It was the test I almost didn’t take. It was the test I almost got up and walked out on and the test I struggled to prepare for.
I began my PMP efforts around December of 2018 with the 35 hours of contact credit education. I took the three-course bundle from Master of Project Academy. It gives you the 35 hours you need, additional math prep, and sample exams. I wasn’t impressed with the sample exams it gave you, but the training was good.
I ended up buying an additional book, PMP Exam Prep Simplified. A very good book, I would recommend it. I also read the PMBOK. My studying was going pretty well at first, I was gaining confidence in my exam abilities.
The Week Before My Scheduled Exam
My wife was pregnant when I started training for the PMP exam. My exam was scheduled for Saturday, March 30th and her due date was April 15th.
The kid was born early, about 3 weeks early. I ended up spending most of the week before my scheduled exam in the hospital and a lot of time taking care of a newborn baby.
The closest exam center is a two-hour drive away from me. I arrived early that Saturday. Short on study time, worried I was going to fail, but just wanting to get it over with.
The below is an email I received 22 minutes before my scheduled exam as I sat outside of a locked testing center with several other people waiting for the center to open its doors.
I wasn’t very happy about driving two hours for an exam and then getting told that the entire test center was closed down. But…
More Study Time That Didn’t Happen
I figured it gave me more study time. I scheduled the exam for April 8th.
Of course, I would get the flu that week. I am not an anti-vaxxer, I just didn’t get vaccinated. I work from home and my wife and daughter were vaccinated. I figured I would be fine. I was wrong.
I spent the week wrapped up in blankets either working, sleeping, or doing what I could to take care of the baby without touching the baby or getting close to her. I didn’t get much studying done.
So there I was the morning of the 8th, sitting for an exam that I got very little study time in during the preceding two weeks. 10 questions in and I was sure I was going to fail. I thought about just giving up. I had very little confidence in most of my answers.
I hit question 100, the halfway point, after what felt like ages of slowly reading each question, trying to understand what they meant and what they were asking. I took a bathroom break and just went into the bathroom to splash water on my face. I considered going home again, but I was halfway done. Pass or fail, I would at least learn if I had made it – failing or giving up resulted in the same thing, might as well stick it out.
You are allotted 4 hours for the exam, it took me 3 1/2 hours. It is a tough test. I don’t think I came across any sample questions that really do that test justice.
There was definitely a moment there before the test score showed up when I was sure I had failed.
I did far better than I thought. With the PMI-ACP I got all “Above Target” scores, I didn’t do quite that well here, but a lot better than I thought. I was happy with my scores in four out of the five areas. “Monitoring and Controlling” was the only area that I really could have improved in with a “Target” score, the others I was very happy with.
What Went Well
My studying up until my two-week break went pretty well. Avoid the two-week break if you can and try studying some of the below.
- The course here costs about $100 and it gets you the 35 Contact Hours: Master of Project Academy
- Read the PMBOK guide 6th edition
- I made these study guide slideshows: Project Management Processes – PMP Study Guides.
- This book is an excellent source of information and practice questions for the exam: PMP Exam Prep Simplified
- I always like to try and take two different courses, you can get this one from Udemy for between $10-$20: https://www.udemy.com/pmp-pmbok6-35-pdus/
- Start studying as early as possible – take a couple of months to study
- Take notes during your studying, stop the videos and go back if you don’t get all your notes down – writing it helps to retain it
- Read each question carefully and read them twice; don’t rush to answer
And those are my tips for taking the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. I hope they help you out. Don’t lose confidence, no matter how poorly you think you will do. Not taking the exam results in the same thing as failing, so you might as well push through after you paid for it.