PMP Exam 2021 Lessons Learned: Make up your mind, Prepare and Beat the Exam

PMP Exam Experience Sharing

I have recently received yet another success story from a fellow PMP aspirant who prefer to remain anonymous, below are the lessons learned from the PMP Exam preparation:

I knew for a very long time that I had what it took to pass the PMP, My background is in consulting (Mostly technology consulting), but a mix of self doubt and a busy schedule kept me relegate the PMP to a lower priority for about 4 years.
I finally made up my mind to write it early last year, before the planned syllabus change, before COVID-19 disruptions affected everything. Luckily the deadline got extended, so I also shifted my aim to November, registered for December.
In that time I discovered Edward’s website and it helped me as a landing page for my preparation, I did all the free questions and used the resources to augment my earlier preparation (Rita & PMBOK® Guide) and experience. A month to the exam, I also added Aileen Ellis’ 1 month course.
Then in December, a few days before the course outline change deadline, I tried to write my exam using a self proctored exam. Due to some network issues, the proctor had to cancel and I was left distraught as I was unable to re register before the outline change deadline.
After some calls with PMI’s support center I was allowed to rewrite the exam but with the tentative new syllabus on the old outline. I was among a few people who had to do this on a short notice. PMI helped by giving us access to some study material given we showed willingness to write the exam before April.
I had to come back to Edward’s website, Rita’s book, My PMP study group, PMI’s bonus material and Aileen’s course (maybe this was an overkill, my issue was self-doubt as usual).

Article Highlights

Exam day

I decided to go to an exam center to avoid any issues (I live in a poor network country). Got to the center early and kept it cool.
The exams however looked like nothing I was prepared for, the questions were a bit longer and more confusing. I however stuck to answering what I thought was the best answer.
My exams had a fair number of agile touching questions, some focus on risk and resource management also stood out to me. I also don’t remember needing the calculator at all. This threw me off because I had spent too much time on the day before the exam worrying about formulas and calculation questions
Throughout the exams I felt a bit confused, and was even worried I wasn’t doing well and would have had to resit. I felt I was answering most questions with best case answers, answers I was 80%+ sure of based on my learning and experience but not 100% sure.
When I was about to submit I was sure it hadn’t gone well, only to see “congratulations, you’ve passed”. I scored Above Target in every domain.
The experience taught me something important about preparation, while preparation may not directly relate to the questions you face, in some cases it gives you an eye for what is right and wrong, you almost instinctively know “these 3 answers look wrong, but this looks somewhat ok or looks best”.or “these 2 look right, but if this question is about x (communication management for example), then I believe this is what the answer should be”.

Key Takeaways

  1. PMI seems focused on testing for understanding and to a degree experience. Ensure you read to understand not just to know.
  2. Still do as many practice questions as you can that relate to whatever the current material is. This helps you develop an eye for what looks right and wrong, even when it goes against your experience
  3. From what some experts say and what I saw in my exam, I agree with the belief that PMP won’t test for deep knowledge of accounting calculations like IRR & NPV. A brief knowledge of what they mean for the project or project selection is likely enough.
  4. Agile knowledge is very helpful. Questions may or may not be directly about agile but a knowledge of the terms and the ceremonies will help navigate some questions. A book like Essential Scrum by Kenneth Rubin should help you get more comfortable. This was the main weakness I had when I had to prepare for the newer exam. I thank Aileen Ellis for helping me pick this up, most of my work experience is in predictively planned projects.
  5. A healthy amount of confidence helps.
N.B The questions I faced aren’t reflective of all PMP questions.
All the best to everyone taking the exams soon, and those dilly-dallying like me, make up your mind, prepare and you can beat the exam too.
Thank you for your help Edward, it really helped me with curating resources and building confidence. I am glad I cleared the exam in my first sitting.

~ A recent PMP

Thanks for the PMP Exam lessons learned indeed, I find it very useful!

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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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