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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 July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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