PMP Exam Special: How to pass your PMP Exam with Kevin Reilly, PMP
In this episode of The PM Podcast we bring you a brand new interview that I did with Kevin Reilly, PMP for our sister podcast The PM PrepCast. Kevin and I discuss how he prepared and studied for the PMP Exam. We learn about his experience of becoming a PMP as well as his study plan and approach. At the end Kevin also shares his inspiring closing remarks with us.
For more information, please visit http://www.project-management-prepcast.com
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hi, This is Cornelius Fichtner. I am the host of The Project Management PrepCast™. If you hear this message, then you are listening to the Free PrepCast. This version of the program is not updated regularly and it only contains a few episodes so that you can listen in and hear what the Premium PrepCast offers.
The Premium PrepCast is for paying subscribers only and we look at the concepts, tools and techniques that you need to know in order to sit for the PMP exam. To learn more and to subscribe to the Premium PrepCast, please visit our website at www.pm-prepcast.com and now on with the show.
Man: Welcome to The Project Management PrepCast™, helping you to prepare to take the PMP exam with your host, Cornelius Fichtner.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to The Project Management PrepCast™, the best place to go where real PMPs tell you what to expect. I’m your instructor, Cornelius Fichtner.
In this episode, we have another interview for you in which a successful PMP exam taker opens up to you and talks about what it was like for him. His name is Kevin Reilly. He is a student of our PrepCast who passed his PMP exam and offered to talk about it here on the program.
As you know, the rules of the PMP exam are such that we are not allowed to discuss specific questions from the exam but we can discuss his overall experience, general thoughts on the process and his recommendations to you. And since Kevin has changed his career and is now a PMP exam trainer himself who teaches others as they are preparing for the exam, you can look forward to a great discuss and some excellent advice.
Hello, Kevin and welcome back to The Project Management PrepCast™!
Kevin Reilly: Hi Cornelius! Thanks for having me today.
Cornelius Fichtner: Well first of all, congratulations! You have passed your PMP exam, always a great milestone. So congratulations from me to you.
Kevin Reilly: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! But before we start, we have to put a disclaimer into this interview because you are not just any successful PMP student after you have passed the exam. You contacted me and you are now working for our company, right?
Kevin Reilly: Yes, I am and very glad to be there.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yes! And I liken this to the guy, I don’t know in the 70’s or 80’s, the guy who is selling the razors. You know, he said…
Kevin Reilly: Remington.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, exactly! “I liked the product so much, I bought the company.” And in your case: “I like the product so much, I am now working for the company”.
Kevin Reilly: Excellent, that’s great! Very good analogy.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yes. So let me put the big question right upfront here. If you have to do this again, if you have to study the PMP exam again, what would you do differently?
Kevin Reilly: Well, what I did was being a good project manager, I actually created a project plan, go figure that, for the PMP exam prep study. But what I did is sometimes project managers do is I was a little bit aggressive on the estimation so about a quarter of a way through my studies, I realized that I had to redo that project plan.
So what I would have done differently is come up with a more realistic estimates on how long it would take to actually complete my studies based upon with the amount of hours I was working, my volunteer work and all other distractions going on in my life at that particular time.
Cornelius Fichtner: Then let’s jump right into that.
Kevin Reilly: Okay!
Cornelius Fichtner: How long had you planned and how long did you then actually take? So what did you have to switch over there?
Kevin Reilly: I actually started in January of 2011 thinking about doing the PMP exam as certification. It took about 5 months for me to actually do and I actually got my PMP on June 26 of 2011. And the reason being, I was working full time when I first started studying. Then I was “in transition, involuntarily” I might add. So the last basic 6 weeks of my studies, I was able to do it full time. So that’s kind of how it evolved and it really worked out very well during that time because when the time off from work, I was able to really dive into the studies and take a live course in addition to my online study and my self-study. So that worked out very well.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright and how much had you originally estimated how long it would take you?
Kevin Reilly: I estimated 120 hours originally and it took me 320 total.
Cornelius Fichtner: Wow! So almost what, 2.75 times as much.
Kevin Reilly: Yes. But you have to realize I’m a pretty detail-oriented guy so I don’t think it would take everyone 320 hours to study. But of course, everyone’s an individual so you have to determine that for yourself.
Cornelius Fichtner: Anything else you would have done differently?
Kevin Reilly: Not really! Once I got that plan, you know the project plan set and the estimates correct, I kind of stuck to it. It worked out very well.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. Also, you studied for the exam using the PMBOK Guide Fourth Edition and the fifth edition is already sort of in the making. Do you feel that the way you studied, your approach, the discussion that we’re going to have right now is going to be valid in the future for those people who hear this interview maybe in 3, 4 years and maybe they are using the fifth, sixth or seventh edition of the PMBOK Guide?
Kevin Reilly: I do. I think the things that we’ll talk about today are going to be valid no matter what edition of the PMBOK Guide comes out. Basically, there’s a limited amount of knowledge areas and knowledge in the PMBOK although they might be rearranging and adding a few things over the next 5 to 10 to 20 years. But I think the basic plan of attack, having a project plan and sticking to that is the best way to pass the PMP exam regardless of the format in the future.
Cornelius Fichtner: Very well. Why did you choose to become a PMP?
Kevin Reilly: Well, I was in project management in IT for about 10 years previous to taking the exam. But I was only a project manager in name for about 2 years before that. So I was really doing project management for 10 years and I finally said to myself, well, okay I’m pretty good at this and most of my projects. Okay, some of my projects succeed. But it would be nice to know the actual framework that’s involved. So what I did was I joined my local PMI chapter and went to a couple of meetings and then decided pretty quickly after going to that first meeting that the PMP certification was for me to give me the kind of framework that I needed.
Also, I did some research because I was looking at some other certifications like the ITIL, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, which is more specific to software development and product development. But I wanted something that was going to be project management oriented and was also globally recognized and that was the PMP.
And the other thing was once I want to start my studies, my bootcamp instructor indicated something very interesting to me that I did not realize and probably most PMP aspirants don’t realize is that the PMP certification is not just a certification. It’s actually an accreditation similar to CPA. So it’s not like a one-day seminar where they hand you a certificate. It holds a lot more value and is globally recognized as the standard for project management in the entire world. So those are the kind of reasons.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yes, exactly! And I find that especially last that people seem to miss when they’re going to this one-day classes somewhere, maybe from a smaller or mid-sized company and at the end, they get a certificate.
Kevin Reilly: Right.
Cornelius Fichtner: You are now a Company XYZ-certified project manager. The PMP exam is much bigger and much wider than just that.
Kevin Reilly: It really is.
Cornelius Fichtner: The biggest hurdle from my experience with my students that everybody has to take is the application itself.
Kevin Reilly: Yes, sir.
Cornelius Fichtner: I mean, the normal stuff --- name, last name, birthdate, where do you live, that’s usually quite simple and straightforward. But when it comes to putting in all the details, all the information showing your experience, that’s where it really gets hard, right? How was that experience for you?