PMP Exam Experience

PMP ExamI’ve already written about the PMP Exam, its changes in Aug 2011, answering PMP Questions, and the Passing Score of PMP Exam in the past.

You can also checkout the PMP Exam Application Process, the Exam Eligibility Criteria, and Benefits of PMP Certification.

Today, I want to talk about the PMP Exam experience – how to book the exam, where to take the exam, and what happens on the day of the PMP exam, because I get asked about this very often in PMP Bootcamps.

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility Criteria for Degree / High School Diploma

You need a Degree or a Diploma. And you need atleast 4,500 hours of project management experience (Degree Holders), or 7,500 hours of experience (Diploma Holders).

Read more at PMP  Eligibility Criteria.

Step 2: Get the Required Formal Education in Project Management (35 PDU Certificate)

Attend a PMP Bootcamp in your City is the best way to get started. If you can’t afford to study fulltime, you can attend online PMP Exam preparation lessons.

At PMChamp, we provide Online Coaching for PMP aspirants – Yes, this is a direct promotion of our training…

And you get the 35 Contact Hours PDU certification on completion too!

Step 3: Get your PMP Application Completed and Approved

Once you have the formal education, you should go to the PMI website, and start filling up the PMP application online. You need to provide all your education, experience and 35 PDU certificates here.

Upon Submission, PMI usually approves your application within a week. And once they approve your application, they give you a link to Pay the Exam fees.

Once the Exam fees is paid, and you are not selected for the Random Audit by PMI, you are now free to book your exam.

Step 4: Book Your PMP Exam Date/Time

Using the Authorization code provided in the approval email from PMI, you should head to the Prometric website.

Prometric is the examination company that conducts the exam on behalf of PMI.

And the good thing is that most large cities, and all countries have a Prometric Testing Centre. Prometric is the test centre where Microsoft, Cisco certification exams are also held.

In many cities, you can just pick up any date you wish. But in certain busy cities like Singapore or Bangalore, sometimes you may not get a date in the next 6-8 weeks.

Well, in a way, this is a good thing. Because the PMP exam is not something that you wake up and sit for the exam. So best is to book an exam date which is safely 6-8 weeks ahead of today.

Step 5: Prepare for the Exam

With a deadline, you have to begin studying in earnest. If you need a good study plan, get some tips for creating your own study plan here.

You need to review the entire PMBOK Guide, and get a good PMP Exam Preparation Book – See Recommended PMP Books here, and here.

Prepare to study the entire 42 processes in the 9 knowledge areas, and the 5 process groups.

Carefully look at ITTOs (Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs) for each process, and practice as many mock PMP tests as possible.

Once you begin to get good marks (above 80% plus) in the mock tests, you should feel that you are getting ready to take the PMP exam.

Step 6: Give the Exam and Celebrate Success!

On the day of the PMP exam, travel light.

Do not carry books, notes, or calculators with you. I had invested in a brand new scientific calculator before the exam, only to  be told to keep it in the locker, along with my watch, pens, pencils, wallet, and eraser.

Prometric will not allow you to take anything inside the exam room. So most of your stuff will have to be left in the locker room.

The exam is conducted twice each day – including weekends. I prefer the morning slot of 9am-1pm over the afternoon slot of 2pm-6pm.

You are fresh in the morning, and once you pass, you have a whole day to celebrate, party and call everyone you know to tell them about the good news…  🙂

Do not eat or drink too much on the day of the exam – before you begin. I prefer to eat a light sandwich with Tea, but not too much on exam days. This is also important, because you do not want to be running out to the toilet while the exam is running. It can easily waste 5-8 minutes of your valuable time, specially when the toilet is far from the exam room, and you have to be signed-out and signed-in every time you leave the exam room.

Remember, the exam is long – 4 hours, so be prepared to sit for that long. In fact, you should do a few full length 4 hour practice tests to get yourself prepared.

During the exam, keep a tab on the online watch. Do not spend too much time on any question. If in doubt, mark it for review, but definetely mark one of the 4 choices – you can choose the one which you have a gut feeling on, or if you have no clue, just flip a coin in your mind, and choose A, B, C or D. It is important to mark every question – as there is no Negative marking. Who knows, some of these questions which you had no clue about, may become correct just by luck or by the law of probability.

Make full use of the three blank sheets of paper given to you at the beginning of the exam. You can do your brain dump, draw a process map, write some important EAC formulas etc. on them. When the times comes to use them, you do not have to jog your memory and panic if it fails you. Rely on this brain dump to refer to things. You can practice creating such a dump at home regularly, so that on the day of the exam, it is second nature to you. 

For formula type questions, you should use the online calculator. Most formulas only need the basic math functions only.

You should practice to complete the test within 3 hours or 3 hours, 20 minutes at a maximum. You must keep about 30-40 minutes at a minimum to review the difficult questions that you Marked for Review. Now is the time to review them and be sure about them.  If in practice mock tests, you are running out of time generally, it means that you have a issue in reading the questions fast and reacting quickly. Many people are not able to finish the 200 questions in time. It is almost impossible to pass the PMP exam if you skip even 10 or 20 questions unanswered. That’s almost 10% questions unanswered.

As soon as the 4 hours elapse, the computer screen will blank out without any warning, and this could be an agonizingly long minute, after which your result is displayed on the screen – CONGRATULATIONS! on becoming a PMP!

Success at Last!

And the moment you step out of the exam room, the examination staff will hand over to you your exam transcript. It will list your grades in terms of Proficient, Moderately Proficient, or Below Proficient.

Hope this detailed analysis will help you to plan and prepare your PMP Exam well, and come out of the room successfully!

Do post your experience in the comments below…

And ALL THE BEST for your PMP Exam!

Vinai Prakash
Founder: – Tips and Tricks to pass the PMP exam easily! 



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