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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 support@examspm.com

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 November 18, 2019

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creativity tasks or problem solving tasks.

Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is able to stay creative and work towards our goals consistently.

How do we manage that?

I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize:

The Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

How to Prioritize with the Scales Method

    One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

    At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

    After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

    • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
    • She could publish all her articles on time
    • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

    Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

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    1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

    When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

    My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

    Use this time to:

    • Look at the big picture.
    • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
    • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

    2. Align Your Tasks with Your Goal

    This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

    It works like this:

    Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

    By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

      To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

      Low Cost + High Benefit

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      Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

      Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

      High Cost + High Benefit

      Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

      Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

      Low Cost + Low Benefit

      This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

      These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

      High Cost + Low Benefit

      Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

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      For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

      Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

        After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

          And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

          Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks with Deadlines

          Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

          What to do in these cases?

          Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

          For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

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          Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

            Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

            The Scales Method Is Different from Anything Else You’ve Tried

            By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

            And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

            Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

            Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

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            Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

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