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Introduction to Passing the PMP Exam

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Taking the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam can be a daunting undertaking, but this sample chapter will help you prepare. Sample questions and an overview of the test subsections will get you started on your way.
This chapter is from the book

It is nine o'clock in the morning wherever you are. You have arrived at a learning center and are about to take the Project Management Institute Certification exam for Project Management Professional (PMP). You have two pencils, a few clean sheets of paper, and a four-function calculator. You also have just about enough adrenaline flowing to go out and run a marathon. Before that marathon, though, you have the little matter of a certification exam to take.

You have a tendency for short-term memory loss when you're filled with adrenaline. So, do not get up early in the morning and try to cram in a few more minutes of stressed-out study; it will not help you. Finish studying the night before, get some sleep, and then wake up ready to take the test.

After you receive authorization from PMI, you can schedule your own exam. The examination is done at learning centers, all of which offer just about the same facilities. You can choose the time of day that you take the exam, so you need to know when your best test time-taking hours of the day are. Having taught at several universities over the years, my experience has been that morning test takers generally do better than people who take the test later in the day. Of course, this is not true for everyone, so make a decision when you will be the most comfortable. Remember to take as much charge as you can of the environment and time of the test.

Repeat after me: "I am not here to take this test, I'm here to pass it."

Onward.

The PMBOK

The official definition of project management from the Project Management Body of Knowledge, the PMBOK ® (pronounced "pimbok"), is "The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements." Much of the writing in the PMBOK is like that—rather terse, with lots of information in a single sentence. It is a key to passing this exam to get comfortable with the style of writing in the PMBOK and to know the definitions that are specific to the PMI. The best place to find the definitions is in the Glossary section of PMBOK. It is a good idea to learn these definitions exactly as they are written because they will be given in the test, and the key to being successful on this examination is to understand what is wanted by PMI. You may have had extensive experience in project management and have your own vocabulary, but for this examination, the Glossary definitions are the ones you should use.

Q.

The ________ is the official text for the PMI examination.

 

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A.

Dictionary

 

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B.

Thesaurus

 

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C.

PMI Lexicon

 

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D.

PMBOK

The answer is D. Make sure that you have a copy, which you can buy through the PMI website. If there is any question as to the correctness of an answer, the answer should conform to materials found in the PMBOK.

The questions on the exam always have four answers. An important fact to remember is that there are instances on the examination where two answers shown are potentially correct. It is your task to make sure that you pick the answer that is found in the PMBOK. Here is an example of a question where anyone who has read through the PMBOK knows that C, project management, is the answer. A person coming to the test from another discipline might answer B, management systems. You answer the questions according to the PMBOK.

Q.

The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements is:

 

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A.

Project Administration

 

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B.

Management systems

 

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C.

Project Management

 

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D.

Common knowledge

The answer is C. This is the exact quote from the PMBOK. You now have gotten one question correct on the exam.

Q.

There will be questions where ________ answers appear to be correct.

 

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A.

Four

 

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B.

Three

 

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C.

No

 

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D.

Two

The answer is D. Be careful when you are taking the exam. If two answers look correct, then you should answer with the PMBOK in mind. The final reference for the correctness of answers lies in knowing how the answer was explained in the PMBOK.

First big rule for taking the certification examination:

Look at all the answers before you answer the question.

The test is given on a computer. You are given a chance to see how the mouse works and what your questions look like on the screen, and this is done without taking any time off of your test-taking time. Then you begin the examination. As you see the questions come up, you will have three options. First, you can click on the correct answer if you are certain of it. If there is no doubt in your mind, click on it and go on to the next one.

The second option is to mark an answer but not to finalize it at that time. Instead, you can choose to come back to the question after you have gone through the test. Generally, the answer you choose first is going to be the answer that you should use, so click on one of the answers if you have a feeling about what is correct, but you do not have to make a final decision right at that time.

The third option is to go past the question and come back to it later. If the question is confusing, if you don't know the answer, or if the answers that are shown are not what you were expecting, go past the question. This point cannot be stressed enough. You do not need to spend time at the beginning of the exam on questions that you do not feel comfortable with. Go through the examination and get the questions that you are certain you know. Usually there will be one hundred or more questions that you can answer comfortably.

Because you need one hundred and forty answers to be correct, you start with a good step up with one hundred questions that are correct. The next forty questions are the ones you should take time with and the ones that will determine how you do on the examination.

Q.

Which of these is not an option when taking the PMP certification examination?

 

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A.

Leaving questions blank and finishing the test.

 

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B.

Clicking on the correct answer the first time you see the question.

 

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C.

Leaving questions blank and then coming back to answer them.

 

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D.

Clicking on the answer you think may be correct but not making that your final answer at the time.

The answer is A. You must pick an answer for all of the questions on the test before you are allowed to finish.

Q.

You should always:

 

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A.

Click on the first answer that seems correct.

 

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B.

Never click on any answer but come back later.

 

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C.

Read all the answers carefully before clicking on one.

 

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D.

Expect to get several answers wrong in any case.

The answer is C. Take time to read all the answers, even if you are sure that the answer under the letter A is the correct one. You may find that there will be an even better answer in the four-part list.

How Much Time Do I Have?

You will have four and a half hours to take the exam, although you can't start to take it, stop, and then come back later. Most people finish the exam within three hours; two and a half seems to be the mean. In other words, you've got plenty of time to do the exam, and this is particularly true if you use the tips throughout this book. There is no need to rush or panic.

Each question on this exam is worth exactly as much as the next. The very simple ones and the more complex ones are not weighted against each other; all are the same weight. So if you do not want to deal with a question that you do not understand at first, do not. You must answer all the questions on the examination before you can complete it. If you come to the end of the exam and there are still a few questions that you cannot figure out, simply choose a letter and click. You will have at least one chance in four of getting the correct answer. You must finish all the questions before finishing the exam. When you click on the finish button, you will get your score almost immediately. When you pass the exam, the learning center will give you a certificate, and you will be PMP certified. Within two weeks, you will receive your certificate from PMI. Frame it; you earned it.

One question, one point—all questions are worth the same value.

These are some of the types of hints you should keep in mind when preparing for the exam. You do not have to answer all the questions to do well; this is a simple pass/fail exam.

Q.

All the questions on the examination are worth _________.

 

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A.

The square root of the difficulty of the question.

 

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B.

The importance given to the question by the PMBOK committee.

 

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C.

The same.

 

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D.

The degree of difficulty given to the question by a panel of international judges.

The answer is C. No matter how complex the question, it does not get you any more points than the simplest question. Remember this as you take the examination. Although you may get some satisfaction from working out a complex question, the simple definition of a project is worth just as much.

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