Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ten Tips For Passing the PMP Exam

By Dharius Jennar

1. Read the PMBoK at least three times. In that once use mind mapping to take notes. On scope, quality and procurement knowledge areas, there will be many questions straight from inputs / tools / output; In risk management the order of events (the process flow) is important; etc. So reading PMBoK is crucial.

2. Study in short frequent intervals. As you near the exam date, make a plan on how much and when you are going to read what portions. Just by executing the plan (even if you do not fully complete) your confidence will go up.

3. Don't spend many hours, late into the night, before the exam. This is not like a school board exam. It is to test your conceptual understanding of project management based on your experience. You should map your experience onto the terms in PMBoK and you are done.

4. So take guilt free rest days and be alert during the exam. Give up coffee, tea, smoking and alcohol for a month before the exam (to whatever extent possible) so that your agility of mind improves.

5. Take model tests in between reading PMBoK and other additional material. Review the results the same day and see what went wrong. Taking "n" number of questions / tests before the exam is not the goal. Learning from those tests results on where your usual thinking deviates from the best practice prescribed by PMI, and getting into the PMI groove is the key.

6. Though there is little coverage on "Closing a project" in PMBoK there will be many questions in that area. So know all about how to close a project or phase the perfect way.

7. The duration of PMP exam is four hours. After you are 30 something, writing a four hour exam is more of an endurance test than a knowledge test. The mind becomes numb after an hour into the exam. To replenish oxygen to the brain and refresh yourself, 1. Take a break every hour of the exam; 2. Eat something protein rich; 3. Do some stretching and breathing exercise and go back into the exam hall.

8. Out of 200 questions 25 questions are not taken for scoring. The score needed to pass the exam is 106 out of 175. But you should target to get full score (175 out of 175) and not something above 106. If you feel comfortable with some knowledge areas because of relevant experience, aim to get same level of comfort in the other areas also. After all this is not rocket science. You can talk to peer PMs and vicariously get the experience.

9. If 3 out of 4 answers look correct, read the question again. There may be an "except / not / mostly" at the end of the question. There a lot of such tips which you can get from those who passed the exam or...Go to the next tip.

10. Attend a PMP boot camp to get all the tips in one place + professional training on project management. You may find some questions banks and other such help online. But a real life mentor can make a huge difference. Also you will meet like minded PMs aligned to the same goal of passing PMP certification. The discussions with the trainers and peers can be very valuable and the friendships made there can help you well establish in the management career. Moreover it is quite affordable in India. So go ahead and pamper yourself.

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