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PMP Exam and Question Types

  • By: pcadmin on 16 May 2013

The PMP examination is a 4 hour exam comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions. Out of these 200 questions, only 175 are used to determine your final score; 25 questions are not counted towards your score and are considered “pretest questions”. PMI uses these pretest questions to test out new questions for future exams.

The exam is computer based and conducted at Prometric Testing centers. In limited circumstances, a paper based exam is also offered.

It usually takes candidates less than the allotted four hours to complete the exam. There are no scheduled breaks during the exam, although you are allowed to take a break if needed. If you take a break during the exam, your exam clock continues to count down.

The examination is preceded by a tutorial and followed by a survey, both of which are optional and both of which can take up to 15 minutes to complete. The time used to complete the tutorial and survey is not included in the examination time of four hours.

Tips and tricks

  • There is no way to know which of the 25 questions are pretest. So, try your best to answer all 200 questions.
  • The 15 minute tutorial should be used to familiarize yourself with the testing interface. It usually takes a couple of minutes to go through the tutorial. Some candidates use this time to do a brain dump of formulas and key terms to their scratch papers.

Question Types:

The following are some major categories of questions on the PMP exam, some questions may be a combination of different types:

  • Situational/Scenario
  • Formula/Calculation
  • ITTOs/Theory/Definitions
  • Interpretation

Situational/Scenario: The most challenging question type that tests your ability to apply PMBOK concepts in light of your real world experience and best judgement. These questions tend to be wordy and need some practice to be able to identify the real PROBLEM/PROCESS/SCENARIO being tested.

Sample Question 1: You are a Project Manager on a new Condo Development project. This is the first major condo project your company is doing which specializes in townhouse development projects. The project has already gone through several changes and is 6 months delayed from its original advertised move in date. In a recent status update meeting, team lead for door design elements informed you that a major design element (door knobs) was changed as the original door knobs could not be delivered on time due to delays in shipping from China. The team lead mentions the difference between the knobs is not noticeable and will not affect cost or schedule in any way. What should you do next?

  1. Reward the team lead with a bonus for being proactive and taking initiative in implementing a corrective action.
  2. Immediately inform the stakeholders, and check for any impacts to scope, schedule, and cost.
  3. Check if the risk response strategy was correctly implemented and update the risk register.
  4. Demote the team leader as he undermined your authority and didn’t consult with you before approving the change.

Formula/Calculation: Questions that require using formulas and calculations. They are usually simple, but read the question carefully.

Sample Question 2: A new team member was just added to your present team of 10 including yourself as the PM. There will be                       additional lines of communication.

  1. 55
  2. 45
  3. 10
  4. 100

ITTOs/Theory/Definitions: Questions directly from the PMBOK Guide. Some questions will be directly related to ITTOs, some may require knowledge of process groups and sequence of activities, and some related to understanding key definitions.

Sample Question 3: You are evaluating the proposals from various vendors for a database upgrade project. You are in which process?

  1. Plan Procurement
  2. Conduct Procurement
  3. Monitor and Control Project
  4. Manage Communications

Interpretation: These questions will test your ability to interpret information or a calculation and to use such information for monitoring and controlling the project.

Sample Question 4: Your project is 30% complete, EV = $50,000; AC = $80,000; and, BAC = $120,000. The project is:

  1. Under budget and ahead of schedule
  2. Over budget but ahead of schedule
  3. Under budget but behind schedule
  4. Over budget and behind schedule

 

Answers: Q1 – A3; Q2 – A3; Q3 – A2; Q4 – A2

PMP Application Process

  • By: pcadmin on 12 May 2013

Now that you are convinced that PMP is a worthwhile effort with a positive ROI, let’s get started with the tedious task of putting together your PMP application.

To make your life easier, download one of the free templates available out there to organize your application and summarize your experience. Here is one that is very comprehensive: http://procept.com/spreadsheet.html

Tips and tricks:

  • Summarizing your project management tasks in 300-500 words can sometime seem like a frustrating task. My suggestion is to summarize the main project and its product, service, or result in a few words, and then summarize the main tasks and your role during each of the project management process group – initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and control, and closing. Below is an example to help you with your summary. Always remember, it never hurts to use PMBOK terms and terminology while aspiring for a PMP.
    • “Project Manager for the selection and implementation of a CRM.
    • Led a team of business analyst, sales executives, and vendor consultants.
    • Conducted project feasibility and led RFP development.
    • Created a project plan including a WBS, schedule, cost, responsibility matrix, risk management, vendor management, and change management plan.
    • Used Earned Value to track project against baseline.
    • Provided monthly progress report to Project Sponsor.
    • Closed project with a lessons learned report and plan for training the staff in CRM.”
  • Even though overlapping months will be counted only once towards your 3 (or 5) year experience, all overlapping experience hours from multiple projects within a particular month will be counted. In other words, if in a year you were working on two projects concurrently, only 1 year will be counted towards the 3 (or 5) year requirement; however, you can count the hours from both the overlapping projects towards the 4500 hr (or 7500 hr) requirement. Be careful, there are only 24 hrs in a day, don’t try to claim 25hrs (or for that matter 16hrs) a day working on two projects, PMI will catch it!
  • Save all your project plans, documents, WBSs, emails, etc in a folder to be able to use it in case your application gets audited. Start thinking about risk management!
  • Ensure agreement from your primary contact (manager, sponsor, or client) on the project summary and the number of hours allocated to each process group. They could be your best friend and ally in case of an audit.   Another risk mitigated!

PMP Application Process

Register for a new account with the PMI to use their online application process: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/Project-Management-Professional-PMP.aspx

 PMI advises – Before you begin, check to make sure you meet the credential eligibility requirements and can record the necessary information on the application.

Once you start an online application, you cannot cancel it. You can save it unfinished, come back to it later, and edit any information you already entered. The application will remain open for 90 days during which time PMI will send you an email reminder to complete the application.

  • Enter the required information for education, experience, and project management education. If you skipped the tips and tricks above, please read them, they can save you some headaches later.
  • After you are satisfied with your application, press Submit and keep your fingers crossed.
  • Within 5 business days, you will hear back from PMI that your application has been reviewed and approved and are required to pay the exam fee and proceed to the next step.

The fees for the PMP exam are as follows:

  • Computer Based Training – non-member rate USD$555
  • Computer Based Training – member rate USD$405
  • PMI membership – USD$139

Joining the PMI and paying the member rate will cost you less than paying a non-member rate. Plus as a PMI member, you get access to the online PMBOK Guide and e-reads library and a good collection of exam preparation books. But, of course, it’s your choice.

  • After you pay the fees, this is the moment of truth! You will either receive a confirmation that your application has been approved or an email informing you that your application has been randomly selected for an audit (5-6% of the submitted applications).

Don’t lose hope if your application has been selected for an audit, remember we mitigated the risk above. Just provide the requested information and you will be good to go in no time.

  • Once your application has been approved, PMI will provide you with a registration code which you can use to book your exam at a Prometric Testing Centre. You will have 12 months to schedule and write the exam from the date your application has been approved.

Congratulations!

Now that your application has been approved and you have successfully completed your PMP application project (did you create a WBS for this project? just kidding), let’s focus on preparing for the exam now.

PMP: A Primer

  • By: pcadmin on 03 May 2013

Project Management Institute (PMI) is one of the world’s largest not-for-profit membership associations for the project management profession.

PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP®) designation is among the most globally recognized and demanded credential in project management. A PMP designation demonstrates to employers, clients and colleagues that a project manager possesses project management knowledge, experience and skills to bring projects to successful completion. As the demand for skilled project managers is at a critically urgent level, practitioners who hold the PMP credential are well positioned to provide the professional skills necessary to lead project teams and achieve successful project results. [1]

The PMP recognizes the competence of an individual to perform in the role of a project manager, specifically experience in leading and directing projects. Year after year, the PMP credential has garnered global recognition and commanded a higher salary for credentialed individuals over non-credentialed individuals. [2]

Some other popular project management designations include PRINCE2 (http://www.prince-officialsite.com/) and IPMA Four Level Certification (Level D-A) (http://ipma.ch/certification/competence/4-l-c-features/). PMP still remains the most popular and globally recognized designation, especially in North America.

 

PMP Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify to write the PMP exam, you should meet either of the below requirements in terms of education, experience, and project management education.

Requirement 1

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent)
  • Minimum five years/60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project
  • 35 contact hours of formal education

OR

Requirement 2

  • Four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent)
  • Minimum three years/36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project
  • 35 contact hours of formal education

Tips:

  • The scope of “professional project management experience” as required by PMI is very broad, refer to the PMP Credential Handbook[3] to check if you meet the experience requirements.
  • 35 contact hours of formal project management education can be acquired through various means, classroom PMP preparation courses, online courses, or relevant training related to project management.

New Standards from PMI

  • By: pcadmin on 21 Apr 2013

PMI members can now access the three new standards from PMI as PDF files for their own use.

PMBOK® Guide 5th ed, The Standard for Program Management 3rd ed, and The Standard for Portfolio Management 3rd ed. Go here to see the FAQ about this.

Canadian Military Helicopter Project – Commentary

  • By: pcadmin on 10 Apr 2013

Various articles in newspapers have painted different pictures of the project to replace Canada’s aging fleet of Sea King helicopters. The first article I saw was in the Toronto Star, by Murray Brewster published April 16, 2012. Mr. Brewster pointed the finger at the Harper government for “go(ing) easy on the maker of the air force’s long-delayed maritime helicopters after winning a series of economic concessions”, then explains that this project is over budget and behind schedule, and the manufacturer is at fault and the Canadian military is allowing Sikorsky to get away with it. Of course, there is always more to projects than simple explanations like this. The Canadian military is quite disciplined when it comes to contract management, so when I read that they have not threatened Sikorsky with application of the liquidated damages, I am suspicious of Mr. Brewster’s accusation that Sikorsky is at fault for the delays. Probing deeper it becomes evident that this is another project that is suffering from scope changes and “requirements creep” (Globe and Mail, Feb. 11, 2013 “Five decades, two contracts and still no helicopters for Canada”). Notice to journalists: Liquidated damages cannot be applied when the client is the source of the delays.

Speaking of clients being the source of delays, an excellent commentary on these types of projects was printed in the Toronto Star on February 19, 2013, by the same authors of the Globe and Mail article (Michael Byers and Stewart Webb). They suggest a lack of discipline in the management of requirements and scope changes in military projects. This brings me to question whether lessons learned from similar past projects are considered and applied. In the Project Management Journal of September 2002, Bud Baker wrote on “The Fall of the Firefly: An Assessment of a Failed Project Strategy”, a lessons learned summary of the US Air Force’s acquisition of the T-3A “Firefly” trainer. Some characteristics of this failed project are remarkably similar to the Sikorsky project. The T-3A trainer was also based on existing commercial flight trainers, with the thought that it would be more cost-effective to build on an existing design, then the Air Force decided to change the engine and a number of other client initiated changes were requested. Suffice it to say, that the project did not end well. I have asked this question of experts who are in this type of business, and the answer has been unanimous that changing an engine is a substantial change that effectively changes the fundamental nature of the product. So it brings me to wonder whether effective change management was implemented on this project with full understanding of the impact of changes.

Maybe I am simplistic, but faced with a fundamental redesign of a product, especially one that is well into its project life cycle, means going back to square one, pressing the reset button, or in our wonderful project management language, reassessing the business case, and developing new baselines of requirements, scope, schedule, costs. Of course, the contract may be structured with considerable costs to the Canadian government for this type of revision. Canada already paid once for cancelling the helicopter contract during Chrétien’s time in office. But contracts can be structured differently if scope change is anticipated.

A reminder to study these topics…

  • By: pcadmin on 13 Mar 2013

Just a reminder to study the following: decision trees (be prepared for a question with an actual decision tree shown), crashing (be prepared for a question similar to our question 3.27), critical path calculations, fast-tracking, earned value (be prepared to calculate EAC).

Exam writers tell us there are lots of long situational questions. Situation, then a blank line, then the question itself. But you should also expect a few blatant input/output questions such as (not a real question) “What is an input to “Control Costs”?

There is a new PMP Handbook

  • By: pcadmin on 31 Jan 2013

The language has evolved from “leading and directing project tasks” to “leading and directing projects”.

This will not affect the way I address it with candidates. You have to show experience leading and directing your project. But remember that PMI is liberal at interpreting “what is a project”. Your project could be small or could be a small portion of a larger project.

You can view the handbook here.

One of our PMP exam-writers studied thoroughly…

  • By: pcadmin on 11 Jan 2013

Thank you, I passed the PMP exam this month. The Procept 6-day Comprehensive Project Management Seminar, which I took late last year, and your Farndale’s Guide were definitely useful.

My advice to current students would be to read the PMBOK Guide at least twice (including the glossary) and learn as many of the ITTO as possible. I also read Andy Crowe’s The PMP Exam – How To Pass On Your First Try, and completed all the sample questions in Christopher Scordo’s PMP Exam Prep Questions, Answers, & Explanations: 1000+ PMP Practice Questions with Detailed Solutions. Whenever I took any sample questions I timed myself, which was a useful way to prepare for the actual exam.”

PMBOK Guide 5th edition is coming!

  • By: pcadmin on 20 Dec 2012

PMI says the next edition of the PMBOK Guide will be released in very early 2013. I have reviewed it and found nothing dramatic. Here are some of my observations:

  • Of course, some revisions were for alignment with other PMI standards and practice standards.
  • Desire to align with the newly emerging standard ISO 21500.
  • There is one new knowledge area and number of processes is up from 42 to 47.
  • The new knowledge area is Stakeholder Management. The two stakeholder processes from Communications Management are moved over and expanded to four processes.
  • Four new processes displaying an emphasis on the “subsidiary management plans”: Plan Scope Management, Plan Schedule Management, Plan Cost Management, and Plan Stakeholder Management.
  • Process names: Verify Scope changed to Validate Scope with unchanged meaning, and several other minor process name changes.
  • More on life cycles and phases, including description of predictive (waterfall), incremental and iterative, and adaptive (agile) life cycles.
  • More on tornado diagram.
  • More on contingency and management reserves.
  • Coverage of statistical process control is reduced.

Related changes to the PMP examination will be implemented approximately July to September 2013.

PMP exam-writer M says…

  • By: pcadmin on 29 Nov 2012

Passed the exam last week. Read Rita’s 7th edition, Andy Crowe’s book and PMP in Depth by Paul Sanghera. What I learned from my exam is: there is no single book covers everything. If you have the time, read more. Of course, PMBOK is the one worth reading more than one time. Rita Mulcahy says you don’t need to memorize the ITTO (Inputs, T&T, Outputs). I don’t agree it. I missed 2 questions in exam because of that.”

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