How can an Exam Coach help PMP Aspirants?

How can a PMP Exam Coach help PMP Aspirants?

In the past, one of the foremost drawback of online PMP Exam Prep courses (such as the PM PrepCast™) is that there is no direct interaction with the instructor and students lack the support and guidance of the instructor as a coach. Education institutes are fast closing the gap by providing different kinds of online exam coaching services, such as:

  • Pre-recorded Coaching
  • Online Group Coaching
  • Online Individual Coaching

These coaching services will allow students of online courses to enjoy the benefits of instructors as coaches (by paying extra fee in addition to the cost of online courses). But since the coaching is done online through internet connection, the cost (as well as the time) is still low compared to the traditional bootcamps.

However, exactly in what ways the exam coaches will help Aspirants? This article will discuss some of the most common ways Aspirants will benefit from having a PMP exam coach service.

For First-time PMP Exam Takers:

Plan the Exam Prep Schedule Effectively

Since the study plan, the length of study period, the quantity of mock exams required, etc. all depend on the particular circumstances of individual Aspirants, there is not a standard study schedule to apply to all. Every Aspirants will need to adjust the time and materials required based on their strengthens, knowledge and modes of study. In order words, the exam prep schedule is very personal.

However, as Aspirants usually do not have experience tackling the PMP Exam before. How can they be certain that their Study Plan work? This is when the Exam Coaches will be able to offer solid assistance. By discussing the preliminary study plan, Aspirants will be able to adjust the plan to formulate an effective yet realistic schedule to follow through. They will greatly increase the chance of passing the PMP Exam in first attempt.

Keep Exam Prep on track

The coach will usually ask the Aspirants to create a master study plan for the exam at the very beginning of the coaching sessions. Afterwards, the coach and the student will meet at fixed intervals (usually every two weeks or so) to discuss the progresses and the stumbling blocks.

Every online course student knows that the greatest friction for studying online is procrastination — as there is no one to be held accountable for the progress, students will tend to “extend” the study period indefinitely. This is especially true for Aspirants. The exam is quite a daunting task as Aspirants will need to invest hundreds of hours into the study. When presented with competing priorities, such as job, family and personal obligations, it is usually the Exam Prep will give way. I have personally known someone who postpone the exam for two years or more!

If you have an exam coach to work with you, you will feel the “pressure” to keep you going and reaching the dream of getting PMP certified. The success rate for relying on online PMP Exam Prep courses will greatly increase!

Answer common queries, e.g. is reading the PMBOK® Guide required?

The PMP Exam itself is difficult. How to be fully prepared for the exam is even more difficult. Though there are many many advices on the internet on what the best way to prepare for the exam is, every Aspirants are different.

Take reading the PMBOK® Guide as an example. Many successful exam takers would advise reading the PMBOK® Guide at least two times. However, though the PMBOK® Guide is a useful reference guide for project managers, it is not the ONLY book that is useful for the exam. Some may find the way the PMBOK® Guide presents the concepts to be way too boring or not their cup of tea. There are many other prep books on the market that would provide alternative ways to understand what are inside the PMBOK® Guide.

Having an Exam Coach on your side will help you select the best resources for your success. You will be able to save time and even money in due course.

Learn how to tackle most difficult parts of the PMP Exam, e.g. the Earned Value Questions

Since Exam Coaches have worked with different Aspirants, they would understand in greater depth which topics are the most difficult and how to help Aspirants to understand those topics.

Take the Earned Value Questions as an example. Many people would say that EVM calculation is the most difficult part of the exam. There are tens of formulas to learn and apply. But the PMP Exam Coaches know that if someone had an exposure to high school math would have all the necessary skills to get all the EVM questions correct. They will show the Aspirants the roadmap to success, below is an example:

  1. Memorize all the important PMP Exam formulas
  2. Understand those formulas and the logic behind the math
  3. Practice sample calculation questions, and practice more until the Aspirant is comfortable with tackling EVM questions with confidence

Along the way, the Exam Coach will usually help removing some stumbling blocks that can save the Aspirants a lot of time and efforts.

Know when the Aspirant is ready for the real Exam

Again, since the PMP Coaches have guided many Aspirants through the exam study, they will be very experienced to judge whether a PMP Aspirant is ready for the exam at some point or they should postpone the exam date in order to be better prepared.

This is one of the most important decision an Aspirant would need to make. In addition to the extra re-certification fee required, the failed exam taker will suffer a blow to the confidence. The presence of an Exam Coach will help Aspirants determine whether they need more time to finish the study.

For Those Who Have Failed the First Try

Aside from helping Aspirants to attempt the exam for the first time, Exam Coaches are even more important in the unfortunate event of failing the exam.

Understand the reasons of failing the exam

Failing the exam is very discouraging. It looks like someone will never be able to get PMP certified…… NO! Many aspirants took the exam for two or even three times before being able to pass the PMP Exam.

Since everyone is different, there is again no standard answer to the question why someone fails the exam. But an Exam Coach can discuss your study plan and your performance on the day of exam in order to pinpoint some reasons for the fail. The Coach will be there to support you during the low time and help you to put together a new study plan to ace the exam next time.

Where to find PMP Exam Study Coach?

At the time I prepared for the exam, there was none available.

Fortunately, the same producer of PM PrepCast™, which is a PMI Authorized Training Partner, has since launched an online PMP Exam Coach service, PM StudyCoach, which will guide you through the exam study. It is available as both a pre-recorded service or online personalized service.

Wish you PMP success!


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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