I passed my PMP® Exam

Today I wrote and passed the Project Management Professional® exam! I am now a certified Project Management Professional.

Back in April, a course was offered at work, “Preparing for the PMP Exam” from Learning Tree. About 40 people from Ericsson took the course, including myself. It was a 35 hour (1 week) course that offered to help students pass the PMP exam. It was offered the opportunity on the condition that I make an effort to write the exam, but on my own time and out of my own pocket.

Since then, I have been very busy and did not continue studying. But in the last two weeks, I have been highly motivated. The PMP Exam is changing after August 31st; I wanted to take the exam before the changes, which will impact about 40% of the questions on the exam.

First I had to sign up at PMI.org and start entering my work history. As I have a B.Sc (Computer Science) degree, I had to document that I had 4,500 hours of previous project management experience. There are web forms and paper forms – I chose to use the web forms as it was quicker. Entering the data took a few days, as the forms were long, and I had to go back and review old emails to get the correct timelines. I also contacted three previous managers (plus my current manager) to ask if I could use them as references.

I submitted the form once it was completed. It can take about 5 days for the data to be reviewed and either rejected or accepted. My previous experience was accepted. About 30% of the submissions are audited and the references are contacted. In my case, I was not audited.

My first mistake was to then sign up for the exam and pick the schedule. I should have first bought my PMI membership. I thought that by signing up at the PMI web site with an account that it was part of the PMI membership sign up, but it is not related. If I bought my PMI membership first, the exam would be less expensive. The exam was $633.

I choose the last available day before August 31, which was Monday August 22. That gave me just over a week to prepare.

Unfortunately it was a difficult week. I have been filling in for my manager and one of our key designers. The team received a very difficult issue, which I had to debug over many long hours. It meant that I could not start my studies until Wednesday when the root cause was found for the issue.

I studied for hours each evening, re-learning a chapter per day. I rewrote the practice exams and even downloaded some free exam apps for my iPhone. I spent all day Saturday and Sunday studying.

This morning, I found a quiet meeting room where I did the last hour of studying and had my lunch. The exam is at Prometric, which is in the East end of Ottawa, nearly in Orleans. I left extra early in case of traffic problems, just around noon.

When I arrived, the staff went through the procedures and time line. I was not allowed to bring anything into the examination room. That meant no paper, no pens or pencils, no cell phones, no pagers, no money, no food or drinks (including water), and no watches. I was given a locker with a lock where I could put my stuff. I had to show two photo ids when I arrived, and keep one of them with me during the entire exam. If I had to leave the room (for food, drink or washroom), I would need to sign out and before going back in, I would have to show my photo id again. Also before entering the room, I had to show my pockets were empty by turning them inside out.

I was allowed to start anytime, as there was a free computer, but I was not obligated. I spent another 10 minutes studying and having some last minute chocolate for energy.

When I was ready I was shown the demonstration on how to use the computer exam system. There were about 7 people in the room already writing various exams. I was given two pieces of blank paper and two pencils and a pair of headphones to prevent noise distractions. If I needed more paper, I would have to turn in the other two pages – I could only have 2 pages at once. I immediately wrote down everything I could from memory on the blank paper.

The exam starts with the 15 minute tutorial; I only needed 5 minutes. Then the exam starts. The exam has a 4-hour timer. I finished the 200 questions in about 3.5 hours. I ran through the exam once, answering everything I could. I also marked about 1/3 of the questions to review again. I did not answer a few questions as I could not find the best answer.

Once I completed the first run through, I went back to the review screen and attempted to answer all the questions I did not answer the first time. I did this a few times until everything had an answer. Then I worked on the questions I marked for later review. I kept running through the list of marked questions until all were clear and I had selected the best answer for everything.

With much trepidation, I clicked the submit button. This was the point of no return. If I failed, I would have to spend another $633 to write the updated exam…

But I passed! The results are displayed immediately. It does not give a score or a list of questions that were wrong. It only shows pass or fail.

After the exam, there is a 10 minute computer survey about the exam and the Prometrics facility.

I left the exam room, signed out, and turned in my used papers.

Then I happily drove home through rush hour traffic with a big smile and a feeling of accomplishment.

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