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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 Myths - True or False?

What Exactly is the PMI-ACP Exam?

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

PMP Exam Myths - True or False?

You have read the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) publication, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), from cover to cover; studied other Project Management-related texts; and you feel you are preparing well to take and pass the Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. There are, however, a number of myths related to the exam process and the exam itself that you are not sure are valid.  In this article, we are going to take a look at six myths related to the PMP® Exam process and bust them so you can quit worrying about what is true and continue with studying for and taking the exam 

Myth1: You need to score a 61% to pass the PMP® Exam

No, while this was true at one time, it is no longer the case. Passing the PMP® Exam is no longer determined by the percentage of questions you answer correctly. It is calculated using a sound psychometric analysis. In essence this means that the harder questions are worth more than the easier questions. So you get a higher score if you answer more of the harder questions correctly and a lower score if you answer more of the easier questions correctly. The minimum score needed to pass is determined by the overall difficultly of your individual exam.

Myth 2: Only PMI Registered Education Providers are authorized to give PMP® Exam Prep Courses

No, there is no authorized or unauthorized training material for the PMP® Exam.  Several types of training companies can provide training for the PMP® Exam, which may include courses or programs offered by PMI Registered Education Providers (REP); training companies or consultants; PMI component organizations; employer- or company-sponsored programs, distance-learning companies, which need to include an end-of-course assessment; or even university or college academic or continuing-education programs. Essentially anyone can provide training for the PMP® Exam. The advantage of ensuring your training comes from a PMI REP is you have the assurance that the provider has been reviewed by PMI for standardization and quality.

Myth 3: Obtaining the PMP® Certification will lead to a higher salary

That depends. The potential to see an increase in salary depends on several factors including your country of employment, years of experience, and the average size of projects you manage. Every year PMI conducts and publishes information related to their salary survey. In the 2012 report, it was found that even with a sluggish economy, the average salary for a PMP® credential holder had risen. However, there is no guarantee that passing the PMP® Exam will lead to a higher salary.

Myth 4: The exam application audit process uses applicant profiling

No, the exam application-audit process is completely random. When completing your PMP® Exam application, keep in mind that you may be audited, so be prepared just in case you are selected. Make sure you are 100% truthful; have documentation to back up anything you claim on your application such as training certificates; and mention to current and former employers or colleagues that you are applying to take the PMP® Exam in case they are contacted by PMI to verify any assertions on your application. Think of this application as a job application; there is a chance that your references will be checked.

Myth 5: You must know the Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs) by heart

No, you do not need to spend time memorizing the around 500 ITTOs described in the PMBOK® Guide; instead you need to understand the concepts behind them. It is possible you will have questions on the PMP® Exam such as “Which of the following is not an input to the Create WBS process?” where memorizing the ITTOs may help. However, it is more likely you will have questions that relate to how or why a specific ITTO is used in a process and memorization will be of no use to you when answering those types of questions. So, your goal needs to be to fully understand the concepts of each process in the PMBOK® Guide, not the memorization of the ITTOs.

Myth 6: You need 35 PDUs before you can take the PMP® Exam

Almost. You need are 35 contact hours before you take the PMP® Exam -- not 35 Professional Developmental Units (PDUs). So you are required to have at least 35 contact hours to be eligible to take the PMP® Exam. You do not need to worry about PDUs until you have obtained your PMP® Certification, then you must follow PMIs Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) and earn 60 PDUs every three years to maintain your PMP® Credential. Remember, you need contact hours before taking the PMP® Exam and PDUs after.

 

There are many PMP® Exammyths, and it is often difficult to distinguish what is the truth and what is myth. Myths can be difficult to eradicate so remember, anytime you come across something that makes you scratch your head or say “hmmmmm”, you can verify what you have heard or read by checking the PMP® Handbook or writing to PMI Customer Care; they are happy to help dispel myths.

Posted on: September 04, 2014 06:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Exactly is the PMI-ACP Exam?

Have you been hearing coworkers talk about taking the Project Management Institute® Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®? Or have you been seeing the acronym PMI-ACP® more frequently? Has that left you wondering what exactly the PMI-ACP Exam is and if it is for you? Here we will look into what PMI-ACP means and provide you with information outlining the exam requirements, the exam content, and what you need to do to maintain your PMI-ACP certificate once you pass the exam.

First things first -- What does PMI-ACP stand for? PMI-ACP is the PMI® certification that “recognizes an individual’s expertise in using agile practices in their projects, while demonstrating their increased professional versatility through agile tools and techniques”. (Project Management Institute). In other words, once you pass the PMI-ACP, you are then considered a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner.  Passing the PMI-ACP Exam indicates to employers and others both inside and outside the Agile Community that you have demonstrated  experience working on Agile projects, and knowledge of Agile practices, principles, tools, and techniques.

Secondly, how can you be sure if taking the PMI-ACP Exam is the right step for you? First you need to have the desire to become a PMI-ACP. Next you need to verify that you meet the PMI-ACP certification requirements in four areas; educational background, general project experience, Agile project experience, and training in Agile practices. For educational background you need to have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent). In the area of general project experience you need at least 2,000 hours (12 months) of general project experience within the past five years. In the area of Agile project experience you need to have at least 1,500 hours (8 months) of experience working on project teams that specifically used Agile methodologies within the past three years. Keep in mind that you cannot count the same hours or projects towards general project experience that you do for Agile project experience. Finally, in the area of training in Agile practices you need to have at least 21 Contact Hours. A Contact Hour is considered one hour of formal education, in this case formal education in Agile practices.

Once you have all of your general project and Agile project hours documented, and you have obtained your 21 contact hours, you are then ready to start your application to sit for the PMI-ACP Exam. You can complete the application online at www.pmi.org, or download a PDF copy of the application, fill it out and then submit it by mail. If you select to apply online you will have 90 days to complete the application. If you have already earned your PMP® or PgMP® credential then PMI has already verified you have fulfilled the 2000 hours of general project experience requirements to take the PMI-ACP® Exam, and this requirement will be waived.

Now that you know what PMI-ACP stands for and what the requirements are to take the exam, what should you expect when it comes to the exam? The PMI-ACP Exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions that need to be answered within three hours. There are two areas of questions on the PMI-ACP® Exam. Half of the exam questions cover Agile tools and techniques, and the other half cover Agile knowledge and skills. Additional information on what is specifically covered on the PMI-ACP Exam can be found in the most current copy of PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline.

Once you take and pass the PMI-ACP Exam, you will need to focus on maintaining your certification. This is accomplished by obtaining at least 30 professional development units (PDUs) during your certification cycle, which is three years and starts the day you pass the PMI-ACP Exam. A PDU is earned for each hour spent conducting activities in one of two divisions; education or giving back to the profession. You can earn all 30 PDUs with educational activities, but are limited to 20 PDUs per cycle for the giving back to the profession category. All activities in either category must be within the specialized area of Agile project activities in order to be counted towards maintaining your PMI-ACP certification. If you are already a certified PMP® or PgMP® you can claim Agile project activity PDUs toward maintaining your PMP or PgMP credential. So you still only need to earn 60 PDUs in total in three years, not 90. And remember that all PDU hours you earn towards your PMI-ACP certification must be in the area of Agile project activities.

Obtaining your PMI-ACP certificate demonstrates to others your knowledge of Agile practices, tools, and techniques. Make sure you understand PMI’s most current requirements to qualify to sit for the exam prior to starting the exam application process. An additional source for information related to the PMI-ACP Examand exam process can be found at www.pm-prepcast.com/agile.

Posted on: July 30, 2014 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

PMP® Exam Lessons Learned From Someone Who Has Recently Passed

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

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 (2)
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