Tuesday, September 25, 2007

CPLP Knowledge-based Exam Study Tips

Hi all -

A big thanks to Evette M. in Phoenix, AZ for reminding us of these CPLP Knowledge-based Exam tips:

  • Best Answer - when sitting the exam you are always looking for the BEST
    answer, not just the first correct answer.
  • Ideal vs Reality - the exam is based exclusively on the principles and
    practices outlined in the 2004 ASTD Competency Model, which is not necessarily
    reflective of your current work situation/reality. However, to pass the
    certification process, you must answer the questions based on the ASTD model and
    body of knowledge, and not necessarily on your personal experiences.
  • Study Hard, Study Often - then take some downtime immediately before sitting
    the exam.

>> Specific Examples >>

>> Best Answer Example

Q. Why are learning objectives important?

a. Learning objectives provide a list of topics to be covered in the course.
b. Learning objectives help to frame the content of the course.
c. Learning objectives outline the body of knowledge that learners should know and understand by the time the course is complete.
d. Learning objectives describe what learners should know or be able to do at the end of the course.

Answers A-C are, perhaps, somewhat true - but D is the BEST answer.

It is the BEST answer because it is the most accurate and complete.

>> Ideal vs Reality Example

I sat the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam several years ago and spent long hours with my study group prepping - and arguing - over the exam. The exam is entirely based on the Project Management Institute's "Project Management Book of Knowledge" - otherwise known as the PMBOK.

It has to be based on something, right?

Some of the themes set forth in the PMBOK, I felt, were obtuse - such as PMI's views on 'gold plating' (giving customers more than they ask for).

Personally, I like a bit of gold plating in my projects - over deliver just a little bit. Delight the customer.

In PMI circles that's a BIG NO NO. You deliver *exactly* what you've promised to deliver, no more, no less.

So in prepping for the PMP exam, I'd get a bit miffed whenever I came across a question that obviously asked the "To Gold Plate or Not To Gold Plate" question. I'd find myself wanting to answer from my personal feelings/experience, rather than selecting the answer I knew they (PMI) were looking for.

And, of course, in scoring my practice exams, if I gave into my desire to voice my opinion (to an inanimate object - the practice exam) rather than answer the way I knew I should, I'd inevitably get the answer wrong and get points off on the practice exam.

Silly, right?

So don't do the same on the CPLP. There will be times when what you know - in your heart of hearts to be true - is not the same as what ASTD is purporting, and you'll *itch* to answer the way you want to answer, rather than give them (ASTD) what they're looking for.

Don't do it!

Check your opinion at the door. :)

If you feel strongly about the topic, then voice your concerns directly to the ASTD Certification Institute - but don't wait until the day of your exam and sabotage yourself!

>> Study Hard, Study Often

Studies show that most people take mini breaks - e.g. stare out the window, let the mind wander, etc. - every 25 minutes or so. After 45 minutes of concentration, most people need to move around a bit.

Incorporate these natural tendencies into your study practices by studying in intervals of 25-40 minutes, followed by breaks of 5-10 minutes.

This approach has been found to be more effective than trying to 'cram' for hours on end.

Additional Tip!

The Night Before Your Exam:

  • don't spend all night cramming (it won't help!)
  • relax, take a brisk 30 minute walk outside
  • have some 'down time' before sleep
  • have one last look at your summary sheet before you go to bed
  • have a good night's sleep (studies have shown that 8 hours of sleep the night before an exam improves your grade by 25%, especially on multiple-choice tests)

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About the Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) Credential

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ASTD Chapter Leaders - attend our presentations at this year's ALC!

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~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
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3 comments:

Nathaniel @ project management professional exam said...

This is a great post! Thanks a lot for the tips on taking the examination.

We should read and study more often than usual when taking this PMP exam, so that you will have a high percentage of passing! Thanks a lot for sharing!

diana wright said...

Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I've really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. Thanks for sharing..As a Project Manager i too love d to have a gold plating in my Project.

Trish Uhl said...

Thanks, Diana! I agree - even if PMI doesn't - we should always look for opportunities to delight our customers! :-D