PMP® Exam Tips

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Becoming a certified PMP® can help you find a job as a project manager, get promoted, advance your career and, unlock a whole new world of opportunities. However, the PMP® certification exam is by no means easy. In this article, we will share with you our top PMP® exam tips to help you pass on your first try.

If you prepare yourself well and get acquainted with the nature of the exam, you’ll be able to pass it from the first attempt. Continue reading as we give you top-notch PMP® exam tips to help you ace it.

Free Training: How To Get PMP® Certified in 6 Weeks


Before we get into how you can perform well in the actual exam, we’ll briefly give you an overview of how you can prepare for the exam beforehand.

Motivate Yourself

By setting goals for yourself, you’ll be motivated to study more and more for the PMP® exam each day. Nothing feels more accomplishing than reaching the goals you set for yourself, especially when they all add up to something big like acquiring the PMP® certification.

Build momentum daily. You won’t be exam-ready in a day, but if you put in the work consistently, your project management knowledge will add up and you’ll pass within weeks.

Get a Preparation Book

PMI’s PMBOK® (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide covers all terminologies, tools, techniques, and best practices regarding project management. The PMP® exam is based on the PMBOK®, but reading the PMBOK® alone won’t help you pass the exam.

When you register as an PMI member, you will receive a free digital copy of the PMBOK®. Additionally, you’ll be able to save on your PMP® exam fees as well. For more on exam fees, click here.

Make a Study Plan

Set a goal of when you want to pass your PMP® exam by. Then, work backwards to see how you can accomplish that goal.

For example, if you want to pass your PMP® exam within 6 weeks, you’d want to do 2 knowledge areas per week, which will allow you to finish all 10 knowledge areas within 5 weeks. You can then use the 6th week to do full length exams to get used to PMI-style exam questions.

Join Study Groups

Studying for the PMP® exam with other people can be very beneficial. You’ll get the chance to help each other out with the hard parts and even learn from each others’ mistakes. You can also join discussion forums; these usually have many helpful tips to ace the exam.

You can join ExamsPM’s PMP® Study Group here: It’s free!

PMP® Exam Tips & Tricks

Now that we’ve discussed how you can study for the PMP® exam, we’ll provide you with some tips that can help you secure a passing score.

Create a Brain Dump

Before your exam begins, you will either receive 2 pieces of blank paper or a white board. You can choose to use the first few minutes of your exam to create a “cheat sheet” that you can use throughout your exam.

Some materials that you can include on your brain dump include the 49 process chart and all the formulas you may encounter.

Keep Track of Time

You have 4 hours to complete the exam. You need to manage your time carefully to ensure that you have enough time to complete all 200 questions. Since you can mark questions for review, don’t spend more than one minute per question on your first walkthrough. If there’s a question that you’re unsure of, mark it for review and come back to it at the end if you have time.

Answer All the Questions

Answering all the questions, even those you’re not sure of, will help you secure a better score. Since there’s no negative marking, there’s no harm in guessing even if you don’t know the answer.

You may also be tempted to choose “all of the above” as the correct answer frequently, which can make you doubtful about your answers, but there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you understand at least two of the other choices and you’re sure that they’re correct.

Read the Questions Very Carefully

Giving yourself a few moments to read and understand each question can make you more likely to choose the right answer than if you simply skim through the questions. However, since the exam’s time is limited, make sure that you don’t spend a long time on the questions you’re hesitant to answer.

Some situational questions are tricky, so you’ll likely encounter questions that seem to have more than 1 or 2 correct answers. In these circumstances, ask yourself, “what’s the best thing to do NEXT?”

You can mark the questions that don’t make sense to you and try answering them again at the end of the exam. Look for keywords that can significantly influence your answers to the questions. Some of these keywords include:

  • Most Likely
  • Best
  • Not
  • Least Likely
  • Except
  • Excluding
  • All
  • Always

If you read any question that contains one of these keywords and tried removing them, you’ll notice that the meaning of the question has completely changed. That’s why it’s essential to read each question slowly and process it in your mind first before choosing an answer.

Moreover, if the question is too long, you can read the last sentence and the answer choices first before reading the whole question. This way, you’ll be able to look for clues of the correct answer while you read any lengthy question.

Mock Tests

Getting prepared with some mock tests is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the exam structure. It can also help you manage your time and utilize it in the best possible way during the exam. It will also help you get used to the type of multiple choice questions you may encounter on your actual exam. Holding your nerve during the exam is also crucial, and a few mock tests will help you get past that.

Aim to pass these mock tests with at least 80% correct answers. While there’s no defined passing score for the PMP® exam, many people have reported that you have a lower chance of passing with a score less than that.

Additionally, once you finish a mock exam, you must check your mistakes and understand why you’ve answered them wrong. You can then go back to your study materials and revise the parts related to the questions you got wrong.

Situational Questions: The Right Answering Technique

Situational questions describe a case for you and ask you to select the best possible course of action in that particular situation. These questions can be tricky, and you’ll likely find more than one answer that seems right. In that case, you should simply choose the best answer among them. All the answers are correct, but one of them is “better” than the rest.

ITTO Questions

The project management process has more than 600 Inputs, Tools, Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs). Some people suggest memorizing them all when studying for the PMP® exam. However, there’s no way that you’ll be able to remember all of them during the exam. It is more practical to understand all of them and know when they are used rather than trying to memorize all of them.

A helpful technique is to understand the logical relation between project management processes and ITTOs. If you get a full grasp of this relationship, you should be able to answer ITTO-related questions quite easily. Make sure to also check out our ITTO Spreadsheet.

Double Check Your Answers

After answering all the questions, go through all of them one more time before handing in your paper, if there’s still time left. Even if you’re short on time, try reviewing as many questions as you can before the time runs out. 

And for formula questions, double-check your calculations to ensure that the numbers you got are accurate.

You may also find some questions that you accidentally skipped or even chose more than one answer for. Going through the exam again also allows you to review the questions you initially left out when you first read them.

Create Your Own Strategy

Just because something has worked out for someone doesn’t mean that it’ll work for you. You can gather as many tips, tricks and lessons learned as you can from multiple resources and keep experimenting until you find the techniques that work best for you.

Looking for more PMP® exam tips? Here’s the video below with a few more tips to help you pass on your first attempt.

Final Words

Now that you’re more familiar with the PMP® exam, you should be able to ace it from the first attempt. Just take a deep breath when you start the test, read the questions carefully, and answer them confidently if you’re at least 50% sure of the answer. 

The key is to identify the “tricky questions” that could tempt you into choosing the wrong answer. Other questions should be much easier. We hope our PMP® exam tips helped!

Want to get your PMP® certification on your first try? Sign up for a free class today!