What to Expect When Taking (and Tips for Passing) the PMP Exam?

  • 24 November, 2020

What to Expect When Taking the Exam?-Center-based (in person) & Online:

The PMP exam is timed, you have 240 minutes (4 hours) to complete the exam, and it consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. Of those, 25 are considered pretest questions (which means only 175 are scored), and these are placed randomly throughout the exam. You will get a pass/fail result at the end of the exam.

The exam is divided into two sections; there is a 10-minute break after you complete the first section (does not count toward the 240 minutes). Once your break has begun, you can't go back and review any questions from the previous section.

The exam is preceded by a tutorial and followed by a survey, neither of which are required or are counted in the 240 minutes.

PMP exam questions are based upon and satisfy the test specifications outlined in the PMP Exam Content Outline (ECO).

You will be permitted to have scratch paper and a pencil, or a dry-erase board and marker(s). For online exams, you'll have access to a virtual whiteboard. If you would like to know more about the online version of the exam and how it works, there's a great tutorial video you can find on Pearson VUE's website here.

Tips for Passing the Exam:

Have a strategy to combat/control anxiety:
This could include things like getting lots of rest before the exam and eating a good meal and drinking lots of water beforehand. Previously, one would use the tutorial time to write down their brain dump. But under the new policy, an individual can't be writing down their brain dump until their exam actually begins. So, if someone spends 15 minutes writing the brain dump down, they just used 15 minutes of their overall exam time. Use these 15 mins only if you need and try not to waste any of your time spent on writing the exam. Plan this before you enter the exam center and try to avoid getting anxious over the last minute!

Stress management during the exam:
If you start to feel stressed or have anxiety, take a few deep breaths, and try to clear your head of the negative self-talk. Find a strategy that works for you and be sure to employ it during the exam. It may take some time to figure out what works for you to reduce your stress level, and this should be part of your exam preparation.

If you are unsure of the answer to a question, or several questions in a row, during the exam -don't panic! Just take your best guess and follow the principle of the process of elimination - you should be able to eliminate two of the choices fairly quickly, so then you'll have a 50/50 chance to determine the correct answer from the remaining two choices.

What to Expect When Taking (and Tips for Passing) the PMP Exam?

Have a good study plan that will allow you to focus your studies on the right content. Refer to the Exam Content Outline (ECO) for more information about what to prepare for on the exam.

The Number One best piece of advice I received before taking the exam was that it is best to answer every question, even if you must guess. Because a 25% chance to get it correct is better than a zero percent chance if you don't answer it at all!

Also, remember that you have 4 hours (240 minutes) to complete 200 questions, which equates to approximately about 83 seconds, or 1 minute 20 seconds, per question. Keep this in mind as you're taking practice tests and time how long it takes you to complete each question. This is a good strategy to combat anxiety and fully prepare for the exam.

When you take practice tests, try to simulate how the real exam will be as much as possible-complete your brain dump using scratch paper, have a timer ticking down, etc. If you know what to expect, this can help you feel more prepared, and that is a key to success - preparation!

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