The Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is one of the most popular certification exams in the world. And for a good reason! One of the benefits of a PMP® certification is that you can show you have the skills and knowledge to lead projects successfully. But studying for the exam can be daunting, and taking the exam can be even more challenging.
That's why we've invited Dana Domnisor, PMP from Luxembourg to share her experience taking the PMP exam. Dana is an PMP exam passer who will share her experience taking the PMP exam at home. Learn how she overcame several obstacles and what she would do differently if she took the exam again!
Dana has over 10 years of experience in project management, with a focus on healthcare IT projects. She is currently a Project Manager at a healthcare software company in the United States. Dana received her PMP certification in October 2020 and is passionate about helping others prepare for and pass the exam.
When preparing, it is important for test takers to carefully consider how they want to take the test – online or in person. There are several points to consider when choosing which one works best for takers.
For example, to take the online PMP exam, test takers must have a reliable internet connection and a device on which they can complete the exam. Additionally, test takers should be aware of their surroundings when taking the exam, as external distractions can negatively impact their scores. Not only will you lose focus, but in a proctored pmp exam using PearsonVUE, this can be taken as a form of cheating as they require your area to be quiet and your desk clear of unnecessary items.
Conversely, in-person exams allow test takers to ask questions and receive feedback from a proctor. However, this format has its risks like going out to more public places with more interactions and for some, can be more expensive and may not be available in all locations.
Looking back on it now, Dana shares that she would have chosen to go and take the certification at a test center rather than at home. Dana candidly shares,
“It's true! It adds extra stress on you and you don't really need the extra stress. You are under enough pressure because of the exam itself and the logistics— everything that you have to pay attention to. Because of the online tool (PearsonVUE), it puts extra pressure and that can be difficult to handle.”
Though she may have regrets, considering the pandemic and health guidelines at the time, online was the best option at that time.
Ultimately, the best option for each individual depends on their specific circumstances— up to you which one you’re most comfortable with.
The PMP certification exam is notoriously difficult coupled with vague and confusing questions. Dana shares that’s not the only confusing thing, sometimes the instructions are too.
“[When I scheduled my online PMP exam] I got an email with two links: one for the system check; and one for logging in for the exam. What they didn't tell me or it wasn't there in the email is that after you do the system check and you actually install something on your computer, on the day of your exam, you should launch this application and start from there. [You do] not just click on the link, which will bring you back to check the system. So on the day of the exam, I had to check again.”
To avoid the hassle and confusion, we recommend reading the instructions carefully. If you have any questions, ask or call for help from Project Management Institute (PMI) or PearsonVUE themselves to clarify. Lastly, we recommend checking out lessons learned about what you should and should not do in times like this to save time and effort.
It’s crucial to check your device and internet connection before proceeding to log in via PearsonVUE.
Make sure that your computer is running smoothly to make your log-in process easier and faster. In Dana’s case though, despite doing all this, her computer experienced the infamous ‘blue screen’ near the tail-end of her exam.
“In the third part, when I was at question number 175 my computer crashed. That was five questions before the end and I knew the answer to number 175 so actually, there were five more and I got the blue screen! I never got a blue screen on this computer.”
Since she was logged out, Dana was afraid she couldn’t log back into the app and continue her exam. But thankfully, when her computer restarted the proctor allowed her to continue, but she ran out of time to address further questions.
Additionally, other than your device, it is best to check your internet connection so that you stay connected to the PearsonVUE app throughout your testing period.
“Check if you have applications running in your background. Their program (PearsonVUE) takes over your computer and they can see what else is running... It prompts you to close these applications that I wasn't seeing on the screen.”
In Dana’s anecdote, she narrates how PearsonVUE prompted her to close all other apps when in fact, she couldn’t even see it running on her screen. In her desperation to be back on the exam, she hurriedly uninstalled Skype for the time being.
Though Dana can laugh about it now, let’s take it from her and close any running background apps on your computer before and during the exam. This will allow your proctor to swiftly check your system and run background checks faster.
We get this feedback and comment almost every single week—yes, the questions can be really, really vague.
Cornelius Fichtner shares, “You have to be prepared but you can’t be prepared for this, but in your mind, you have to prepare yourself [that] these questions are going to be vague or ‘I’m going to be confused by them.’ If you go into the exam with that attitude you are good to go.”
Take note that the questions in our PMP Exam Simulator are more specific than what appears in the exam. According to Dana, “[The vagueness of the questions made me mark more questions for review] but also I wanted to be more thorough and take another look [at the question and answers].”
Dana shares, “When I don't understand what's going on, I usually get angry and I click something, I mark it for review and at some point later I come back to check it with a clear mind.”
That’s all part of the exam process. We, along with other exam simulator providers, provide realistic types of PMP questions but give you more information and just a little vagueness so you can thoroughly test your knowledge of the subject better.
But off the bat, expect more vague questions in the actual PMP exam.
As mentioned earlier, when taking the PMP exam questions may be vague, and you may not be sure of the answer. In these cases, it is best to mark the question for review and come back to it later.
The exam is divided into three sections, every 60th question the screen prompts you to review all the questions you marked for review. This method is helpful as it allows you to focus on answering the other questions correctly. By taking your time and planning your answers carefully, you can increase your chances of hitting the PMP passing score and passing the exam.
Along with the prompt to review questions, they also ask if you want to go on a break. As always we recommend that you take advantage of these breaks to rest, go to the toilet, or grab a coffee—whatever you need to help you stay focused on the exam.
When we asked Dana if she left any questions unanswered during the PMP exam, she confidently said no.
“That is the way to go because there is no penalty for incorrect answers. But as soon as you do not answer a question it is considered incorrect… Therefore you always want to [answer] every single one check(s) them out.”
The PMP exam is a very important test so you must do everything you can to maximize your chances of passing. One way to improve your odds is to ensure you don't leave any questions unanswered.
Thoroughly read through the exam and make sure you understand what the question is asking. If you're not sure of an answer, you can mark it for review, as mentioned, or use the process of elimination to narrow it down to two possible answers and then choose the best one.
And don't forget: practice makes perfect! That’s why you should use PMP exam simulators as practice questions so you will be better prepared for the real thing.
It's no secret that the PMP exam can be stressful. But according to Dana, the best way to approach the exam is to not let the stress get to you. That is Dana’s number one PMP prep tip.
“The stress that the administrative part of the exam puts on you is out of the question; it's there and you have to deal with it. Don't let the stress get you.”
“All the stress about logging in and everything is all part of the pmp exam," she says. "So don't let it get to you."
Dana's advice is to focus on the task at hand and not get bogged down by distractions. By staying calm and focused, you'll be better able to handle whatever challenges the online PMP exam throws at you. And who knows? You might even find that you enjoy the process of preparing for and taking the exam.
Remember, the PMP exam is a challenging test, but it is achievable with the right preparation. With Dana's guidance, you can develop a PMP study plan that works for you and overcome any obstacles that you may face.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us. Good luck on your PMP exam journey!
To watch the full episode, check out the full video here:
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