I passed the PMP Exam recently, and wanted to share my experience in general. For those opposed to the PMP exam, please read before commenting, you may be surprised at my take on it.
- Many questions involved picking the best of several correct answers
- The technique of eliminating 2 answers first didn’t work in some cases: for many there were 3 correct answers to choose the best one from
- I don’t remember any questions that involved picking which answer is NOT correct
- There was a calculator program built into the CBT software, was not allowed to bring in my own calculator (it may be different for you, I suggest you check with your examination place beforehand)
- I brought bottled water and some light snacks, and took a break at least every 45 minutes. It was good to just stare out the window and clear my mind of PMP-related thoughts for 5-10 minutes.
- It took me only 2 1/2 hours, but I could see how if you are not a native english-speaker it may take longer to interpret the questions properly.
- PM Prepcast (comes with some sample questions, study guide, etc.)
- PMBoK Guide (reference only, I never read through it)
- Using the concepts whenever possible on my project
- 2 weeks before the test, no more studying. Only sample questions. All the free sample questions I could find plus the ones I got with the PM Prepcast
I listened to the PM Prepcast on drives to and from work, and because he gives so many examples of real-world situations it helped me internalize the concepts so I really understood them. I didn’t spend any time trying to memorize inputs and outputs, etc. If there was something I needed to see, I made a mental note and then when I got to work or home I’d pull out the PMBoK guide and reference the section in question to better understand it. For the most part, I just used the graphics and flowcharts in the PMBok guide for reference.
What value did I get out of it?
The primary reason I did the PMP was so I can have it on my resume and not get it thrown in the trash before a potential employer even talks to me. The PMBoK is a standard, not best practices. It’s a framework, not a methodology for how you should actually manage a project. I know some have said that some firms actually screen out people if they have a PMP certification. That is a very small number indeed, and truthfully I wouldn’t want to work with them anyway. If someone ASSUMES incompetence on the basis of having earned a certification, then they are more consumed with their own ideological stance on the matter than hiring a qualified candidate.
No, the majority of employers who know anything about what the PMP is are screening for it, not against it. Therefore, it is important to me from a pragmatic standpoint that I put myself in a position to best support my family with the value I bring to the firms I work with. The PMP is but one of many things I’ve done and continue to do in order to market my skills and value effectively. I understand that this certification does not certify me as a project manager, nor does it certify any level of competency. I think it’s a signal that I have a minimum level of knowledge about project management and have some familiarity with formal practices laid out in the PMBoK standard.
Now, the primary benefit I’ve received was NOT as a result of earning the certification. It was during the process of studying for it and applying the concepts in my day job, alongside other frameworks and methodologies and specific processes necessary for my project’s situation. When I wrote a management plan that was not in line with the PMBoK, I understood exactly how and why, and that there’s nothing wrong with that. I can’t stress enough the value I received from the PM Prepcast. I paid less than $50 for it, and it was worth at least $500 to me. It was so much better than any boot camp, training class, or prep book. Those things mostly focus on memorization or take a lot of time and money. I studied while I was driving and got lots of real-world examples to bring the concepts to life. I’m confident that if I took the PMP exam again a year from now, I’d pass it with no problem because I know this stuff, I didn’t just memorize it.
Next up, the IPMA/asapm certification?