PMP Boot Camp Training – Drinking from the Fire hose

PMP Boot Camp Training - Drinking from the Firehose, Standing under a Waterfall

Attending a PMP boot camp training course is an intense experience. The sheer volume of concepts, information, and tips you are exposed to can be overwhelming. On the plus side, it shows you the exam’s full scope and demonstrates what you need to learn. On the minus side, it is too much information in a short time without enough opportunity to process it all, connect the dots, see the big picture, or practice recalling and applying the techniques.

(It can feel like trying to drink from a fire hose or being deluged by a waterfall of content.)

Drinking from a firehose photo

The problem is we do not learn in large batches. Instead, we learn concepts one at a time after reflection, application, and practice. Then we can move on to the next idea and, if applicable, connect it to the other elements we have learned.

Incremental Learning

Through repetition and exercise, we build mental muscles to master new material and increase our competence. This all takes too long to make instructor-led courses at this pace commercially viable. Also, everyone learns at different speeds. Many concepts will be familiar and can be skipped over, yet new topics will take longer. Some people find calculations easy and team-based psychology unintuitive, others the complete opposite.

At best, a boot camp is a content orientation; but the real learning happens after. Boot camps are great for kick-starting your studies. They are expensive and arduous, requiring a financial and time commitment. Attending a boot camp shows you are serious about obtaining your PMP credential, which is good, but do not expect it to end your studies.

After attending a boot camp, we then need to absorb information. We need to revisit all of the concepts in our own time. We must validate what we know and practice its recall and application. We must also explore the new material.

Using the fire hose and waterfall analogy again, we now need to paddle around this information lake at our own pace. See where the places we already know fit and explore the new areas at a comfortable speed. Some areas, we will need to revisit multiple times; others, a single pass will suffice.

Information Lake

Revision Environment Tools

Two years ago, I launched, and last year PMI launched Study Hall. Both are learning and revision environments that allow revisiting topics on the exam and testing your knowledge via practice questions, quizzes and games. Being the creator of PMillustrated I am biased. It is cheaper and has more videos, quizzes, games, and visual learning tools, but they both serve an essential purpose.

These sites let people explore, learn, consolidate and test their knowledge at their own pace. Not at a standardized delivery speed of a prep class or boot camp. Topics you find tricky can be revisited multiple times, and comprehension can be boosted via spaced learning.

S P A C E D Learning

Spaced learning is how we combat the forgetting curve. The inevitable decline in our ability to recall something after exposure to a lot of information if we do not practice retrieving it.

Forgetting curves graphs

Spaced learning is the deliberate revisiting of topics to lessen the impact of the forgetting curves. During spaced learning, two critical recall traits occur. First, we top up our knowledge on a topic. We increase our likelihood of remembering and move back up the graph by keeping the information current. However, it’s the second trait that is more valuable. Each time we recall a topic or subject, we slow down the subsequent rate of forgetting – the forgetting curves get shallower.

Forgetting curves graphs

Spaced learning with repetition of recall helps us commit information to our long-term memory. Revisiting topics multiple times, either through use on the job or by scheduled revision, is what leads to long-term learning.

Bad News, Good News

So, the bad news is that an intensive boot camp is probably not your ticket to exam success. The good news is it was likely an excellent orientation in all the required content. Now you need to revisit topics, confirm your understanding, fill in any remaining gaps and practice exam questions until you feel confident to sit the actual exam.

For years many people used textbooks for this purpose. When I was studying for my PMP in 2000, I used Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep book. However, textbooks only provide one learning medium (reading), and they have a limited number of exercises and test questions. People tend to use online references these days, like Google, YouTube and Wikipedia, rather than encyclopedias to learn about topics.

Products like Study Hall and PMillustrated provide this media-rich study environment. They combine reading with audio and video. PM Illustrated also has a large set of visual-learner-based content, dynamic quizzes and puzzles that load with new content each time you use them. Also, drag-and-drop and sorting quizzes tap into spatial and kinesthetic (movement) learning modes.

Learning styles

This variety with dynamic content is more engaging than using a static book. More learning styles and gamification (points, badges and leaderboards) mean people are more likely to complete their studies and pass the exam.

Study Smarter for Better Results in Your PMP Exam

So, by all means, take a boot camp to kick-start your studies. However, understand there is still more to do. To build mastery, we must revisit the content numerous times, ideally via multiple learning modes, to help make it stick. Then test our comprehension and application in a safe environment (not the final exam) where gaps in our understanding help shape our revision (rather than result in an exam failure.)

PM illustrated provides this media-rich revision environment with dynamic content and gamification. It works as verified by the customer testimonials, and if you use the site to earn all the badges, it is backed by a money-back exam pass guarantee.

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