PMP Preparation advices & exam tips

I have passed PMP 4th exam on Dec-2012 and would like to share the experience with everyone. The following is the recommended steps from my prospective to prepare and pass the exam:

1- Download PMP handbook pdf
This is a free download from PMI, the link might change for the book; anyway you should find it in PMP certification main page. This book is a MUST read. Always check for newer version as this document changes frequently.

2- Attend PMP course
When you read PMP Handbook, it is a must to have “35 contact hours of formal education”, there are mainly two ways for this:
    a- Attend formal course for PMP in your area, but usually it costs you too much, unless it is included within your company training schedule.
    b- Distance learning by purchasing an online course, and at the end you get your certificate by passing an exam.

I have searched the Internet for quite some time and found the cheapest and really good deal The PM PrepCast. It is around 100 USD (Currently, 129.99 USD as of Dec-2012), and has great value; lots of people will recommend it to you, other courses I found online was above 250 USD. You can easily watch the video on your computer or other portable devices. I didn’t try the package with simulator, I have got the preparation including formulas study guide as a package it was really great deal.

3- Purchase good preparation PMP
Reading a preparation book is very important to clearly understand the idea of PMP and its related tasks, PMBOK is considered tenser and towards exam objectives, I find myself try to understand or seeking more declaration about a subject in preparation book if I can’t understand from PMBOK.

You will find most PMP holders refer to two books for certification:
1.    Head First PMP 2nd edition.
2.    PMP Exam Prep, 6th Edition: Rita's Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam.

You will find lots of comparison between two books, I prefer that your read those comparisons before purchasing, but most of them mention that Rita is more directed to exam and teaches you as classic text book, while Head first uses its great way for teaching, but it sometimes miss some minor information.
At the end I picked Head first, and I purchased e-book copy for 50% discount from Oreilly using a coupon, so, I suggest before purchasing from whatever website always try to get a coupon from Internet.

4- Becoming PMI.org member
When you read PMP Handbook, fees section, you will find fees differ if you are PMI member or not. All people will tell you better become a member as you will receive discounts on exams, re-examination and renewals plus some more extra stuff. Please create a new account in PMI before applying for individual membership that will cost you 129 USD.

5- Download PMBOK Guide 4th edition
As per your PMI subscription you are eligible to download free electronic water marked copy of PMBOK guide 4th edition (A guide to the project management body of knowledge), it is found in this link. There are other good documents in the same link, but not mandatory for PMP exam.

6- Stick to a study schedule
One of the biggest mistakes that you will do is that you get the certification in relax mode, this may take months or even years. My advice will be making a schedule for the preparation till the day of the exam including solving exams. I have prepared a study schedule using Microsoft Project 2010 shared here (For Microsoft Project 2007 shared here). It has specific study calendar “PMP Study Calendar” of 4hrs/day, 5 days/week. I encourage using it and modifying the project calendar to suite your availability. This link provides a detailed explanation of how to change the calendar in Microsoft Project 2010. You will find that most PMP holder mention that you can have the certification in 3-4 months which matches the project schedule mentioned before.

7- Solving exam questions
You need to solve lots of exam questions before showing for the exam. Following is list of available free:
•    PMP Exam Self-Assessment Test (75 questions).
•    About.com Tech certification (20 questions).
•    BestSampleQuestions.com PMP Sample (160 questions).
•    Test prep review (15 questions).
The above are just samples, you can search and find lots more.

8- Real Exam advices

a- Language aid: If English is not your mother tongue language, apply for free language aid in the exam, this sometimes help in some types of questions.

b- Exam time is limited, you need to be fast: You have 4 hours to answer 200 questions, i.e. you have only 72 secs per question (1st hr --> you should have reached 50 questions, 2nd hr --> 100 questions, 3rd hr --> 150 questions) you should check these milestone in the exam in-order to keep moving as fast as you can.

c- Exam duration is 15 mins tutorial, 4 hours exam, 15 mins survey. The first 15 mins you will have complete tutorial on how to mark and review exam, and use of calculator before you finish this tutorial (As exam will start after this) take the remaining time for writing down all equations you know in a clear paper the testing center have provided you. This is really helpful as you might get distracted from long time in exam and will consume time trying to remember them.

d- Method of elimination is best used for exam, for tough questions, pick any answer from what you think are probably correct before marking the question for review; i.e. never leave a question without an answer.

c- Sometimes for long questions, it is better to start reading the last part sentence to know what it require, before reading a whole paragraph as it is giving stoo much unneeded information.

d- When a question is asking what you will use for a process, it is asking you to pick up input, tool, technique that’s part of the process.

e- Take your time answering “Which is not” question. I think the best way to eliminate confusion is to remove the word “NOT” in the phrase and write down your answers then convert it x --> √ & vise versa. This worked for me very well.

I hope this will help someone there.