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PMP® Exam Preparation - Pitfalls You Can Avoid

Project Management, PMP® Certification Training - PMP Exam Preparation - Pitfalls You Can Avoid and Why Some People Fail the PMP Exam. Updated 2/1/16

By Nereda Haque, PMP

From years of observation, this is what we would conclude as the biggest reasons people fail:

(a) Erratic Learning: Balance Your Study over all areas: Yes all of the areas were read but not properly absorbed or time was spent studying disproportionately. Usually too much time is spent on one or two areas such as Math or inputs and outputs while ignoring other important areas. This gets people sidetracked (sometimes as much as 80% study of study time is consumed here) and the Exam may have had very little Math or it may have a lot of Math, or it may have few inputs and outputs, or it may have a lot of them. The point is, all of the other areas were some ignored so the learning was not balanced. Our PMP Online Quiz Practice Subscription provides balance learning across all areas. And Day 4 Review section tells you what to make sure you know before taking the PMP Exam.

Practice the Math understanding why do you it and when so it makes sense to you if your questions area analysis based rather than calculation based. Remember how to do algebra and what you use the formulas for - that's it. Practice all of our online questions under Math and you should do well in this area.

(b) They did you practice the Exam Practice Questions for speed so they ran out of time: Studying questions to pick out context is preferred. It will also help you identify the real question. There is no such thing as real Exam Questions except in the Exam itself. So if your only study was to increase your percentage points in the Practice Exams you had in class, you have missed the mark. Understand "why you got a question wrong." The rest you already know.

(c) They Spent too much time cramming, not enough time spent understanding: Learning without understanding is meaningless for this Exam. That’s why formulas and Workflow 12, and a few memory joggers are the only recommended memory work. Can you describe each process, each process group, each tool & technique, each role, each input or output? If you cannot, then you most likely lack understanding.

(d) They had trouble applying the knowledge
– You learned the meaning of everything and thought you understood it. Yes, you need to understand the application too. If you are unable to apply it, that means you have not been relating the understanding so that it is unusable information. Relating what you learned is a very important key to passing. SmartPath LLC gives you lots of examples and workflows so you can relate what you learn and apply it at work. Practicing the Online Quizzes will give you 1967 opportunities to apply what you understand. What is that saying? Practice makes perfect.

(e) They had trouble analyzing and picking out the context, keywords or key phases or determining what the question is about: This is because you are too quick to see the layer of fluff as being important, such as “new project manager” or “supplier you used often” and you get so stuck on this. You will not get trivial questions so know that upfront. You may be so worried that you did not learn this or that. If you are thinking this, then you are definitely looking at the fluff. Dig deeper. It’s like an artichoke. It takes a while to find the heart. You will uncover that last, after every layer has been removed.

(f) They lacked understanding of how processes flow: Know where the outputs become inputs to other processes. SmartPath LLC has recommended exercises to help you learn this. If you didn’t do the exercises yourself, chances are you cannot visualize how processes flow or what the PMI® Exam questions are about because you cannot determine the context of the question. Know the unique inputs that don’t come from the outputs within your 47 processes and the 8 roles dependent processes too. Understand why you need an input.

(g) The person didn’t understand how charts, diagrams and other tools are used so when a scenario is used you don’t know how to answer the questions. You may not even have thought that this question was about a tool and technique. Again look at the answers. They may help you determine context if all else fails.

(h) The person did not understand Risk Management: "Plan Risk Response” process is often misunderstood. This process is not about "issues - something that has happened." This is about taking the Risk Register you have been building and Planning the Response to the identified Risk, by for example, deciding to accept it, buy insurance for it, just use contingency reserve, find ways to mitigate it and lessen the impact should it happen, or use other materials or processes etc., etc to Avoid it altogether, etc., etc. If it is an opportunity, then it's about how you would exploit it and even enhance it if you can to increase business value. Remember risk is about FUTURE.

Therefore the person could not distinguish whether the question was about a Risk Strategy or an Issue. You may not understand contingency reserve. You may not understand about the Risk Management Team and status meetings.

(i) The person took the Exam without understand Workflow 11, 12, 13 and did not memorize the formulas or memory joggers: This is hard to believe but I have seen this happen. This should be a priority, otherwise passing would be better than a miracle.

(k) The person could not tell what area of Quality was being discussed from the questions because they did not under all of the quality connections, nor did they practice our methods. You need to thoroughly understand Plan Quality Management, Perform Quality Assurance & Control Quality to fully understand the connections and your role as a PM. They have three distinct functions. In most of the exams, you will have great difficulty passing if you do not understand these three areas thoroughly along with all the OTTIs + Roles.

(l) The person was too exhausted. This is one reason it's good to take a day or two after preparing for the Exam and feel refreshed when you take the PMP Exam. If you are a "morning person," that is, you typically awake early and find your brain is sharper in the morning, then by all means schedule your exam in the morning. It would be a grave mistake to take it in the afternoon and a big disadvantage for you. If you are an "afternoon," meaning that you typically go to bed late and you struggle to get up early even when you have to, then take your Exam later in the day. If you can, take the day off, and take your Exam without any added stress. If you worked hard all day, and then go to the Exam site feeling hungry and/or dehydrated, then take your Exam you may not be at your best at all. Working during the day before taking this exam is not advised at all. If at all possible, choose the Exam time when you are refreshed, not stressed out by other priorities on the same day, so your head is totally into it.

Be prepared for synonyms or phrases that replace words that you are more familiar with. Sometimes if you look at the answers you will get clues. Solve the "puzzle," and "think outside the box."

In Summary

(1) Every PMP Exam is different. There may be some similarities but they are different. Some are harder than others. You need to prepare yourself properly for everything. And remember, there is no such thing as real Exam questions, unless you are doing the exam itself. Stay with SmartPath LLC's questions and do not mix yourself up with questions on the internet that may align to various PMBOK Guides or old versions of project management knowledge, or they have many questions which contradict each other or have lots of questions and answers that are just plain incorrect. This will only add to your confusion.

(2) Even so, with SmartPath LLC’s exam focused certification training with exam prep, you can be prepared for everything.

(3) Keep up with your study each evening going over what you learned during the day in class and reinforcing the knowledge by doing the exercises in your book. Keeping up with the OTTIs + Roles daily will heighten your understanding throughout the training. We do this through "In Class Exercises," "Connectivity Exercises" and the "Processes 1 to 55 Exercise" (includes 8 role dependent processes). Don't stop escalating your knowledge until you take the Exam. Visualize the information. Play your own PM movie in your head. This is the best way to keep it fresh. When practicing, think "why" and associate the areas. Practice the Online Quizzes as these will both proportionately instruct you as well as test you. Do all of the practices quizzes interactively; and experience a time simulated exam when you do a "Final Practice Exam" of 200 questions. Practice all Online Quizzes before repeating them. Then focus on areas where you have having difficulty.

(4) Schedule your PMP Exam knowing that you did what it takes to avoid all of the pitfalls.

(5) Yes, even smart people can fail the PMP Exam but they will pass if they overcome the pitfalls and if they are not too proud to follow our proven methods.

Getting the highest quality training that is exam-focused (no information overload), based on understanding, with proven learning methods are a real plus. SmartPath LLC provides this type of training.

PMP DC; or Bellevue, WA ; or PMP Live Online; or Testimonials.

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