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A Guide to PMP Certification with Pearson VUE: Tips from Experienced Exam Takers

Following the recent pandemic and necessary health precautions, Pearson VUE PMP now offers an online PMP exam. It’s a great option that enables project management practitioners to get their project manager certification from anywhere as long as they have a stable, secure internet connection and a webcam.

The process is similar to what you would experience in a Pearson VUE testing center, with two main differences — the lack of physical exam proctors and the practices that must be in place to ensure the security of exam materials. You will still receive and comply with Pearson VUE’s strict quality control procedures, such as secure login protocols, desktop sharing, identity verification, and recordings of sessions, as well as periodic non-disclosure agreement checks — all intended to preserve the integrity of the Pearson VUE online exam experience.

This method has allowed more people to obtain their PMP certification benefits in spite of the global health situation. It’s still available up to this day so if you’re taking your PMP certificate exam anytime soon, consider trying out the online exam.

What are the requirements for a Pearson VUE PMP exam?

As employers increasingly look for candidates with project management certifications, more people are turning to the Pearson VUE PMP exam as an easier and more convenient way to get certified. However, taking the online exam can come with a few issues that test-takers should be aware of.

First, most Pearson VUE exams require a reliable broadband connection with stable internet speeds. Additionally, local power outages or server issues can cause problems in the middle of an exam session, resulting in data loss and an inability to finish the exam.

Finally, Pearson VUE PMP also has specific regulations for testing environments, like no outside devices allowed within reach during an online test session and more. This rule may be challenging for test-takers used to studying with multiple devices nearby on test days.

To avoid these issues when taking the Pearson VUE exam for PMP certification, check out the advice below:

Tips on using Pearson Vue for your PMP certification

  1. Use an active email address when creating a Pearson VUE account
  2. Avoid whispering or mumbling the questions as you take exam
  3. Stay calm and focused despite the proctor's reminders
  4. Double-check to see if your PMI ID matches your Pearson VUE details, and vice versa
  5. Wait for the short message to see if you've passed or not
  6. Avoid using touch screens as your test-taking device
  7. Take note of the timer on the screen during the Pearson VUE online PMP exam
  8. Abide by the online PMP exam requirements thoroughly
  9. Update your device operating systems beforehand

1. Use an active email address when creating a Pearson VUE account

When you sign up for your Pearson VUE account, it’s essential that all of the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date.

Pearson VUE may need to contact you directly as part of the examination process, so the email address should be one that is always available, and to which all notifications regarding the PMP certification process are sent.

In addition, this email address should not be shared with anyone else for security reasons. Failing to keep private information secure can lead to costly delays in application processing times, and may impact obtaining project manager certification status from Pearson VUE.

Overall, creating your Pearson VUE account correctly from the start is highly critical and requires some foresight. Select an email address that has longevity for use throughout the exam process. Doing so will ensure Pearson VUE can communicate smoothly with applicants and help notify you about successful results in obtaining PMP certification.

2. Avoid whispering or mumbling the questions as you take the exam

Katarzyna Mendez shared, "I started the exam[, and] after 10 questions, they told me to stop whispering the questions or mumbling, which I didn't do... I answered another five questions and got a pop-out on the screen[. T]hey revoked the exam because I was mumbling... Two days after reporting the case to PMI, PMI told me that they contacted Pearson VUE, and they told them that I was mumbling. I requested a recording, and I haven't received a response yet."

Mumbling or whispering the PMP exam questions during your exam is one of the most important ground rules to follow. As Katarzyna explained, Pearson VUE’s online proctors and monitoring system can detect mumbling or whispers and may decide to revoke the exam.

For a successful PMP certification exam session with Pearson VUE online, ensure none of your uttered words are audible and train yourself not to read the questions out loud. This isn't an easy habit to break, but you can practice this when using the PMP exam simulator. Record yourself on your computer or any device while answering the sample questions, and watch yourself to know if you were mumbling or not.

The focus of the entire session should be on answering questions accurately, not on reading questions aloud. This will help you maximize your chances of successfully passing the PMP certification exam.

3. Stay calm and focused despite the proctor's reminders

Pearson VUE online proctors watch you very closely through your authorized webcam. As Hadi Shirmohamadali shared, "[The proctors] started to tell me to move closer to the camera, which made my face only two inches from the camera. They told me never to [avert] my eyes and always look forward, or they will revoke my exam." A series of reminders were given to Hadi like “stop whispering or mumbling,” or moving too far away from the camera, and these caused him to lose focus and begin stressing out.

Hadi continued his exam after his mandatory 10-minute break, "When I returned to the exam, the proctor said I moved out of the view of the camera and that he is now revoking my exam. I tried to plead with him and was even in tears at one point due to the traumatic events of the exam."

The pressure of the PMP exam, along with the Pearson VUE proctor's reminders, can add stress to the situation. It’s important to stay focused and determined to complete the exam despite these reminders if you want to finish the exam.

If the proctor verbalizes that your exam is revoked, it’s better to take a break from the exam and contact Pearson VUE customer service for advice on how to continue with the exam. If possible, you should also request a recording of your proctor's warnings, as this may be beneficial in the future.

Given this experience, consider taking an exam at in-person exam centers, as the online exam experience won't likely change. You can also engage with Pearson VUE and PMI to try to get the results of their investigation of your exam experience.

4. Double-check to see if your PMI ID matches your Pearson VUE details, and vice versa

One PMP test-taker has experienced a similar situation wherein his family name on the Pearson VUE website was incorrectly spelled and didn't match his PMI ID.

Javier Loma Domínguez shared, "I have addressed Pearson and they have told me they are not authorized to make such a change. I need to address the PMI... The lady who assisted me on Pearson told me that they have an internal policy that'd allow me to schedule my exam, even being my name misspelled for one letter."

Good news! Despite the misspelling and inconvenience of addressing the situation to PMI and Pearson, he was able to schedule his PMP exam. A note of advice: while reaching through the phone is quick (though wait times can be long), correspondence through email is best. This way, you can show proof of the inconsistency while also keeping track of your correspondence in case word-of-mouth doesn't suffice and "proof" is needed.

5. Wait for the short message to see if you've passed or not

A lot of test-takers always ask, "How do I know if I passed the online PMP exam or not?"

For example, Clara Galbiati finished her test and wasn't sure if she should start celebrating or not, "I just finished the test. In the end, I received a congratulatory message, but no score, nothing. Just an alert I would have received an email in 1 to 3 days. Since I was not able to snip that message (PC locked), can I start the celebration or should I wait [for] the mail?"

In the same thread, test-takers also shared the same situation, but worse as the Pearson VUE system gave an error message and didn't show any result on the spot. Though users contacted customer service, they advised it would take a few days to a week to settle the issue.

The nerve-wracking part after each exam is waiting to know if you passed or not. But once you see the small "congratulations" then the answer is: Yes — you passed! You can start celebrating, but it's best to wait for the official PMP certificate sent by PMI. It’s important to note that Pearson VUE doesn't show your "true score," but instead provides short messages if you've passed or not. So, be sure to check and double-check your information, including your PMI ID, full name, and other vital details to ensure accuracy.

If it helps, on the same thread, Deneen Cook also mentions how there is a condolence message if you didn't pass. So, after your online PMP exam, simply wait a bit for the result to see if it shows a congratulatory or condolence message to know if you passed or not.

6. Avoid using touch screens as your test-taking device

The OnVUE Technical Requirements state that "All touch screens are strictly forbidden," but what if you own a touch-capable notebook or device?

This was a concern raised by a PMP exam taker who consulted Pearson VUE chat support to find if it was possible to use the notebook without using the touch functionality, in other words, never touching the screen.

Pearson VUE’s customer service replied and advised them, "[T]hey just told me that those were the rules and period. I have run the Pearson system test and it does not raise any objections, should I rest easy with that? [O]r should I still get a ’no t[o]uch’ notebook to take the test?"

Technicalities like this aren't easy to deal with, especially given the online situation. Ultimately, it's best to adhere to the PMI and Pearson VUE requirements, as this might be one of the criteria that would determine if you passed or failed. As such, investing or borrowing in a "no touch" device notebook is recommended.

One of the PrepCast Forum moderators, Harry Elston, Ph.D., CIH, PMP replied: "Don't mess with the rules, regardless of how dumb they may seem. You are gambling a professional certification on it. Just don't."

7. Take note of the timer on the screen during the Pearson VUE online PMP exam

This is just a word of caution for online PMP exam takers: A countdown timer is placed on the screen. Don't worry, it's very clean and simple, so you don’t have to worry about losing your focus.

You can choose to ignore it; however, the timer is one way to know if you're taking too long on a particular question. This could mean that you've already read the questions many times and still can't come up with an answer or are stuck in endless pondering. In this case, better mark that question for later.

To be sure, there’s an exam simulator feature wherein you can opt for a Time-Mode Exam to practice. It's okay if it takes some time to think about a question thoroughly, but be wary when you get too caught up in overanalyzing because it might raise red flags. Take note of the timer and use your time wisely. It's better to move on from a difficult question than waste time trying to figure out the answer because there's no upside in doing so.

8. Abide by the online PMP exam requirements thoroughly

Karen Cheng asked, "Are there any specific requirements about the room?"

The online PMP exam calls for a walled room, with a closed door, and without distractions. This is the same rule that applies to a physical testing center, so just make sure that your chosen room satisfies these requirements.

In the same thread, Gabriella Dellino, PMP, mentioned how she had a window in her room and had no problems checking in with the Pearson VUE team. Though she did situate her desk and device somewhere that faced away from the window just to be sure.

Also, take into account other rules, such as no additional devices permitted for use, and certainly no cheating. During check-in, you will be asked to turn off all devices that can connect to the internet, like phones and smartwatches. Any violation of these rules may result in the termination of your exam and possible denial of PMP certification.

9. Update your device operating systems beforehand

It’s highly recommended that you update your operating system as well as software security patches prior to the exam day to ensure optimal performance of your device and test-taking environment. This might seem like a lot of work, but in the end, it's worth the effort.

This is specifically for those using Windows 7, as the Pearson VUE system requirements clearly state that, "Windows 7 is strictly prohibited for exam delivery." So, running an exam using that OS is a risk.

In most cases, if your OS is not compatible, then you won't be able to successfully install and run the Pearson VUE testing software on your device, so be sure to double-check this.

In conclusion, there are many technicalities involved when taking the online PMP exam, such as not using a "no touch" device if applicable and adhering to other rules, such as closing the door for privacy purposes. Additionally, take note of the timer on the screen during exams and make sure your OS is up-to-date with any necessary updates before taking the test.

Where to take the PMP Certification Exam?

There are no "recommended" places to take the exam — it will be a matter of your preference.

Early in the height of COVID, the testing centers were closed for quite some time. That is when PMI and Pearson VUE moved to online availability.

If you prioritize safety, have the proper device and internet connection required, and are comfortable with sitting down and taking tests for a long duration of time on your own, then taking the online PMP exam should be easy for you.

But, if you have "distractions" at home or where you'll take the test, like a pet, spouse, kids, delivery person, workmates, or anything of the sort, then choosing to go in-person might be a better choice. Also, dealing with a living person at the check-in is much preferred over dealing with some unaccountable talking head at the other end of the camera.

With respect to procedures, check-in procedures for both in-person testing centers and the online version have been detailed numerous times on Pearson Vue's website, and PMI's website as well. Most reviews about the check-in procedure at an in-person center are positive, while there have been several negative reports for the online exam.

The choice of taking the PMP exam online or in person is up to you. Weigh the cost, convenience, and risk factors of both options to decide which one you would prefer.

Good luck with your PMP Exam! If you have any questions or need additional information, feel free to reach out via the PrepCast forum.

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