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.
The following are some major categories of questions on the PMP exam, some questions may be a combination of different types:
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?
- Reward the team lead with a bonus for being proactive and taking initiative in implementing a corrective action.
- Immediately inform the stakeholders, and check for any impacts to scope, schedule, and cost.
- Check if the risk response strategy was correctly implemented and update the risk register.
- 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.
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?
- Plan Procurement
- Conduct Procurement
- Monitor and Control Project
- 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:
- Under budget and ahead of schedule
- Over budget but ahead of schedule
- Under budget but behind schedule
- Over budget and behind schedule
Answers: Q1 – A3; Q2 – A3; Q3 – A2; Q4 – A2