sanghera
$125 -> PmStudy online course 30 day access (if you already have the 23 academic hours, or 1500 work hours required.. just get the 4 practice tests)
$300 -> Exam fee (No, not a member. Also work reimburses exam fee if pass

Total = 456 USD.

People often overlook this cert because of PMP.. but I’m 22 and it sure helped me in my job, and I’m sure it will help other young folks get in this world.

Now then..
PMBOK IS NOT A NECESSITY.. Sure it would help, I got it after the exam. I think it works better as a reference than to actually study.

I think I studied plenty, but 3 weeks is fast enough.. If you’re also a student, are on vacations and don’t work.. in 2 weeks you could do it!


Now, what cert to get ?

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