Sitting PMIs PMP® certification exam can be a daunting task, especially those project management practitioners who have been in the field for years and haven't had to write an exam since college. I'll try to give you some tips that will help you maximize your score in the exam and allay some of the fears you may have about sitting it. First, some facts about the exam:
- The exam is a multiple choice exam with 200 questions; each question comes with 4 possible answers.
- You have 4 hours to complete the exam.
- Approximately 40% of the questions will be what PMI terms "situational" questions, that is questions that place you in project situation and ask you to choose a course of action.
- You must have 35 hours of project management training to sit the exam.
The tips that follow should improve your chances of passing the exam but won't replace the hard work you must invest in order to acquire the knowledge the exam tests. Remember that the purpose of the exam is to test your knowledge of PMI's project management best practices, not your proven ability to successfully manage projects. Here are some tips that will ensure your hard work pays off:
- Do not attempt to write the exam fresh from your project management 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. On-line or software based training products such as three O Project Solution's AceIt© or Rita Mulcahy's PMP® Exam Prep System come with the training materials which provide you with your 35 contact hours of project management training plus the exam preparation materials that get you ready to pass the exam.
- Relax. PMI does not want you to fail the exam. They do want to ensure you have grasped the best practice captured in the PMBOK® but they also fine tune their exam to ensure an acceptable pass ratio. In fact they recently lowered the passing grade in order to do this!
- Many of the questions in the exam contain 2 answers that are technically correct. You must choose the best answer. The best way to accomplish this is to take practice exams, such as the ones in the products I've mentioned above.
- There are still a few formulas to be learned (mainly in the cost management area). Memorize these and their applications then write them down on the scratch pad that will be provided in the exam room. Do this before beginning the exam and you won't have to dredge them from memory in the midst of an anxiety attack.
- Answer all 200 questions. Even if you don't think you know the correct answer, even if the question makes no sense at all to you, answer it. You're not penalized for wrong answers so answering a question can only increase your chances of success, it can't decrease it.
- 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 ("if this is the right answer for this question, and I know it is, then answer b can't be right for question 74!").
Following these tips won't guarantee that you will pass the exam, but following the tips, working hard and practicing simulation exams until you ace every one will.