A common question that PMP® aspirants ask is how to choose the correct answer for the PMP® exam. In this post, we will discuss the 4 different types of PMP® questions and answers that you will see on your exam and 6 different strategies you can use to choose the right answer.
4 Types of PMP® Questions and Answers that You’ll See
There are math questions on your PMP® exam. Don’t let this scare you though. The PMP® questions and answers are not complex, and a Windows-based calculator will be provided. Unfortunately, you cannot bring or use your own calculator. The good news is that the formula questions do not require skills beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. With some practice, you should be well prepared for this section.
PMI does not want the PMP® exam to be purely a recollection of facts and definitions. Thus, they included many situational questions into the PMP® exam.
PMI’s goal is to have the PMP® exam as realistic as possible. They want to test PMP® aspirants if they can apply the theory in the PMBOK® into practice in real life.
Some of these situational questions can be quite long, containing relevant and irrelevant information to the answer. Your task is to sort through all of the information, identify what is useful and what is not, and arrive at the correct answer.
The only way to be prepared for these situational questions is to do as many practice exams as possible before your actual exam. PMI has an unique style of wording their multiple choice questions, and the only way to prepare is to practice.
This section is probably the most straightforward. PMI wants to test your understanding of the PMBOK® and project management principles.
Knowledge questions test your comprehension of project management jargons and definitions. PMI wants to know that you are able to analyze facts, identify exceptions, and use the tools and techniques in the appropriate situations.
The best way to prepare for this section is to look through the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs (ITTOs) of all 47 processes, and ensure that you understand what all of them means.
Note: You do not need to memorize the ITTOs of all 47 processes, but you do need to know the definition of all of them.
The last type of question that you will encounter on your PMP® exam is interpretational question. PMI wants to make sure that you not only know the definition of terms, but you can correct interpret the data as well.
For example, if they tell you that the earned value (EV) is above 0, what does that mean? Is that good or bad?
6 Strategies to Choosing the Right Answer
On situational PMP® questions and answers, PMI tends to give you a long paragraph filled with relevant and irrelevant information. They do this because on projects that you will manage in real life, you will have to differentiate between useful and useless information.
When you are given a long, wordy situational question, read the answer first. Then, read the last sentence. Often times, you will already know the correct answer just by reading the last sentence of the question. If the answer is still not apparent, go back and read the entire question.
Watch out for absolutes such as “all,” “everything,” “every time,” “always,” “never,” “none,” or “only.”
Absolutes are a dangerous area for project managers. Projects are fluid and dynamic, and there’s always an exception to a general rule.
When you see absolutes in your PMP® exam, it is most likely not the correct answer.
If something sounds unfamiliar to you and you have not seen it in the PMBOK® guide, it is probably not the correct answer.
Sometimes, PMI throw in jargons into the PMP® exam to try to confuse you.
When you see a math question on your exam, without looking at what the answers are, calculate the answer first, and then see if your answer is in the 4 multiple choices.
When you do the calculations first and check to see if your answer is in the multiple choices, you will be more confident in your final answer.
If you really don’t know the answer to a question, mark the question for review, and skip it. You can review it again once you’ve finished the exam.
Skipping a question is a good strategy for 2 reasons:
1) You will not get stressed out over one question, spend a lot of time on it, and not have enough time to finish the rest of the exam.
2) You may encounter another question later on in your exam that reveals the correct answer to the question you skipped. Yes, sometimes some questions on your exam become answers to other questions.
If you really can’t figure out the answer, then just guess! The important thing is to not leave any questions blank. PMI does not institute negative marking, which means, there is no harm is guessing.
Statistically speaking, if you leave a question blank, you will have 0% chance of answering it correctly. If you guess, you will have 25% chance of answering it correctly.
So the last test strategy is to… guess. The odds are in your favor.