PMP Exam Strategies: How to Guess

So you’ve finished Velociteach’s Project Management Professional (PMP) ® mobile prep course on InSite, completed dozens of practice tests, and worked through materials like Andy Crowe’s The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try. After all your efforts, you’re confident that you can answer every question the PMP exam will throw at you… So what happens when you’re taking the exam and you get stumped?

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Even the most prepared and experienced project managers will run into tricky questions on their certification exam. Whether it’s because the question is purposely written to be complex, or the scenario itself is confusing, we’ve found several strategies that can help when you’re in a tight spot.

Before we get started, recognize that there are going to be some questions that you don’t know the answer to, despite all the hours of preparation you’ve put in. Out of the 200 questions on the PMP exam, 25 are randomly placed and unscored “experimental questions” to help Project Management Institute (PMI)® prepare for future versions of the exam. This basically guarantees that you will run into questions that you won’t know how to answer. Armed with this information, let’s jump into some test-taking strategies!

Exam Strategies:

  • Budget your time wisely. Don’t spend too much time on the difficult questions. Make sure you get the easy questions out of the way before you return to the tough ones.
  • Answer each question. Unlike the SAT, the PMP exam will penalize you for leaving answers blank, so don’t lose points because you didn’t choose an answer!
  • With all your hours of preparation, you should generally be able to eliminate a couple of the possible multiple-choice answers. Afterwards, it’s just a matter of selecting which of the remaining options is the best fit for the question.
  • Think like PMI. This is an important one, so pay attention: do not rely on your professional experience to answer questions. Oftentimes, work experience does not line up with PMI’s prescribed method. Your ultimate objective is to pass the exam, so try to answer the question like PMI would.
  • The project manager is in charge. If applicable, gravitate toward answers like “Proactive Project Leadership.” According to PMI, the project manager is the head honcho; be sure to answer your questions accordingly!
  • Choose the BEST answer. In many questions, all of the possible choices will be pretty good answers. Your job is to choose the best answer, so consider the options carefully.
  • Don’t be scared! The PMP certification exam –like any exam– comes down to mindset. As we’ve said before, you will inevitably have to guess on some of the questions. Have these strategies in your head when the time comes.

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We hope you find these strategies helpful when you take your PMP exam! Thanks for reading and best of luck with earning your PMP certification in the New Year!

Note: If you want further discussion on some of these PMP Exam Strategies, check out Episode 2 of our project management podcast: Manage This

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