Often, PMP candidates read and watch study material and feel comfortable with it. However, when it comes time to do the test questions, they have no idea what the right answer is.
PMI (Project Management Institute) has an unique style of wording exam questions, and the only way to prepare for them is to do as many practice questions as possible before your actual exam.
As you do practice questions, watch for patterns. Notice consistencies in the way the questions are phrased. Notice patterns in situational questions.
When you get a practice question wrong, make sure you understand why you got it wrong, look over your study material again, and try not to make the same mistake again.
1. Come up with the answer first
Without looking at the multiple choices given, read the question and try to come up with the answer first. When you have your answer, look at the four multiple choices and see if your answer is among them. The benefit of using this technique is that you will not allow the wrong answer to cloud your head.
2. Read the answer first
When you get a long winded situational question, try this technique:
- Read the answer first.
- Then, read the last sentence.
- Then, read the entire question.
This technique works because sometimes you are given a lot of irrelevant information in the question. By reading the last sentence first, you know what you have to look for in the situational question.
When you are unsure what the right answer is, use the process of elimination to find the correct answer.
Look at the four multiple choices given, drop the answers you know are wrong, and choose among the remaining answers. If you are still unsure, mark the question for review and come back to it at the end if you have time.
Don’t get stuck on one question for too long or you may not have enough time to finish the exam.
Another technique to deal with PMP questions that you do not know the answer to is to skip it.
This technique may sound counterintuitive, but it works. Sometimes, the answer to the question you skipped will be given in the scenario of a question that appears later on.
If you are unsure of the answer to a question, skip it, mark it for review, and come back to it once you’ve read all the questions on your exam.
5. Be wary of absolutes
When you see words such as “always”, “none”, or “never” – be wary. Think about projects you’ve managed – when did you do things done all the time or none of the time? Projects are dynamic and you need to adapt to the specific project environment. Exceptions are often made.
6. Avoid unfamiliar terms
If you see a term on your exam that you’ve never seen in the PMBOK before, it’s probably just there to confuse you. The term you’ve never seen before is probably not the correct answer.
7. Go with your first impression
Your first impression is usually right. If you are unsure, go with your first impression. Only change your answer if you are really sure.
8. Calculate the answer first
If it’s a formula question, list out all of your variables, input the variables into the appropriate formula, and check if your answer is among the multiple choices give.
Tip: You are given two sheets of paper at the start of your exam. You can use the first 5-10 minutes of your exam time to do a brain dump. One thing you can include in your brain dump is all of your formulas. When you run into a formula or calculation question, all you need to do is to plug in the values given in the scenario. None of the formulas will evolve more than basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You will also be given a windows-based calculator for your exam.
When all else fails… Guess!
Don’t leave anything blank on your exam. If you find that you only have a few minutes left, fill in an answer for all your remaining questions.
For example, you can systematically fill in ‘C’ for all the remaining questions so that you have an answer for everything. Then, with whatever time you have left, go back and read the question and see if you can figure out the correct answer.
There is no negative marking on your PMP exam. Even if you guess, you have 25% chance of answering a question correctly. If you leave it blank, you have 0% chance of answering it correctly.