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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 April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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