One of the most critical skills of a Project Management Professional (PMP) is the ability to cut through the jungle of “undergrowth” of extraneous details and identify the true challenges. The PMP certification exam may at first look as if it is full of confusing questions and immaterial detail but it’s designed in such a way that it also tests this crucial area of judgment. If you can cut through the noise and identify the important facts, you’ll do fine on the exam.
As you take the exam, you’ll see some very difficult questions that are cluttered with facts and figures that aren’t really pertinent to the actual question. The exam is very detail-oriented and demands your best reasoning skills. It is also vital to remember that the PMI way of thinking is the important thing here, even though you may have developed different techniques. Look at each question from the point of view of the “ideal” project environment described in the PMBOK Guide. You’ll find it easier to cut through the inconsequential fluff and find the real question.
For instance, Acme Company has to choose between two projects. Each will cost $120,000 and take the same amount of time. The first one would reap immediate benefits, reducing costs of production $120,000 per year. The second would involve developing a new product and over 3 years could possibly net the company $360K. Are they both equally beneficial or is one more attractive than the other assuming the discount rate is 5% per year? The test then gives you a choice of the percentage of advantage one project has over the other. With an average of less than ninety seconds to answer each question, you’ll have to be ready for the flurry of figures and red herrings thrown your way. So prepare by taking lots of sample tests. By taking online and other types of practice tests, you will soon be able to identify the real question and know the proper solution instead of being sidetracked and wasting valuable time.
You’ll also be presented with scenarios that include team-building concepts. As an example, your two outside consultants are constantly at odds and the situation is slowing down your project, putting its objectives in jeopardy. The test will present you with choices from the stages of team development or group dynamics. You will have to pinpoint the solution according to the human resources management standards. If you’re well versed in this management concept, you’ll be able to move onto the next question quickly. If you’re not familiar enough with that category, the choices will be confusing.
This is a very important reason why taking practice exams is so crucial to passing the PMP exam. By quickly eliminating all the unnecessary information and getting to the core of the problem in those test questions, you’ll be able to pass the exam with a minimum of stress and a maximum score. You’re also honing your critical thinking skills, which will improve your job performance and success rate.
There are several types of questions you’ll be asked during the exam. There are scenario based questions, questions where you have to select the best course of action and fact-based questions testing your knowledge of the PMBOK Guide. You’ll be asked to make calculations, interpret simple diagrams and select exceptions from four possible answers. There will be conceptual problems presented as well as short stories. It’s important not to let the sheer volume of information in some of the questions overwhelm you; by quickly picking out the pertinent facts, you’ll be able to get to the core of the problem and present the correct solution.
Remember that the purpose of these types of questions is to ascertain whether you’re able to focus on the problem instead of being distracted by the peripherals. With this in mind, you can take the practice tests and become proficient at the thinking processes necessary for answering the questions correctly and doing your job efficiently.
There is no doubt that taking the practice exams was one of the key elements of passing the PMP Exam for me! Great tips, Cornelius.