To finish your introduction to the PMP exam, let's explore some important study and exam-taking tips. Although some of these tips will not apply to everyone, this section will give you a good, general idea of how you can save time and reduce the stress of preparing for and taking the actual PMP exam.
The following list provides some recommended study practices that you might want to employ as you prepare for the exam. These tips have proved successful for others who have prepared for and passed the PMP exam before you. Not all these tips may suit your learning style or your particular situation, but the goal is that they help you save time, focus better, and comprehend the material you will find in this book and in other study materials:
Form a study group at work or contact the local PMI chapter to determine if any study groups are available. Interacting with other exam-takers helps reinforce the information and clarify the concepts in the PMBOK.
Look at several types of study guides to determine which is best for you. Some people prefer visual assistance, and some prefer straightforward reading. The Exam Cram 2 series provides an excellent, concise overview of the material and is a good augmentation to the PMBOK.
The PMBOK is not the only resource book for the certification exam. Determine exactly which books are necessary for the exam. Many study guides have a long list of required books, but you should determine whether each book is a major or minor resource for the exam. You could be overwhelmed if you read all the suggested materials. Plus, it is very time consuming.
Develop a system and time frame for your studying. Set milestones and dates for completion of the chapters and review of this Exam Cram 2 book.
Spread out your reading and studying over time. Because this is complex material, it is not easy to comprehend in a short period of time. Too much reading in a short time period can be overwhelming and lead to exhaustion and frustration.
Develop worksheets and short versions of the material if it is beneficial for you to write out the information. Some people study best by writing out the highlights of the chapters in their own wording. This can be time consuming, but it can also be advantageous to some people.
Talk to other people who have taken the exam to get their input and suggestions. Due to PMI ethics standards, PMPs are not allowed to provide actual questions from the exam, but they can provide insight into what study habits worked best for them.
Make sure you have the most current PMBOK. Do not use old copies because the information changes with each revision.
Read the PMBOK first and use this Exam Cram 2 book to reinforce and elaborate on the various sections. This book does not replace the PMBOK, although it is an excellent companion for studying with the PMBOK.
Anticipate that you will spend approximately 100 200 hours on this entire process from the time you begin the application, review the PMBOK, review study materials, and drill on practice exam questions, to when you finally take the exam.
You cannot spend only one weekend studying for PMP certification and expect to do well on the exam.
To save time, we recommend that you take practice exams to identify your knowledge gaps. Repetitive exam taking has frequently been the best method to identify knowledge deficiencies and areas to concentrate one's future studies.
The PMBOK will make references to many topics outside of the book, but it will not necessarily explain these topics in full detail. Therefore, practice exams will help you identify what additional materials outside of the PMBOK are needed for you to study.
Study the necessary material to close the knowledge gaps and retake the exams to determine if you have a full understanding of the material.
Drill on practice exams until you are scoring 80% to 90% consistently on each part.
Although the exam questions are mostly situational, you will need to memorize certain definitions and formulas. The exam is not based on simple memorization. It is based on understanding situations and choosing the best answer based on PMI's perspective.
Don't let your real-life, "on the job" project management experiences interfere with your study behaviors. Remember, you must pass the exam according to the PMBOK methodologies, and not your perspectives based on your past experiences. This conflict can be very difficult to overcome, especially for seasoned practitioners of Project Management.
Make sure you concentrate on the correct areas of the exam. Different quantities of questions exist for different knowledge areas, so make sure you place more emphasis on the areas that have the largest percentage of questions.
The PMBOK is the main question source for the majority of the PMP exam; therefore, you should spend the majority of your study time reviewing it rather than other reference materials.
Once you have completed your study and you are confident that you can tackle the exam, it will be time to schedule your exam and head to the exam center. The following list will help you on exam day before, during, and after the exam:
Get to the exam site early so you can review your notes and not become stressed due to a late appointment.
Take the exam within 2 weeks of completing your studies. Our research has shown that if you put off the exam any longer, you begin to lose initiative and information retention. Before you know it, a month or two has passed and you have lost the freshness of the material in your memory.
Pacing and Breaks
Pace yourself and be sure to read all four answers completely. Do not just choose the first correct answer you see.
You are not required to immediately take the exam when you sit down at the computer terminal. Use this time to gather your thoughts and prepare your "reference sheet." Write down all formulas, diagrams, and information that will assist you with the exam. This allows you to clear your thoughts and focus better as you begin the exam.
When you begin the exam process, you will initially be provided a tutorial of how to use the terminal and how to take the exam. If you feel comfortable with the information, you can pass over this tutorial quickly and begin the exam. The clock begins as soon as you start the tutorial.
Take breaks throughout the exam. You have 4 hours for the exam, so allotting for periodic breaks will allow you to reenergize so that you can go back to the exam area refreshed.
Do not be surprised if you are videotaped during the exam. Due to the nature of the exam and the credibility of the testing facility, many companies videotape the testing process in order to monitor the participants.
Schedule your exam many weeks in advance. Some testing facilities have a waiting list, so you want to time your exam date after you have completed studying for it. This also sets a future milestone for you to anticipate and strive for as the date approaches.
What to Bring to the Test
Take your driver's license or photo ID with you to the testing facility. You will be asked for identification in order to take the exam. Contact the testing facility if you have questions about approved types of identification.
Don't forget to take a calculator. You can use any type of calculator except the programmable types.
Take a watch with a stop-watch function and time yourself. You have 4 hours to complete 200 questions; therefore, you need to complete at least 50 questions per hour. After 1 hour, look at your watch and gauge whether you need to speed up in order to complete on time. Some exam-takers do not monitor their time and become nervous after the third hour when they realize they are behind. Then they begin to forget information and become anxious. This anxiety can lead to poor performance.
Wear comfortable clothing.
Take a couple pencils to take notes and develop your reference sheet.
Anticipate that many questions will have multiple correct answers. It is your challenge to pick the best answer based on how PMI feels the situation should be handled.
Remember to answer questions from PMI's perspective, not from your real-life experience. Think "What should I do?" rather than "What did I do?"
Be cautious of the following:
Answers that attract the attention of less knowledgeable, less experienced professionals
Answers that reflect common project management errors and unapproved practices
Answers that are factually correct but are not the correct response to the question
Answers that are sweeping generalizations (that is, always, never, and so on)
Questions that have extraneous information not relevant to the topic or question
As a key strategy, keep in mind the following points when you are actually taking the exam:
The exam allows you to "mark" any question for later review.
Plan on making several passes (iterations) through all 200 questions of the exam.
On the initial pass through the exam, "mark" any question that you are not 100% sure of the answer.
On the second pass, review all the "marked" questions. You will often find that the answer to a given question becomes clear after dealing with the other questions and/or after a second review of the question and potential answers.
If you are now sure you have answered the question correctly, "unmark" the question. If you are still not comfortable, leave it marked.
Continue through all the marked questions to complete your pass (iteration).
Continue this iterative process, until the number of marked questions gets down to approximately 25 or less. This would mean you are very confident about 175 of the 200 questions. Because you only need 137 to pass, this should leave you with a comfortable margin.
At this point, just give your best guess at the remaining questions.
Look at the exam-taking and preparation process as a project. With well-thought-out, effective scheduling and planning, you will have great success!