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How to Finish Your PMP Exam in Under 4 Hours

How to Finish Your PMP Exam in Under 4 Hours

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the world’s leading certification for project managers. There are currently 750,000+ certificate holders worldwide. Because of the certification’s popularity, many employers screen applicants for the PMP certification before granting them a job interview.

The reason why the PMP certification is so prestigious is because candidates are required to learn the methodologies and best practices for managing large and complex projects. The Project Management Institute (PMI) distilled all the project management best practices into a guide called the PMBOK.

The PMP exam is known for its rigor. It usually takes months of studying to prepare, and many aspirants struggle with finishing the exam in under 4 hours. In this article, I’ve compiled 8 strategies that will help you finish the exam on time and pass on your first try.

Test Strategy #1: Don’t Look at the Answers

After you read the exam question, cover up the 4 multiple choices given, and come up with the answer in your head. Then, look to see if one of the multiple choices given is the same as the answer you came up with. The benefit of using this method is that it does not give wrong answers a chance to cloud your thinking.

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If the answer you came up with is among the multiple choices, then you can be quite certain that you have the right answer. If it’s not, you can use one of the other 8 strategies to help you figure out the correct answer.

Test Strategy #2: Look at the Answers First

This strategy is the reverse of strategy #1. Without looking at the question, read all of the multiple choice answers given. Then, read the last sentence. Then, read the entire question.

The “Look at the Answers First” strategy is particularly useful for situational questions, where the question is long-winded. Sometimes, there is a lot of irrelevant information given in a situational question, so by reading the answers first, you know what information you should be looking for in the question.

Test Strategy #3: First Impression

If you are unsure of the answer, go with your first impression. Chances are, your first impression is probably right. Don’t change your answer unless you are absolutely sure.

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Test Strategy #4: Process of Elimination

If you are unsure what the correct answer may be, use the process of elimination to eliminate the wrong answers. With the wrong answers eliminated, your chances of choosing the correct answer increases.

Test Strategy #5: Calculate First

If you have a calculation question on your PMP exam, you should calculate the answer without looking at the 4 multiple choices given. If the answer you got was among the multiple choices, you can be quite certain that you got the right answer.

When you approach a calculation question, list out all of your variables and compare them to your formulas on your “cheat sheet.” Apply the correct formula based on the numbers and variables you are given, and check whether the answer you got is among the multiple choices. You will have access to a Windows-based calculator during your exam. Here’s an article on how to create your “cheat sheet” before you exam starts.

It is hard to know how many calculation questions you’ll get on your exam because 200 random questions are pulled from the PMI database when your exam starts. The system cannot detect whether the question is a math question or not. Some candidates report that as much as 30% of their exam was calculation questions, while others only got 1-2 math questions. However, most candidates will find that between 5-10% of their exam consists of calculation-based questions.

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Here is a formula guide containing all of the formulas you need to know for your exam. 

Test Strategy #6: Calculate Back

If you did not get the correct answer when you used the “Calculate First” strategy, you can try the “Calculate Back” strategy. Looking at the 4 multiple choices given, try to “calculate back” and see which answer you can prove to be correct with the variables given in the question.

Test Strategy #7: Skip

If you don’t immediately know the answer to the question, skip it. Sometimes, some questions in the exam actually provide the answers to other questions. Chances are, when you skip a question, you may find the answer in another question.

At the Prometrics exam centre, you have the option to mark a question for review so that you can remember which questions to go back to.

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Because you have 4 hours to complete 200 multiple choice questions, don’t spend more than 1 minute per question during your first go round. You want to make sure you have enough time to finish the entire exam. If the question is taking you too long to complete, skip it and come back to it once you’ve looked at all the questions.

Test Strategy #8: Guess

There is no negative marking on the PMP exam. Before you submit your exam, make sure every question has an answer – even questions you don’t know the answers to. When all else fails, just guess. Even when you guess, you will still have a 25% chance of getting the question right. If you leave the question blank, you will have 0% chance of getting that question right.

There you have it – my top 6 strategies for approaching PMP exam questions! I hope this article was useful to you in your PMP certification journey. If you have any comments/feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]

Lastly, if you are interested in obtaining your PMP certification, I would encourage you to check out ExamsPM’s free course at www.examspm.com/free 

Featured photo credit: usnews.com via usnews.com

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Helena Lui

Chief Inspiration Officer at ExamsPM

How to Finish Your PMP Exam in Under 4 Hours

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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