Preparing for and Passing the PMP Exam
Having got the approval email from the PMI and before you schedule the exam, let us just revisit the exam content outline:
- The PMP exam consists of 200 objective-type questions with 4 answer options.
- The five domains consist of questions in the following ratio:
|Monitoring & Controlling||25%|
- 25 out of 200 questions are not counted towards the score, as they may be for pre-release testing. As such you don’t know which 25 questions are not graded, and so you should just treat it as 200-question exam.
- The maximum time to answer all questions is 4 hours.
- The PMI does not disclose your pass score; in most cases the pass score is thought to be around 61%
So you have built up your confidence over time; have already taken the 35-hour course; have gone through the PMBOK Guide; and have a fair knowledge of project management practice. Now you need to test that confidence by answering questions and checking the answers. Once chapter-level answering is finished, you need to go for a mock test of 200 questions; a minimum of two full 200-question mock-up exams passed at above 80% is suggested. This is an indication that you are adequately prepared to venture into the actual exam.
How to Handle Each Question
One of the advantages we have in answering objective-type questions is that the right answer is in front of us – we just need to select it. Carefully read the question-and-answer choices. Attach importance to words such as always or never, except for, or have to, best, worst, most, least, first, last, etc., and then determine which answer the question is looking for. Look at the following example question.
Conditions that are not under the control of the project team that influence, direct, or constrain a project are called:
- Enterprise environmental factors
- Work performance reports
- Organisational process assets
- Context diagrams
The term conditions NOT under the control needs to be carefully read. Answer A is correct. (Note that the question calls for a plural answer, and all answers are plural.)
Here is another example where we need to read carefully:
A logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has finished is known as:
- Start-to-start (SS)
- Start-to-finish (SF)
- Finish-to-start (FS)
- Finish-to-finish (FF)
Answer C is correct. A clear scrutiny of the question and the answer choices is required. You need to eliminate the answers that do not fit with the question.
External organisations that have a special relationship with the enterprise and provide specialised expertise are called:
- Business partners
- Functional managers
Based on experience, we can quickly eliminate A, C and then D, to correctly answer B.
A practical tip is to not spend more than a minute with a single question. You can come back to the question later. Sometimes, the other questions may throw some light on this question for you. Try to recollect the study that you did within that knowledge area and process group, and work out where the question belongs. For some questions you may have to recollect your project management experience. Here is a question where we need to recollect process ITTO – Input, Tools and Techniques, and Output:
An output of the Direct and Manage Project Work process is:
- Activity list
- A work breakdown structure
- A scope statement
The answer is A
It is recommended that you try to remember ITTO to select the answer to these types of questions. I suggest that you get familiar with these by reviewing them regularly so you as much get a ‘feel’ more than just learning them off by heart.
After you enter the testing centre for the exam, you will be given a pencil and paper and 15 minutes’ preparation time. This can be used to prepare a chart of process groups, knowledge areas and certain tables or formulas you can recollect. This may be handy for answering the exam questions. Try to utilise all of the 4 hours’ exam time to check your answers before you submit. Best of Luck!