PMP Exam Study Tips
These are items I’ve compiled by either authors, instructors, or myself intended to help prepare for the PMP certification exam.
On an ethics note, everything below was written before I sat for the exam and nothing represents my actual knowledge of the exam process or content. Good luck!
- Some questions may be easy. Forgetting this point may cause you to over-evaluate or presume there is a trick involved when the question is merely being direct.
- If a math question uses all high, numbers like 400,000 / 10,000 / 550,000 reduce them to common denominators like 400, 10, and 550. The math is easier and results are the same.
- Write out the 42 processes before beginning the exam. I will probably just write out the planning processes since sequencing is significant.
- When asked about what to do FIRST, keep in mind the availability of other ‘correct’ actions that can be done afterwards. In these questions, fixing the root cause or choosing the most comprehensive solution may not be the first action to take. If it does not say first, the best choice is more likely regarding root cause correction.
- Consider exam project context in terms of lasting over a year and budgeted over $1M.
- Assume the project manager is correctly managing the project according to PMI methods, unless indicated otherwise.
- Assume organizational structure is a balanced matrix unless told otherwise. Assume it is being compared to a functional organization if that is not stated.
- Learning process ITTOs requires knowing what each means or is composed of. Knowing an input is the risk register or an enterprise factor is not helpful if you are asked about triggers or culture.
- Initiating phase involves less project manager responsibility and more of the sponsor. Issues include sponsor commitment to the project, protection against scope change, and providing clear objectives.
- If IRR (Internal Rate of Return) is an option and positive, choose it because it includes consideration of the tools. Otherwise choose the best of the remaining tools (Highest NPV, ROI, BCR, or shortest Payback Period).
- You can skip calculating the n(n-1)/2 communications formula for questions that ask how many more or less channels are added when a team member is added or removed. When adding a member to the team, the channels added are equal to the existing team size. So if you had 17 people and add 1, there are 17 new communication channels. If you had 17 and lose 1 team member, there are 16 fewer channels.
- On very long questions, try to discern first what the question is actually asking. It may be worth even looking to the end of the question and at the answer choices, before reading the entire question carefully.
- For professionalism / ethics and conflict questions, communication with the pertinent party is often the best / first option.
- Technical conflict resolution / escalation is best handled using the functional manager, even in a strong matrix as they have the expertise. Other conflict methods such as forcing or compromise are poor options because they do not address the technical aspect.
- Payment ethics questions: If it is pre-contract e.g. to be considered for a project, this is generally a bribe. If it is regarding a payment during a contract, like for a permit, it is generally allowed if the requester is an official of the other government. Otherwise, consult your legal team.
- Since projects are unique, they have not been done before in an organization. Therefore things like identifying risks and qualifying a preferred vendor are important considerations and not assumed.
- Risk are an important topic / purpose of all team meetings.
- The response to change requests goes in this order: Understand it, Evaluate impact, Create options, Get change approved internally, Get customer approval
- The PM needs to have the authority and the attitude to be able to say no when needed.
- “Do the change” refers to writing up the change request, not implementing it. **This requires citation. Please see comments for details.
- A change is not considered approved unless expressly stated.
- Don’t calculate Float (backwards pass) unless the question needs it. Evaluating the critical path may be sufficient.
- If the exam does not ask for the earned value of a specific period, it means the to-date cumulative figure.
- The PM is considered part of the team for purposes of team size computation.
- Assume you are the PM for the buyer unless otherwise stated.
- The PMO handles policy, prioritization, and standards across projects. Within a project, the PM handles decisions.
- You need to know the components of each of the management plans (to be able to choose things that are not)
- Reevaluating and potentially reducing risks, is a way to cut improve time, cost, and quality throughout the project.
- Plan Quality determines the strategy that will be used. (how we ensure quality?) Perform Quality Assurance analyzes the methods used to create the product. (are we following the process?) Perform Quality Control tests the product/results. (does the product meet requirements?)
- Does the information or process in question contribute to the success of the project? This is how to determine if an answer (or a real-world practice) is correct.
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