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PMP Test Taking Tips

Even though you may know the PMP material well, there are a set of best practices for taking the PMP certification exam. The following set of time-proven best practices, or tips, will help you optimize your performance on the PMP Certification exam.
There *WILL* be questions on content that either you did not study or have not seen before.
PMI includes up to 25 questions on every PMI certification exam that serve as a lithmus test on whether these questions should appear on future certification exams. These "test" questions do not factor into your score. Do *NOT* let these questions (or any question) make you nervous!!
Be on the lookout for synonyms of PMI keywords.
For Example:
Scope => Work
Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP) => EV

Make sure that you know the synonyms for PMI keywords!!
Always answer according to PMI and not your job.
Being a seasoned project manager does not mean that you will ace the PMP certification exam....unless your job is at PMI or follows PMI extensively. There are many scenarios that your company expects you to handle a particular way that are opposed to PMI best practices. If you answer your way, you will most likely get the question wrong!!
Use Tie breaking techniques when the question appears to have more than one correct answer.
  • Technique No. 1: Choose the answer that you would encounter first in a project's lifecycle. For Example: Choose "Establishing Stakeholders" versus "Communications with Stakeholders"
  • Technique No. 2: Choose the most proactive of the possible answers. For Example: There are a good number of questions which have the PM contacting their boss or senior management versus dealing with the situation themselves. PMI expects a high degree of independence in PM's. So choose the answer which has the PM taking the action.
  • Technique No. 3: Choose the answer that is the closest to the PMBOK definition or term. For Example: There are a good number of questions that have a definition option right out of the book with other options that are close to the PMBOK definition. You have to know the definition from the book!!
  • Technique No. 4: Choose answers based on the facts given in the question. Do *NOT* make assumptions. For Example: You will encounter questions in which one option seems most logical over another. Pay careful attention. Only use the facts given to determine your answer. This is especially true with formula questions. Watch out for words like "Typical" or "Atypical".
  • Technique No. 5: Choose answers which place the customer over the sponsor or business. For Example: If a project is about to run out of money, a necessary part has not been completed per the plan, and the customer is facing potential risk or injury, PMI expects you to let your ethics guide you. Address the risk. Do the right thing *FIRST* and deal with management *SECOND*.
Always make sure that you answer the *TRUE* question.
For Example: You may see questions that are long paragraphs. There may be several options which are true answers based upon statements made in the question but do not actually answer what is being asked. Be careful.
Do not waste time attempting to answer every question your first pass through the exam.
You should always make several passes through the certification exam, starting with the easiest questions and graduating in difficulty with each successive pass.

  • Pass One: Answer only the questions that you are 100% confident of the answer. Skip everything else!
  • Next Pass: Answer questions that you previously skipped that appeared to have more than one correct answer. Use the tie breaking techniques from Item No. 4.
  • Next Pass: Answer remaining questions with your best guess.
  • Last Pass: Review all of your answers to make sure that you read the question correctly and that you chose the best option.
NEVER EVER leave a question blank.
Nothing else to say on that one. A chance at getting the question right is better than no chance.
When you encounter lengthy questions, read the last sentence first.
The question is usually in the last sentence. These types of questions tend to test your reading comprehension as well as your PMI knowledge. Improve your success rate by reading the last sentence first. This will set the tone for what you read in the rest of the question.
Do a braindump before answering a single question.
Write down the process groups (in order), formulas, inputs/outputs, tools/techniques, etc. before you start answering questions. One option is to perform this brain dump during the certification exam tutorial which happens at the beginning of your exam. Let's put that nervous energy to use. By understanding where questions lie in the context of the project lifecyle, you will have a better chance of answering questions correctly.
Avoid last minute stress. Be sure you know the rules of your test taking facility.
Do not let stress steal your test taking mojo. There are always a number of folks who are suprised and stressed before the exam even starts. They did not know that you can bring your lunch. Or, that you cannot chew gum, bring tissues, .... Make sure you dress in layers. Some testing facilities are hot or cold. Ensure your comfort. Ensure that you will remain calm.
** Remember. You Do Not Have to Know Everything to Pass!! **
For more information, see:
Free 30 Day Trial PMP Certification Practice Exams
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About the PMP Exam Details Things to Know How to Prepare Resources
What Is PMP PMP Certification Exam PMP Knowledge Areas 60 Day PMP Study Plan PMP Practice Questions
What Is PMBOK How to Apply for the PMP PMP Processes 30 Day PMP Study Plan PMP Mock Exams
PMP Credential PMP Exam Registration PMP Formulas 2 Week Study Plan PMI.org
PMP Handbook PMP Exam Eligibility PMP Acronyms 1 Week Study Plan  
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