Run Reconnaissance

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102 It’s the big day.  You have an appointment with your future.  You have made your appointment for 1:00 p.m. since you know you are an “afternoon person.”  You have many times imagined the thrill, the feeling of accomplishment, the emotional release, and even the joy of seeing the single word on the computer screen that will trigger the moment.


Once you see the successful result of your certification exam, then the waiting is over.  There are no more steps to be taken, no more hurdles to clear.  When you see “PASSED,” then YOU ARE A PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL!  So much work!  So much concern!  It will all be worthwhile once you see that word, “PASSED!”

The sound that jerks you back into reality is your GPS unit announcing “recalculating!”  As you pass a likely correct turn to get to the testing center on time, you begin to feel a knot in your stomach.  You know that you programmed the correct address into your GPS!  The unit comes back to life and directs your next turn.  Whew!  That could have been bad!

Awesome!  Back on track…   Upon arriving at the destination address, you pull into the parking lot.  Looking at the row of retail stores in this center, you don’t immediately locate any signs that direct your attention to the testing center.  That feeling in your stomach starts to grab your attention again.  Your eyes dart from side to side looking for the right entrance.  You drive all the way around the retail center once more trying to locate the door.

The thought crosses your mind that you don’t have a direct telephone number for the testing center.  You try to think who else you know that has used this testing center.  Maybe you could call that person to get precise directions.  Your thoughts are interrupted as you turn around the end of the retail center and see something promising.  Here’s a door with a simple sign that says “Technology Center.”  That’s the closest thing to a testing center that you have seen so far.

After parking and running in, you discover that this is indeed the testing center.  You barely made it in time; you are assigned to the last vacant testing station in the exam room.  As the proctor starts the optional 15-minute tutorial session, you take your seat and try to settle down and get your head into this exam.

Wow, that was a close one.  Hopefully your anxiety at almost being late will quickly subside.  But what if you hadn’t noticed that door?  PMI would have counted your absence as one of your three attempts for this year.  You would have had to reschedule and pay the additional associated exam fee.

The lesson to be learned from this disconcerting story is to prepare for the exam in every way possible.  Eliminate every unknown that you can to minimize new experiences on exam day.  A week or a few days prior to your exam date, make the drive to the testing center to run reconnaissance – learn the gotchas that are going to throw you a curve ball on exam day.  Find the testing center; park and go inside!  See what the lobby is like, get the lay of the land.  On exam day, you should plan to arrive 30-45 minutes in advance of your appointed time.  Though you may have already learned the way, build in some schedule reserve in case of traffic accidents or construction along your route.

Studying for the exam isn’t limited to just the curriculum!  Run reconnaissance!