Happy Tuesday folks!
I hope your week is starting off to a great start! Many of us tend to dread the upcoming work week being stuck in our 9-5 desk jobs, but luckily, we turn to our hobbies to get through those down in the slump moments. And I for one, absolutely love what I do- most of you know that I recently began my blog- Living Lissy last April and while I’ve been making a huge effort trying to balance my work life, personal life and blog, I must admit, I could make more of an effort, which is what I intend to do in 2019!
If you haven’t already read my previous posts (only 2 posts created since my Christmas giveaway!), I had recently taken a 3 month hiatus to focus on attaining my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. As I successfully passed my exam on March 27, 2019, I was overjoyed for two reasons- 1) those 3 months of intensive studying actually paid off, and 2) because I could finally resume blogging and reconnecting with you all! What I’ve learnt in my 1 year of creating a blog is that it takes 100% effort along with consistently creating valuable content.
Despite facing the possibility of losing my followers (which took all year to build!), I knew that I needed to do this certification, as it aligned with my career goals. I also told myself that with some hard work, dedication and discipline, just like acing the PMP exam, so too will I ace my blog this year! It will take time, but I’m committed to growing my blog and social presence and most importantly, connecting/re-connecting with you all!
This post is aimed at explaining why I’ve been so MIA as well as sharing with you my top 5 tips for successfully passing the PMP exam. So let’s get right into it, shall we?
The exam itself is not difficult; don’t be fooled by what you may have read from those websites trying to scare you into purchasing their courses, questions, exam preps, etc. The course is extremely comprehensive- that’s the key difference. It’s not difficult, because once you learn, conceptualize and understand the material, you can then transfer your knowledge and apply it to the real life situational based questions and in the project management world. However, the content itself can be overwhelming. Here are a few of the strategies that I used to prepare for the exam:
1. Schedule your exam as soon as possible
Do it now! What are you waiting for? The only person holding you back is YOU. That moment when you have a firm date in mind, is when you can determine your studying strategy and how much time that you think you’ll need to be prepared for the exam. I did tons of research on the average PMP study time, and many resources advised at least 3 months to a maximum of 6 months – 1 year. While I did a 3 day boot camp PMP course provided through my work, I had no confidence that I would be ready for the exam even after the course. I knew that I myself needed to study on my own time in order to understand the concepts and retain the information at my own speed (people learn at different speeds and that’s completely fine!). I finally set my mind on attaining the certification in quarter 1 of 2019 and began studying on January 9, 2019 with the goal to write my exam on March 27, 2019.
I can’t tell you the number of times that I was tempted to change my exam date (literally- I had logged into my PMI account to see the alternative dates for the possibility of rescheduling), but in the end, I wanted the exam to be over and done with. If I didn’t pass, then at least I would know what my weak areas are and the areas for improvement and simply re-sit the exam. The thought of failure consumed me as the exam date approached, but I stuck with it and told myself that I would never know if I could do it in one try unless I actually wrote the test- and that was the best decision yet as I didn’t need to re-take the exam 😉
2. Set a study schedule
I strongly urge you to create a study schedule and stick to it. This includes planning each day with the desired goal or objective, whether it is by Process Group, Knowledge Area, chart, accounting formula, etc. I purchased a monthly dry erase board- I’ve linked a similar board herewhich is only $13.99, which includes space for your own notes! 🙂
I cannot stress enough how important this schedule is for visually mapping your studying goals- trust me! You will refer to this board throughout your entire learning journey right up until the exam day, so do ensure that you invest in it.
3. Read the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK)
You need to read the book, it’s that simple. I strongly urge you to make a highlighter your best friend as the book is extremely dull- there are no colors or photos- the pages are grey and text is black. It’s almost as if the authors intended for the test taker to fall asleep while reading this book. The content itself is so useful and extremely important as the exam is based solely on the PMBOK (no other source, so don’t be fooled into buying related or similar books if you’re planning to study for the PMP exam), but it is worthwhile to invest in some colored writing material when making your notes. I used the PMBOK V6, but you will need to use the latest published version.
4. Study time
I studied in the evenings after work, which averaged about 2 hours per night. I would usually get home around 6pm, eat/relax for an hour and begin reading and/or studying at 7pm until around 9pm. I found that this studying technique proved to be so effective when I studied in shorter spans of time, especially after a long day at work.
5. Invest in resources
Last, but certainly not least, the resources used during my 3-month study journey. These resources were my biggest help, and I can honestly say that I could not have passed the exam without them. Thanks to technology, we’re so fortunate to have free resources at the touch of a button. Here, I’m sharing with you the following tools that aided in my studying:
PMP Certification Mastery – two Knowledge Areas are free, and there is an option if you choose to unlock the additional Knowledge Areas, but I just practiced the free ones and tracked my progress with the ‘Progress’ feature, which I thought was so handy!
EduHubSpot – this app is also very useful for assessing your level of readiness and your areas for improvement with the offer of 3 free practice tests: Chapter 1- Introduction Management, Chapter 2- Integration Management and Chapter 3- Scope Management. There’s also a bonus Module practice test which simulates the real exam with 200 multiple choice practice questions in a given time of 240 minutes.
EduHubSpot – I absolutely love this channel! The instructor, Varun Anand, simplifies the concepts and terms and helps the student to really grasp the meaning of the concept itself as it relates it to Project Management (in several videos, he uses the example of an automobile shop for us to understand how these terms come into play in real life situations). I really need to give Varun well deserved credit, because he helped me understand and familiarize myself with the Project Management jargon and a special mention to the ITTO Cheat Sheet, to which I referred almost daily.
Praizion – This channel was extremely effective in understanding several concepts which I couldn’t quite grasp by reading the text book- the instructor, Phil, clearly explains each Knowledge Area in detail and makes it relatable for easy comprehension. Some of my favorite videos include (in reference to the PMBOK Guide Sixth):
– ITTO Process Map
– One day to PMP Exam
– How to Do Your PMP Exam Brain Dump Like a Boss
– PMP Exam Tips and Tricks for Tough Questions
Engineer4Free– This was my go-to and hands down, my favorite tutorial for learning and mastering the Critical Path technique. This instructor teaches the basics of the Critical Path, from determining the sequence of activities, to mapping the activities, to calculating the Critical Path and project duration. He also teaches how to calculate the Free Float and Total Float which I could not understand from reading only the book (there are certain concepts that just need to be explained in video).
The Best PMP Exam Prep– I joined this group, which allows for members to post questions, interact with each other and provides a sense of community and support while we’re on this PMP journey 🙂
– Chapter 1- Introduction Management
– Chapter 2- Integration Management
– Chapter 3- Scope Management
– Chapter 12- Module test 1
Well, there you have it folks- my 5 key techniques on acing the PMP exam! Remember, the most important factor is your drive to succeed- without it, these tips won’t work. When feeling doubtful (and truth be told, the journey may seem daunting, but I promise it’ll be worth it!), always remember the 3 D’s of success: DRIVE, DETERMINATION & DISCIPLINE.
Once you set your goal and commit to achieving the PMP certification, I’m confident that you too will soon be displaying those three letters after your name 😉
I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!
Talk soon my future PMP colleagues,
~ Alicia ‘Lissy’ Balwant, PMP