What usually happens is that students preparing for the PMP exam try to go through too many PMP Exam Prep books or on-line courses thinking that they will be able to absorb everything that they watch and read. That is far from the truth. Too many books will in fact confuse you. Usually, one good exam prep book and one course is enough to complement the PMBOK Guide. Reading the PMBOK Guide is of course a must for any PMP student and no exam prep book is a substitute for it. And don't forget to read the the PMBOK Guide Glossary. As boring as that may seem, you'll really get to know and understand the terminology you need for the exam.
There are topics on the exam that are not mentioned in the PMBOK Guide, but still make regular appearance on the exam. Many popular exam prep books cover these topics. But PMI adds new topics on an ongoing basis so it's difficult to know what lies ahead on your own exam. To be able to overcome this, it is wise to learn from others. Try to read PMP online forums where exam passers are more than willing to share their experiences in taking the exam. Read their lessons learned to hear what topics may appear. This can be an essential part of your preparation, but don't get carried away. Spending a few minutes daily, reviewing and commenting on posts is usually sufficient.
So instead of muddling your brains with too many prep books, choose the one you like best to complement your PMBOK studies to ensure a successful exam.
The Internet is full of sites and blogs that help you prepare for the PMP Exam. As part of your PMP Exam Prep, you should take advantage of the many free, on-line sample exams. These will help you assess your readiness to take the actual exam.
Whether you can or cannot find time and money to enroll in a formal, classroom-style PMP Exam Prep course, answering hundreds (even thousands) of PMP Exam sample questions is a must. In the first few weeks of your PMP Exam Studies. it's OK to use just the free ones offered by various sources. These questions prepare you for the rigors of the actual examination for your certification and give you some idea of what to expect. While these do not necessarily reflect actual test questions, they can provide tips and guides to properly respond to any question that may come your way on the "real" exam. The free questions help you to sharpen your knowledge and identify areas where you need to study more.
However, after some weeks you will not only tire of constantly searching for new free questions. You will also begin to notice that free questions are not always of the same quality. Some are excellent, some are OK and many are really bad. That is the moment when you have to consider signing up for a PMP Exam Simulator. Yes, subscribing to such a simulator is going to take some money, but in the end, your goal should be to pass the exam. Invest this money into being well prepared for the exam.
So when taking courses for your PMP Exam preparations, make sure that you get at least some free test questions offered by these courses. Together with the free sample questions on the internet and the ones of your PMP Exam Simulator you will be able to prepare yourself well.
An in-classroom PMP exam prep course is one of the best ways to begin preparing for the PMP Exam. They are easy to find on the internet. Classes that offer extensive and comprehensive coverage or the material required should be go onto your short list. The primary benefit of these sessions is that you can interact with the trainer (make sure that he/she is PMP certified) and with other project managers in the classroom studying alongside. This interaction ensures you get a firsthand experience on how to approach situations and the underlying principle that govern them.
Make sure to stay away from "boot camp" classes. The best courses are those that meet once a week over the course of several weeks and allow you to do self-study in-between and really soak up the material over time.
Through this classroom type learning, you are given a weekly "checkpoint" to see how much of the lessons are really learned and retained. This is important because the PMP Exam tests your ability to apply the theory to real-life project management situations through varying scenarios in the exam questions. A large number of free tests are available online that you can use to assess if you are ready for the exam. Beyond the free tests that only go so far you should also consider subscribing to an online exam simulator that will really test your knowledge and ability to pass the exam. These online exam simulators teach you the necessary time-management skills for this 4-hour exam and the detailed reports allows you to review your performance and learn the correct answers for questions you missed.
If you have not decided on which PM Exam course to get, begin by visiting various sites in the Internet. Here you get to choose which one is best suited for you and start preparing for your certification exam.
Remember that even though the PMP Exam is largely based on the PMI's PMBOK Guide you should not only know all of the concepts from here, but you must be able to analyze and answer the situational exam questions with a combination of practical project management knowledge and with what the PMBOK Guide says. Generally speaking, going against PMI principles is never a good option. At least not during the PMP Exam. It is also better to choose the ethical option even though they may seem to be the tougher choice.
Here is what to expect on the exam: The PMP Certification Exam consists of 200 Multiple Choice Questions, which must be answered within 4 hours. These questions are randomly generated from a question database which has many hundred questions. Out of 200 questions answered, 25 questions are pre-test questions which will not be used for scoring. These pre-test questions are randomly inserted by the computer into your exam with the idea of evaluating whether these will be used as "real" questions in future exams. This is a normal and valid way to test new questions on actual exam takers and see how they respond. But because you don't know which ones are the pre-test questions it is important to answer all the 200 questions to the best of your ability.
Since 25 out of 200 questions are not used for scoring, effectively, 175 questions are used for scoring on the exam. However, PMI does not release a "passing score", so we don't know how many questions must be answered correctly in order to pass. After the exam you will be given an examination report on which you can see the areas where you were Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient. It also tells you whether you passed or failed.
So the problem is this: If we don't know how many questions you have to answer correctly in order to pass the exam, how can you prepare? My recommendation is that you answer as many sample questions as you possibly can before you take the exam and gain your confidence. Only by taking many mock exams can you raise your understanding. By doing this you will come to a point where you will feel ready and know that you are ready. This is the point where your studies and practice exams will have given you the level of understanding and confidence and you will answer all PMP Certification Exam questions correctly by applying both your practical experience from being a PM and the theoretical know how from reading the PMBOK Guide.
How would you feel if you fail the PMP Exam by just one question? Avoid this by using your exam time wisely. Here is one such strategy:
Four hours is plenty of time for you to read and re-read all questions. You should be able to go through all questions in your first pass in about two to three hours. During this first pass you will probably not know all answers to all questions. That's OK because that's what the "mark" feature is for. Use it to mark the questions you are unsure and then use the remaining time to review all those questions in detail that have stumped you at first.
Another strategy is to concentrate on the easier questions first (those that you feel you'll find the right answers for quickly) and then come back for the harder questions in your second pass. In this way, if you are confronted with a particularly puzzling question, you will simply mark it and move on to the next. Many test takers report that sometimes, a succeeding questions provides a clue or gives you the "nudge" that you need to figure out the difficult ones you have skipped.
Remember also, that some questions will appear to have two right answers. In this case you have to answer the question by trying to think like the PMBOK Guide. So if you have studied and understood the concepts from your PMBOK Guide, then there is really not much to fear before going into the exam room. And don't be surprised to come across questions that are framed in an unusual way or use terms that are unfamiliar to you. In these cases the examiners want to know that you understand the processes rather than just memorized them.
Last but not least: Remember to check, check and check again that you have answered all the questions. Make sure not a single one of them is unanswered. There is no penalty for answering a question incorrectly. So go ahead and guess on those questions where you really have no idea. Who knows... that might just be the question that lets you see "Pass" instead of "Fail" on the screen.
Going into the PMP exam, it is always helpful to know that the exam is designed by experts who want to know that you thoroughly understand the methods, processes and principles of project management and how you would apply them in a given situation. Most of the exam questions revolve around a given real life scenario and they are based on the PMBOK Guide. That is why the PMP exam is a test of real life project management practices, tools, techniques and principles described in the PMBOK Guide.
It does not mean however, that you are required to memorize the content of the whole PMBOK Guide.
Instead, in order to succeed on the exam, you will need to have a lot of hands-on experience in project management and be able to relate it to the theory in the PMBOK Guide. That's why a minimum of 4,500 hours of experience (7,500 if you don't have a bachelor's degree) is a prerequisite to take the exam. Your real life experience of managing projects in your industry will make everything much easier. Many situations in the questions will be familiar to you because you have lived through them.
So here is my recommendation: Study the PMBOK Guide 2-3 times. Note that I say "study" and not simply "read". Begin applying the principles described on your day to day projects and also relate them back to your previous projects. That way you will see how these principles work. Doing it this way will make you a better project manager and help you pass the exam, as opposed to just mindless memorization.
As the saying goes: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Keep this in mind when preparing for the PMP Certification. It simply means that you should not solely depend on what others say about their experiences in taking the exams. Everyone's experience is different.
What you must remember at all cost is that you have prepared well for the exam and that you can do this! When you walk through the doors into the exam room, the most important thing for you is to pass the exam. You can partially achieve this by preparing yourself physically and mentally for the event. After the exam everyone has a story to tell. For example, one of my students wasn't allowed to change any clothing and the other one wasn't allowed to use the bathroom. These examples are of course extreme but they might happen to you.
So what if something similar happens to you? Take a deep breath. Listen to this "odd rule" that the testing center staff is informing you of. And then follow it. Don't jeopardize your chances. Play along and do the best you can. Adjust yourself mentally to the situation and work with it.
Remember: What really matters is that you relax, concentrate and pass the PMP exam.
The Project Management exam is the hottest certifications exam today. It is the most challenging project management certification exams to prepare for. This is because most of those thinking about taking this exam are at the stage of their career when they are already working full time and then they try to find the time to study for their certification.
If you think that the PMP Certification exam is your average college test where you can cram yet still get high marks, then think again. The PMP exam is anything but easy. It is an experience-based exam in a 200-question, four-hour computerized format. When you are studying for the exam, you could answer the sample questions easily enough in the comfort of your own room with no ticking clocks, no distractions and no security cameras pointing at you. However, during the actual examination, you will find yourself in a radically different setting.
Think of it as the battleground and you as the soldier. And any good soldier would create a battle plan before the exam. He knows that planning can spell the difference between passing and failing. You have to formulate strategies in terms of how to answer and review the questions, how to ease the tension from your body and how to replenish your energy. Your battle plan will serve as your guide during the exam and will help you focus on the task ahead of you. With a battle plan, you will be able to breeze through your exams knowing that you have everything under control and and can maximize the time allotted for you to finish the exam within the allowable period.
Don't try and take the PMP exam immediately after exam your PMP exam prep class. Similarly, don't wait for months either. The right moment is usually between 2-5 weeks after you finish your class. A good PMP Exam preparation course provider will tell you to do more reading and practice exam questions. They should also direct you to training products specifically designed for the purpose. Additional, on-line or software based training products with training materials that provide you with your 35 contact hours of project management training plus the exam preparation materials that get you ready to pass the exam can even be considered.
Relax. PMI does not want you to fail the exam. But they also don't make it easy. PMI primarily wants to ensure that you have grasped the best practices captured in the PMBOK Guide so they fine tune their exam to ensure an acceptable pass ratio.
There are still a few formulas to be learned (mainly in the cost management area). Some students report that they saw no formula based questions at all on their exams and others say that they were really, really glad that they had studied the formulas so in-depth. You should therefore learn the formulas and their applications, and then, before the actual exam starts, write them down on the scratch pad that will be provided in the exam room. You want to do this before beginning the exam so you won’t have to dredge them from memory in the midst of an anxiety attack.
Don’t hesitate to go back and change the answer to a previous question. You will encounter the situation where answering one question provides you with further insight into a previous question.
Study hard, read a lot and practice many simulated exams until you ace every one will help you pass your PMP Exam.
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To celebrate we will give away 10 free licenses of The PM PrepCast in the 10 days following our milestone. And then for the 10 days following that we will offer a 10% discount to everyone else who would like to purchase a copy.
So if you would like a chance to win a complete PMP Exam Prep Video Course then please go to to this page here and and sign up to participate in the contest:
If you are preparing for the PMP or CAPM exam, you need to have a study plan. As an experienced project manager you know the value of a project plan. So practice what you preach as you prepare for the exam. Be a planner, and apply good project management in the process.
* Go through the training in no more than 2-4 months. Set a schedule, and stick to it. Review the appropriate section of the PMBOK with every topic in the training.
* Purchase a PMP exam prep course and include it into your plan. Print out study aids that are part of the particular training module, especially if these cover topics that you find difficult. After finishing the course, take simulated exams.
* Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. This will make you a little sharper and alert for information as you continue the training. You can take another full PMP or CAPM exam simulation every 2-4 weeks, and adjust your study plan based on results.
* In the last month leading to the exam, focus work with the simulations on your trouble areas by using the flash cards and other training materials. Aim for 80-90% scores during your simulated tests as you get close to the actual exam. This will give you confidence that you are ready to pass, and if the scores are lower, will give you more impetus to work harder.
* Read books, online materials, free templates, listen to podcasts, and any other materials that fit your learning style to see things from different angles and approaches.
The key really is to practice good project management and you will succeed. Increase your chances of project management exam success with a plan.
Until Next Time,
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP
The PM PrepCast
The PMP certification examination is a computer-based exam that is offered at testing centers worldwide. The exam is based on much of the information contained in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide).
The questions in the PMP Exam are based on the following process groups from the PMBOK Guide: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, Closing and Professional Responsibility. So expect questions like: Which process is applied to break down the project into smaller, more manageable elements?, or: Which Tools and Techniques are part of Risk Management Planning? Some questions use project management terms that may be interchangeable with others. There will be a few questions that require you to perform simple math calculations. Or you will be required to interpret graphs or diagrams on some questions.
The number one statement to remember is that you need to answer all questions on the exam from the perspective of the PMBOK Guide, even if you feel that this question is one of those that are not 100% aligned with the standard. Asking yourself "What would the PMBOK do?" is a good place to start.
Remember that PMI is trying to present an ideal environment for project managers that might be different from your own experience. The PMBOK Guide will help you a lot here simply because it gives the right answers to all the questions that you will encounter during the exams. Or it will at least point you in the right direction. So if you really want to be prepared for your exams, read your PMBOK Guide extensively and understand the lessons here.
The PMP exam is a computer based exam with 200 multiple choice questions. This means that each question has exactly one correct answer. The exam will give you exactly four hours to answer these questions. If you prepared well, this should be a breeze. Most find four hours to be more than sufficient for the exam. (It took me 3 hours and 58 minutes because I wasn't feeling well on that day.) Out of these 200 questions, 25 questions are pretest questions. These are randomly places through out the exam and are used for research purposes. These questions will not count towards your final score. But even though you will only be evaluated on the basis of 175 questions you still must answer all 200 because you won't know which are the 25 pretest questions.
PMI does not release the actual score that is required for you to pass the exam. All they tell us is that "The passing score for all PMI credential examinations is determined by sound psychometric analysis." So nobody but PMI knows how many questions you have to answer correctly in order to pass.
This is important: Remember that there is no negative marking on the exam. This means that you are not penalized for questions that you answered incorrectly. There is just "correct" or "wrong" for the scoring. This means that if you leave a question unanswered your answer is "wrong". So remember not to leave any question unanswered. You need to answer them all.
After you click on finish and submit the exam, you will see on-screen whether you passed or failed. This takes about 10 seconds but feels like an eternity. You will also receive a printed examination report that tells you how you did in the various process groups.
To feel confident that you can do it, you must have undergone enough preparations and must have taken practice exams several times based on the lessons learned from the study materials of your choice.
The PMP Exam is mainly based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). The most current version was published in 2008 and most people find a bit difficult to read. But due to the fact that the exam is based on this book, it is important that you actually read and understand all that it contains. As a supplement to studying the PMBOK Guide in preparing for the exam you need to get additional reference material. I recommend that you buy a separate PMP Exam Prep book that will further enhance your understanding of the subject matter. These books will help make the complicated concepts from the PMBOK Guide clearer and they also give you more information and tips on how to prepare for and pass the PMP exam.
So here is my tip: read and understand the concepts from the PMBOK Guide and from a separate PMP Exam Prep book. Also work through the sample questions and exercises in your prep book. And lastly, take as many sample exams as you can to gauge your understanding of the concepts. Go back and review the sections in the books that you did not score well and try again.
When you start scoring above 80% the first time you take any mock exam then you are ready for the real exam. Remember that it takes a lot of preparation to make sure that you pass your PMP exam and receive your certification. So study hard, learn well and be confident of your ability to get your certification.
After several intense and hard weeks of study and preparations, you are now ready to take on the PMP Exam. And the mental preparation in the last 24 hours before you actually take it are just as important as the weeks of study before. You want to be well prepared, both physically and mentally, to tackle the questions and pass the exam.
And so, going into the eve of the exam, it is important that you can feel relaxed and do not worry. This will help you prepare mentally for the challenges of the next day. One of the most important techniques here is to take one, possibly even two days off from work. This way, you can focus only on your exam and not worry about any work related deadlines as well. Keep your focus!
And obviously, you also want to make sure that you get a good night's sleep. Go to bed early and avoiding things that could give you stress. Wake up early in the morning, do some light exercise just to get you warmed up and ensure that you get a good breakfast. Let my own experience be a lesson for you: avoid any food that's unfamiliar or exotic for you. You don't want to get an upset stomach during the exam like I had.
Remember, a positive attitude will help carry the day for you and help you achieve your goal of passing your PMP exam.