You've submitted your work experience, and scheduled your PMP (Project Management Professional) exam.  You've studied 35-40 hours.  You know the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) inside out.  Here are some test tips for the day of the exam:

Testing do not disturb
Credit: Morguefile - taliesin

1. Think Like the PMBOK

Remember that at its heart, the PMP exam tests to see if you can understand and speak the language of the PMBOK.  When you read a question, don't think about how your company does things, or how the real world does things. Answer with how the PMBOK says to do things.

2. Track Your Time

The subject matter here isn't differential equations, so to make sure the test is hard enough to command respect, they make it long.  You have 4 hours to answer 200 questions.  I knew I needed to average 50 questions every hour, so I made sure to check each hour to see if I was going fast enough.

3. Guess Smart

Your score is the number of questions you answer correctly; there is no penalty for wrong answers.  This means you should answer every question, even if you have to guess.  If you are short on time, or have no clue, at least see if you can eliminate 1 or 2 obviously wrong answers. This can increase your odds of guessing correctly from 25% to 50%.

4. Not All the Questions Count

According to the PMI Exam Content Outline, only 175 of the 200 questions count.  The other 25 are new questions that they are trying out.  So if a few questions catch you unprepared, don't let them throw you.  They may not even count.  

5. Not Everything is in the PMBOK

PMI also says they can ask questions from "the knowledge area" of current Project Management practice, such as current management books.  Personally, I didn't read anything but the PMBOK, and I passed the test on the first try.

6. Prepare Physically

Again, the test is very long. I needed every bit of the 4 hours, and was mentally exhausted at the end, as was everyone else I have talked to.  Show up for the test ready focus, not tired, hungry or thirsty.  On the other hand, don't hydrate too much.  You don't need to waste test time running to the bathroom.

7. Ignore Other Test Takers

You will be taking the test in a room full of computers, and possibly, other test takers.  But, the other people are likely taking completely different tests.  Don't be concerned if everyone else is getting up to leave after 2 hours; they could be taking shorter tests.  The test center will allow you to bring earplugs, and I brought some just in case.  During my training class I sat next to someone who mumbled to himself as he read the questions, and I didn't want to have to deal with that distraction.

8. You Get Your Results Immediately

Well, not really "immediately."  The system will ask you to fill out a customer survey while it is scoring your test.  You will find this infuriating, because all you want to know is if you passed or not.  But within a few minutes you'll know.  The results will be broken down by Knowledge Area.  So if you don't pass on the first try, you will have some idea what section you were "not proficient" in.

In closing, the exam is long and challenging, but with adequate preparation, you can do it. Good luck!

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