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How to Practice for the PMP® Exam?

19th Feb, 2024
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    How to Practice for the PMP® Exam?

    To become a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®), one has to first meet the experience and education requirements, and then pass the PMP® examination, which is a set of 200 multiple-choice questions. Studying from the PMBOK® Guide and completing a 35-contact hour training is not sufficient for preparation for the PMP® examination. It does cover a lot of grounds of the syllabus, but the questions that are asked are not as straightforward as one thinks. If asked by the people who have passed the exam, it can be known that only one study method doesn’t suffice. The candidates should be prepared well and know the different mechanics of taking the exam.

    Though the exam has a multiple-choice question-answer pattern, the questions are asked in different styles. Hence it is very important to know how to get the most of each question and be prepared in advance, which requires proper commitment and preparation regardless of your experience or education. On average, candidates spend a minimum of 35 hours for preparation before taking the examination.

    This blog discusses the best practices that candidates adopt to successfully pass the PMP® examination. Read along to know more about PMP Exam Preparation, content, question format, and types, along with a few tips to aid you for your exam.

    PMP® Examination:

    A total of 200 questions are asked in the PMP® examination. These questions are framed in such a manner that it tests your knowledge on the various aspects of project management. It checks your analytical, mathematical skills, logical skills and management, and leadership style. The questions are framed in the following kinds:

    • ITTO based questions.
    • Formula-based questions
    • Knowledge-based questions
    • Definition based questions.
    • Situation based questions.
    • Interpretational questions
    • Professional and social responsibility-based questions.

    IITO-Based PMP® Exam Questions

    IITO is the abbreviation of ‘Input, Tool & Technique, and Output’. In this type of question, you will be asked to select the correct Input, Tool & Technique, or Output for a given process.

    Nearly every project management process in the PMBOK® Guide has a PMP® exam technique correspondingly. Hence you can come across questions which might test your understanding of a specific technique or the application of any technique.

    It is advisory to have a good grasp on the tools and technique mentioned in the PMBOK® guide and have a clear understanding of its purpose and usage.

    Formula-Based PMP® Questions

    The formula-based questions that are asked in the PMP® examination do not just ask questions on average or median but also different formulas which are related to earned value management, critical path method, PERT, etc. It is important to be aware of approximately 49 PMP® exam formulas in order to pass the PMP® examination.

    The best way to prepare well for the formula-based questions is to study and practice the formulas properly. Along with the fifty formulas, it is equally important to know twenty important values and thirty formula-related acronyms.

    Knowledge-Based PMP® Questions:

    The knowledge-based questions are majorly based on the PMBOK® Guide or the concepts of project management. These questions are asked to test your knowledge of ITTOs, inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques, etc. If the PMBOK® Guide has been followed properly, then the candidates can handle the majority of these questions without facing much trouble.

    Based on your understanding of the facts that are provided, knowledge-based questions judge if you have understood the situation properly or not.

    Definition-Based PMP® Questions

    Definition-based questions are the most direct, straightforward questions that one can face in the PMP® exam. The questions that are asked are definitions of risk, residual risk, secondary risk, etc.

    Situation-Based PMP® Questions 

    The Situation-Based PMP® Questions test your aptness in the application of the theoretical knowledge to real-life project management situations. Under this category, a situation will be given to you, and it’ll be asked of you to find the best answer for the same. It is very important to understand what is being asked and answer with the best capability according to your knowledge of project management concepts.

    The aim is to test your application of theoretical knowledge. Hence you should focus more on answering the question with the information that has been provided along with the help your project management knowledge.

    Interpretational PMP® Exam Questions

    The interpretational questions test your potential of deducing a situation or condition from status or problem that has been described to you. That is, you will be provided with some data, where you’ll be required to analyze these data and find the correct answer.

    Professional and Social Responsibility Based Questions 

    PMI expects that you follow a set of specific code of ethics and professional conduct in your behavior since you are to be a PMI Certified PMP®. Hence, relatable questions can be asked.

    In the above-mentioned types of questions that are asked, it is found that candidates find ITTO, Mathematical and Situational based questions slightly difficult to answer. It is important to understand that experience is needed to solve situation-based questions as well as to understand the concepts to solve the mathematical questions.

    Now that we’ve discussed the types of questions that one comes across in the PMP® examination, let’s have a look at a few tips that will help you prepare for the examination.

    Tips to Prepare for the PMP® Exam.

    • The PMP® exam consists of a total of 200 questions, out of which 25 questions are ‘pretest’ questions which don’t hold any credits. But you’ll have to attempt all the 200 questions as a clear mention of which questions will be graded and which will not be is not there.
    • There might be a few questions that might include irrelevant information. This might be done on purpose. But it is advised not to get confused by the same.
    • Questions that are asked might challenge your confidence as they might ask questions using different terminologies just to judge your understanding of a concept. So, start your exam with absolute clarity and confidence.
    • Familiarize yourself well with the PMP® Sample Questions. To do so, attempt a few mock tests so that you get a grip of time management and the types of questions that are asked.
    • Review the PMP® Exam content outline properly.
    • With the help of the internet, learn about ‘PMP® Brain Dump’. Practice on a regular basis for the best results.  
    • Review the PMBOK® guide more than once.  
    • Prepare your mind strategically before taking the test. You’ll have to answer a total of 200 questions in four hours, meaning you can spend approximately 1 minute 12 seconds to answer each question.
    • One approach that you can take up is first going through all the questions and answering the ones that you can answer very quickly, that is within 20 to 30 seconds. Mark all the other questions for review. Similarly, you can manage your time and answer the questions accordingly.

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    How to Prepare for the PMP® Exam

    Steps for preparing PMP Exam

    Most of the candidates spend a lot of time preparing for the PMP® examination. Hence, it is very essential that you buy yourself time only for preparation.

    Read on to learn more about the best practices adopted by successful PMP® professionals.

    • Review the PMP® Examination Content Outline:

    The PMP® Examination Content Outline is a document which has been published by the PMI. It consists of the break-up of the questions as per the process areas that are asked in the exam.

    • Enroll in a formal study course:

    Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s) are organizations that have been approved by the Project Management Institute that offers project management training. You should enroll in a training course on PMP® as they provide you with study material and educate you on the best practices for PMP exam prep online. Moreover, they give the 35 contact hours’ training certificates, which is a necessity for you to be eligible for the PMP® exam.

    • Prepare a Study Plan:

    Prepare a study plan that will help you prepare and cover all the activities required for the best PMP certification. It is recommended that you break your study sessions into smaller time frames and plan it in a way that includes all the major things like reading the PMBOK® Guide, studying various materials, practicing various mock tests, etc.

    • Review the PMBOK® Guide and other study materials:

    No matter what preparation tool or resource you use, it is always recommended to study from the PMBOK® Guide. Along with it, you can also review study materials that are provided by different R.E.P.s and reputable organizations. It will help you prepare well for your examination.

    • Practice various Mock Tests:

    Before taking any exam, it is always advised to take up mock tests as they act as an indicator for your readiness to take the examination. You should take mock tests so that you know where you lack in your project management knowledge. Once you have done that, you can focus on the topics or areas where you lag and work on them.

    Another added advantage of taking mock tests would be that you’ll get a practice to sit for four hours at a stretch without losing focus.

    • Form Study Groups: 

    Forming study groups while preparing for an examination is always helpful. In case you don’t find any study group, initiate forming one. There are various benefits that one experiences due to study groups, like:

    1. Studying alone can get monotonous. Studying in groups will help you stay active. This is especially true in case of interactive group studies.
    2. If you are struggling with a topic, your peers can help you get a better grasp of the same. Likewise, if your peer is struggling with a topic and you initiate to help, your confidence will boost when you help them through it while at the same time you get a better understanding of the same.
    3. Your peers and you can keep each other motivated throughout the course.
    4. Sharing your experiences of Project Management with your peers and vice-versa will help you and your peers in solving scenario-based questions that might be asked in the exam.
    5. The biggest advantage of forming study groups is that it will fix up a timetable or a routine for you and your peers to study on a regular basis, making it a part of your daily routine.
    • PMP® Exam Simulator

    Another suggested method of preparing for your PMP® certification exam is by practicing the questions with the PM Exam Simulator. You can use this site to take up your practice exam in three modes, namely:

    1. Real Exam Mode: This just gives you a real PMP® exam experience.
    2. Timed Mode: This mode exposes you to hints and answers, but still adhere to a limited time.
    3. Learning Mode: In this mode, you receive hints and answers with no time limit.

    You can avail free Exam Simulator for three days. If you are ready to answer 85% or more of the sample or practice questions on your first try, then you are ready to take your PMP® certification exam.

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    On a closing note,

    Preparing for PMP® examination can get tedious. Hence it is necessary that you gain knowledge from all possible directions and practice rigorously for the examination.

    Out of all the types of questions that are asked, ITTO, Mathematical and Situational based questions are the time taking ones. As the saying goes, practice makes a man perfect.

    Start your preparation in time to achieve your dream job. All the best!


    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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