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John Scheidelman: My thoughts on PMP Exam

Just passed the PMP Exam. Some thoughts . . .
I used the PM PrepCast, Andy Crowne’s Book and Rita Mulcahy. Did not really use the PMBOK.

On the PMBOK guide – IMHO, it’s not a great example of effective communication. I read over and over that I should study it several times. I did try multiple times. It’s not so much that it put me to sleep – which it did. I just could not get any value from it. It uses new vocabulary to define the existing concepts. More significantly, it’s definition were overly academic and not as concise as they could be. (It’s quite a statement when people say that they have to read another book on PMBOK to understand what should be simple concepts within PMBOK.) Ultimately, the time investing in any reading of it was an opportunity lost. The only thing that I did use in PMBOK – I read the glossary twice a few days before the exam. (Note – if you enjoy and/or get value from reading PMBOK, please continue to do so, it is the basis for some of the test. For me, I prefer a PMBOK replacement.) I could go on here – I welcome comments.

On Andy Crowne’s book, The PMP Exam. This book is underrated. It explains PMBOK with ease. It faithfully goes through all of the processes. You quickly walk away with a clear understanding of everything. You realize that there is not a single complex item within PMBOK. There’s something to be said for clear communication. It looks like a thick book, but it has big margins, a big font and pictures, so it’s a breeze to go through. You could easily do a chapter a night (2 hours each) and understand PMBOK in 2 weeks. Spend more time, and you can go through the book in a week. Here, like PMBOK, it’s more about the core knowledge rather than the application of the knowledge. So I don’t think that it’s enough to get you though the exam, but it got me out of reading PMBOK.

I then read Rita Mulchahy. Here, she does a lot of application of the knowledge. She also get’s inside your head and trys to challenge you, which I really liked . But, the book is not comprehensive, and I would not use this book alone to get through the PMP. She is, however, quite the self promoter of her other products.

I also had her FastTrack software. It was good. Questions would repeat – so you would know too many after a while. Still there was value there. I scored an 81% on a 200 question PMP test. It also had a Super PMP section. I stopped at 50 questions, scored a 56% a few days before the exam. It estimated that it would take me 6 hours to do the 200 question exam. Yikes! As it turned out, none of the questions on the exam were like the Super PMP, They were closer to the regular PMP fast track exam. I would not even bother with the Super PMP.

Also got a couple of free chapters for Head first and there online 200 question free test. Scored an 80% on the test about half way through my studies. It’s a good test with clear explanations. In reading part of the book, it was super clear – a real easy read. I would consider the book.

Regarding the PM Prepcast – I have great deal of respect for the creator. Really tried to take you through everything. Went through every ITTO. Unfortunately, it’s not the media for me. I don’t think you can absorb 10 different tools on the way to the train station. He did have some gems on the podcast though. He does an hour long interview with an expert on the critical chain method. Here, one of the most significant advances in the PM in the last three decades is not on the exam and only a few sentences are given to it in PMBOK, but it is worth hearing.

A lot of people mention that I should read Vijay Verma’s chapter on delegation. I did. Note that I only had a question or two on delegation. Reading Vijay’s chapter would not have helped. Not sure why people are saying to read this. But it’s a short read, and he’s a good writer. I’m glad I got introduced to it and I hope to read his books in the future. (Maybe he can rewrite PMBOK. )

Some things to think about when coming you with your study plan . . .

Consider how you learn:

For me – from least to most effective – I learn form the following.

• Hearing it.
• Classroom setting.
• Reading it.
• Reading and highlighting.
• Reading and note taking.
• Teaching it.

So for me – I would have been better off having a small study group. Perhaps teaching a few sections. I should have tried to form one. Hearing podcast was simply ineffective. I stubbornly stuck with a study plan even though it was ineffective.
But think about it, what works best for you? Answering this allows you to make better a better study plan and more effective you of your time.
The easiest way to up your score quickly is to study the 6 page PMI Professional Responsibility document. It’s not difficulty – read it at least 4 times. Know the title of the document.

On time – I’m a slow reader. I finished the first pass with 12 minute left. (Took a 5 minute break at 100th question.) Did not have time to go through all the questions marked for review.
(Was posted by the author as comments in one of PMHUB LLs. PMHUB admin missed this and is now published as LL). Please send your LL to [email protected], do not post as comments


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