Graeme −> PMI® −> PMP Exam 
I went for the PMP exam Friday afternoon 11/21/2008 in Glendale, and 4 grueling hours later emerged with a credential.  I felt like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz who received a "diploma" in lieu of a brain because I was the same person leaving the testing center as I was when I went in.  Of course, I do have a brain, and it is (for the moment, anyway) crammed full of project management knowledge.  This is due in large part to Raghu's techniques.  He taught an excellent class, using all of his powers (Expert, Reward, Referent, Legitimate, and a small measure of Coercive but only when absolutely necessary!) to cram our heads full of PMI skills and knowledge and then even more importantly motivate us students to sign up for and then take the test.  His contribution that I found most valuable was the "brain dump", which I used to "cram" the night before the test, along with the free sample test.

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The test-taking experience itself was very much like running a marathon, a feat I'm all too familiar with. The duration is about the same, and as for a marathon, I preloaded my body with plenty of carbs, caffeine and other performance-enhancing (but not completely illegal) drugs, and so I made it through all 200 questions before I needed a break. Then I had about half an hour left, which I used to review my marked questions.

Have you ever had the experience while taking a test of suddenly remembering the answer to a question that was twenty or thirty questions ago? That happened to me, and I was prepared for it. Maybe this tip will help you, if you haven't already passed your PMP: on your scratch paper, write down a few words from the questions you have trouble with. Then it's easy to go back to the exact question later, to review your answer.

Another tip I can suggest is to beef up the brain dump with some additional categories: (1) types of contracts, ranked from most to least cost risk for the buying organization (with the caveat that the buying organization had better know exactly what it wants before entering into a fixed price contract), (2) types of power, ranked from most to least effective, (3) sources of conflict, ranked from most to least important, (4) conflict resolution strategies, ranked from most to least effective, and (5) psychologists and their harebrained motivational theories.

Finally, as I mentioned to Raghu in class after one of our brain dumps, it is great that ISTCQHCRP helps you remember the nine knowledge areas, and in addition there are "S" words for three of them: Time=Schedule, H.R.=Staffing, and Communication=Stakeholder. The reason this is helpful to know is that some of the processes and some of the management plans are named after the alternate "S" word, so writing those three aliases at the very top of the brain dump is helpful. In addition, the project management plan has two subordinate plans -- one in Quality (Process Improvement Plan) and the other in Procurement (Contract Management Plan), which can be indicated above the respective columns.

Oh! One more, Raghu. As you taught us, the numbers 756334466 are helpful to remember how many processes are in each knowledge area. In addition, it is helpful to know that Time and Risk have the most planning processes (5 each), and that H.R. and Procurement have the most executing processes (2 each, and you can remember that because there are the two things you can execute: people and contracts!). Then each of the other knowledge areas with more than 3 processes have an unusually large number of monitor and controlling processes (2 each). If you circle these boxes in the brain dump -- one in each knowledge area with more than 3 processes -- then you can fill in these processes knowing exactly how many go in each circle. Then, most of the other boxes have just one process, and so it's not hard to remember all 44 of them.

Internet references offers training and sample tests, including one full 200-question test that you can use for 24 hours.  I took it when I felt ready to sit for the PMP exam, and then I studied the explanations of the questions I got wrong.  I think it helped me pass the PMP.

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