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  Review of Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep Online Course

Rita Mulcahy, the author of the best-selling PMP Exam Prep book, has released her new PMP Exam Prep Online, 6th Edition program. The program is an all-in-one PMP Exam Prep course that includes multimedia tutorials, online versions of her famous PMP Exam Prep Book, PM Fastrack Exam Simulator Software and Hot Topics Flashcards. It also gives you the 35 Contact Hours, which are a pre-requisite for the PMP Exam.

The course is divided into 16 lessons. The lessons are full of really informative video and audio clips of Rita Mulcahy, a lot of interactive exercises and games, and a pre- and post-test. At the end of each lesson, you get access to the PDF version of the corresponding chapter from Rita's PMP Exam Prep book, and the multimedia flashcards. The program also includes access to 1500+ question exam simulator.

I was one of the beta testers for the program in Apr-May'09 and spent nearly 40 hours reviewing it. Read my full review to find out the details.


Disclosure: I have absolutely NO affiliation with Rita Mulcahy and her company RMC Project. I'm simply trying to help PMP aspirants by providing them a wide range of options when it comes to selecting a good PMP exam preparation course.


Product Facts
  • 16-Lesson interactive multimedia tutorial
  • Over 100 video and 50 audio clips from Rita Mulcahy
  • Online exam simulator with 1500+ questions
  • Multimedia Flashcards
  • Dozens of exercises and games
  • Unlimited 24/7 access for 180 days
  • Qualifies for 35 Contact Hours of education for the PMP Exam

Content

Pros
  • Rita Mulcahy's knowledge.
  • Prescribes a well defined and proven methodology to pass the exam.
  • Gives you an insider's scoop on the exam like the type of questions to expect, number of question that can be expected on a particular topic, the difficulty level of various topics on the exam.
  • The list of 60+ PMI-ims in the first chapter give you a jump-start.
  • Acknowledges that there are many things on the exam that you do not actually do on your projects. Offers a wonderful remedy to this problem - Imagination !
  • Introduces the concept of using Mind Maps to prepare for the exam (new in the 6th Edition).
  • Offers lot of other useful study tips for the exam, like using a "Gaps Notebook".
  • Rita is really good at story-telling and her videos are full of stories. She weaves her message in a story and presents it very nicely. I liked the "Famous Student Story" on time estimation.
  • Some of the content is presented exceptionally well. In one of the lessons on project constraints, the course uses a smiley face with the project constraints - Scope, Time and Cost forming a triangle representing the nose, Risk and Resources as the eyes, and Customer Satisfaction as smiling lips - superb !
Cons
  • Purely from content perspective, most of the information in the course can also be found in Rita's PMP Exam Prep book, Fastrack Simulator and Flashcards combined together. The course simply brings all the content alive using an interactive multimedia format, which makes learning fun. So, if you already own the book and other material, the course may not give you too much extra information (but, of course, it helps you get the 35 Contact Hours of PM education certificate).
  • The biggest complaint I have is the same as with her book - negativity. She tends to assume that we do not do proper Project Management in our projects, and that we have gaps in our knowledge and will fail the exam if we don't follow her methodology. She repeats this in every lesson. I really wish the course as well as the book had a more positive tone to them.

User Interface

Pros
  • Cool graphics.
  • Interactive courses and games make learning fun.
  • Videos are nice and short (1 to 12 min).
  • Allows you to take online notes, though I didn't use this feature.
  • Gives you access to blogs, which allow you to share your experience and opinion with fellow PMs and PMP aspirants.
Cons
  • The interface is a bit finicky. If you don't close the windows properly, it doesn't record your progress correctly.
  • I couldn't make the bookmarks work for me correctly, but I didn't try very hard either.
  • There's no way to rewind or forward the videos. For a twelve minute video, if you miss one sentence and want to listen to it again, you'll have to go back and play the whole video again. Very annoying. I'm not sure how they overlooked this basic aspect.
  • There's no way to change the size of the videos or make them full screen.
  • Some lessons have slides which you need to read through. I wish there was a way to listen to those slides rather than reading them.
  • The pre- and post-tests in the each lesson don't tell the total number of questions in the test. You just need to keep answering them to get to the end. I would prefer to know the total number of questions in the test, for example 5 of 10, 6 of 10, and so on.
  • Sometimes, when the module is loading, there's blank screen staring at you. There's no progress bar or busy icon to indicate that it's loading.
  • Occasionally the fonts are a bit small and the navigation buttons overlap the course content.
  • There's no indicator of the approximate duration to complete the course. At least it was missing during the beta testing. It might have been put in the course now because that was one of the items the beta-testers fed back to them. Some kind of a high-level indicator of how much time is left to complete the entire course is required.
  • Control buttons on the multimedia flashcard are not great either. You cannot pause them or control the speed. Going from question to answer is very quirky - either you wait and let the answer come up, or you click the 'next' button to get to the answer. But when you click the 'next' button, instead of bringing up the answer, many times it jumps straight to the next question.
Overall, I wasn't too impressed with the interface.

Note

I reviewed the program about 8 months ago. Therefore, it's likely that many of these issues have been fixed by now.


Presentation Skills of the Instructor (Rita Mulcahy)

Being a member of Toastmasters International, this is always my favorite part of the review because I get to practice my evaluation skills.

Strong Points
  • Rita is a great speaker and a presenter.
  • Her knowledge and authority on the subject brings conviction in her voice and is very reassuring for the nervous PMP aspirant.
  • She looks right into the camera and talks to you straight in the eye - really grabs your attention.
  • She makes excellent use of facial expressions and hand gestures.
  • She employs vocal variety really well in her speech.
  • She utilizes props to good effect. I remember the plastic model of a brain when she talks about memorizing ITTOs, and the risk management bunny.
  • She makes good use of humor to put her message across.
  • She's a good story-teller too - weaves her message nicely into stories.
Areas for Improvement
  • She looks down very often in the videos, probably to refer to notes in front of her below the camera. To be fair to her, it's necessary, but from audience's perspective, it's kind of distracting.

Conclusion

Rita Mulcahy is arguably the most popular name in the PMP Certification world, and when you go through the course, you realize why. She gives you an insider's scoop on the exam like no one else does. She prescribes a well-defined and proven methodology to pass the PMP Exam. The content of the course is very rigorous and prepares you really well for the exam. The course gives you a "feel" of a real classroom course conducted by Rita herself. However, the interface is not as smooth as you would expect when you spend a thousand dollars.

The online lessons are mostly based on the material in the book, but they bring the content of the book to life. The program really helps cut down your preparation time, and specially the time you would otherwise spend reading the book. After going through an online lesson, you can breeze through the corresponding chapter in the book.

At $988 it might look a bit pricey, especially when equally good if not better alternatives (in self-paced online learning) are available at under $100. However, when you consider the value of freebies like $70 for the book, $200 for the Simulator and $35 for the flashcards, you pay only about $680 to get a top-quality, comprehensive and an immensely useful online course, which also gives you 35 Contact Hours. All in all, it's not a bad deal.

My overall rating for the program is 8/10.

For more information, visit PMP® Exam Prep Online.

Updated: Nov 10, 2013



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4 comments:

  1. Perhaps, your best reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As usual, Good and Valuable points in your review. Unfortunately, no ribbon for your evaluation.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is there an option to purchase the offline version (in CD/DVDs) so we don't need to connect to the Internet?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello Anonymous,

    I don't think there's an offline version. But you can contact RMC Project directly to confirm.

    Best regards.

    ReplyDelete

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