Episode 22 – Papergate

Episode #22
Original Air Date: 11.15.2016

30 Minutes

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Our Guest This Episode: Andy Crowe, Bill Yates, Nick Walker

Andy Crowe and Bill Yates discuss PMI's new "brain dump" policy for those sitting for their certification exam. They also discuss test taking strategies and other tips for students preparing for their exam.

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"PMI came back and said we’ve had a change in policy. And now at all Prometric Centers, when you go to take the exam, during the 15-minute tutorial you’re not allowed to take paper and pencil that’s provided at the exam center. You’re not allowed to do that brain dump."

- Bill Yates

"Why not go ahead and produce this on the frontend of the exam, while your brain is fresh. You may refer to those formulae or to some of the notes that you’ve made throughout a four-hour exam. So there’s a lot of value in that. But then there’s that tradeoff, when it gets to managing time. So our advice to students is you need to, again, know thyself before you go into the exam."

- Bill Yates

"The reality is this is going to be a heavily scenario-based exam. When you walk in, you’re going to be presented with scenarios. Now you’ve got to apply these facts. And for that you need to think about this idea of optics again. How does PMI see the world? How does PMI see the role of the project manager? And you walk in with that mindset."

- Andy Crowe

"The more reactive you are, the worse you’re going to do on the exam. You walk in with a proactive mindset, you get in front of change."

- Andy Crowe

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ANDY CROWE ● BILL YATES ● NICK WALKER

NICK WALKER:  Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  Every couple of weeks we get together to address the topics that matter most to you as a professional project manager.  Our conversations touch on getting certified, avoiding pitfalls in the business, and creating ongoing successes.

I’m your host, Nick Walker.  And with me are the in-house experts, Andy Crowe and Bill Yates.  And guys, not to be outdone by the politicians, we have an October or November surprise of our own:  Papergate.  Does this rise to the level of scandal?

ANDY CROWE:  I would not go that far, Nick.  I don’t think so.  This was a clarification of a policy from the Project Management Institute that you’re referring to.  But I don’t think it goes so far as a scandal.  It’s turned a lot of people upside down, perhaps.

NICK WALKER:  All right.  So let’s get into this.  What is Papergate?  Did you come up with this, Bill, this term?

BILL YATES:  I can neither confirm nor deny that I came up with that term.  Yeah, what we had was there is a practice, when you go in to take an exam; you have a 15-minute tutorial that takes place before the clock starts ticking down on your actual exam time.

ANDY CROWE:  A tutorial of what?  Explain that.

BILL YATES:  A tutorial is really – it’s showing you how to navigate.  As you’re taking the exam, it’s administered on a computer, and you have to know how to use a mouse.  You have to know it’s A, B, C, or D.  How do I click on it?

NICK WALKER:  Sure.

BILL YATES:  When I click on the next button, what happens?

NICK WALKER:  So the logistics of taking the test itself.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, yeah.  And it is fairly intuitive.  And one of the things that we have encouraged our students to do in the past is to take advantage of the 15 minutes and do a brain dump.  And by that we have formulas that are very important for the exam.  We have keywords, mnemonics, trigger words, different things.

ANDY CROWE:  Acronyms.

BILL YATES:  Acronyms.  The practice is to dump that information on the scratch sheet of paper that is provided at the exam center during that tutorial time.

NICK WALKER:  Okay.

ANDY CROWE:  And the reason we do that is so, for instance, if you have a formula down in front of you, you may have three, four, five questions on the exam that ultimately reference that formula.  You don’t have to recall it each time.  You don’t have to start second-guessing yourself.  You do it at the beginning.  Your mind’s fresh.  Because by the end your mind’s going to be kind of pulpy anyway, and so you do it when your mind is fresh.  You get that information down.  And then it’s there.  And then you can refer back to it with some confidence and some ease and some quickness of recall.

BILL YATES:  And speaking of confidence, I like to encourage students to do the brain dump because it puts you in a confident mood or attitude towards the exam.  You’re able to walk out of the car, come in and be frisked at the Prometric Center, and provide all the right check-in protocol.  And then you sit down, and your anxiety level is really high.  By doing the brain dump, you’re able to produce something on paper.  So you’re getting, kinesthetically, you’re getting involved in it; and you’re relieving some of the stress; and you’re building some of that data that you can refer back to during the exam.

NICK WALKER:  And does the feedback from people who’ve taken the test show that this has been effective?

ANDY CROWE:  Very.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, it’s a good practice.  So we had a curveball.

NICK WALKER:  Uh-oh.

BILL YATES:  So PMI came back and said we’ve had a change in policy.  And now at all Prometric Centers, when you go to take the exam, during the 15-minute tutorial you’re not allowed to take paper and pencil that’s provided at the exam center.  You’re not allowed to do that brain dump.

NICK WALKER:  Okay.  So that kind of changes a lot of the way that people have thought about doing this in the past.

BILL YATES:  Right.

NICK WALKER:  And maybe we have to kind of rethink this?

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  And to tease this out a little bit further, you are allowed to do the brain dump, just not during that 15-minute tutorial.

NICK WALKER:  Oh, okay.

BILL YATES:  For example, the PMP exam is a four-hour exam.  When you finish the tutorial, the four-hour clock starts to tick down.  When that first question appears on the screen, you’re able to then make any notes you want to on the scratch paper.

ANDY CROWE:  But the clock is ticking at that point.

NICK WALKER:  Yes, yes.

BILL YATES:  Right, right.

ANDY CROWE:  Your four hours are going for the PMP.

NICK WALKER:  And is there time to do the brain dump?

BILL YATES:  That’s the question.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah.  And we definitely want to get into that a little bit.  I want to point out that Prometric Centers, at least some, if not all of them, are franchised.  And so the quality of your experience is going to vary from center to center.  Years ago, I went and took the PgMP, which is the Program Management Professional Exam.  And I think I was No. 99 or No. 100 to get that credential at the time.  So I went through it.  And when I was in the waiting room, the proctor came out to me and was talking to me about the exam.  And she said, “Hey, if you want to, take this scratch paper right now, and you can make your brain dump out here in the waiting room.

BILL YATES:  Really.  Wow.

ANDY CROWE:  And I said, “Yeah, thanks, I’ll wait.”  I don’t know why that bothered me, you know.

BILL YATES:  Did you feel like you were being set up?

ANDY CROWE:  I did.  I was afraid the PMI police were going to storm the room.

NICK WALKER:  Where’s the video camera?

ANDY CROWE:  Right.

BILL YATES:  Right.  The yellow suits drop out of the ceiling.

ANDY CROWE:  So I passed.  I said, “Yeah, I’ll just do it when I get in there.”  But so you have this 15-minute window at the beginning.  A lot of it, Nick, is a chance for people to calm their nerves and that type of thing.  The tutorial itself, I guess if you’ve never taken an online exam before, it might be worthwhile.  We simulate the exam experience really, really well in our online in Velociteach’s InSite platform.  So we give people, by the time they’ve gone through and taken one or two practice exams online with us, they know what it’s going to feel like.

So you’re not going to get a lot out of the tutorial.  It’s just really, really basic and pointless.  So we use that time for other things.  PMI’s clarifying that they don’t want that.  So now you’re left with the magic question you just asked:  Do people still do the brain dump?

BILL YATES:  Right.  And, you know, you started this podcast with the word “Papergate,” I think it was?

NICK WALKER:  Papergate.

BILL YATES:  That’s interesting you made that up, Nick.

NICK WALKER:  Yeah, right.  That was not my – but, hey, does it fit?  I mean, that’s the thing, if it fits.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, but let’s get off of that for a second.  So about October 25th is when we were notified through a LinkedIn group thread that this policy had changed.  Now, we were hearing this from several points around the same time.  We had students saying, hey, I just went to take my exam.  I passed, but I had a weird thing happen to me while I was starting the exam.

ANDY CROWE:  A funny thing happened to me on the way to take my exam.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, funny, funny.  Right, a funny thing happened.  Yeah, yeah.  And so we had different individuals taking the exam across the globe and giving us feedback in some cases that, “Hey, I was still able to do the brain dump during the tutorial.”  Others saying, “I was told upfront I could not do it.”  Others started the brain dump and had the proctor come and take the paper from their hands.

NICK WALKER:  Interesting.

ANDY CROWE:  And let’s…

NICK WALKER:  So rules vary, like you said.

BILL YATES:  Yes.

ANDY CROWE:  Well, let’s touch on that for a moment because the role of the proctor is going to – is an interesting one.  The proctor is the person who sits – in some of the Prometric Centers it’s behind a one-way mirror so they can see – a two-way mirror, I’m not sure which.  But they can see out, and you can’t see back in.  Some of them sit behind a piece of glass.  Some of them will go walking up and down the testing center aisles, clicking their shoes or their heels.

BILL YATES:  Tapping the ruler.

NICK WALKER:  Oh, great, yes, thanks a lot.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah.  So here’s the thing.  Some proctors, just like any other job, some people are kind of laid back.  They are there to ensure the integrity of the testing experience.  Some of them are anything but laid back, and they care about every little thing.  And so it would give them great joy to come and rip your paper up, hand you fresh sheets of paper.  So you’re not sacrificing your scratch paper forever.  You can get new scratch paper.  And that’s true in general.  If you run out of scratch paper in the exam, you can go turn it in and get new scratch paper.  But the idea is some proctors really care about rules and maybe have control issues and things like that.  So it just depends on what you’re going to see.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  And Nick, I think, you know, you touched on the important question:  Is it worthwhile to still perform the brain dump?  And the advice that we’ve given to our students since this declaration came down is that you need to evaluate that.  There’s great value in doing it.

NICK WALKER:  Sure.

BILL YATES:  You know, we talked about the confidence that brings and also, to Andy’s point, you may refer to that.  Why not go ahead and produce this on the frontend of the exam, while your brain is fresh.  You may refer to those formulae or to some of the notes that you’ve made throughout a four-hour exam.  So there’s a lot of value in that.  But then there’s that tradeoff, when it gets to managing time.  So our advice to students is you need to, again, know thyself before you go into the exam.  Be sure you’ve taken many simulated exams using InSite, going through the questions in Andy’s book with being aware of the time that you’re taking so that you know going into the exam, okay, I’ve got four hours, and I’m going to need every bit of that.  I really don’t have time to make any notes on the frontend.  Or, yeah, I can allocate five minutes, 10 minutes to take these notes.

NICK WALKER:  And you said that one of the purposes of the brain dump was to establish confidence.

BILL YATES:  Right.

NICK WALKER:  And, you know, know thyself.  I know enough about myself to know that, when the clock starts ticking, I get a little anxious.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, sure.

NICK WALKER:  And if I’m anxious, then my confidence level is going to go down.

ANDY CROWE:  I had a funny experience years ago, Nick.  I worked with a guy to help him get through the exam.  And he said the moment the clock started ticking up in the upper right-hand corner, all he could do is stare at the clock.  He said, “I couldn’t even look.”  And I felt so bad.  I could just picture the dum-dum-dum-dum.

BILL YATES:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  Poor guy.  And so the anxiety people have in this exam and leading up to it is very real.  And it’s not a trivial thing.  I’ll say this.  You know, we have a lot of chapters use our materials.  We make materials.  A lot of PMI chapters, I think about half of them, use our materials to teach people.  And so we’ve given this kind of direction to our students and to our customers and to people who care about this, that, yes, all things being equal, if you have to give one blanket answer, the answer is yes, still do the brain dump.  Do it at the beginning.  Try and get it done in five or six minutes.  Don’t take the full 15.  But that’s true, anyway.  It’s not going to take you 15 minutes to iterate out everything you know onto a piece of paper.  It should take five, six, seven minutes.  That will not be a time management deal breaker for most people.  And anyone who’s taking the full four hours and still not getting through the exam, unless there’s a reading issue or a learning disability or something going on, you’re probably overthinking  the questions.

BILL YATES:  Right.  Yeah, that’s a great point.  And that’s a piece of advice I like to share with people who struggle with that, which is you need to trust your instincts.  You’ve been poring over and preparing for and trying to get in the mindset of PMI.  So when you start rethinking your answers, be very cautious.  I think you’ve got some great advice in your book, Andy, about the frequency or the percentage of questions where you go back and change an answer.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.

BILL YATES:  There’s a point at which you’re, okay, whoa, you’re hurting yourself.

ANDY CROWE:  Well, so this is funny for me because the way my mind works, I can talk myself out of the right answer if you give me enough time.

NICK WALKER:  Oh, sure.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.

ANDY CROWE:  So what I’ll do, my natural inclination when taking a standardized exam is I will immediately gravitate toward the right answer.  But then I’ll stare at it.  I’ll think about it.  I’ll argue.  And this inner debate will go on, and this little red Andy will pop up on my shoulder.  And here’s what he says.  He says:  “Hey, they’re trying to fool you on this question.  They’re trying to make you go for the easy answer.  It’s probably down here.  There’s probably a trap, and they’re probably thinking about this.  And by the time, you know, I’ve changed.  So what I had to learn is that my first instinct is usually correct, overwhelmingly.  And to go with that, to move quickly through the questions, not recklessly, but quickly through them, and then go back and look at them again, and then it’s the other way around.  Then I have to have a really good reason for wanting to change it before I’ll allow myself to change it.

BILL YATES:  Right.  You have to realize that I’ve actually read the question incorrectly.

ANDY CROWE:  And believe me, that is easy to do.

NICK WALKER:  You know, one thing you said is that we have the advantage of having taken some simulated exams before; so hopefully this isn’t the first time that you’ve sort of been in this environment.  I know it’s different when it’s the real thing.

BILL YATES:  Right.

NICK WALKER:  But at least you have a chance to, you know, see what it’s going to be like.

BILL YATES:  Absolutely.

NICK WALKER:  So let’s talk more about the exam.  You know, a lot of our listeners are preparing to take the PMP exam, or are preparing others to take the exam.  Is this recent development  part of a trend that we’re seeing?

ANDY CROWE:  I don’t think it’s so much of a trend, Nick.  I think there’s some importance in PMI about stability these days.  So a little history lesson.  You go back to 2005.  PMI made some sweeping changes to the exam.  The PMBOK Guide – this was surrounding the third edition of the PMBOK Guide.  We’re now preparing for the sixth edition, so it puts it in perspective.  But when the third edition PMBOK Guide came out, it made a lot of content change.  When they did that, they took the opportunity to make a lot of exam changes.  And the net-net effect was the exam became much more difficult.

But it happened overnight.  And so they warned everybody, you know, people – there was a lot of panic, a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of doubt.  And when this happened, it really destabilized the whole exam experience.  A lot of people got upset about it.  There was just a lot of drama.  And I think PMI figured out that that wasn’t – and I’m speculating some here, but not too much.  I think they figured out that wasn’t necessarily the most responsible way to manage the value of the credential.  So they now have gone to these much more responsible smaller controlled changes.  This is just a clarification of a policy.  This is a relatively small thing.

NICK WALKER:  Yeah, okay, okay.

BILL YATES:  This was a big deal back – the one that Andy is alluding to.  I recall, Andy, if I remember right, we went up to Philadelphia.  We were invited to come up and meet with PMI and talk through some of those changes and some of the impacts that were going on in the industry.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.  We got to meet with Dr. Smith, their psychometrician, who was…

BILL YATES:  That’s a big word.

ANDY CROWE:  It is a big word.

NICK WALKER:  What is a psychometrician?

ANDY CROWE:  It is somebody who looks at how tests are created and how tests perform and ensures, really ensures the integrity of a test, ensures that it’s valid.  You can ask a bunch of questions on a test, and you may be getting back random results.  In this case, Dr. Smith’s job was to review and to make sure the results were controlled and accurate.

NICK WALKER:  That seems like a pretty valuable meeting.  You were able to sort of get inside the brain to find out what they’re thinking when they create this exam?

ANDY CROWE:  We sat in the mothership.  We got some valuable information about how the exam’s created.  And really there are a few things about this.  So one thing is this is a standardized exam.  What that means, and what that means to us and our test-takers, is people are expected, questions are expected to perform a particular way.  A certain number of people, a certain percentage of people are expected to pass each question and fail each question.  And they constantly tweak and tune those questions to see how they’re performing.

BILL YATES:  Right.  Yeah, that’s the “metrician” part of that “psychometrician.”  Nick, I’ll let you do the psycho part.

NICK WALKER:  Not the psycho part.

BILL YATES:  Right, yeah.  And the reason we were invited to come up was we’re a registered education provider; and we work closely, we partner with PMI.  And because of the exam change, PMI had a great interest to see is it performing the way that they expected it to.  Is it controllable?  Is it still controlled?  Is it producing the results that they expect?  And what we were finding out, I don’t know, we were maybe a month into the exam change, a few weeks or a month in, and we were finding that, again, the results were not at all what PMI had hoped for, and not what we’d hoped for, as well.  So we had students who were very frustrated after going through the exam after that change.  And so PMI…

ANDY CROWE:  And again, this is a decade ago.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, this was a decade ago.  So PMI had invited us up to talk through that.

ANDY CROWE:  To share some of our data.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, yeah.  So it was a very insightful meeting for us and, again, gave us a lot of insight into and understanding of how the expectation for the exam performance is set and what their goal was.

ANDY CROWE:  The important thing to understand, this Papergate issue is not that.

BILL YATES:  Right, this is not…

ANDY CROWE:  You know, my issue with Papergate is the way it was communicated.  I think, as far as a policy decision, it’s probably not a bad one.  It just keeps the integrity of the time.  Hey, if you’re going to use the tutorial, use it for that.  Even though we recommend people take advantage of it when they could, I think now that PMI has clarified their policy, that’s great.  You know what?  Then let’s keep it the way it is and use the four hours for the PMP exam the way PMI intended you to.

NICK WALKER:  I’ve taken a lot of standardized exams, as I’m sure a lot of people have.  But the whole idea of sort of getting into the workings of it, getting into the science of it, is that something that Velociteach really emphasizes?

BILL YATES:  Yeah, it really is.  There are so many things in our different materials, whether it’s the book, whether it’s the mobile learning, whether it’s in a live classroom setting.  We try to give perspective to project managers, what this exam is going to look like and how it’s going to perform.  That’s probably the biggest thing, if I look back on our conversation today.  The thing that we hate the most is for a student to go in and be surprised on the exam.  And Papergate was a surprise.  And so we’re addressing that and trying to be very aggressive in addressing it.  We don’t want any surprises in the exams.

So we create exam simulators for InSite in our mobile learning that are as close to the actual exam as possible.  Andy describes the, you know, what’s the thought process that PMI goes into, in the book so that he relates some of the standards to real-life project management.  Hey, here’s how you can interpret this input or this tool, and here’s how they’re likely to exploit that on the exam.  That’s the value that we try to bring in there.  We don’t want any surprises for exam-takers when they go in and take it.

ANDY CROWE:  And a lot of that, Nick, is figuring out, when you walk into the exam, it’s thinking through the optics that PMI wants you to have on.  If you can get in this mindset that they want you to be in, which may be different than the way you actually do your job, that’s okay.  It’s something you walk into.  And you think about the role of the project manager.  The role of the project manager that PMI kind of defines is, look, I am the CEO of this project.

BILL YATES:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  I’m in charge.  I’m in power.

BILL YATES:  That’s different.  I mean, many people are listening to that and going, what?  I’m a project manager.  I’m not the CEO.  I’m not in charge of my resources.

ANDY CROWE:  But you are in the exam.

BILL YATES:  Exactly.

ANDY CROWE:  You’re in charge of resources.  You’re in charge of your team.  You’re in charge of the scope.  And you’d better exert that.  You never walk in in a passive orientation.

NICK WALKER:  You know, I hear people all the time say, “I know the material; I’m just not a good test-taker.”

BILL YATES:  Yeah.

NICK WALKER:  Is it your purpose to create good test-takers, in addition to know the material?

BILL YATES:  Yeah, that is the toughest thing to deal with.  And I have had face-to-face conversations with students in the past where that is, that’s their biggest struggle is, hey, I somehow made it through high school, made it through college.  I don’t know how because I’m terrible at taking tests, especially standardized tests.  They intimidate me.  I hate that.  And now there’s a clock beeping at, you know, counting down.  Again, there are different strategies that we try to approach to help people overcome that anxiety and help them have the repetition, have the practice, so they’ll have confidence going in.  And again, one of the biggest things, one of the biggest takeaways for the way this exam is created is, to Andy’s point, this is taking these steps or processes that are true for project management, but it’s comparing it to the jobs that are being performed.

So these are scenario-based questions.  PMI surveys all project managers across the globe and says, okay, how close is our standard, our PMBOK Guide, to what you’re actually performing?  And when they perform that survey, that survey impacts the exam.  So our job, and what we do with our content, is say, okay, based on what we know about the role of the project manager, what are the scenarios that are likely to be presented on the exam?  What are the what-ifs?  What are some tricks that they’re going to throw at them?

ANDY CROWE:  We’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out those exploits.  When you write as many questions as we do, you start to – the light comes on.  Okay, here’s the way to exploit this particular fact or whatever.  You know, when you were talking about standardized exams, Nick, I’m married to someone – my wife Karen is really good at taking tests.  She’s just – she gets it.  And so years ago, many years ago, I learned Spanish.  I started studying Spanish, and I worked very hard at it.  And I went home, and much to my family’s dismay, I started teaching them Spanish.  So the advantage was, when my wife learned some, we could speak it.  When our children were little, we could speak it in front of them, and they didn’t know.  At some point, they began to understand everything we said, regardless.  I think we could have been speaking Pig Latin, and they would have gotten it.

But the funny thing is we both, Karen and I both took a Spanish language assessment exam.  Now, she’d never taken Spanish before; 100 percent of the Spanish she’d learned, she’d learned from me.  It was a subset of what I knew.  And she scored significantly higher on the exam than I did.

NICK WALKER:  Is that right.

ANDY CROWE:  Now, she’s just good at taking, I mean, she’s a smart person.  But that just – I threw a flag on the field at that point.  I said, this is absolutely…

BILL YATES:  It’s not fair.

ANDY CROWE:  It is not fair.  It is not fair.  And there was no television review, you know, for this.  It was just – it was done.

NICK WALKER:  Can we talk a little bit about some of the strategies that you implement, maybe just in general terms?

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, you know, one of the things, Nick, obviously there’s a lot of content to master.  There are a lot of processes.  So the processes, inputs, tools, and outputs that you need to know for project management are super important.  We put, I think, the right level of emphasis on that because you can obviously – there are people who go in, who read the PMBOK Guide cover to cover, understand it, walk in and fail the exam.  We meet those people fairly regularly because they’re still thinking about this as regurgitation of facts.

BILL YATES:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  And the reality is this is going to be a heavily scenario-based exam.  When you walk in, you’re going to be presented with scenarios.  Now you’ve got to apply these facts.  And for that you need to think about this idea of optics again. How does PMI see the world?  How does PMI see the role of the project manager?  And you walk in with that mindset.

BILL YATES:  And not to overlook that foundation.  I think that’s very important.  In Andy’s book, I love the way that you parallel.  Chapters 4 through 13 cover the 10 knowledge areas.  You cover every process.  You cover every input, tool, and output.  That’s essential.  You’ve got to build that foundation.  Now that I have a foundation, I know I’ve got a strong sense of these are the different levers, if you will, that I can react to as I have a scenario that’s presented to me.  I have a team member who comes in, or I have a stakeholder who comes in and creates this huge change to the way that we were going about our project, or creates some kind of risk.  Now, what do I do with that?  You know, you’re likely going to have to choose the right strategy from that foundation.  So you need to have that foundation.  But, yes, you’re going to have probably 50 percent of the questions on the exam, if not more, will be scenario‑based.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.  The foundation is – I like the analogy used of a series of levers.  You’ve got tools to actually do something on your project and to effect change.  And, you know, another idea is that PMI really wants you to think proactively.

BILL YATES:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  So the more reactive you are, the worse you’re going to do on the exam.  You walk in with a proactive mindset, you get in front of change.  I think the technical way we put it is “influencing the factors that cause change.”  But the idea is that you try and be in control at every step.  You’re not sitting there reacting, waiting for a fire to pop up and then figuring out what to do with it.  You’re trying to get out in front of the next fire.

BILL YATES:  And Andy, this is such a difficult thing for some students to deal with.  They’ve been in their career for quite a long time.  And their company just simply doesn’t do it that way.  That’s not how they manage projects.  They have to have that mindset for the exam.  That’s one of the things that, even with the exams that I took, one of the things that I had to overcome was recognize when I’m falling into that trick of, oh, yeah, that seems like the easy way out; or that’s probably what I would do in the real world in the job that I’m in right now.  But wait a minute.  PMI has a preference here where, yeah, that’s a really uncomfortable conversation I need to have with a team member.  But, hey, they’re all about dealing with things directly and having that conversation.  So this is probably a better answer than these other three that may line up with some experiences I’ve had in the past.

ANDY CROWE:  And not to go too deep onto this, but one of the things that you have to know going into the exam, no matter how tempting the scenario is, you will never, ever, ever get the answer right if it involves breaking the process, taking a shortcut, bypassing something that the PMBOK Guide lays out.  You have to follow the steps in the right order.

BILL YATES:  That’s true.  Right.  Again, you’ve got to know that foundation because that’s one of those foundational concepts is, hey, if I’m being asked to do something that goes against this, then it’s not going to be the right answer.

NICK WALKER:  Boy, this is valuable stuff.  Any closing advice, before we go here, that you want our listeners to make sure they pick up?

ANDY CROWE:  I think one thing, you know – okay.  So I have a funny experience that happens a lot.  Somebody will buy my book, and then they’ll write me and say, “Hey, do you have any other advice before I go in?”  And I always laugh and say, you know, if I had it, I would put it in the book.  I’ve really put everything I know in that book.  But “The PMP Exam:  How to Pass on Your First Try” will be a good resource.  It’ll get you through the exam.  There are some wonderful simulated exams on InSite at Velociteach that will help you, as well.

NICK WALKER:  Well, Andy Crowe, Bill Yates, as always, we thank you for your insight.  And a quick reminder:  Listeners, you’ve just earned professional development units toward keeping your project management credentials current, whether it’s the PMP, the CAPM, PMI-ACP, CSM, PgMP, or PfMP; and you did it just by listening to this podcast.  To claim your PDUs, go to Velociteach.com and select “Manage This Podcast” from the top of the page.  There you’ll find a big button that says “Claim PDUs.”  Click there, and it will walk you through the steps to get your free PDUs.

Well, that’s it for us here on Manage This.  We hope you’ll tune back in on December 6th for our next podcast.  You can always visit us at Velociteach.com/managethis to subscribe to this podcast, to see a transcript of the show, or to contact us.  And tweet us at @manage_this if you have a comment about the podcast or a question for our experts.  In the meantime, keep calm and Manage This.

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