I passed the PMP exam last Friday. My prep time was a total of two weeks, but it was an intense two weeks; I did very little else but study. I used Head First PMP, the PMBOK, and Cheetah Learning's 4-day PMP Prep Course.
I read Head First PMP, highlighting key concepts with a pencil. This was a much more enjoyable and effective experience than reading the PMBOK! I found comfortable chairs or couches in some of the better coffee houses around Atlanta, and read read read. I also skimmed the PMBOK and began memorizing Cheetah's memory map, a two page map of processes, inputs, outputs, and formulas.
The Head First PMP was definitely the best place to start. It never got dull to me, I loved doing the exercises, and I was able to cover a huge amount of material in a few days. I've purchased the Design Patterns and OOAD books; those are next.
Cheetah's PMP Exam Prep course. The first thing we did on Monday morning was to take a practice exam, and after only reading Head First PMP, I "passed" that exam. The course was a fast-paced but thorough review of the PMBOK combined with test taking strategies, and I found it very worthwhile. We took lots of practice exams, and each one was timed to get us used to the real thing.
On Friday that second week I took the test. You don't get an overall score other than pass/fail. Of course, nothing really matters except pass/fail. You do get percentage correct on the project phases. My scores ranged from 90% to 65%, averaging in the high seventies.
I took the exam at a Prometric test center. I was pretty sure that I had passed, but it's quite a nervous feeling when you click on the "Finish" button and it starts tabulating your results. Finally, after what seemed like a long time but was probably 30 seconds, it flashes a new screen: your survey of the testing center. Were they efficient? Were they helpful and friendly? They're smart to make you take the survey before you get your score, because I'm sure the results would bias people's answers. If you failed, it had to be because the pencils were dull and they made you wait too long to seat you.
After the survey, more tabulation and screen flicker, and finally, a "congratulation, you passed!" message. Balloons and confetti do not fall from the ceiling, although I thought that would have been nice.
Stay confident. The test seems designed to throw you off your game.
As the Head First book tells you, there will be long questions where you only need to read the last sentence.
Sometimes two of the answers were correct, but one answer was just better than the other. Read all of the answers.
Read the questions carefully, because if you miss the word "except", you'll get it wrong, even though you know the right answer.
There were questions that aren't in the PMBOK. If you have no idea, take your best guess and move on.
Skip the hard, time-consuming questions and come back to them later. You don't want to miss easy ones because you took 5 minutes on a harder question.
Take as many practice test questions as you can, and understand which ones you missed. Cheetah's exam prep class was great for this.
That's it . . . Thank you, authors, and to those of you preparing for the PMP exam, good luck!