Certification Insider

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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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Make a Plan to Earn Your PDUs

10 Reasons Flashcards Can Help You in PMP Exam Preparation

#PMICongress Interview: Positive Leadership with Frank Saladis

PMP Exam Myths - True or False?

What Exactly is the PMI-ACP Exam?

Make a Plan to Earn Your PDUs

As a Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential holder, you must earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every three years in order to maintain your certification status in good standing. Not obtaining the required 60 PDUs within your certification cycle will lead to your credential being suspended. That is the last thing you want to happen, but life being what it is, you probably have family commitments, work-  and social-organization commitments, to name just a few, that are also important to you and probably a little more in the forefront of your life than earning PDUs. If you are anything like most others, as soon as you passed the PMP® Exam, you knew earning those 60 PDUs would be easy and you were going to start on it as soon as you got home, but time passes quickly, sometimes too quickly. So, it is not at all unusual to get well into the third year of your certification cycle and suddenly realize you are nowhere close to obtaining the 60 PDUs you need to ensure your certification stays in good standing.

So what do you do to make sure you do not find yourself struggling to earn PDUs late in your certification cycle? What can you do to make sure earning PDUs is as much in the forefront as other aspects of your life? Well, being a project manager you have the necessary tools to approach earning PDUs as a project by making a plan. Below are some steps to keep in mind when developing a plan to help make sure you earn those required 60 PDUs.

Step 1: Understand the PDU Categories. Read over the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program section in the PMP Handbook to learn about the six categories in which PDUs can be earned. Set a goal for how many PDUs per category you would like to earn over the next three years. Keep in mind that for the PMP® certification some categories limit the maximum PDUs you can earn per three-year certification cycle.

Step 2:  Make earning PDUs a habit. Identify repeating PDU activities that you can participate in. Maybe attending dinner meetings with your local PMI Chapter works best for you. This is a good option especially if you have been thinking of networking and meeting other PMP® credential holders. Or maybe subscribing to The PDU Podcast at www.pducast.com to receive a new webinar to watch every month works better with your busy lifestyle. If the cost of earning PDUs is a factor for you, there are also options for earning free PDUs available.

Step 3:   Develop a plan. After you have decided what categories you would like to earn PDUs in; found local chapter meetings to attend; or subscribed to monthly webinars, develop a plan to earn those 60 PDUs. Make sure to take into account such things as planned vacations and other times when you will not be available to earn PDUs. There may be some months where you will need to earn more than the 1.67 PDUs needed per month to keep on track to earn the 60 PDUs. Planning for those events now and determining when you will make up PDUs in later months will help you make sure you do not fall behind in your plan for earning PDUs

Step 4:  Set up reminders for yourself. With the prevalence of smart phones and other hand held devices your calendar can be at your fingertips. Set up reminders for yourself to earn PDUs based on your plan. In addition to adding events to your calendar, another good option is to subscribe to The PDU Insider Newsletter at www.pdu-insider.com which is all about earning PDUs. This newsletter is issued every three to four weeks and can serve as your reminder for needing to earn PDUs. The PDU Insider Newsletter will also give you information on earning PDUs that maybe you had not thought of that you can add to your plan.

Step 5:   Execute your plan. As a project manager you should be an expert at executing plans, and this one is personal, so it should be an easy one to achieve.

Step 6:    Report your PDUs. Each time you earn PDUs, immediately log on to http://ccrs.pmi.org and take care of two things. One, input the PDUs you have earned, and two check the number of PDUs you have earned to make sure you are on target with your plan.

Step 7:    Apply for credential renewal. Once you have earned the 60 required PDUs, don’t forget to apply for credential renewal before your certification cycle ends.

Earning PDUs can be easy; the hard part is remembering to do so regularly. The steps to earning the PDUs you need to maintain your PMP® certification are as easy as understanding the PDU categories, making earning PDUs a habit, developing a plan, setting up reminders, executing the plan, reporting earned PDUs, and finally applying for credential renewal.

Posted on: January 07, 2015 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

10 Reasons Flashcards Can Help You in PMP Exam Preparation

Categories: PMP Exam

Studying for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) Exam can be a long undertaking that at times may seem overwhelming. One known effective method for studying for the PMP Exam is using flashcards. Flashcards are compact, quick and easy to use study aids that typically cover one question, formula, or tidbit of information per card. Flashcards can be used just about anywhere; waiting in line, on the bus or train, or even when you just have a few moments between meetings. In this article, we are going to discuss 10 reasons flashcards should be part of your PMP Exam preparation toolkit.

You should consider using flashcards because as a study method, it does the following:

1.    Allows you to study almost any time & anywhere -

•    Flashcards are portable and flexibly. They can go anywhere with you and can be used when you have some free time such as waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or the cable repair technician.
•    You can print flashcards and take them with you, or if you prefer PM Flashcards are also available to be viewed on mobile devices.

2.    Provides an active method for learning PMP concepts -

•    When you use flashcards as part of learning a concept, you are not just passively reading information; you are asking yourself questions and actively answering them.
•    When you pick up a flashcard that reads “What does WBS stand for?” you have to think about what the question is asking and recall details related to the question. Apart from asking what WBS stands for, you might then ask yourself what does it mean? What was the context in which I learned about WBS? What is the significance of a WBS?
•    You are more fully engaged in learning, which helps make the information “stick”.

3.    Allows you to think about how much you do or do not understand a concept -

•    Flashcards can be used to reflect on what you are learning, which is also known as metacognition, i.e. “Thinking about thinking”.
•    If you pick up a flashcard that reads “How do you calculate SPI?” you may remember what SPI stands for and that it involves earned value and planned value, but cannot recall the formula.
•    If you don’t have clear understanding of a flashcard question, then you know you may have to read more about it or review what you have learned about the concept. So this may mean looking up the SPI formula, study and work through an example to ensure that you know that you calculate SPI by dividing earned value by planned value.

4.    Breaks studying down into small chunks -

•    One flashcard covers a single topic so flashcards overall break studying down into small single concept chunks.
•    For each chunk, you can determine which ones you understand and those that you know you need to review more.
•    In other words, flashcards allow for you to focus on one question at a time. When you pick up a flashcard that asks “What does WBS stand for?” and you think to yourself “I have no idea” then you know you need to set that card aside, so you can spend more time on specifically on the topic of the WBS.

5.    Provides repetition -

•    Flashcards ask questions about concepts in a variety of different ways and are intended to be used over and over.
•    Knowing how to answer questions about a concept that is presented in a variety of ways ensures you learn, not simply memorize, the concept. In this way, you will find it easier to recall the information.
•    If you answer a flashcard question correctly, don’t just set it aside. It is useful to not only see the cards you have not mastered more than once, but also it is good to review cards you got right the first time. Answering correctly a few times ensures you have learned the concept.

6.    Allows for distributed learning -

•    Distributed learning is the practice of spreading out your studying over time and quizzing yourself on the concepts over time; in another words…not cramming.
•    Take a break between study sessions to learn other concepts or do other non-study related activities to allow for the information time to “sink in”.
•    Spreading out studying for the PMP Exam is a much better method than cramming all of the information “en masse”.

7.    Provides immediate feedback on progress -

•    With flashcards you know immediately if you are on the right track with a specific PMP concept, either you can answer the question correctly or not.
•    There is a growing sense of accomplishment with a growing pile of mastered flashcards.
•    There is no waiting time. You can immediately reprioritize your studies to learn more about topics on flashcard questions that you got wrong.

8.    Allows you to control your learning -

•    You can order the flashcards randomly, by subject areas, by how much you have mastered a topic, or in any order you would like.
•    You can learn at your own pace; set your own personal goals such as to review 5, 40 or 100 flashcards a day.
•    You can easily sort the cards in to groups of what you do know and what you need to spend more time studying.

9.    Uses both visual and auditory senses -

•    Memory improves when you use more than one sense to learn information, which can be done using flashcards.
•    It is useful to have cards where you can draw an image or graph on (visual) that you associate with the concept on the flashcard. For example if the concept is Maslow’s hierarchy, don’t just rely on the text to learn the concept – draw it out.
•    It can also be good to have someone else read the questions to you (auditory).

10.    Works well in a group format -

•    You can make a game out of using flashcards and create a contest or casual competition within the study group, so you can introduce some fun while learning, discussing, and debating questions and answers.
•    Hearing and discussing the questions in a group format can help you to reinforce PMP Exam concepts.

Flashcards are an excellent study aid that can provide a huge boost to you PMP Exam preparation toolkit. They are broken down into a single concept at one per card, can be used just about anywhere when you have free time, can be sorted in any order you wish, and can be used alone or as part of a group study session. Of course you can create your own flashcards as you study, but there are excellent inexpensive flashcards available such as the PMP eFlashcards that can give you a head start.

Posted on: December 02, 2014 06:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

#PMICongress Interview: Positive Leadership with Frank Saladis

The following interview with Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow, was recorded at the PMI Global Congress 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona:

(Direct link to interview...)

Frank Part & Cornelius Fichtner

In his congress paper, Frank describes Positive Leadership in Project Management as follows:

Despite the effort placed on planning, coordinating, and integrating the many components of a project, the project manager’s typical day is filled with challenge, Each day includes an unending stream of email, deadline issues, some frustrating events (and people), conflicting view points from stakeholders, and demands for changes at very inopportune times.

We can also find within a typical day in the life of a project, some successes and victories (and maybe an occasional thank-you or other form of recognition. At the end of the day it is sometimes difficult to remember what actually happened and what was accomplished. The activities and accomplishments of the day are often blurred by the thoughts associated with the preparations and steps that must be taken to prepare for and begin another set of adventures just waiting for their chance to occur at the start of the next morning.

Dealing with this intense mode of operation on a regular basis places a very heavy demand on the abilities of a project manager and there is a real need to find some way to balance the competing elements that go along with the job. This balance extends to one’s personal and family life also.

The question then becomes “How can we (as project managers) find that balance?” In the book, First Things First by Roger A. Merrill and Stephen Covey, a suggestion is offered: “Know the direction in which you intend to go and your goals on a personal and professional level.” In other words, a clear sense of direction should be defined for your personal life as well as your chosen profession.

To a practicing project manager, that advice should sound very familiar. In fact, it is essential for project success. Without direction and a set of objectives, how will we ever know where we are going? How can we lead a team if we don’t have goals to guide ourselves and our team? There is no question that goals and purpose must be defined upfront, refined, and then communicated with high level of energy and enthusiasm.

Without this clarity and sense of purpose, we cannot effectively lead our team, our organization, or our own lives. This is where positive leadership becomes a critical factor.

You can access the full paper/presentation through PMI.

 

Posted on: October 28, 2014 09:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

PMP Exam Myth

 

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® Exam myths, 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 (2)

What Exactly is the PMI-ACP Exam?

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 Exam and exam process can be found at www.pm-prepcast.com/agile.

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