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Xavier: Passed PgMP exam 3-March-09… Thank God!!

Dear PMHub colleagues;

Happy to inform that I took and passed the PgMP exam yesterday…. Thank God!

The experience was very similar to other posts in the Hub. It is definitively a ‘gruelingly subjective’ exam in which not only you have to know the program PMI terminology/theory but also substantial experience handling programs or large/multiple projects is necessary to pass. This is definitely the “bar exam” for Program Managers.

I have responded to some posts on my preparation strategy, but here is a recap of my study plan for the last six weeks:

Mid-Jan to Mid Feb-09
• Read SPM several times
• Read Crosswinds; completed all chapter exercises and tests. (Results 60-80% range)
• Read ‘All-in-One’; completed all chapter tests (Results 75-95% range)
• Completed all Sanghera computer exercises/tests (Results 75-90% range)
• Completed ESI six domain tests (Results 60-75% range)
• Completed FACT solutions six domain tests (Results 60-70% range)

Last 2 weeks before exam:
• Re-read Crosswinds and redid exercises/tests in which I was weak the first time. (Results improved to 70-90% range)
• Re-read SPM a couple of more times
• Got over the FACT Solutions Study Pack/complete exercises – which arrived on Feb 24.
• Completed timed computer tests – one for ‘All-in-One’ (84%); two for ESI (74% & 76%), one for Crosswinds (82%)
• Completed the FACT Solutions full test – 65%
• Memorized information used for ‘brain-dump’ during exam – formulas, Process/knowledge areas/domains, I/O’s, etc.
• Day before – scanned over the SPM and Crosswinds, plus read the PgMP exam specification (for some reason I have forgotten about it!)
• Try to sleep well the night before the exam; but only could do it for about 3 hours!

During Exam:
* Used tutorial to brain dump of EV formulas, mnemonic for processes, knowledge areas, benefit management cycle, etc. I NEVER referred to it during the exam.
* 3 hrs 40 min to complete, 15 min to review 20 marked questions and changed 2. Almost the full 4 hours total. I got thru 1st half of test in about 1:40 min and 2nd half in 2 hours. Remember to account for biobreaks… Thank God I’m a morning person, since the bad sleep night didn’t interfere that much on my ‘question processing’ capabilities…
* 5 domains X ‘moderately proficient’; 1 domain X ‘below proficient’ (controlling) – BELIEVE IT OR NOT. It looks I got enough points on the other 5 domains to get me barely over the minimum passing grade which NOBODY KNOWS, but I suspect is something around 65%. Once I read that the exam total was 500 points and you needed to obtain 325 to pass that’s were the 65% come from; also that each question had a different value based on difficulty… However PMI has not confirmed this…


The exam is extremely subjective. I think I only got about 5 direct questions – black or white answers. The other 95%+ was evenly distributed between situational and scenario based questions. There were many questions in which you have to use your ‘feeling’ to select one answer out of possibly two which seemed the correct ones. I only got one scenario with 2 questions about CPI/SPI – only calculations I made on the whole exam. I also got around 10 I/O questions – Crosswinds material really helped me here. A couple of questions I used the ‘exam specification’ material to answer them. Several what is the FIRST thing you do… Two scenarios really made no sense – one with three questions in which I selected the same answer based on the information provided and other with 2 questions about SV and CV which didn’t had enough information to do the “variance” analysis. On that one I felt like being in “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” with no lifelines so I guessed!!! As others had stated before, I sat on my cubicle before hitting ‘end’ not having a clue if I was going to pass or not. Thank God I passed, because I would be hard pressed to determine what else to study or do to feel more confident on a second try. I had used this Forum to adjust my materials and preparation approach – which I felt was OK. Now I understand that the exam revolves around half theory and half experience … and a little of luck.

On studying materials advice: (only good until Aug 31, 2009 since exam will be changed to SPM 2nd edition):
* Base your studies on SPM and the PgMP exam specification
* Use Crosswinds to get a lot of background theory necessary to process the questions
* FACT Solutions is a great source for complementing your theory using a different perspective and it has scenario/situational questions as similar as you can get to the real exam. Also will probe your ‘critical thinking’
* ESI will help you reinforcing SPM concepts plus add to your ‘critical thinking’ preparation
* Other materials I used (All-In-One, Sanguera, etc) are really PMP based with some PgMP flavour. You can use them but be careful if you use them as your primary information.
* Lastly but the most important – Your experience. THIS IS THE KEY ASPECT ON PASSING THE EXAM…

I will be glad to respond to any questions about readiness, study strategy, etc. Please don’t ask me to describe any questions included in the exam – obvious professional ethical responsibility which all have to maintain…

Sorry for this long posting, but I felt I needed to give my ‘2-cents’ to this excellent forum and help others achieve their PgMP credential objective.

Regards, Xavier.


12 comments to Xavier: Passed PgMP exam 3-March-09… Thank God!!

  • Kushan

    Dear Xavier,

    I have a question about the PgMP exam and I would appreciate if you could clarify those to me.

    I am Civil Engineer, who has already 10 years of experience. In fact, 5 years prior to graduation and rest after graduation. The details of the Last Five Years are as follows

    Name Type Project Position Duration
    NJS Corporation – Head office in Japan Consultant Design of Storm Water Drainage Project in Sri Lanka Civil Engineer 6 Months
    Maeda Corporation – Head office in Japan Contractor Construction of Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project LOT 1 in Sri Lanka Civil Engineer 1 Year 6 Months
    Maeda Corporation – Head office in Japan Contractor Construction of Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project LOT 2 in Sri Lanka Sr. Civil Engineer 9 Months
    Turner Construction International Project Manger Discover Garden Project in Dubai, UAE Area Superintendent 1 Year 1 Months
    Turner Construction International Project Manger Discover Garden Project in Dubai, UAE Design Coordinator 8 Months
    Qatari Diar Developer Several International Projects Sr. Civil Engineer 4 Months

    Prior to the graduation I have worked as Construction Supervisor and then Technical officer cum CAD Operator and finally Engineer as well. All the projects were under execution during my Work Period.

    I would like to know this experience is sufficient, in Order to do PgMP.

    Your Reply is highly appreciated.

    Thanking you in advance,
    Kind Regards,

  • Xavier

    Dear Kushan; I think you have enough Project experience in my opinion; however, you lack some important Program Management Experience. I suggest you purchase both the PgMP Standards Edition 2 & the PgMP Exam Specification and read it throughly. Since the PgMP exam will be changed after Aug 31, 2009; I don’t recommend you to purchase any additional studiying material. With this said, I encorauge you to wait a little bit afte the exam change to see what material is available on the market. Check what Crosswinds, FACT Solutions & ESI have. Also, check if Rita Mulcahy makes PgMP preparation materials because she made excellent PMP ones however did not made one for the PgMP 1st exam version. Hope this helps to you!! If you have additional questions, please let me know. Regards, Xavier.

  • Luis

    Congratulations Xavier for his PgMP Certification. I have a question: What is the best exam’ simulator to PgMP? Thanks a lot.

  • Xavier

    Luis, sorry I was on vacation and just saw your message.

    I used the simulators of ESI, Crosswinds, Sanguera & All-in-One. Sanguera & All-in-One are a waste of time – only good to prove concepts and a lot like the PMP exam. Amecgroup Inc has an online test, which also tests your knowledge. ESI & Crosswinds simulators on the other hand are more tuned to the PgMP exam narrative type questions. All of them get you used to the test environment in terms of

    However, the best questions by far are the ones from FACT Solutions – very similar in structure & content to the ones in the exam. However they come in a booklet, not in simulation environment.

    With that said, the exam will change to the PgMP standards 2nd edition on Aug. 31; so again I suggest to wait until text providers have a chance to probe the changes and some people take the test and provide feedback.

    Are you in Puerto Rico?

    Let me know if you have any additional questions.

    Regards, Xavier.

  • Congratulations Xavier.

    I am truly proud of you. I am preparing to take the PgMP Exam next year and unfortunately have to study double because the PgMP Exam Structure has changed.

    Stay in touch because I will be referencing you as my exam date draws near.

    Cheers and congrats once again.

  • Xavier

    Nana, thanks for your comments. When are you planning to take the exam? I just want to know to ensure I am available to provide as much coaching as possible. Regards, Xavier.

  • Nana
    I suggest that you joined PMHUB’s PgMP Forum – part of PMHUB forums:
    By being a member there, you will get support of many PgMPs and able to access those PgMP LLs that were archieved in PgMP Forum

  • Ricardo Rodil

    Congratulation, i just wondering if there is any particular good course that help to achived this goal

  • Nana

    Hi Xavier, I am struggling to complete my summaries…can you please email me a copy of what u submitted at [email protected] so I use it as a guide?!


  • Saju

    Hello Xavier

    Congrats on completing the PgmP. I have a question

    With the revision in the exam do we follow the books for the old version or is there new version of the PgMP book. Currently i have The Standard for Program Management 2nd Edition. Is there 3rd Edition which i should follow or 2nd Edition suffice.

  • Ayham


    I am studying for the PgMP exam and I want to know if program cost management included in the exam?

  • Ron