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Earning the Project Management Professional (PMP) ® certification demonstrates experience in project management and the ability to add value to organizations through use of project management skills. One barrier to earning the PMP certification is the difficulty of the exam.
In this post, we will share tips and tricks for passing the certification exam.

1. Make sure you are qualified to take the PMP exam:

    PMI’s requirements to take the PMP exam include:
  •   a secondary degree (high school diploma or global equivalent) with at least five years of project management experience and 7,500 documented hours spent leading projects, plus 35 contact hours in project management education, or:
  •  a four-year degree (bachelor’s or global equivalent) with at least three years of project management experience and 4,500 documented hours spent leading projects, plus 35 contact hours in project management education.
If you fall short on some of these but need to boost your credentials to land a project management position, you might consider earning the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification.
If you are qualified but still need additional guidance getting ready, consider the tips below.

2. Create a “brain dump”:

    A “brain dump” should include all of the formulas, lists of items, and other concepts that you struggle with. Create this before the exam and update it as you study so you can become familiar with these before the exam. When the exam day arrives, put this information on your scrap paper and then you will not have to worry about forgetting it. For a list of items to consider studying for your “brain dump,” access our “Brain Dump Candidates” file on the Knowledge Base.

3. Seek support where possible :

      The PMP certification exam is a difficult test and many candidates do not pass on their first try. Books, support groups, and boot camps are some of the ways you can help yourself pass. Look for more information about our public training courses related to the PMP exam on our PMP training page.

4. Practice taking the exam :

      Many books include practice exams, and some others are available online or through the boot camps. It is a good idea to take a practice exam after doing a full read-through of the PMBOK® Guide in order to test your absorption of the concepts. Full mock exams should also help you identify your areas of improvement. Throughout your study, continually take different mock exams to become more familiar with the material and more confident about your test-taking strategy. If you can consistently score 85 percent in practice exams, then you should feel confident about the real exam.

5. Keep track of your confidence level when answering practice questions.

    Another important metric, in addition to overall exam score and proficiency in each area, is how confident you feel about each question you answer. While taking mock exams, keep some time to record how confident you felt about each question after answering it but before moving to the next. This information can be very helpful in guiding your study and gauging exam success.

6. Develop a “tiered” testing strategy :

    Another way to think of this is to take on the test in rounds. On your first pass, consider spending no more than ten seconds on a question, and mark it if you are not confident about the answer. Also on your first pass, do any question that requires the use of a formula, which should be easier if you have them written down on your scrap. This first pass allows you to get through the entire exam quickly and have more time to focus on the questions that are giving you trouble. On your second pass, give yourself a minute; on the third, five minutes. Giving yourself this time allows you to employ other test-taking strategies, including the last few tips:

7. Eliminate weak answers :

    When trying to answer a particular question, aim to eliminate as many answers as you can. If you can reduce the question to a 50/50 by eliminating two answers, then you have a strong chance of getting the question right. For example, if a question asks you to identify an input that goes with a certain process, you can eliminate any answers that are tools and techniques.

8. Do not leave any question unanswered :

      PMI does not offer partial credit for unanswered questions like many other exams do. In other words, there is no penalty for guessing on a question that has absolutely stumped you. If you cannot eliminate any weak answers, then your chance of getting the question right is 25 percent. Leaving a question blank guarantees 100 percent that you get it wrong.

9. Take plenty of breaks during study :

     In the early going, it is a good idea to hit only one chapter per study session. This will allow you to cover the entire PMBOK® Guide in less than two weeks and take a mock exam to see where your areas for improvement are located. You can then focus on these areas in the next sessions.

10. Relax on the night before the exam :

     Because the PMI exams are high-stress events, it is important to get plenty of good rest on the night before the exam. Going into the exam refreshed may help you retain more of what you studied and give you more confidence going into the exam.

   We hope you find these tips helpful as you study for your PMP exam, and we wish you the best of luck!


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