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The Proven PMP Exam Prep Guide To Pass Your PMP Certification According to Exam Passers

There are over 1 million PMP-certified project managers in the world today. The number of certified project managers is only increasing as it becomes a vital skill set in the corporate world.

Take your Project Management skills to the next level and be a respected project manager with this proven and practical guide to passing your PMP certification! Created by PMP exam passers and professionals, this guide holds all their best practices in one convenient place.

Perfect for starting your PMP journey or as prep for your current certificate exam, these steps will lead you to a successful PMP certification on your first try!

You cannot practice most of the new question types on paper.

If you’ve taken the 2020 PMP exam, there was one question type wherein you chose the best one out of multiple choices. Now the current PMP exam has five question types with different ways to answer. This is a crucial update because this leads to our first tip:

You cannot practice for all of these question types on paper. You need an exam simulator.

As mentioned, the current PMP exam has multiple question types, specifically:

  • Multiple choice,
  • Multiple right answers,
  • Drag and drop,
  • Select a graph, and
  • Input the correct answer.

Other than that, sample PMP questions can be broadly classified into five types - Situational, Formula-based, Knowledge-based, Interpretational, and Specific Technique. Preparing for each of these question types is the key for you to get certified.

You cannot effectively practice these questions on paper. The best way to do so is by signing up for an online PMP exam simulator. We have The Prepcast Exam Simulator, but all the other big training providers have one so best to invest in one to access and practice on the different question types available. Just be sure that the questions are based on the most recent version of the PMP® Examination Content Outline.

Memorization will not help you pass the PMP exam!

Back in 2004, PMP exam takers needed to know the PMBOK Guide backward and forwards and know every single ITTO by heart— that is no longer the case today.

Now, the PMP exam relies on your project management experience as the foundation of what you know. Additionally, having theoretical knowledge of how project management should be practiced is key to passing the test. Finally, you need the physical and mental stamina to sit for 4 hours and have a strong, analytical mind to answer all the exam questions.

This is why we highly recommend you invest in our tried-and-tested PMP study materials and guides to help you get PMP certified. But ultimately, if you have the basics down and can focus for the duration of the test, you should be able to pass with above target scores.

Get mentally prepared to not be confident with your answers.

Never at any time did any PMP exam taker feel, “Oh yeah, no brainer, I know this question” during the PMP exam. Most people come back from the exam and think they failed it! This is normal and something you have to prepare for and deal with after the exam.

Truth be told: Sample Questions are “easier” than the actual exam.

The PMP exam prep can be overwhelming. You want to make sure you are following a PMP study plan to pass the exam and become a certified project manager. However, it is vital to keep in mind that the questions on the practice test may be easier than on the actual exam. This is to help you better understand and analyze the question so that you can be prepared when you take the test.

We highly recommend investing in good PMP study materials and guides to help you study and prepare for the exam. But ultimately, if you have the basics down and can focus for the duration of the test, you should be able to pass with above target scores.

Overall, utilizing a PMP exam simulator is still a great way to help prepare for the exam. Plus, it has detailed explanations to help you study and understand concepts better.

90% of PMP questions are scenario-based

Most PMP exam questions test your ability to apply theoretical know-how to real-life project management situations. You might see some that are short and vague; others are long-winded and ambiguous. The idea behind this is that in real life you will be handed both relevant and irrelevant information. Your task is to identify what’s relevant, ignore what doesn’t matter, and then act upon the real issues.

Remember to read and accurately identify what is being asked of you so that you can eliminate the useless information. You must identify if you are being asked to identify the BEST course of action, or the NEXT step the project manager should take, or the EXCEPTION, or the ONLY answer.

Expect to reach a point at which self-doubt starts creeping in.

As one exam taker shared:

“Don't think about pass[ing] or fail[ing] when you're in the exam. Focus on the questions. Put yourself in the scenario... don't think about anything other than the question you are answering at the time. Stay focused.”

As any PMP exam prep guide will tell you, staying focused while taking the PMP exam should be your #1 priority—nothing else. The PMP exam is challenging, but you mustn’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by thoughts of whether or not you’ll pass or fail the exam.

Instead, focus on the questions in front of you and imagine solutions for each scenario. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and continue doing this until you are calm and collected to answer one question at a time.

Remember, you have studied countless times and paid or free PMP exam questions and are an experienced project manager, so you got this!

Preparing for every exam scenario is important, but you also need to be focused throughout the exam.

Review and highlight each ECO task.

When studying for the PMP exam, you must review and highlight all of the tasks in the PMP Exam content outline. This ensures that you've read and revised all of them accordingly.

One exam passer shared, “There was a question that referenced personality indicators. I never saw anything about this tool in any of my studying.” Though maybe it was overlooked, it is, in fact, in the exam content outline under Task 14 from the People Domain: Promote team performance through the application of emotional intelligence.

To avoid this confusion or to overlook, print the exam content outline on a sheet of paper and highlight with GREEN everything you already know, YELLOW for topics you kind of know or should be learning more about, and RED for everything you’ve never heard of before.

The goal of this whole activity is that everything should be in GREEN, meaning you’ve studied through all the items in the exam content outline.

Have a good knowledge of Agile and Scrum methodologies.

Everybody who has taken the test or passed the test will tell you that Agile is important. After all, Agile dominates lessons learned.

There are several excellent PMP exam prep guides available that can help you learn the material and ace the exam.

If you're looking to improve your chances of passing the PMP exam, it's worth studying the Agile Practice Guide. You also should go over and look at the 2020 Scrum Guide.

Of course, no guide can replace hard work and dedication, but if you're willing to put in the effort, you can increase your chances of passing the PMP exam by studying agile principles.

“Study a lot more on Agile, read and study the [Agile] Practice Guide, read the Scrum guide and make sure you understand agile that makes or breaks your [PMP] exam.”

No full math questions in the PMP exam.

As Agile becomes more important in PMP preparation, a topic that’s becoming less and less important in the exam: is PMP formula questions.

PMP passers share that "No full math questions at all, they did reference CPI and the other ones a few times so just know what they mean and what they represent."

Formula-based questions are more knowledge-based if anything. They require you to apply your understanding of principles from the PMBOK® Guide or the Agile Practice Guide and how you interpret the results of these formulas. Take, for example, the PMP question that asks you to identify a chart or graph, such as recognizing a RACI matrix or Pareto chart.

The exam passers also added that they "did not use a calculator for even a single question." So while some preparing for the PMP exam might focus on memorizing formulas, it is crucial to remember that understanding the concepts behind the formulas is key.

If you need additional guidance on the matter, we have a PMP Formula Guide that explains 49 of the essential PMP formulas, provides reviewers and interpretations, and even sample questions that will help you in your studying.

PMP exam prep is an essential investment of time and energy, but with the right attitude and approach, it can be an exciting and rewarding process.

Don’t stress over definitions and ITTO.

Don’t memorize, but understand.

A common question we get about the PMP exam is, "Are definitions and ITTOs present?" and "Do I need to extensively study the definitions and ITTOs?" Exam passers emphasized that “There might have been subtle references to ITTO, but not a lot.”

One also assured that:

“I didn’t study the ITTOs at all. They are good to know from a 30,000 ft view but don’t stress over them.”

However, PMP exam prep guides still recommend that you review these terms and concepts as they will likely be tested in some capacity on the exam. At the very least, you should have a general understanding of what each term means.

While you may not need to know every single PMP ITTO by heart, it is still important to have a strong foundation in PMP exam concepts. By doing so, you will be better prepared to answer questions on the exam and ultimately earn your PMP certification.

Log in early for your proctored online PMP exam and be prepared to wait.

When taking the online PMP exam, it is recommended that you log in 30 minutes early or earlier to prepare for all the requirements and environment checking.

Word of caution:

No big movements that will cause you to go out of the screen or not within the proctor’s view of you.

Expect a long waiting time to enter the testing space or environment, so use this free time to calm your mind and be free from worries. Should you make any distracting physical movements or even have your face out of the screen, you have automatically failed or been disqualified from your PMP exam.

The proctor will text you a link to upload photos of your ID and room. Once you're released to take the exam, you just have to be wary of your movements, like not looking beyond your screen and mouthing the questions out loud to avoid being called out and disqualified by the exam proctor.

PMP exam prep can be stressful, but as long as you are prepared and familiar with the format, you will be able to do your best on the test.

Take and maximize the break if you need to.

Everyone needs a breather once in a while, so take it when you need it.

The PMP exam is a computer-based test that consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. You'll have four hours to complete the exam, and there are two optional breaks (10 minutes after question 60 and again at 120).

Once you get to this part of the exam, you have the option to take a break or skip it. In a proctored online PMP exam, You'll be prompted when to take a break, but you won't be able to go back to the earlier questions once you leave your seat and come back.

It's important to follow all the rules and behave in 'exam mode' even at the end of your test. Sumit Kale, PMP said that once the screen showed 'Exam finished' and the results popped up, he stayed in place until the proctor told him the final steps.

"Don't grab your mobile or leave your place until all steps are done and your exam software is closed," he recommends.

Wait for the exam system to close down before leaving your seat.

As you're taking the PMP exam, remember to carefully follow the exam’s instructions.

After you click END and see your result, stay in the camera view until you get through the last steps and the system closes down.

An exam taker moved to grab his cell phone to try to take a picture of his screen that said he passed and that freaked out his proctor. For that quick few seconds, the exam taker worried whether his action might have earned him a disqualification. Then the whole software closed out and he and everything else was gone.

Lesson learned:

To be safe, I’d suggest staying put until the system finishes.

Take your time to carefully review each question

The PMP exam is a multiple-question-type exam, with each question having multiple possible answers with only four hours to complete the PMP Exam.

During this time, you will need to carefully review each PMP question and answer. While it is important to take your time and select the best answer, you also need to make sure that you are keeping a decent pace while answering questions.

If you find yourself spending too much time on one question, move on and come back to it later. Be sure to budget your time wisely so that you don't run out of time.

There are a lot of resources and exam simulator modes available to help you prepare for the PMP exam, so be sure to take advantage of them. There’s one in particular from the PrepCast PMP Exam Simulator where you can choose “Timed Mode” to gauge your speed and accuracy in answering the questions.

Follow our recommended PMP Exam Prep guide.

There are a few different things that you should keep in mind when you are preparing for the PMP exam.

  • Exam Simulator
  • Agile Manifesto and Scrum Guide
  • PMBOK Guide and Agile Practice Guide
  • PMP Training Course

First, make sure that you are familiar with the Agile Manifesto and the Scrum Guide. These two documents will help you understand the principles of agile project management.

You should also take a PMP training course to learn how to better understand and apply the learnings from the PMBOK guide and the Agile Practice Guide.

Finally, you should use a PMP exam simulator to practice taking the exam. This will help you to become familiar with the exam format and to identify any areas where you need more study.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you are well-prepared for the PMP exam.

Take advantage of a PMP Exam Simulator.

A PMP Exam Simulator is one of the essentials to getting yourself PMP certified. As PMP is the most popular project management credential globally, the certification validates your experience and expertise in leading and directing projects.

The exam simulator helps you prepare for this exam by familiarizing you with the types of questions you can expect to see on the test. In addition, the simulator provides detailed explanations of correct and incorrect answers so that you can learn from your mistakes.

With professionally developed questions and a genuine exam experience, you will feel better equipped and confident. Make sure to get started with your studies today so that you can pass the PMP Exam on your first attempt!

Check out the video version of our PMP exam prep guide here:

Training for Project Management Professional (PMP)®, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®, and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

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