I challenged the PMP exam without having any project management training. I just studied the exam questions like I studied for any other public exams. When I got my PMP credential, I joked that I don’t have any practical knowledge of a good project manager, but I sure can talk like one.
After many painful project schedule slips, my company finally realize the importance of project management and sudden jump on the project management bandwagon. Everyone who has to lead something in the next project is sent to take a 2 days project management training off-side in a nice hotel. Breakfast and lunch are include but too bad that we have to pay for our own parking.
The training is really useful, even to a certified PMP like myself. The training is not sitting there all day long and flipping through some boring slides. We learn program management through a series of exercise designed to get us familiar with project management concept and introduce us to some best practices. We are divided up into 4 groups and were told to come up with a mock project to work on. Other groups simply use their existing project for the exercise. My group is more creative, we come up with a fake project which trying to get a better replacement for a tool everyone hates. It turns out using a fake project is better than a real project. It frees us from distraction from personal bias or irrelevant technical details. We can focus on the project management process without worrying about the work piled ahead and have some fun.
Everyone got a certificate after completing the two days training, but I am the only person in the class care about that piece of paper. I can use the training for the continue education requirement for my PMP credential renewal. I get 16 PDU credits and the company pays for them. This training spent most time on the planning phase. I wish the company will give us another training for project tracking and monitor phase. Not only we have problems in planning the project right, but also we have problems keeping track of our progress through out the project. I can also earn more PDU credits and have more free lunch!
After 200 MC questions, 4 hours exam, I got the PMP credential.
Seeing how my department is run compare to the other department downstairs, I definitely support the value of project management. Everyone can tells the difference between a smooth sailing project apart from a badly ran project. But many people choose to ignore the up front planning and on going monitoring work due to their focus on short term gain. The most common excuse I heard is we don’t have time. Project management is not a waste of time, it’s provide a framework to save time in a long run, although you may have to invest in the extra work up front.
Most of the concepts and knowledge in the PMP exam are just common sense repackaged in fancy language. Passing the PMP exam won’t make you instantly a good project manager, but at least you can speak like one. The exam is more difficult than I expected. The definition and calculation questions are easy, you just have to study and know the exam materials. The long answer questions are tricky. Each question has four answers, two are totally non-sense but the other two are vague. I can only make a 50-50 guess and hope I got the right answer.
I got good marks on all sections except social responsibility and ethics, which I thought should be the easiest section. It is not that I am not ethical, rather I would blame my poor performance on the exam questions. The questions are have no black or white answers and the most intuitive answer that you would normally choose in real life is probably the wrong answer. You have to guess which of other dumb answers meet PMP’s retarded ethical standard. As a philosophy student major in ethics and moral theory, I am pretty sure I always have the most ethical answer, since I cannot be wrong in moral sense. The only conclusion is whoever set the PMP exam questions are not ethical, so he is blinded to picked the immorally answer as the required answer.
My study plan works well. I would say a month of time is more than enough to prepare the PMP exam. I finished reading all materials in first three weeks, didn’t do any study on the forth week and worked on 3 full length practice exams over the last weekend. I pretty much run out of stuff to study on the night before exam so I only flip through chapter 3 quickly as my final revision. My PREP book “The PMP Exam, How to Pass on Your First Try” by Andy Crowe is really good, highly recommended. The structure and layout of the book is easy to follow and the practice questions are relevant. On the other hand, the official PMBOK is totally useless, it is a complete waste of money.
My company starting to put more emphasis in project management. They try to avoid having the employees to work insane overtime, having forever slipping the project schedule and most important of all, minimize the risk of the project. They even start a new project management career leader in addition to the normal technical and management career leader. Project Management Professional (PMP) is the credential for project managers, it’s very common in construction, utilities and software industries. It is relatively new to semi-conductor industry and it is slowly getting acceptance. It would be an asset for me to have the PMP credential.
The PMP exam has 200 MC question and it is 4 hours long. There are expensive preparation course out there to help you pass the exam. In my opinion those prep course are a waste of money, unless they are paid by my company. I am expert of writing open exams. I have aced in TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, P.Eng exam The PMP exam is not that difficult compare to other open exams. Probably about the same level as the P.Eng practice exams on legal and ethics. The official PMP textbook is really boring and the content very confusing. Reading it is a waste of time because you won’t remember a thing. There are lots of prep books out there. I am using the one written by Andy Crowe, but I think any the prep books can get the job done. Studying the prep books won’t teach you much about project management, but it can help you pass the exam.
I applied the PMP exam last year and I have been procrastinating to schedule my exam date. My application is about to expire, so I finally schedule my exam on the last available date. It gives me only one month to prepare for my exam. There are 10 knowledge area in PMP exam. I have to study 3 chapters per week. It took me 2-3 hours to study one chapter. The work load is not too bad, I only have to study a few hours every other day. The prep book comes with a mock exam and a 1 week trial for an online exam database. I will save the mock exam and the exam database access until the last week. I think my study schedule is pretty good. I don’t want to span my study over a long period of time, since I may forget what I learned a few months ago. A one month study plan is just about right.