PMP Exam Tips
When was the last time you had to prepare and sit a professional exam? Probably some years ago – right?
So give yourself a break, such events need careful preparation and thought, so first up:
So far you have made all the right moves, you have invested in my PMP Mastery System, watched all of the videos; rewinding, pausing and fast forwarding when necessary.
You have made notes as you go, carried out the many recommended exercises, and carried out my large database of sample exam questions.
You have also used my Study Tools such as my EXAM CRAM to clearly identify the key areas and topics that you will be examined on.
Taking Your PMP exam
If the idea of turning out for the exam makes you feel stressed – then you are not alone (even I had sweaty palms and drank several cans of high energy drinks!)
But like most things in life, particularly after putting in so much hard work, in reality such stressful situations as taking the PMP exam turns out not to be as stressful as you thought (isn’t 2020 hindsight a wonderful thing!)
With that in mind, here are a few ideas and good advice that I have found helpful to my students in the past:
Do not cram. The night before your exam you should know everything you need, so resist the temptation to skim over stuff as your subconscious brain tries to drive you into a panic. Instead, try to have a nice evening, watch some TV, take your dog (or yourself !) for a walk…
Your mind will be much clearer if you get a good rest so do not stay up late instead get plenty of sleep.
If you have to travel to sit the exam, then consider staying in a local hotel the night before.
However, if you are only, say, an hour or so away from the exam site, then leave plenty of time for traffic holdups, losing your way, taking a wrong turning, or even finding a parking space.
So my advice is to leave plenty of time to arrive for your exam, as “just making it” puts your mind into “panic mode” and you will not score so well in the exam itself. Don’t forget, that if you are late for the exam start, you will not be allowed to take it as your entrance may distract others.
Energy drinks. There are two schools of thought here. You should not drink too much caffeine as it puts added stress into your body and mind. With that said, I personally have found that drinking a high energy drink at least 30 minutes before the exam starts, and then go into the bathroom, gives you a healthy boost and sharpens your thinking.
As I said above, even if you don’t feel you need to, use the restroom before you start the exam.
Types of PMP exam questions
As you are by now aware, the exam contained several question types, and here are some examples that you will come across:
PMP Exam situational questions
You will find these are the majority of questions that you come across, and you will need the experience to know what exactly the question is talking about which is why I include lots and lots of them in my test examples and sample exams.
However, these can be difficult without the right mind-set and the experience to answer them:
They normally start off similar to “imagine you are the project manager on a project to……”
Then the question gives you a review of the situation such as:
“The new IT system needs xyz and the finance director does not care what you do as long as you……”
Then the question might be “what document might you use to ….”
At first glance many questions appear to have two correct answers, however, the exam allows only one correct answer for each question.
For such questions, ask yourself, “What is the FIRST thing I would do?” Or, “What is the BEST thing to do?”
A good mind-set is to remind yourself that the PMBOK Guide is the source for many exam questions, so think of the PMBOK-ish response.
Beware of distractors. These are a technique that test question writers used to distract you, in that they put extra information that you DO NOT NEED in order to answer the question (cunning lil devils!)
Beware of inventions. You heard that right, the examiner will often make up words or phrases that sound like they are official terms but are not. Yet again, your subconscious brain may be panicked you into believing that such words or phrases are real and that you have “forgotten” them!
An example might be “business case initiation process” which of course is a total fabrication.
PMP calculation questions
You will come across quite a few of these questions, around ten of them will relate to earned value information and equations and about another ten questions will contain other types of calculation.
To state the blindingly obvious, if you know your equations, these will be some of the easiest questions in the exam…
These are often referred to as ITTO (inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs) type of questions. You should expect about 20 to 25 questions where you have to know a specific process name, inputs, tools, techniques, or output. Again, I provide tools for these in my PMP Mastery System…
Exam taking tips
When the exam seems to be going well for you, then no advice is needed for me, but if you’re going gets tough during the PMP exam, then these tips may help:
- Do not spend a lot of time trying to figure out one particular question as you may lose the time opportunity to answer many others that you would find it easy
- Some questions can be lengthy causing you to use up lots of mental energy just to understand the point that is being made. I have a trick which can be helpful. If you get a lengthy question, read the end of the question first as this usually tells you the question you need to answer, and this will allow you to easily read the rest of the information knowing that in most cases it is just background that has little or no bearing on you providing an answer!
- Your first choice of answer is usually correct, so go with your instincts
- Do not second guess yourself as your subconscious brain is trying to panic you into changing your mind. Change your answer ONLY if you will are absolutely certain that it should be changed
- The PMP exam quite rightly contains questions that could apply in a variety of industries and project types. So be aware of trying to apply too much of your own project experience back in the workplace, as this could lead you to miss out several questions simply because they seem unfamiliar. My advice is to think about each question from a global crossed industry perspective
- Finally, remember that the PMBOK Guide has its own set of common terminology consisting of phrases or names. Very often such phrases or names will be called something different back in your work place, so it is vital that you spend time becoming familiar with the local language of PMBOK!