Why did you decide to take the CAPM? what is your background?
I am presently in my second year of MBA in finance from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. Prior to this, I graduated in Apparel Production from National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and worked as a merchandiser in Egypt. I am also a Level II candidate for 2013 CFA Programme from CFA Institute USA.
Project management is an integral part of any process in any company. In fact, in my belief it is even more important for a finance manager to be a good project manager as one can directly impact and control costs in any project by managing it well. This was my main motivation for taking CAPM.
How long did you take to prepare for the exam?
I prepared for the exam for a total of around 1 month and on an average 3-4 hours a day. Sometimes I was unable to study for couple of days due to assignments and exams related to my MBA studies.
Did you follow a routine/schedule on how to study for the exam?
Yes, I had divided this period of 1 month into three distinct phases: For the first 2 weeks I completed the entire curriculum to have idea about the entire syllabus. In the third week, I focused on areas in which I had difficulty in understanding. The final week I kept exclusively for solving questions.
What books/guides/classes did you take?
I referred PMBOK and PMP Study Guide by Joseph Philips for my preparation. In addition to this I had the CAPM preparation slides for reference.
Would you like to share 3 most important things to be taken into consideration when preparing for the CAPM exam?
I think the three most important things to consider are : Time management- make sure you plan your strategy well , Practice: This will ensure you get confusing questions correct and most importantly Clarity: This will imply your fundamental understanding of the topics is clear.
While taking the exam, were you nervous or did your preparation match with the exam pattern?
I must admit I was a bit nervous on the day of the exam. However the fact that I had solved enough problems, helped me remain calm and maintain my confidence level during the exam.
The videos though a lot of them are not long intervals of mindless talking.
These pre-recorded sessions display the time duration, and it helps; so you can squeeze in a few of the lectures before watching your favorite TV show or going out for your run.
Two trainers (as far as I have watched it) have been doing all the talking- Cynthia Stackpole and C. Aron.
Aron lectures on chapters involving mathematical calculation and I personally liked his style and presentation better than Stackpole’s.
Videos include definitions from the PMBOK, however the course is not an alternative of reading the PMBOK, so make sure you still read it.
So, how is it better than other online courses that are being offered on the web?
Honestly, I haven’t taken a lot of them. What I like about this online course is that, it mails you reading materials as well- for you to keep. So, even when your online access is over, you can still use the CD and study materials to prep for your PMP. That’s a nice and thoughtful touch.
Included is also a graded is a PMP and CAPM Test Simulation which is not part of the course requirement or the score doesn’t affect your final grades.
I think it takes a while to get used to the course, its navigation and utilizing the resources completely.
To read Week 1 and 2 and the Disclosure, click here.
I tried it and it didn’t work.
The fact that I didn’t make it, kinda stuck with me for a long while and took away a chunk of my confidence. I had to face it again.
This time, I wanted to do it differently and make sure I cover all the mistakes that I did last time. So, I ordered prep materials- they are expensive but let me tell you its worth it.
You can order whatever you want to but if you are taking CAPM, there are not a lot of options who cater to this category. Make sure you don’t buy the PMP software. Beware and double check that your material is in sync with the PMBOK fourth edition.
I got mine from Rita Mulcahy, the entire package for CAPM. Apart from the fact that the books comes with a plan on how to prepare for the exam, I like the fact that the materials cross reference the PMBOK along with page numbers. So, you just know which page to go back to instead of flipping through and doing it all in your mind. I think they just take the pressure of your mind on how to go about it and do it all for you.
Last time, I didn’t get a lot of simulated exams and I think that was a huge mistake. So, now the prep material also includes the exam software which think is awesome.
So, while I have been advised to take the PMP directly instead of CAPM, I think the CAPM opens the door for you to get the PMP. You learn more, are better prepared and you prove your genuine interest in the profession.
To know more about the CAPM exam, click here.
To know more about the CAPM exam, click here.
Want to review PMBOK through a slide, try this.
Want to review PMBOK through a slide, try this.
The goal is to be as prepared as I was on the day of exam and start from there with other prep materials. I haven't scheduled exam dates anymore but I am hopeful I will be taking it during December.
Here's my plan from tomorrow-
5.30 am -Wake up and out for my walk
The schedule is not going to work perfectly right now since my sister flew in from London a few days back and it has been rather hectic. However, I am sure I will be back to this schedule very soon. As much as I would love to include a few more hours of studies it seems possible only on weekends. I might squeeze in an hour or so while travelling and during lunch.
(Pics: Google Images)
You get 15 minutes on your computer to get used to the exam software, if you are already aware you may "end" the session and start the exam directly. I took my 15 minutes to get accustomed to the environment and be more comfortable.
The exam has 150 questions, out of which 15 are for future tests and will not be scored. All you have to do is answer 135 questions in 3 hours. The time limit is not a problem, it's ample time to think, rethink and choose the answer. Questions are all mutiple choice. You also get a calculator on your screen for calculations.
Once you complete your exam, you get to know if you passed or failed along with an analysis sheet which shows the 9 zones you have been tested for and how you flaired in them. It doesn't provide you with any score or percentage to take back home. You either get it or you don't.
The questions tests different arenas -
- The input and outputs of terms like say "schedule network diagram"- this tends to get a little confusing and you have to be very sure since 2 choices will look similar and correct. This is the major part of the exam.
- Analysis of situations and the action which you will take based on your leadership skills
- Calculations - Formula based and are not too detailed.
- Difference between terminologies
How you can make your study error-proof: I thought I was smart enough to read the PMBOK and get through the exam. So, the exam prooved- I'm not.
If you have worked in project management for years and have been part of all the process executions, you can perhaps get through the exam by just reading the PMBOK. It wasn't true for me, first, I haven't been in this arena for long enough to gain experience in all the processes. Second, I haven't seen half of them being implemented. So, my idea is based on the theoritical aspect by reading of the book.
I think one flaw I had in my preparation is while studying is that we tend to develop a pattern for it and rarely try other things. So, while I was sure I was studying it the right way and had my hand written flash cards to help me I wasn't perhaps thinking about breaking the pattern. Thats what got me.
I have to be honest and tell all of you who would like to prepare for the exam that I was confident giving the exam and though I was very close to getting it, the truth is I didnt. However, that should not deter anyone , use the process of elimination to figure out your answer and read well. Using prep materials is good, since it guides you on the your thinking process and I will be using it for my next attempt.
I remember looking at my computer screen for my result and not being able to read the entire paragraph. I read that I didn't make it and all I could think was waking up everyday at 5.30 to study and that I had to do it again. It's hard taking the load at work and coming back home late and studying.
The entire process has taught me something more worthwhile, the credentials are hard to get and I have tremendous respect for all who have made it.
As much as i'm dissapointed, I'm glad I took the exam (CAPM). Here are few things I thought everyone should know to avoid the disaster:
- Read between the lines of the PMBOK book
- You should know the inputs and outputs of all processes and terminologies.
- You do get some basic calculations (I got 5 of them), read your formulas
- Questions come from all processes.
- When you think you are ready for the exam, give yourself a month more.
- Try taking the test through softwares available in the market and prep materials (I didn't do it), it will help
Thats all for now, CAPM exam analysis and more will be coming up soon. Thanks for all your support, emails and encouragement.
If you need reasons why you need to qualify the exam, take your pick:
*People (read team, your boss and future employers) will take you seriously and your ambition to become a PM
*Talk about getting the right opportunity
*You will be motivated to reach out for the next goal, no matter how tough it seems
*Career gets a boost
*You look forward to advance your stand as project management subject matter expert.
*A tad bit easier to get into entry level project management job profile.
You register for the exam through PMI and you get hold of the PMBOK. Is that enough? Ok, so now you start reading blogs, you are well informed but you have to get through the exam.
*You have to think very clearly, so keep your mind fresh and ready.
* The questions are not as simple as they look. There will be a trick word or underlying meaning which affects the answers. Look out for the words.
*Out of the 4 multiple choice answers, chances are 2 will be wrong. The other 2 will be almost the same; the decision you make will have to be exclusively by re-reading the question (based on 1-2 words in the question).
*Understand the concepts and why a process is executed.
*The roles of the individuals and how it affects the projects
Don’t assume you will get the PMBOK right in your first reading, you won’t. Read the book without understanding the details. Once you have finished with your first reading, try it again- more you read better you understand the picture.
Reading the PMBOK is essential no matter what other books or prep materials you follow. Try starting as early as possible. Divide your time, to read through the material at your pace, re-read it and understand. Then take a break to think over the concepts. Resume with the reading of the book and the prep materials. If you know peers who have appeared for the exam it’s a great help. Unfortunately, I am not lucky here and relying more on my guts.
Ok you have guessed it- I haven’t seen the thereafter.
Remember, my exam’s on September 15! How confident am I? Not much actually I’m completely blank at this point. I don’t want to take the pressure to pass the exam. Do I want to? Desperately. I have never taken an exam so publicly in my life as this one, my results will be somehow part of the blog for the entire world to read and of course my team at work will know it as well. Embarrassing I say (if I don't make it).
Never mind is what I say to myself- its part of the journey. Whether I get it or not the fact that I took up the challenge is a boost enough. I’ll get it.
To all dreamy eyed to-be PM’s- don’t give up your dream and there’s no shame in pursuing it. Take up the challenge and once you are in it and part of it- you will get it.
(Picture: Google Images)