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Helping you earn and maintain your PMI certification. Passing the PMP Exam is tough, but keeping your PMP Certification alive is just as challenging. Preparing for the exam requires an in-depth study of the PMBOK Guide and dedicated study discipline. And once you are PMP certified, then you are required to earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every 3 years to keep your certification alive. Let me help you make this journey easier with tips and tricks on how to prepare for and pass the exam as well as efficiently earning your PDUs once you are certified.

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PMP® Exam Lessons Learned From Someone Who Has Recently Passed

Six Steps to Earning All Your PDUs

7 Lessons Learned from the PMI-ACP® Exam

The 7 Things You Need to Pass the PMI-ACP® Exam

How To Become PMI-ACP Certified Even After A Disappointing Class

PMP® Exam Lessons Learned From Someone Who Has Recently Passed
Categories: PMBOK, PMP, PMP Certification, PMP Exam, Project Management Professional

Is studying for and obtaining your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification one of your personal or career goals? Are you wondering about things such as where is a good place to start, what materials might be the most helpful in studying, or how many practice tests are just right or too many? Are you interested in the experiences and insights of those who have been there, were once also wondering many of the same things, and who have recently passed the PMP® Exam?

If any of these questions sound familiar to you then there is a forum you need to explore on The PM PrepCastwebsite. Every post is from those who have recently obtained their Project Management Professional Certification and are willing to provide tips and information concerning their study methods and experiences taking the PMP Exam. These individuals most likely were where you are today, full of questions and concerns, and looking for a place with information and answers.

Let’s take a look at one example from this forum. It was written by Scott Coonrod, PMP, not too long after he obtained his PMP certification. In his PM PrepCast Forum post he discusses how he studied for and prepared for both the PMP Exam and the exam day itself along with his experiences at the test site.

Lessons learned and other tips related to preparing for the PMP Exam:

  • Find others who are also studying to obtain their PMPCertification and review key items in the PMBOK® Guide together. Studying with others is a great support system during the exam preparation process.
  • Go through The PM PrepCast lessons and take notes on the material being presented. Even if you do not go back and refer to the notes at a later date they will serve as a good method for retaining the material. Taking notes can help you ‘learn’ the material, not just ‘memorize’ it.
  • Take the quizzes after each PM PrepCast Lesson. If you feel as if you missed too many answers, you can always go back and listen to the presentation again or review the notes you had taken.
  • Answer many, many, many practice questions. The study guide mentioned below comes with a CD with two 200 question sample exams and an option to obtain a third sample exam.
  • Download free PMP Exam question apps. The great thing about these apps is that many have 25-50 questions each that you can answer whenever you have a free moment.
  • As you are nearing your PMP Exam date create a data dump sheet with key formulas, definitions, and other items you want to make sure you remember for exam day. Practice recreating it; because that is what you are going to need to do on your exam day.

Lessons learned and other tips related to PMP Exam study materials:

  • Read the most current version of The PMBOK® Guide together with others who are also looking to pass the PMP Exam if possible.
  • Additional suggested study material includes “Project Management Professional Study Guide (Fourth Edition)” by Joseph Phillips. This study guide provides you an interactive quiz that indicates not only ‘if’ you answered correctly or incorrectly, but also ‘why’ the answer was correct or incorrect, as you answer each question. These quizzes were a great introduction to how questions may be framed on the actual PMP Exam. Some questions may be worded in ways that may seem misleading. For example, some questions may provide much more information than what is needed to answer a question, and some other questions may require you to choose the MOST correct answer from a list that may have what seems like several correct answers.

Lessons learned and other tips related to taking the PMP Exam:

  • Know where your exam site is. If you live far away from the exam site and can’t drive by, make sure you have reliable directions and know if there is construction on the route to the Prometric Test Center. Allow for plenty of time to get to the site without causing yourself unnecessary additional stress.
  • Remember to have your two forms of identification because you will need to prove who you are in order to take the exam.
  • Do not bring too much stuff with you. You will have to lock everything up because you can’t take anything into the exam room with you.
  • If you are nervous about taking a computer based exam, don’t worry because there is an optional 15 minute tutorial at the beginning of the exam that does not count toward your PMP Exam time. If you are comfortable taking a computer based exam, use this time to recreate your data dump.
  • If you start to feel nervous or overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths, tell yourself “you’ve got this”, and keep going.
  • Answer all of the questions you know and mark those you don’t for follow up. Some questions/answers later in the exam may help you answer those you had marked.

These are just a few examples of the PMP Exam related lessons learned and other tips offered by someone who has recently been in your shoes and has shared his experiences. You can access these lessons learned and other tips and many more in The PM PrepCast Forum at http://www.pm-prepcast.com/ll.

About the authors: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM is a noted PMP Exam Prep expert. He has helped over 26,000 students prepare for the PMP Exam with The Project Management PrepCast and offers what is possibly the best PMP Exam Simulator on the market.

Scott Coonrod, PMP recently obtained his PMP certification (April 2014) and has 17 years of experience in the electric motors industry; mostly leading or championing projects.  He currently is developing and leading the Project Management Office (PMO) for the manufacturing operations of a multi-billion dollar global manufacturer of motors, generators, switch gear, and mechanical gearing aimed at converting power into motion to help the world run more efficiently.

Posted on: June 30, 2014 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Six Steps to Earning All Your PDUs

As a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®, the last thing you want to happen is to have your certification suspended. This happens if you do not earn the required 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) within your three-year recertification cycle. Often, once the stress of taking and passing the PMP® Exam is over, you step back into focusing on projects and other deadlines, and the need to earn PDUs is relegated to the back of your mind or even forgotten all together. You want to avoid a situation in which your recertification cycle is coming up and you have earned only a few, or worse yet, no PDUs. So, let’s take the task at hand - “The need to earn 60 PDUs within the three-year recertification cycle” - and break it down as a 6-step plan of attack:

Step 1: Learn the Rules
The first thing you need to do is learn the rules for earning the required PDUs. Just like if you want to drive a car, it is best to start by learning the traffic rules. The best way to learn the rules for earning and claiming PDUs is to read the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) section of the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook at http://www.pm-prepcast.com/pmphb

Step 2: Review the online CCR System
Every PDU earned needs to be reported through the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) ® online CCR System. You can report your PDUs through the CCR System, print a copy of your PDU transcript, review PDU category limits, and see your progress towards recertification. The best way to understand the CCR System is to check out the system for yourself. You can find it at https://ccrs.pmi.org/.

Step 3: Plan to earn PDUs from multiple categories
In Step 1 above you learned that PDUs can be earned in six categories. The goal of this step right here is to plan how many PDUs you would like to earn from each category. You do not have to earn PDUs in all six categories, and you could simply earn all of your PDUs in category A (Courses offered by PMI REPs, Chapters and Communities). However, understanding each category may lead to you earning PDUs in categories you had not initially considered. Plus, as you plan your PDUs, you will see that working as a professional in project management will earn you 15 “free” PDUs for just for doing your job. That leaves you with only needing to earn 45 PDUs in the five other categories.

Step 4: Find providers that meet your lifestyle
Once you plan your PDUs, you need to find PDU providers that will best fit your lifestyle.
There are many providers on the market that offer both free and commercial PDUs in a variety of formats. If you are a tech savvy, then online webinars may be for you. If you have a long commute to work, then subscribing and listening to free podcasts in your car on the way to work will be a good fit. If you are looking to get more involved with your local PMI community, then maybe volunteering as a board member for your local PMI chapter is good for you. If you prefer in person learning and the exchange of ideas with a personal trainer, then look into providers that offer traditional classroom training. If you are looking to mingle and to get to know those who are part of your local PMI chapter, then attending a local chapter dinner meeting will benefit you.

As you can see, there are many opportunities available to earn PDUs, and it is likely at least one or two will fit your lifestyle. And don’t worry if you are not sure about how to find training providers, because there are websites out there dedicated to helping you find PDU opportunities. These sites are free and run by dedicated volunteers. Check out http://pdu4free.com/, http://www.pduotd.com/, or http://www.pdu-insider.com (Disclaimer: the last one is my own website).

Step5: Take Action!
Now that you know the rules, are familiar with the online CCR System, have planned your PDUs, and have found providers that fit your lifestyle, you need to take action to earn your PDUs. In most cases signing up for PDUs can be done online with your selected provider. Once you are signed up, all you need to do is attend your selected training event.

Step 6: Claim your earned PDUs immediately
You have attended a webinar, completed training, or maybe attended a PMI Chapter dinner meeting and have earned PDUs. Now you need to input that PDU information into the online CCR System at https://ccrs.pmi.org. You will have all of the information you need on the certificate you receive from each training event. Immediately inputting your PDUs not only keeps you from forgetting to claim the PDUs you have earned, but also each time you log into the system you can see how many PDUs you have earned and how many you still need to earn.

In conclusion, earning 60 PDUs within three years is really easy if you have a plan. And if you are not all that interested in following these six steps, I recommend that you at least complete the first step. Knowing and understanding the rules will elevate you above 75% of the PMPs out there who do not fully understand the PDU requirements. Knowing the rules will help you avoid making the mistake of not earning the 60 PDUs you need to maintain your PMP® Certification.

Posted on: June 05, 2014 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

7 Lessons Learned from the PMI-ACP® Exam
Categories: Agile, Eligibility, PMI-ACP, PMI-ACP Exam, The Agile PrepCast

Everyone has their own method for studying for the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam. You might carry the PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline or some Project Management Institute (PMI)® recommended study material around with you. You might join your local PMI® Chapter to study with others who also have the goal of passing the PMI-ACP® Exam. No matter what study method or methods you choose, someone has been there before you.

While everyone may have a slightly different story to tell, there are some things that can make a big difference in your success with passing the PMI-ACP Exam. Luckily, exam candidates are more than happy to share their personal stories and lessons learned with you. We have reviewed and analyzed a number of lessons learned from the PMI-ACP Exam that successful exam takers have posted on our website. Below is a summary of 7 lessons learned.

1: Learn the exam topics
“The exam covers most of what is in that outline,” according to one of the students on our forum. PMI published the PMI-ACP Examination Content Outline which covers topics, tools & techniques, as well as knowledge & skills for the exam. If you ever feel lost in all of the possible study material, return to this outline to make sure you are studying the right topics.

2: Read a variety of PMI-ACP Exam material
Unlike the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam, the PMI-ACP Exam does not have a single guide or book of consolidated knowledge. PMI suggests a variety of reading material that can be used to study for the PMI-ACP Exam. A list of the current suggested reading material, the PMI-ACP Examination Reference List, can be found on the PMI website. According to one forum commenters “you have to read information from several sources and study more methods” compared to the PMP Exam.

One method for learning is to highlight important information as you read through the material the first time. On the second read through, create flashcards of the highlighted areas that you can use on the go to study important points. While reading the study material, pay particular attention to definitions and terminology as they may not be the same as those you use for Agile projects in your organization.

3: Take sample exams
The best method for practicing for an exam is to take sample exams. And sample exams can be your best indicator of readiness for the PMI-ACP Exam as well. You can take one before you start studying for the PMI-ACP Exam to gauge the areas in which you should focus. You can also take one when you think you are ready to take the PMI-ACP Exam to ensure you are actually ready.

Whichever way you plan to use sample exams is up to what best fits your study style, just make sure to use this valuable tool. Being familiar with how the exam works and the types of questions that will be asked can greatly increase your chances of passing.

4: Make the most of your study time
It can be difficult to find time to study, but there are ways to take advantage of even a few moments of time. If you have a long commute to work you can listen to The Agile PrepCast. This program offers more than 40 hours of PMI-ACP Exam preparation videos that can be downloaded to you smart phone, computer, tablet, or other portable media device. These videos can be viewed or just listened to while doing house work, working out, waiting in line, or even during your lunch break.
Passing the PMI-ACP Exam requires a lot of study time – possibly even more than you first thought. Seek out extra time in your day where you can increase your study time.

5: Be confident
Believe in yourself. If you are scoring well during the sample exams then you can feel confident about your ability to pass the PMI-ACP Exam. One key strategy to building confidence is taking practice exams to both identify what you need to focus on, and where you have improved as a result of studying.

6: Time yourself
Three hours may seem like a lot of time, but as many PMI-ACP certification holders know that time can go by quickly. The best way you can ensure you will not run out of time while taking the PMI-ACP Exam is to take at least one full length practice exam in a similar environment. Find a quiet location without distractions, set a timer, and start a full length 120 question exam. If you finish with plenty of time to spare, and pass, then you will probably do well during the exam. If you can barely get through all 120 questions in three hours or run out of time then you may need to look at what you can do to speed up your test taking or evaluate if you simply don’t know the material and need to study more.

7: Listen to others
Lessons learned by others can be a great asset in your own PMI-ACP Exam preparation. Talk to previous students, discuss your study plans with members of your local PMI Chapter, and listen to those who have already successfully completed their journey to PMI-ACP certification, chances are they will have some very valuable advice for you.

Do you want more PMI-ACP lessons learned? Go to our PMI-ACP Exam discussion forum to read more advice from previous PMI-ACP candidates. There are always great ideas and suggestion that people have for other exam takers. And when you’ve completed your own PMI-ACP journey, don’t forget to come back and share your experiences on the forum as well!

Posted on: April 28, 2014 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 7 Things You Need to Pass the PMI-ACP® Exam
Categories: Agile, Eligibility, PMI-ACP, PMI-ACP Exam, The Agile PrepCast

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) has developed a set of criteria and credentials for recognizing project management professionals who use Agile methodologies in their project, the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification. The credentialing process is fairly rigorous, including: 2,000 hours or twelve months of general project management work experience, 1,500 hours or eight months of Agile specific project experience, and 21 hours of training in Agile specific practices. The amount of material that is covered by the PMI-ACP Exam is extensive and can seem overwhelming, but don’t be intimidated! Having and using the 7 items in this article will ensure you are prepared to meet the exam head-on and achieve optimal results both on exam day and in your future career.

1: PMI-ACP Handbook

The PMI-ACP Handbook gives you all the details of the PMI-ACP Exam process including exam policies and procedures. The first two sections are a must read for anyone considering PMI-ACP certification. These sections cover the must know basics such as exam eligibility requirements, how to complete the online application, the payment policy, and the PMI-ACP Exam blueprint. Knowing and understanding this information will go a long way to reducing your exam day stress.
The PMI-ACP Handbook is available for free online at: www.agileprepcast.com/acphb

2: Time

The material covered by the PMI-ACP Exam is extensive, detailed, and spread throughout many sources of reference material. This is not an examination you can “cram” for in a couple of weekends or simply rely upon your experience and pass. Plan to take the exam after spending 10-12 solid weeks of studying for an hour or two just about every day. Of course you will need to develop a schedule that is flexible enough to fit in with the rest of your responsibilities and commitments.

3: Study Plan and Schedule

As a project manager, you are aware of the importance of planning and scheduling. Take those valuable skills and create a study schedule for 10-12 week period that fits well with the rest of your responsibilities. Depending on your job and household commitments, you may need to schedule more or less time. Take a practice exam to identify the areas that you need to spend more time focusing on during this 10-12 week period. Make sure your schedule is realistic and set weekly goals to track your progress. Don’t forget you also need to include time in your schedule to take breaks and participate in activities you enjoy.

4: Study Materials

The PMI-ACP Exam, unlike the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam, does not have a primary publication for examinees to study. Instead, PMI provides a list of reference
Visit www.agileprepcast.com for PMI-ACP® Exam Resources P a g e | 2
materials. You can download this list for free at: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/~/media/Files/PDF/Agile/PMI000-GainInsightsAIGLE418.ashx
A second source is the PMI-ACP Examination Content Outline. This document covers information about the Agile tools and techniques as well as the Agile knowledge and skills that will be covered in the PMI-ACP Exam. I recommend that you ensure that any PMI-ACP courses or books you purchase cover all the items listed in here. Download it at: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/~/media/Files/PDF/Agile/PMI_Agile_Certification_Content_Outline.ashx

5: Self Study Course

With the great number of material covered by the PMI-ACP Exam another option is to enroll in a self-study course. The latest generation of self-study comes to you in the form of Agile Podcasts / Videocasts. These can be downloaded to your smartphone, laptop, tablet, computer, or other portable media device. This makes your PMI-ACP Exam training portable, allowing you to listen or view whenever you have some free time.
Self-study Agile Podcasts cover agile frameworks, tools and techniques, knowledge and skills, and methods required for the exam in everyday English. As an added bonus, taking your lessons in this way can count toward the required 21 contact hours of Agile specific training.

6: PMI-ACP Exam Prep Book

There are a wide variety of PMI-ACP Exam prep books available, which are also sometimes called “study guides”. They explain the concepts covered in the PMI-ACP Exam and can be a great addition to the reference materials suggested by PMI. Go to your local bookstore and select one that fits with your style of learning and covers a variety of high- and low-yield topics.

7: Questions, Questions, Questions

A large number of free PMI-ACP Exam sample questions are available from a variety of resources on the internet. Free questions are a good place to start, but will only go so far for you. You will also want to subscribe to an online PMI-ACP Exam Simulator in order to access the highest quality of sample questions.
Your study plan must include answering as many practice questions as possible and taking several complete 120-question practice exams. This type of preparation will allow you to evaluate your study progress and prepare you for the format of the real thing. You will be nervous on exam day, but being familiar with types and formats of questions will help reduce anxiety and prepare you for success.

In conclusion: preparing to pass the PMI-ACP Exam can be a stressful process, but it does not have to be. Include these seven items in your studies and you will reduce anxiety and exam day stress. Study hard and good luck!

Posted on: April 02, 2014 12:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How To Become PMI-ACP Certified Even After A Disappointing Class
Categories: Agile, PMI, PMI-ACP Exam, study, The Agile PrepCast

Even if your classroom experience is disappointing, you can still go on to pass your PMI exam. Felix Rodgers, PMI-ACP, is one successful candidate who had a less than good experience of his training course.“It was really interesting stuff,” he said, in an interview with Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, host of The Project Management Podcast. “Even though the actual study guide we used in class wasn’t up to par.”

Luckily, Felix had a good trainer who helped to address some of the problems with the course materials. “He jumped in with stories of some of his work experience in large companies and explained some of the projects he worked on. I also learned that my trainer was later hired to update the study guide for the training company and it’s much improved now.” Despite the poor experience of the course, Felix felt ready to take the exam straight afterwards. However, he ended up waiting about a year due to work and personal commitments, although he would recommend others to take the exam as soon as they can.

“I also wish I’d have given myself a little more time to go over all of the different concepts that maybe on the test,” Felix said. “The totality of my experience had been with Scrum, one of the frameworks for Agile that’s part of the test. I felt very comfortable with that, but I was very weak with Lean and XP and they were the things that going in, I knew I didn’t have a lot of experience with.”

Felix bought some books and did some reading, and sure enough, the first few practice exam questions that he took were about Lean. “As you look at those questions, you start to worry: Am I going to have issues with this?” But as his studies progressed, Felix felt more confident. “I can’t stress that enough to people that you have to take practice exams,” he said.“The more testing that you do, the more prepared you’ll be.”

After the classroom course, and his break from studying, Felix spent two or three months reviewing for the exam. Everything in his study plan led towards his scheduled exam date. He studied for a couple of hours on weekdays and longer at the weekends, which is when he took his practice exams. He even considered taking another classroom course, but due to the investment, decided to give self-directed study a chance first.

He used Andy Crowe’s study book, The PMI-ACP Exam: How To Pass On Your First Try. “It’s a really good book,” he said. “I went through it about three times and it has really good test exams in the back. What was interesting about these questions is that when I actually took the test, I wasn’t too far off as far as what I saw in the actual exam.” The realistic questions helped Felix prepare. “It’ll ask a question but it’ll just twist just a little bit,” he said. “It kind of makes you take a second, a third and a fourth look at that question.”

Felix also found the focus on the 12 principles in the Agile Manifesto and the Scrum guide very useful. “If you’resolid with your principles, you always refer back to that,” he said. “If you’re in doubt when answering a question, always rely on what the actual Agile principles say. I did that for more than a few questions.”

On the exam day, Felix was a little late to the test center as he hadn’t worked out exactly where it was. He was able to enter the room without problems and noticed that there were cameras taping the exam and the candidates. “I went through the tutorial just to understand the system,” he said. This was valuable as the majority of Felix’s test questions had been in books. “They walk you through the process of how to mark things, how to go back and once you’re done with everything, you can click to finish. It’s a quick tutorial.”

During the exam, Felix found that his practical experience of managing projects using Scrum for 8 years was valuable, and he was confident with those questions. However, the majority of questions he marked for review were about Lean or XP. He finished in about 2 hours, but thought that was too quick. “Am I going out at a good pace? Am I too slow? Am I too fast? You’ve got to try to pace yourself to make sure that you get everything answered and also that you provide yourself with enough time to go back and review the ones that you had some questions about.”

The bulk of the questions were somewhere between the hard and medium category,” Felix said. Once he had finished the exam, Felix completed the feedback survey and received his results. He had passed! He received his score report, which was stamped in the bottom corner and then he was able to use PMI-ACP after his name.

As soon as he got in the car he posted his results in Facebook, and then started thinking about the next credential he could take, the Risk Management Professional exam. He sees instant applicable value for these courses in the real world. “In the work that I do now for a defense contractor, we’re trying to include Agile into the military and government culture,” he said. “They’re willing to try these types of techniques. I love the challenge of trying to apply things that I know work very well in the commercial world to a world that’s, let’s be honest, is not usually known for quick iterative releases.”

Overall, Felix felt that his study plan combined with practice exams and real world experience helped him prepare, despite his poor classroom course. “It is really important to get a good teacher along with good content,” he said. The Agile PrepCast would have been great for him. “For me it meant a lot of studying but I am so excited to have it and be able to use these kinds of skills and techniques in my current job and in the other future endeavours.”

 

Posted on: March 01, 2014 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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