Having facilitated PMP exam(& CAPM) prep classes for over five years, a common question clients ask is “what advice do you have for me when taking the PMP/CAPM exam?”. There are so many articles out there on how to prepare and our online PMP training is full of tips as well So this article focuses instead, on tips that will help you during the actual PMP exam – only three out of twelve tips can be applied before the day you sit for the PMP exam. But you will still do well to read this at least everyday in the weeks before your PMP exam. That way, you do not spend(waste) time trying to recall the tips in the exam hall instead of doing the actual exam.
1. “Knowing is not enough: you must DO.” It is not enough to read one or two text book two or three times, you must do mock PMP exams – under PMP exam-type conditions. By PMP exam-type conditions, I mean get a quite place, with no disturbance and give yourself four hours to complete 200 questions. The mock exam and test in our online PMP program has a built-in timer to simulate the exam but it is for three hours instead of four hours on the exam. This is to try and recreate the pressure/tension you may experience on the actual exam.
2. Many of the questions will have more than one seemingly correct answer, your job is to choose which is the BEST answer. This means you have to ensure you go through ALL the choices (a to d) for EVERY question and compare them. This is because the PMI(Project Mnagement Institute), USA uses the PMP exam to test what you will do in real life projects, not just your ability to memorize the PMBOK.
3. If you are not sure of a question’s answer or do not know the answer, then do not waste time trying to figure it out. Move on to the next question. Remember the pass mark is 61%(65% for CAPM). You need to get about 7 out of every ten correct. This is just a hunch but questions that are very complex are probably part of the 25 questions which will not be scored as they are being tested for future exams.
4. When you see a network diagram question (or any other diagram), draw it on a clean part of the blank paper you are given and keep it(the diagram) neat even after answering the question(do not scribble over it). So when you see another question referring to the same network diagram much later in the exam (and you will) , you will not have to waste time redrawing it.
5. There are a few formulas to memorize, EVM, Future Value, Float, forward pass, etc. Most of you will have to memorize them. Be sure to write them down on a piece of paper provided at the venue. Do this before the exam starts, as soon as you sit down. Do this even if you think you actually know them. That way, you won’t waste valuable seconds or even minutes trying to recall them or wondering if you wrote it down properly or make a mistake due to exam pressure. (Have you seen people who miss the simplest questions on who wants to be a millionaire?)
6. This is worth repeating. Do NOT try to recall the EVM or FV, PV, slack, forward/backward pass formula off the top of your head for any reason. You may make a mistake – remember risk response strategies and AVOID that risk.
7. For questions that involve calculations, remember that the ALL answers should be to 3 decimal places except where it is money which is to two decimal places. E.g. if you get 0.736 as your CPI, do not look for 0.74 as this may be option A and you will get the question wrong even though your calculation was correct.
8. Apply time management: It is a 4 hour exam with 200 questions. Technically this gives you 72 seconds per question. If after 1 and a half hours, you are not on question 100, you will need to speed up. This is because you will still need time to attempt or the unanswered questions
9. There is no negative marking (you do not lose marks for wrong answers), so please make sure you answer ALL questions, even if you have to guess. Do this in the last 15 to 20 minutes. This gives you the chance to read them, eliminate the wrong answers and make a guess between the likely answers.
10. Another important tip here. There are so many sources of free PMP exam questions out there. While there are a few good ones, be careful which you do. In my five years, students have brought us questions they have struggled to answer. On looking at them, we have seem questions which are wrong, some which have no correct answers and some with badly worded English(presumably because they were translated into English from some other language) so make the questions impossible to understand. I suggest you ask your trainers to recommend sources of reliable questions for you. A good source is Oliver Lehmann’s site(google it).
11. This is not an exam day tip but may be the most strategic tips here. Focus on the executing process group and the monitoring and processing process group. Over half of the(55%) of the exam questions will come from there – that is over a hundred questions from the two knowledge areas. Also learn and understand EVERYTHING in the closing process group. It has just two processes yet you will get 16 questions from these two processes.
12. I will leave you another proverb – “If you are not overprepared, you are underprepared.” The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to hit the wall(you understand that if you have attended our trainings).
Good Luck on your exam and let us know if you have any extra tips after you have written the exam. Please share with your friends who are preparing for the PMP/CAPM exam.