Preparing for your PMP® exam might seem like a struggle, but the end result is quite rewarding. From the initial application process, you need to go through a lengthy procedure to become a PMP® certified professional. The PMP® exam tests the professionals on the five project management processes: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. It is also important for the candidates to have a thorough understanding of the nine knowledge areas under project management, which includes integration management, project scope management, time management, project resource management plan, procurement management, cost management, and time management.
The PMP® certification is a validation of a professional’s experience in project management and is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) to those candidates who qualify the PMP® examination.
The process of preparation can be quite challenging for a candidate who is preparing for a PMP certification. Prepare for the PMP exam by taking a PMP certification prep course. This article discusses the details of the PMP® exam, giving an insight into the prerequisites, layout of the exam and some tips on how to ace the exam the first time.
PMP® Examination Format
The PMP® examination contains a total of 200 multiple-choice questions. Out of these 200 questions, 25 questions are ‘unscored questions’, that is, they do not affect the exam score. These questions act as an effective and admissible way to test the validity of future examination questions. The questions are placed and are asked randomly throughout the examination. It is very important to keep in mind that the unscored questions cannot be distinguished from the scored questions. Hence it is important that all the questions are answered with the same level of precision.
|No. of Scored Questions||No. of Unscored Questions||Total number of Questions|
The standard method of PMI examination is Center-based Testing (CBT). While paper-based Testing is also available, but only under limited circumstances. The allotted time duration for completion of the exam is 4 hours. There aren’t any scheduled breaks during the examination, though a small break can be taken if needed. If any break is taken during the exam, the exam clock time does not stop but continues to count down.
Before you begin taking the exam, you will be shown a tutorial explaining the process of the exam. It’s recommended to go through this video that takes around 15 minutes. Further, your PMP® exam will be followed by a survey. The time for both excludes the four hours of the examination during which you need to answer 200 questions.
|Allotted time for the Examination|
New PBT Policy effective from 1 July 2017
The Paper-based testing for the PMP® examination is available under limited circumstances. The instances are listed as follows:
- Distance to a Prometric CBT (Centre-based testing) site exceeds 240 km (150 miles)
- A Prometric CBT site isn’t available in the country of residence and travelling across borders is prohibited/burdensome.
As of 01 July 2017, the price for PBT exam has been changed, which now equals the CBT prices.
NOTE: It should be indicated during the certification payment process if the candidate will be opting for a Centre-based or a paper-based examination. In the case of PBT examination, the site location, date and group testing number on the application should be included as well.
How are the PMP® examination questions developed?
The questions which are asked in the PMP® examination are:
- Developed in accordance with the standards of IOC/IEC 17024
- Developed and are validated independently by global work groups of PMP® certification holders.
- Monitored via psychometric analysis.
- According to the specifications made in the PMP® Examination Content Outline.
- Referenced to the present project management titles, which include but not limited to PMI ’s global standards.
Are any language aids provided for the PMP® examination?
PMI examinations are administered in English. However, for the questions and answers of the PMP® examinations, language aids are provided with no additional costs.
Language Aids are available in 14 languages, which are stated as follows:
- Brazilian Portuguese
- Chinese (Simplified)
- Chinese (Traditional)
The language aids are provided when the examination is being administered. They are protected under the PMI Test Security and Confidentiality rules.
NOTE: If a language aid is required, it should be indicated as a part of the payment process, that is, while submitting the application online; or as a part of the application process, if a paper application is being submitted.
The post-exam survey and pre-exam tutorial are administered only in the English language. The language aid is provided only for the PMP® examination questions and answers.
What is the Blueprint of the PMP® Examination?
The PMP® examination blueprint, which is depicted in the table below defines the proportion of questions which are asked from each domain. These percentages determine the number of questions that will appear in the examination, covering all the domains and process groups of the project management. The following is the blueprint:
|Blueprint of the PMP® Exam|
|Domain||Percentage of Questions|
|Monitoring and Controlling||25%|
Further, let’s discuss the domains, tasks, knowledge and skill statements which are defined by the Role Delineation Study. There are multiple tasks under each domain which are measured through the process of PMP® certification.
Domain I, Initiating - 13%
Task 1: Carry out a project assessment based on the available information, meetings with stakeholders, and the lessons which are learned from the previous projects.
Task 2: Figure out the key deliverables to direct the achievement of project goals and manage customer expectations based on the business requirements.
Task 3: Use appropriate tools and techniques to perform stakeholder analysis so that expectations can be aligned, and support can be gained for the project.
Task 4: Recognize high-level risks, constraints, and assumptions based on the historical data, current environment, organizational factors, and expert judgement, so that an implementation strategy can be proposed.
Task 5: Engage in the process of development of project charter by compiling and analyzing the gathered information so that it is ensured that the project stakeholders agree on its elements.
Task 6: Acquire the project charter approval from the sponsor, so that the authority assigned to the project manager can be assigned, while at the same time commitment and acceptance can be gained.
Task 7: Perform benefit analysis with relevant stakeholders so that the project alignment with organizational strategy can be validated.
Task 8: Ensure that there is a common understanding of the key deliverables, milestones, as well as their roles and responsibilities by informing the stakeholders of the approved project charter.
Knowledge and Skills
- Analytical skills
- Benefit analysis techniques
- Elements of a project charter
- Estimation tools and techniques
- Strategic management
Domain II, Planning - 24%
Task 1: Based on the project charter and lessons learned, review and assess the project requirements, constraints and assumptions with the stakeholders.
Task 2: Based on the approved project scope and using scope management techniques, develop scope management so that the scope of the project can be defined, maintained and managed.
Task 3: Based on the project scope, resources, schedule, approved project charter, and other information, plan the cost management using estimating techniques so that the project costs can be managed.
Task 4: Based on the approved project deliverables and milestones, scope, and resource management plans, develop the project schedule so that a scheduled completion of the project can be managed.
Task 5: Come up with a Project Resource Management plan where the roles and responsibilities of the project team members can be defined so that a project organizational structure can be created, and guidance can be formed regarding how resources will be managed and assigned.
Task 6: Work on a communication management plan which will be based on the project organizational structure and stakeholder requirements, so that the flow of project information can be defined and managed.
Task 7: Based on the project scope, budget, and schedule, create a procurement management plan. This ensures that the required project resources will be available.
Task 8: To prevent the occurrence of defects while at the same time control the cost of quality, come up with a quality management plan to define the quality standards for the project and its products which will be based on the project scope, risks, and requirements.
Task 9: Work on change management so that the changes can be managed and tracked.
Task 10: Develop a risk management plan. Identify, analyze and prioritize the project risk; create a risk register, and define risk response strategy to do so. This way, the uncertainty and opportunity throughout the project life cycle can be managed.
Task 11: Present the project management plan to the relevant stakeholders in accordance with the applicable policies and procedures, so the approval to proceed with the project execution can be attained.
Task 12: Conduct kick-off meeting, communicate the start of the project, and other relevant information to engage stakeholders and gain commitment.
Task 13: Develop a stakeholder management plan after analyzing the needs and potential impact so that the stakeholders’ expectations can be managed and can be engaged in project decisions.
Knowledge and Skills
- Change management planning.
- Communications planning
- Estimation tools and techniques
- Lean and efficiency principles
- Quality management planning
- Regulatory and environmental impacts assessment planning
- Scope deconstruction (e.g., WBS, Scope backlog) tools and techniques
- Stakeholder management planning
- Workflow diagramming techniques
- Cost management planning, including project budgeting tools and techniques.
- Contract types and selection criteria
- Human resource planning
- Procurement planning
- Requirements gathering techniques.
- Risk management planning
- Scope management planning
- Time management planning, including scheduling tools and techniques.
DOMAIN III, Executing - 31%
Task 1: Follow the human resource and procurement management plans by obtaining and managing the project resources so that the project requirements can be met.
Task 2: Lean and develop the project team to manage the task execution based on the project management plan so that the project deliverables can be achieved.
Task 3: Use appropriate tools and techniques to implement a quality management plan. This is done to ensure that the work is being performed as per the required quality standards.
Task 4: Follow the change management plan to implement the approved changes and corrective actions so that the project requirements can be met.
Task 5: Follow the risk management plan to implement the approved actions so that the impact of risks can be minimized while at the same time, the advantage of opportunities on the project can be attained. ‘
Task 6: Follow the communication plan and manage the flow of information so that the stakeholders are kept engaged and informed.
Task 7: Follow the stakeholder management plan to maintain the stakeholder relationship so that continued support can be received, and expectations can be managed.
Knowledge and Skills
- Continuous improvement processes
- Elements of a statement of work
- Project budgeting tools and techniques
- Vendor management techniques
- Contract management techniques
- Interdependencies among project elements
- Quality standard tools
Domain IV, Monitoring and Controlling - 25%
Task 1: Use appropriate tools and techniques to measure the project performance so that any variance and corrective actions can be identified and quantified.
Task 2: Follow the change in the management plan and manage changes to the project so that the project goal remains aligned with the business needs.
Task 3: Use appropriate tools and techniques to meet project requirements and business needs in order to verify that the project deliverables conform to the quality standards which has been established in the quality management plan.
Task 4: Monitor and assess the risk to determine if exposure has changed and evaluated the effectiveness of response strategies so that the impact of risks and opportunities on the project can be managed.
Task 5: Review and update the issue log as well as determine corrective measures by using appropriate tools and techniques so that the impact on the project can be minimized.
Task 6: Use lessons learned management techniques to capture, analyze, and manage the lessons learned so that continuous improvement can be attained.
Task 7: According to the procurement plan, monitor the procurement activities so that the compliance with project activities can be verified.
Knowledge and Skills
- Performance measurement and tracking techniques
- Project control limits
- Project monitoring tools and techniques
- Quality measurement tools
- Risk response techniques
- Process analysis techniques
- Project finance principles
- Project quality best practices and standards
- Risk identification and analysis techniques
- Quality validation and verification techniques
Domain V, Closing - 7%
Task I: Collect the final acceptance of the project deliverables from the relevant stakeholders as confirmation that the project scope and deliverables were achieved.
Task II: According to the project plan, transfer the ownership of deliverables to the assigned stakeholders so that the project closure can be facilitated.
Task III: Obtain financial, legal and administrative closure via the accepted practices and policies so that a formal closure of the project can be attained, and a transfer of liability can be ensured.
Task IV: According to the communications management plan, prepare and share the final project report so that the project performance can be documented and conveyed as well as project evaluation can be assisted.
Task V: Collect and combine the lessons that were learned throughout the project and conduct a project review so that the organization’s knowledge base can be updated.
Task VI: Archive the materials and project documents by making use of the generally accepted practices so that statutory requirements can be complied with and for potential use in future projects and audits.
Task VII: Use appropriate tools and techniques to get feedback from relevant stakeholders so that their satisfaction can be evaluated.
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Knowledge and Skills
- Archiving practices and statutes
- Contract closure requirements
- Feedback techniques
- Project review techniques
- Active listening
- Benefits realization
- Business acumen
- Coaching, mentoring, training, and motivational techniques
- Configuration management
- Customer satisfaction metrics
- Decision making
- Diversity and cultural sensitivity
- Expert judgment technique
- Generational sensitivity and diversity
- Interpersonal skills
- Leadership tools, techniques, and skills
- Meeting management techniques
- Organizational and operational awareness
- Presentation tools and techniques
- Problem-solving tools and techniques
- Quality assurance and control techniques
- Risk assessment techniques
- Stakeholder management techniques
- Virtual/remote team management
- Compliance (statute/organization)
- Close-out procedures
- Performance measurement techniques
- Transition planning technique
- Applicable laws and regulations
- Brainstorming techniques
- Change management techniques.
- Communication channels, tools, techniques, and methods
- Conflict resolution
- Data gathering techniques.
- Delegation techniques
- Emotional intelligence
- Information management tools, techniques, and methods
- Knowledge management
- Lessons learned management techniques.
- Negotiating and influencing techniques and skills
- Peer-review processes
- Prioritization/time management
- Project finance principles
- Relationship management
- Situational awareness
- Team-building techniques
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Tips for passing and preparing for PMP® Exam.
PMP® exam requires a lot of dedication and efforts in order to clear it at one go. The following tips will surely help you to prepare and pass your PMP® exam:
- Memorize all formulas to easily answer the math questions.
- Spend around 4 hours to practice full sample exams at one sitting.
- On the day of your exam, use your time effectively to answer 200 questions within 4 hours. You will have 1 minute to answer each question.
- Answer all questions, do not leave any question blank.
- Use the process of elimination for obviously incorrect answer options to maximize probability in case you are not sure about the correct answer.
- Avoid spending too much time on any single question. If you are spending more than 2 minutes on a single question, then you can make your best guess for the answer and mark it for review at the end of the exam.
- Try to reserve the last 10 minutes to review the marked questions.
- Read all the answer options before selecting an answer.
- Keep in mind that some questions may provide hints to other questions in the exam.
- Wear comfortable cloth and footwear on the day of your exam.
To wrap it up!
The PMP® certification acts as a validation of a professional’s experience in project management and is a challenging process as well. Start preparing well for the five domains (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing) in advance so that you can ace the examination and get nearer to achieving your dream career. All the best!