Episode 362: PMP® Exam Prep Training Compared (Free)
This episode is sponsored by The PM PrepCast for PMP Exam Prep:
Are you thinking about how to get PMP certified and wondering whether you should take a PMP boot camp, a PMP class, hire a PMP trainer, or whether to achieve this certification simply through PMP self-study?
We have the answer for you in this interview with Jim Coughenour (https://www.linkedin.com/in/coughenourjim).
Jim is an experienced PMP Trainer and he and I look at the benefits, disadvantages, cost and other factors that you should consider before deciding which way you want to go.
But even if you have already decided that maybe a PMP bootcamp is for you, then I recommend that you should still listen to our discussion because I also ask him to share with us his tips on what you should and should not be including as part of your PMP preparation.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #362. This is the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com and I'm Cornelius Fichtner. Before we start, please don't forget, we are a listener-supported podcast. If you enjoy our interviews, then please visit www.pm-podcast.com/premium. Your subscription will help keep us going.
Are you thinking about how to get PMP-certified and wondering whether you should take a PMP boot camp, PMP class, maybe hire a PMP trainer, or whether you would like to achieve this certification simply through PMP self-study?
Well, we have the answers for you in this interview with Jim Coughenour. Jim is an experienced PMP trainer. He and I look at the benefits, disadvantages, cost, and other factors that you should consider before deciding which way you want to go. But even if you have already decided that maybe a PMP boot camp is for you, then I recommend that you should still listen to our discussion because I'll also ask him to share with us his tips on what you should and what you should not be including as part of your PMP exam prep. So close those books for a bit and enjoy the interview.
Female Voice: The Project Management Podcast's feature interview.
Cornelius Fichtner: Today with Jim Coughenour, professional trainer, coach, and consultant.
Hello, Jim. Welcome to the Project Management Podcast.
Jim Coughenour: Thanks, Cornelius. I'm excited to be here.
Cornelius Fichtner: Before we get to the central topic of our discussion today, we want to talk about ways how you can prepare for your PMP exam. Why don't we start with some action items, some tips for our listeners here? Please tell me, from your perspective, what are the top, maybe three to five must-dos, the things that every PMP student simply has to go through as they are studying full day at PMP exam so that they are prepared?
Jim Coughenour: That's a great question, Cornelius. I think the biggest thing that most people fail to realize is how much effort goes into preparing for the exam. I think they have to make the conscious decision that they want to pass the exam and put the effort into passing the exam. In order to do that, like any good project manager would, you're going to have to come up with the study plan. Your study plan can be very critical to your success of knowing how much studying you need to do and then also whether you would be able to take the exam.
The second thing, I think, people need to do is to practice taking good quality practice questions over and over. As you mentioned, it's like practicing for a marathon. You have to build up your stamina to run a marathon. The same thing as sitting for the PMP exam. It’s a four-hour exam and you have to practice taking questions over and over again.
In addition, you're actually going to use those practice questions as learning aids. So when you read a question and you answer it, not only do you understand why you got it wrong so you can improve but you also want to read the questions and understand why you got it right to confirm your knowledge. But also to confirm that you just not get lucky taking that practice question.
I think the third tip is you need to practice out writing your brain dump. Your brain dump can be used in the first 50 minutes when you go to take the exam, write up everything that you want to write out that you can use as a reference point for the exam itself. I start to recommend that you write out all of the formulas, in addition to writing out Page 61 of the PMBOK Guide.
That guide is going to help you answer questions because many of the questions are going to ask you, what are you currently doing and what do you need to do next? Using your process chart from Page 61 of PMBOK Guide is going to help you answer those questions. Those will be my recommendations to preparing for the exam -- things that you have to fundamentally do.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright, so to repeat, you need a plan, you need to practice with good questions, and you also have to have a brain dump, right?. Now, onto our main topic. We want to discuss the three types of PMP exam preparation, study approaches that one could choose. Here we're talking about boot camps, coaching, as well as blended training.
Let's begin with a quick overview here, if you could just give us, you know, sort of a 10,000-foot overview. What are PMP boot camps?
Jim Coughenour: A PMP boot camp is typically an instructor-led course that's going to last somewhere between four and five days, where the instructor presents a lot of information specifically related to the preparing for the exam. It's a very focused course but it's teaching you what's on the exam and the content you may see on the exam. It's highly intense.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright, then what is PMP coaching?
Jim Coughenour: Coaching works with the students, either in a one-on-one session or in a group sessions, where they help assess the students’ needs, they determine where the students may lack knowledge, they're going to help them recommend the study plan. Then in this way, the students typically are doing some sort of self-studying or they're already gone through an exam prep course if they feel that they need something additional. It gives them the ability to interact with a coach to help them prepare, help them understand where they're at, and then teaches them to come up with a nice study plan and helps them in any areas that they may be facing a challenge to prepare for the exam.
Cornelius Fichtner: Then lastly, blended training. What is that?
Jim Coughenour: Blended training is kind of a mix between the two. Typically, when students go through a PMP boot camp, it’s typically very intense where they still have to do a lot of studying outside the class. Blended learning takes the approach of building an instructor-led training, not as many hours as a boot camp, but typically, you're still going to get somewhere into the three-day range, 18 to 24 hours range of instructor-led.
But this is also is going to lay out a plan where they're building and using other materials such as your exam simulator, the podcast videos, maybe in an all-in-one inclusive book to prepare for the exam. So it has part classroom and also incorporates a plan to use some of the other materials for self-study.
Cornelius Fichtner: How important is self-study in all of these three approaches, you've mentioned it a couple of times?
Jim Coughenour: It is absolutely, extremely critical to study to prepare for the exam. It's unfortunate whenever we have student that comes in with the expectation until boot camp and they believe that they just sit through the course for four days, they're going to be prepared for to pass the exam, which is very, very rare, or a person that's very unique capability to have that. But typically, you're going to have to do a lot of studying outside of a classroom environment to prepare for the exam.
Cornelius Fichtner: From your explanation to boot camp and the coaching seemed quite similar: you have a trainer, he's teaching. Where exactly lies the difference there, the big difference between the boot camp and the PMP coaching?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.