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Deep Fried Brain PMP CAPM PMI-ACP Certification Blog

  PMP Exam-Taking Strategies - Are You Battle-Ready?

PMP Exam is a 4 hour long battle. You can make these 4 hours the most memorable or the most fateful of your life, depending upon what you do during (and of course, before) these hours. I'm going to offer some tips that can help you make the most of these 4 hours. These are best practices that have worked well for successful candidates. There are no hard and fast rules. I suggest that you practise these tips while you take the mock exams and tailor them according to your style.

This article is second in the series of articles on PMP Exam tips. Be sure to also read my first article - Important Tips on PMP Exam Preparation.
  1. Use the first 15 min demo module to your advantage, whichever way you prefer - do brain dumps, meditate, relax, exercise, day-dream, or whatever that makes you comfortable.

  2. Read all the answer options before you answer a question. Lame tip, but many people miss these basics of taking objective-type exams.

  3. Don't leave any question unanswered in the exam, even during the first pass. If you are not sure about the answer, follow your instincts, select an answer choice, and mark the question for review. Most successful candidates will tell you that usually your first guess is the best. Remember, there's no negative marking in the PMP exam.

  4. Don't spend too much time on any single question, especially lengthy questions. You have 1 min and 12 sec per question (200 questions in 240 mins). As I mentioned above, take your best guess, mark the question for review and move on. I know that sometimes it's difficult to put a question out of your mind and move on, and even if you manage to do so, the question keeps nagging you. But this is a skill you need to master by practicing on mock exams.

  5. Bookmark (for review) only those questions, which you are unsure of. Don't bookmark every other question. You might not have sufficient time to review all the questions again. So, save the review time for only those questions that you are really unsure of.

  6. Sometimes, answer to one question lies in another question in the same exam. This is a tip that you should keep in mind for any objective type exam.

  7. Be patient with lengthy questions. Sometimes, a lot of information is just superfluous and does not have any relevance to the question or the answer choices. Many experts recommend reading the last sentence only of wordy question. I, however, prefer to read it completely, rather than leaving it to chance.

  8. Don't get frustrated by difficult questions, specially during the beginning of the exam. Many exam takers (including me) say that they had lots of difficult questions in the beginning. Rather than getting demoralized, you can follow the tips listed above and look forward to easy scoring opportunities ahead. Usually the exam has a good mix of questions with varying level of difficulty. If you get some tough questions in the beginning, you are bound to get some easy ones down the line.

  9. Learn to use the 'elimination' technique on answer choices. For most questions, you can easily eliminate 2 choices. That leaves you with only 2 choices and a success probability of 50% !

  10. Exam contains 25 Pre-test questions, which are not scored. These are trial questions which can possibly be included in the exam in future. If you have prepared well for the exam, used a variety of study material, and still find a totally out-of-the-blue question, chances are that it might be one of 'those 25 questions'. Just take your best guess and move on. Don't even bother marking it for review. If you don't have any clue about it the first time around, you are unlikely to do any better next time around.

  11. Should I take a break during the exam? This is a personal choice. I can sit through two 4 hr exams straight, without a break. But many people can't stare at a monitor for more than 30 mins. You got to decide what works best for you. Work out your strategy during the mock exams.

  12. If you tend to get nervous during exams, I suggest you use the calculator to verify your answers for numerical based questions, even if it's '2+2=4' type calculations. Numerical based questions are a rare easy scoring opportunity on this exam. Don't mess up on these questions. Double-check your answers.

That's all for now. Coming up next - Important Tips on picking the 'right' answer on the PMP Exam.

If you have more tips to share with other PMP aspirants, post them here as comments and feel proud of yourself by contributing to others' success.

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Deep Fried Brain PMP CAPM PMI-ACP Certification Blog

  250 Free Project Management Books for PMI Members

Many PMP aspirants who sign up for PMI membership for the sole purpose of saving money on the certification cost, do not know that PMI membership also gives them free online access to over 250 Project Management books with free membership of books24x7. Many who do know about books24x7, don't really know how to access this resource. And PMI, as usual, is very good at making their website layout as unintuitive as possible. So, here's how you access books24x7. Remember, you need to be PMI member in order to access this resource.

Deep Fried Brain PMP CAPM PMI-ACP Certification Blog

  Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep, 6th Edition is Available on Amazon Now

Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep, Sixth Edition (for PMBOK Guide 4th Ed), is now available on Amazon and at a hefty discount of 37%. PM Fastrack and Flashcards are also available at decent discount. All three items are temporarily out of stock, but you can place your order and lock the price now.

Deep Fried Brain PMP CAPM PMI-ACP Certification Blog

  Which version of PMBOK - if PMP application is approved before Jun 30?

A PMP aspirant, Vikas Jain, posted this question to me couple days ago:

I have read on a website that if one applies for the PMP exam and if his/her application is approved before 30th June then the person can have the option of taking the exam on PMBoK 3rd edition till one year from the date of approval of the application. For example if the application is approved on 25th June, 2009 then one can take the PMP exam on PMBoK 3rd edition till 24th June, 2010.

Wanted to confirm with you if the above information is True?

Here's the response:

That's NOT correct. It doesn't matter when your application is approved; what matters is the date you take the exam. If your application is approved on 25th June 2009, you have time till 29th June 2009 to take the exam based on PMBOK Guide 3rd edition. From 30th June 2009, you'll have to take the exam based on PMBOK Guide 4th edition, irrespective of when your application was approved.

Hope this clarifies your doubt.
Deep Fried Brain PMP CAPM PMI-ACP Certification Blog

  What is the difficulty level of the PMP Exam?

The difficulty level of the PMP exam is a subjective matter. What is difficult for me, might be easy for you. I cannot assign a difficulty score to the exam on a scale of 1 to 10. However, I can tell you my personal opinion and what the "general" consensus is.

Generally, the PMP exam is considered difficult, and I agree with it. It is more difficult than any other (PMP) mock exam (free or otherwise) you would have attempted before. The questions on the real exam are phrased differently than on the mock exams. Questions are also lengthier (more wordy) than those on sample exams. The wording is very tricky, and there are a lot of 'situational' questions - situational, situational, situational. Even some of the formula related questions are situational. I hardly remember any question on the real exam that I had seen before the exam, even though I had attempted more than 3500 sample questions.

However, if you have Project Management experience, prepared well for the exam, and attempted plenty of sample questions from "good sources", you should be able to crack the real exam. It's difficult but not impossible. After all, there are more than 300K PMPs out there and not all of them are geniuses.

Tip: Start with some good free mock exams and save the commercial ones for the last. For the commercial exams, I recommend PM Exam Simulator (1800 Questions). An 80% score in your first attempt on these exams is a good indicator of your readiness for the real exam.

PMP Certification FAQs

100+ FAQs about PMP Certification

Last Updated: Dec 2, 2013

Related articles: Image credit: Flickr / mrtwistter
Deep Fried Brain PMP CAPM PMI-ACP Certification Blog

  20 New Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the PMP Exam

Which are the toughest topics on the PMP exam? Is there a change in PMP Exam pattern from June 30, 2009? Will anyone know if I fail the PMP Exam? Is it possible to apply for PMP exam without becoming a PMI member?

June 5, 2009: I just posted 10 new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the PMP Exam, on my PMP FAQs page. The questions are:

  • Which are the toughest topics on the PMP exam?
  • Is there any change in PMP Exam pattern from June 30, 2009?
  • How many PMPs are there in the World?
  • How often are PMP exams conducted?
  • How can I avoid PMP application audit?
  • How can I get a copy of the PMBOK Guide?
  • Where can I find the list of Paper-Based Test (PBT) Centers for PMP Exam?
  • Are there any other means to earn Contact Hours (apart from training by PMI-REPs)?
  • What doesn't qualify for 35 Contact hours of PM Education for PMP Certification?
  • What is the value of PMP Certification?

UPDATE (Jun 12, 2009) - Added 10 more questions today:
  • What is the difficulty level of PMP Exam?
  • Which version of PMBOK will the exam be based on, if PMP application is approved before Jun 30?
  • Will anyone know if I fail the PMP Exam?
  • Is it possible to apply for PMP exam without becoming a PMI member?
  • Does score matter on the PMP Exam?
  • Does the PMP Certificate show the score?
  • How can I verify a person's PMP credential?
  • Which formulas should I know for the PMP Exam?
  • How long does PMI take to mail the PMP Certificate to successful candidates?
  • What is the percentage equivalent of each Proficiency Level on the PMP Exam?
To read the answers to these and about 50 other questions, head over to:

PMP Certification FAQs

100+ FAQs about PMP Certification

If you have other questions, which are not answered on the FAQs page, post them as comments and I'll try to address them within 24 hours.

Deep Fried Brain PMP CAPM PMI-ACP Certification Blog

  How can I avoid PMP Application Audit?

You cannot. There's nothing you can do to avoid your application from getting audited. PMI randomly selects a small percentage (about 10%) of applications for audit.

However, you can take some steps to prepare yourself to face the audit and ensure that the audit goes through smoothly, in case your application gets audited.

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