Many people have trouble understanding the difference between Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) as they are preparing for their Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam.
That is not surprising. The terms are very closely related and if you don’t work in the field, the difference doesn’t seem too obvious.
And when you look into A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) glossary, you'll find that neither Quality Assurance nor Quality Control is defined. Instead, you will only find a definition for the respective processes of Perform Quality Assurance and Control Quality. The PMBOK® Guide is as always a bit dry in its definitions.
Most exams cover material you’ve studied but sometimes the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam includes questions that were not in the version of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) that you have studied. This can really throw you for a loop but if you’re prepared for it, it won’t be such a shock. The thing to remember is that the PMBOK® Guide is just that - a guide, not an exact accounting of every tool and concept that you will be using as a project manager and PMP®. For instance, techniques such as AON and AOA are still used by project managers around the world even though they were removed from the PMBOK® Guide.
We recently received the following question from a Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam Student:
“There's some confusion in my head with regards to some of the network diagram calculations. I'm lead to believe there are actually two methods to calculate ES, LF, ES etc etc
The first method adds or subtracts 1 where applicable. This assumes that the start activity has ES, EF, LS and LF as 1. The second method assumes the start activity has zeros for all values thereby not having to add or subtract 1 to any of the formulas.
Is there any indication in the exam that would lead me into knowing which "method" is being utilised so that I can apply the right formula?”
I answered that he is correct. there are indeed 2 approaches:
- First approach: You calculate the network diagram starting on day 0
- Second approach: You calculate the network diagram starting on day 1
I personally use the second approach to calculate for the network diagram, because when my sponsor tells me, that my project starts on the first day of September, then that is September 1 and not September 0. This is also the way that all modern scheduling tools seem to work. You schedule your project based on a calendar start date and not "on day 0".
That is why there is a slight difference between the calculations (you have to add/subtract 1 from the results in the 2nd approach). However, don't worry about this for the PMP® exam too much. The way that the question is formulated you should be able to identify how to go about this. Also: I understand that in most cases when you have to calculate this, it is the end result that is important and not how you got there.
If you want to study the correct formulas for your PMP Exam, then this guide is a must-have. Watch this video:
The communications channels formula is N * (N-1) / 2. It is a way to numerically show the importance of proper communications management on a project. We all have a "gut feeling" in regards to this and most people would agree that "the larger the project, the more communications becomes a challenge".
The communications channel formula is a way to express this "challenge" numerically.
First of all, it expresses that the number of people on the project is at the heart of what makes communications a challenge. It's not the size of the budget or the the technical complexity that poses our greatest communications challenge. It is the number of people with whom we need to communicate about our budget and technology that makes it harder, the more people we involve.
Second, the formula acknowledges, that it is not only us (the project manager) who has to communicate. The formula takes into account that on a 5 people team it is not just me who is communicating with 4 others, but it's everyone talking to everyone. The number of people who are constantly communicating with each other is much larger than that.
This second point highlights 2 facts: 1.) Harold Kerzner's figure that a project manager spends 90% of her/his time communicating suddenly makes a lot more sense. 2.) It is impossible for us to try and manage all the various conversations that will be going on between the members of our project team.
Third and last, I use the communications channels formula as a "teaching tool". Both in a classroom and an office environment. In the classroom this is simply the formula that you have to know for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. There is a very high likelyhood that one of the 200 questions on your exam will include this question. Second being able to discuss this formula with the project sponsor and project team on an actual project allows me to highlight why we cannot just simply "do" communications. We have to plan the how, what, when, why and with whom we communicate early on in the project, so that communications will be effective and efficient.
In Appendix G, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) discusses Interpersonal Skills for the project manager. We are currently reviewing these one by one in our weekly Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam tip and we have reached the last one in the series: Negotiation.
The nature of the role of a project manager makes it essential for them to have good negotiation skills. There are usually many stakeholders involved in the project and most projects have team members from different departments. This usually results in several different points of view which can sometimes make it difficult to keep the project on track and within the original scope.
Negotiation skills help a project manager by reaching an agreement or a compromise of some kind on the issue that may be causing a problem or delay.
There are many negotiation skills that you should be able to use related to negotiation. These include being able to analyze each situation, being an active listener and clearly communicating throughout the discussion. It can be useful to identify the differences between the wants vs the needs of those involved. Another important focus is to realize the difference between the positions people have vs the interests and issues directly related to the project.
Above all, skilled negotiators have the ability to manage the situation so that all parties involved feel as though they had a say that was taken into consideration.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) discusses Interpersonal Skills for the project manager and why a project management professional should possess these skills. Let’s talk political and cultural awareness.
In today’s world, project managers operate in an environment that is more globally focused than in the past. This makes cultural diversity another important component of successfully navigating the corporate environment as a project manager. A good project management professional must have the skills necessary to recognize and understand those cultural differences as well as the ability to factor them into the project plan.
Cultural differences can influence the decision making process or the speed in which the work is completed. It can also cause members to act without proper planning. Not recognizing cultural differences can then result in conflict and stress within the project which will further delay it. Understanding these cultural differences in a scenario context will also be tested on your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. Therefore, it is important to possess cultural awareness as a project management professional.
Furthermore it is important to recognize the politics involved in the project environment. Using political skills can help a project manager be very successful. However, more importantly, not recognizing the politics involved can create significant problems and roadblocks that could delay or completely derail a project.
In Appendix G, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) discusses Interpersonal Skills for the project manager. We are currently reviewing these one by one in our weekly PMP® exam tip. Let’s look at decision making techniques.
There are many skills that a successful project manager must develop and among them is good decision making skills. There are four basic styles used to reach a decision. Project managers should be familiar with all four because at some point, decisions will have to be made from each style. The styles are consultation, consensus, command and random.
Clearly, it is always good to have effective skills in this area, but it becomes more important for a Project Management Professional (PMP)® because quite often other team members have to be involved in the decision making process.
Having a decision making model will facilitate this process. Since there are so many people involved in the project who may not agree on a decision, having a process to follow can be very helpful to gain consensus with the group.
In Appendix G, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) discusses Interpersonal Skills for the project manager. We are currently reviewing these one by one in our weekly PMP® exam tip. This week’s topic is influencing.
If you want to become a successful project manager, it is important to be able to influence people. Just as critical is understanding when and how to use those skills and to ensure that you don’t become a manipulator. There is a fine line.
The role of a project manager is to bring together people from various departments and getting everyone to work together toward a common goal. Sometimes it can be difficult to get all of these different people to understand and agree on the details of reaching that goal. A good project manager will use her skills to influence people and help them to come to an agreement.
As you consider the influencing skills needed, remember your goal as a Project Management Professional (PMP)® should be long term collaboration. Not just during the project but also after the project has long finished and your project’s result is being used by the end user. This will allow you to foster an environment of trust among all the team members both during and after the project’s duration.
In Appendix G, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) discusses Interpersonal Skills for the project manager. We are currently reviewing these one by one in our weekly PMP® exam tip. In this week’s tip we talk about developing strong communication skills.
Good communication skills are important in most careers. If you are working as a project manager that is even more true since we communicate about 90% of the time. Some project managers go as far as considering the communication aspect of managing a project as their main job responsibility.
Great communication skills are key to not only improving the relationships among all project team members, but also to establishing trust and keeping everyone motivated and on schedule.
Usually there are many stakeholders involved in a project and they must all be kept up to date on the status, timelines, progress, risks and issues associated with the project. A good project manager and Project Management Professional (PMP)® must communicate all of these details to project stakeholders in a timely fashion and in the format that they expect to receive it in. Project managers must also be able to properly communicate with senior management in their organization.
As you develop your communication skills, it is important to include all of its facets. This includes both written and verbal. Another important part of developing good communication skills is learning what information needs to be communicated and who needs to receive the information. Providing too much information or not enough to the interested parties can hamper the project from fulfilling its potential.
In Appendix G, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) discusses Interpersonal Skills for the project manager. We are currently reviewing these one by one in our weekly Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam tip. This week we are looking at why it’s important for you to become a “master motivator”:
If you want to ensure the success of your project, you should work on developing your motivation skills. Having these skills will help that your project team members stay interested in the project, want to their best, and work toward the common goal.
Good skills as a motivator will allow you to create an environment that allows team members to meet the objectives of the project while simultaneously being satisfied with the work they are accomplishing.
Usually, being a good motivator and PMP® is all about knowing how each individual member can be motivated. Some will do better work if they are challenged while others need to be reassured that they are doing good work. Other ways to provide motivation is through public praise or financial compensation.
Everyone is motivated differently. Your project will be much more successful if you can determine what motivates your team and act on it.
In Appendix G, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) discusses Interpersonal Skills for the project manager. We are currently reviewing these one by one in our weekly Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam tip.
In the coming weeks, we will be reviewing the 8 interpersonal skills that A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) calls out specifically, which a project manager needs to possess. We begin with leadership.
Leadership is one of the important skills that a good project manager must possess. The reason for this is that in many cases, the project manager doesn’t have any authority over the team members for a project. This means he or she must manage the project through leadership.
Although it can be more difficult to manage through leadership rather than authority, project management leadership is usually more effective because it is built on trust and respect.
A leader is especially important at the beginning of a project to define the vision of the project and communicate this vision to the team. This helps all of the team members to get on board with the goals of the project. Good leadership skills will also keep the members inspired and motivated to do their best work.
Unfortunately, project management leadership is difficult to teach from books (or tips like this one). You can learn the basics from the written word, but then you need to show that you “have it” by applying it on the job. For the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam it is important that you recognize situations that require leadership and that you are able to select the appropriate action.
In order to succeed in the PMP® Exam, you should have hands-on experience in project management. Watch this short video to learn more:
A successful project manager must have many different types of skills. Those that come to mind immediately are the technical skills that we need to put together a project plan, schedule, budget and all of the necessary documentation. It is also important for us to have the conceptual skills needed to “see” the project as it is being developed.
However, those skills won’t ensure a successful project unless the project manager is able to complement his / her technical skills with many different types of interpersonal skills.
These essential interpersonal skills include the following:
- Team building
- Decision making
- Political and cultural awareness
Being able to call upon and apply these skills at the right moment in your project can help ensure success. We will review each of these skills in our upcoming weekly exam tips.
A risk register is a critical project document and should not be short changed. Regardless of how well your project is planned and executed, there are always risks associated with it. The key to a successful project is being aware of those risks and documenting them so that if they materialize, they don’t completely derail the project.
Each potential risk is identified and added to the risk register. Then the risk is analyzed to decide how likely it is to occur, how much of an effect it would have and whether or not any steps should be taken to either reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring or to mitigate the possible damage.
In many cases, plans are also made on how to handle the situation if the risk occurs. This may include the steps that must be taken and who will be responsible for those actions.
Being prepared is an essential part of a successful project. Completing a comprehensive risk register, and reviewing it after each stage of the project is completed will help to keep the project on track and ensure that it s a success. A good risk register also makes it easier to keep senior management aware of the risks associated with a project so that they are not surprised.
One final note: The risk register is not part of the project management plan but it is instead “just” another project document. See A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
The cost of quality (COQ) as it relates to project management is frequently misunderstood. It is a monetary figure but it does not solely relate to how much it will cost to provide a quality product or service through the project as most people initially believe.
Instead, COQ is also about the costs that will be involved to bring a product or service that is considered sub-standard up to the standards as they are described. This concept isn’t limited to only the duration of the specific project either. It also takes into consideration costs that occur after the project has ended, such as product returns, recall campaigns and warranty claims. So the complete product life-cycle (not just the project life-cycle) is included when figuring out COQ. The overall cost of quality is reviewed as part of the project to make decisions on how much will be invested in quality.
There are two main categories within the COQ definition. They are the cost of conformance, which is the money spent to avoid problems, and the cost of nonconformance, which is the money spent because of the problems that occurred. We’ll look at those in our next tips.
There are two separate components within Cost of Quality (COQ). We looked at the Cost of Conformance in our last tip and this time we’ll focus on the Cost of Nonconformance. The Cost of Conformance is focused on avoiding potential failures and the Cost of Nonconformance in projects is the cost incurred as a result of any failures because the quality expectations were not met.
This “failure” is really easy to understand: You built a product, service or result through your product and it failed to meet quality expectations. Now you have to fix it, which is going to cost you.
There are both internal and external costs related to failure. Internal costs are those identified within the scope of projects. This includes things like the time and money it will take to rework part of the project. It also includes any cost involved if you have to throw away parts of your project work, which is officially called “scrap”.
External failure costs are those identified after the product or service has been delivered to the customer. This includes things like warranty fulfillment, liability costs and the potential of a loss of business.
Is Cost of Nonconformance vs Cost of Conformance in projects now clear?
Preparing for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam can be a daunting task. That is why Cornelius Fichtner, PMP has created a series of 8 videos in which he answers the 8 most important questions for you. Learn what the expert knows in these 8 videos at http://www.pm-prepcast.com/8videos
Watch the first video here:
As you prepare for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam, you should know that there are many PMP® Exam formulas that you will be expected to know. Among them are Earned Value, PERT, communications channel and about 40 others you must have memorized.
Since these formulas must be in your head, you will not be allowed to bring your own personal calculator into the exam room with you because it could have some of the formulas saved with it. This is when your alternative project management tool comes in... Windows Calculator.
Some of the calculations you will be required to complete are likely to be complex enough that they will require the use of a handy project management tool. So during the exam you will have to use the Microsoft Windows-based calculator.
It’s important for you to be prepared for all facets of your PMP® Exam, and being comfortable with the Windows calculator should be included in your preparation.
That’s why after learning that they will not be allowed to bring their own calculator into the exam room, most people simply stop using their hand-held calculators and fire up an alternative project management tool - the Windows calculator, every time they are faced with a formula in a sample question. I recommend that you do the same.
And here is my most surprising recommendation: use the calculator for every single calculation you have to make: 100 divided by 2? Use the calculator. 3 times 10? Use the calculator.
The reason for this is simple: Taking an exam is stressful and it’s easy to make a silly mistake in your head. And we don’t want 100 divided by 2 to suddenly to be 200. So use the calculator.
Passing your PMP Exam is too important to your future. It will be stressful and you may struggle to have enough time to finish it. It only makes sense to use all of the tools you have at your disposal to make it as easy as possible. This includes being prepared to use the Windows based calculator.
If you want to study the correct formulas for your PMP Exam, then the PMP Exam Formula Study Guide is a must-have. It is THE authoritative reference and contains all the correct PMP exam formulas for you to study and practice. In this video we show you an overview of The PMP Formula Study Guide.
There are two separate components within Cost of Quality (COQ) and you must have a complete understanding of both of them for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. One is the Cost of Nonconformance, which is the money (and time) that will be spent due to the failure of a deliverable from your project. The other is the Cost of Conformance. This is the figure that is determined to be necessary to avoid those failures in the first place.
There are two categories within it. The prevention costs are those associated with building a quality product or service so that any errors are within the range that is considered acceptable. These usually include the elements of training and equipment. Also included in this category is the time and effort required to fully document processes and to do things the right way.
The other category within the Cost of Conformance is the appraisal costs. These are the costs associated with determining the level of quality to ensure it meets the required standards. Appraisal costs include things like inspections and various types of testing that are then evaluated to ensure the quality expectations are being met.
In our next tip, we’ll take a closer look at the Cost of Nonconformance.
Every project manager knows that schedules change constantly. And unfortunately, schedules usually don't get shorter -- they get longer! Or your customer wants the product delivered sooner. And now, what looked like a perfect schedule at the beginning of the project is a total mess and you will never be able to complete your project on time!
Unless of course you take immediate action in the form of crashing or fast tracking.
And that is what this article is all about. I will teach you everything you need to know about both techniques for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. I'll even include a video and an exam sample question below. Let's begin:
Crashing and Fast Tracking are Schedule Compression Techniques
Schedule compression is used when you want to shorten the duration of your project without changing project scope.
This is useful in those situations when you have fallen behind the original schedule and now need to "catch up", or if you want to finish sooner because a competitor is working on the same type of product and you want to be first to market. It may also be a strategic decision to complete a project more quickly than originally scheduled based on other factors.
There are two schedule compression techniques that you need to understand for your PMP® Exam:
- Add resources to your project so you can finish faster. Crashing almost always involves a financial cost.
- Fast Tracking
- Perform tasks in parallel so you can finish faster. Overlapping tasks in this way often increases risk.
Schedule compression should always be focused on the critical path of your project, because the critical path defines the end date of your project. And if you want to finish your project sooner then it does not make sense to compress any activities that have no effect on your project end date.
Schedule Compression Definition
A technique used to shorten the schedule duration without reducing the project scope.
What is Fast Tracking?
Fast Tracking Definition
A schedule compression technique in which activities or phases normally done in sequence are performed in parallel for at least a portion of their duration.
Fast tracking is applied by re-scheduling various activities within the project to be worked on simultaneously instead of waiting for each piece to be completed separately. Always start with this technique first. Why? Because there is no cost involved. You are basically "just rearranging the schedule".
However, this method can only be used if activities can actually be overlapped.
For example it is possible to begin the construction of a prototype even if the design specifications are not 100% complete. You can overlap them as long as enough of the specifications have been defined for you to begin prototype development.
The risk involved with fast tracking is that problems can occur if parallel aspects of the project include dependencies. In our example your risk is that you need to rework the prototype if the design is change half way through the process. But your opportunity is that production will be done much sooner if the design remains stable.
So risk and opportunity must be weighed against each other by the project manager.
Fast Tracking Example
You are reviewing your project schedule and notice that your project end-date has slipped beyond the promised end-date. You need to bring things back on track without spending any additional money.
A detailed analysis shows that there are three tasks that can be started earlier in order to shorten the project:
- End-user documentation can begin after integration testing but before final sign-off.
- User training sessions can be started before the final system is set up and installed if the first 3 sessions can be trained using the test system
- Set up and installation of the final system could be started three days before testing is complete.
Each of these ideas will shorten your schedule, but also add addtional risk to the project. It is your responsibility as the project manager weigh the options against each other and determine wich (or all) of these you will apply in order to shorten the schedule.
What is Crashing?
A technique used to shorten the schedule duration for the least incremental cost by adding resources.
When the crashing approach is used, any additional costs associated with rushing the project are reviewed against the possible benefits of completing the project on a faster timeline. Additional items to consider when using the crashing approach include adding more resources for the project, allowing additional overtime, paying extra to receive delivery of critical components more quickly, etc.
Crashing only works when additional resources allow you to complete the project sooner. For instance, crashing will not work by adding more human resources when "the concrete in the foundation has to dry for 3 days".
You are leading a project to implement new regulations in your organization. The new law comes into effect on June 30th and every day of delay will cost your organization a government imposed fine. You have already tweaked and streamlined the project schedule as much as possible but no further improvement seems possible without drastic measures.
In a discussion with the project sponsor you both agree that finishing the project on schedule is the primary constraint. Additional budget must be requested.
- You analyze the critical path.
- You identify all tasks that can be shortened by adding additional resources.
- You make a calculation for each task, determining the cost and number of days saved by adding additional resources.
- You identify the least costly approach.
- You provide a crashing budget and updated schedule to the sponsor.
How do I use Crashing and Fast Tracking on my Project?
We've used both fast tracking and crashing as a means of meeting deadlines. However, these techniques to meet the deadlines do come with their own costs/technical debt. (Read more...)
The examples we've given above are intended to explain crashing and fast tracking from a textbook perspective. They explain the theoretical application of these techniques in a simple situation in order to show how they work. On paper.
But what about using these techniques on actual projects? Is it possible to simply implement the textook process, or are there any specific insights that we have to take into consideration? What are the lessons learned from other project managers?
We decided to go ahead and ask the participants of our discussion forums. Just like you they are all project managers in charge of ongoing projects and many of them have experience with these techniques. Here are the questions we asked:
- How have you used crashing or fast tracking on your projects?
- What lessons learned can you share with us?
- And of course... How have you studied these two techniques for your PMP Exam?
We went ahead and asked in our discussion forum and we received a great number of extremely insightful responses. You can read everything here.
Watch this PMP Training Video on Crashing + Fast Tracking
Click the image below to watch a video where we explain everything you need to know about crashing and fast tracking for your PMP exam in under 10 minutes:
PMP Exam Sample Questions
Test your understanding of crashing and fast tracking with this sample question from the PMP Exam Simulator:
You are managing a software development project. In the middle of the project, you find out that you are way behind schedule. Your company has invested a lot in this project, and if you don't deliver the project on time, it will be a total disaster. You analyze your project schedule to adjust it so that you may be able to complete the project on time with the existing resources. You find out that you have a lot of discretionary dependencies in your project schedule. What is the best way for you to adjust the project schedule so that you may be able to complete the project on time?
A) Keep the discretionary dependencies intact and apply Crashing
B) Keep the discretionary dependencies intact and apply Fast Tracking
C) Remove the discretionary dependencies and apply Crashing
D) Remove the discretionary dependencies and apply Fast Tracking
Correct Answer: D) Remove the discretionary dependencies and apply Fast Tracking.
Explanation: As you need to find a way out of this problem with your existing resources, you can't apply the Crashing technique. You can only apply Fast Tracking after removing the discretionary dependencies from the project.
Reference: PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, page 158
More questions like this one...
Learn More about Crashing and Fast Tracking
Crashing and Fast Tracking are schedule compression techniques. You apply them in order to shorten your schedule and to reach a certain schedule target.
- Fast tracking means executing two activities at the same time, even if they would normally not be done in this way.
- Fast tracking is free but adds additional risk to your project.
- Crashing means to add additional resources to your project.
- Crashing requires additional budget. So you want to crash those activities that give you the biggest bang for the buck -- the most schedule compression at the least cost.
- Both techniques only make sense if you apply them to activities on your critical path.
Last but not least, don't forget to stop by at our discussion forum and read up on how other project managers have used these techniques on their projects and what they did to study them for their PMP exam.
The terms leads and lags are used to identify and control the timing of various activities within the project. It is important to accurately document leads and lags.
Lead Time: Let's assume a project has two pieces that need to be completed at the same time. Work package A will take 4 weeks to complete, but work package B only takes one week. B would show in the project plan as a finish to start (FS) with a one week lead. This means the B work package component should start one week before A is scheduled to be completed.
Lag Time: Lag time can best be described as a planned or forced delay. A great example of this is a construction project that involves pouring concrete. The project plan must include a lag time of 2 days for the concrete to dry before the next phase can begin.
Hammock Activity: Hammock activity is also frequently referred to as summary activity. These are activities that are roughly related and are reported as a single activity. Some times the relationship between the activities is clear, other times they may only be related because their completion leads to the same result. On a gantt chart a hammock activity is usually displayed as a thick black bar above a grouping of lower level activities.
Project management dependencies determine the order in which various activities should be completed. These dependencies usually documented as an activity attribute and help in sequencing the activities on the project schedule network diagram. As you prepare for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam, it is important to know the difference between discretionary dependencies and mandatory project management dependencies.A mandatory dependency is one that “must be” carried out at a particular time.
It is usually requirement of some kind based on contracts, laws, company procedures, physical limitations, etc. When the sequence of events is developed for various aspects of the process, mandatory dependencies are placed where they must happen.A discretionary dependency is one that isn't based on a "have to", but on a "should". These decisions are usually based upon best practices, business knowledge, etc. They are placed on the project diagram where the team members would like them to occur.
Since discretionary project management dependencies are more arbitrary, they should be fully documented so the reasons for their placement can be maintained and available during future revisions. As a project progresses and adjustments are needed, discretionary dependencies are often reviewed for possible alterations.
For more PMP® exam tips, watch this video:
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The probability and impact matrix sounds very complicated, but the concept is actually something that most people use in their everyday life quite frequently, although in a simpler form.
The probability and impact matrix comes into play when the project manager or team members determine that a particular phase or activity within the project contains a certain amount of risk. That risk needs to be quantified.
Each risk is given two sets of criteria which are then viewed on the probability and impact matrix. Each potential event is rated based on the likelihood that it will occur. It is also separately rated regarding how much of a problem would be created if it were to occur. The probability and impact matrix is used because it allows you to merge both of these components onto the same scale.
The matrix is used to review both sets of criteria at the same time. The result is that each potential risk can be designated as a low risk, a medium level risk or a high risk and then handled accordingly.
Now go ahead and open up your A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) on page 331 and look at figure 11-10, which is an example of a probability impact matrix. The probability that a particular even will happen is shown along the left side of the chart and the degree of impact is shown along the bottom.
If the probability level was very low (.10) and the potential impact was also low (.10), the score on the matrix would be a .01.
If the probability level was medium (.50) and the potential impact was medium (.20), the score on the matrix would be .10.
If the probability level was higher (.70) and the potential impact was higher (.40), the score on the matrix would be .28.
The higher the matrix score, the higher the risk level associated with the item that is being analyzed.
The preparation for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam must include a thorough understanding of the concept of a schedule network diagram. This must include all of it’s sub-components as well. Here are some important definitions:
Project Schedule Network Diagram: This is a broad term used to encompass elements of the project from the planning stages through the completion of the project. Chronology is important so this diagram is always completed in a left to right manner.
Network Logic: This is a collection of the logic that is related to building the various diagrams for the project.
Network Path: This path is set to show the various series of activities that make up the project schedule network diagram. The series of scheduled activities are connected in a logical and flowing manner.
Subnetwork: This is a subdivision of the main project diagram and it typically represents either a work package or a subproject. A subnetwork is frequently used to show possible or proposed conditions that may alter the schedule. An example is changes to the scope of the project.
Time Scaled Schedule Network Diagram: This is a diagram tool that is typically used when you are scheduling a type of activity. An example is a bar graph that is drawn to show the positioning and length of the activity.
This tip is intended to tell our readers that they should expect the unexpected in the test questions. For instance one student asked why the technique of "Activity on Arrow" was a question he got on his exam, even though this technique had been removed from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). My answer was as follows:
The PMBOK® Guide doesn't contain 100% of the project management concepts and tools that project managers around the world use. As such both AON and AOA are still being used. Also, Project Management Institute (PMI)® clearly says that the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam will also test you on project management concepts that are not necessarily found in the PMBOK® Guide (but they cleverly omit telling us where we could find these...).
So what is the consequence of all of this? Don't be surprised to find questions on the PMP® exam that are about concepts that are not (or no longer) on the PMBOK® Guide. But don't let that worry you too much. Simply accept that this might be happening, read lessons learned from others so that you can see what might be on the test and do your best as you prepare for the exam.
For more PMP exam study tips and techniques, watch this video:
We often receive a question similar to the following from Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam Applicants who are in the process of filling in their application form:
Question: Do you have an example of project write ups on Project Management Institute (PMI)® application -- best in class examples of how to summarize your projects -- I have drafted mine and would like to evaluate my application against best in class for structure, etc.
Answer: The answer is "No, we don't have any examples". This is because we don't collect them, but even if we had any, we would not share them. Each PMP® application should be written specifically based on the individual experience by the applicant. Every project is different and the summary should not be just a "boilerplate" statement.
We do, however, have a small example for you in our experience verification worksheet. Click on this link here to open up the XLS document:
http://www.project-management-prepcast.com/index.php/freetry-it/exam-links/81-qualification-requirements-/167-experience-verification-worksheet - There isn't much here, but it's a start.
We also have a tip: When writing the summary go ahead and use as much "PMI® language" as is appropriate. So if you have created a project plan as part of your work, then call it by the official name in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), even if your company calls it a "Project Base Document". Use PMI® terminology to make it easier for the reviewers to understand.
Watch this video to help you fill out your application form efficiently:
Specific components of a particular activity are known as activity attributes. In the beginning, these are typically descriptive factors related to the specific activity, but they can also describe activities that will become more relevant later in the project timeline.
Most activity attributes can be organized, sorted and summarized. This happens based on a few specific categories. A few of the categories for activity attributes are activity codes, the specific people involved in the activity, locations for the activity, the time and costs required for completion, etc. It helps to organize the activity attributes into similar categories.
The various components that are a part of each activity can be described to further extend the activity attribute.
Frequent uses for activity attributes are to recognize the specific people who will be handling specific pieces of the work or to specifically state where the work will be carried out. Other uses include indicating the effort levels that will be required. These include LOE (level of effort), discrete effort, or AE (apportioned effort). Developing a schedule that will identify when planned activities will be selected, ordered and sorted is another use of activity attributes. There is always a difference in the number of attributes based upon the application area.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
Although many people use the terms “contingency plan” interchangeably with “workaround”, they are not the same. The difference between the two terms is related to whether the problems being handled were identified ahead of time or not. Contingency plans are made based on potential risks that are identified that could derail a project. Workarounds are responses to problems that develop while the project is being worked that were never identified.
When a project plan is first put together, potential risks are identified that could pose a significant threat to the project if they occur. Contingency plans are developed around those possible issues and they are completed before the threat takes place. These contingency plans should address the objective of the plan, the criteria for activating the contingency plan, the people and responsibilities involved, and the additional details required for implementation.
Here is an example: A company that produces skis has a project to stock its retail stores with the latest models for the winter season. While the project was being planned, a risk was identified regarding a potential strike. The project continued, but a contingency plan was developed in case the strike lasted longer than anticipated. In the case that the strike was not over by a pre-identified date, the company decided to reassign the work that was to be done by the factory on strike to alternative factories. Potential costs were reviewed and it was determined that this contingency plan would be beneficial.
A workaround is not a planned response because the problems being addressed were not anticipated ahead of time. Per the name, a “workaround” let’s you “work around” the problem. As soon as it is determined that there is an unanticipated problem, it needs to be addressed, researched and incorporated into the documentation of the project plan.
A corrective action must be taken occasionally to make sure the project stays in line with the projected results. Examples of corrective action include the implementation of both contingency plans as well as workarounds. Most projects will require the implementation of a contingency plan or will require a workaround to be created. Since larger projects tend to be more complex, these are common fixtures as the size of the project increases.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) discusses both Workaround and Contingency Plans.
Aside from getting clear with definition of project management terms, here are other ways to help you prepare for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam:
The concept of a work package can be a difficult one. In project management, a work package is defined as the effort required to produce a deliverable within a project. This effort may be a single task or it could be several related tasks.
Many people think of a work package as a sort of “mini project” within a larger project. When all of the individual work packages within a larger project are completed, the overall project is done.
Each step within a work package includes the steps needed for completion along with a deadline for each step. This helps the project manager ensure the overall project remains on schedule. The benefit of using work packages is that it allows many different pieces of the overall project to be worked on at the same time, usually by different groups of people. The team assigned to each work package completes their tasks and then the individual packages all merge together seamlessly at the end.
Work Package Definition
The work defined at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure for which cost and duration can be estimated and managed.
Each work package typically has someone assigned to oversee it. This could be a supervisor, a team leader or may just be the team member who was designated as the leader. Work packages are found at the very bottom of the work breakdown structure.
A work package has many of the same components of a project. They have deadlines, schedules, include cost estimations and they are monitored. The work package should be thought of in terms of the results or deliverables of the package and not just the effort that is involved in obtaining them.
In order to create a work package, some of the main deliverables of the overall project have to be decomposed to the next level to identify the smaller work package. Depending upon the deliverables of the work package, this may need to be decomposed and separated into further work packages. However, you must remember not to go too deeply into this. If you create work packages that are not really necessary, it could lead to poor use of resources and inefficiency.
The work package is discussed in both the Project Scope Management and Project Time Management Knowledge Area of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
PMP Exam Sample Questions
Test your understanding of Work Packages with this sample question from the PMP Exam Simulator:
You are currently managing the development of a security system. This project involves the use of some brand new, state-of-the-art technology, which has not yet been adequately tested. You are currently decomposing your project work packages into activities. You are facing problems decomposing the 'Test the System' work package into the final activities required to complete the work package. Detailed testing plans and activities cannot be determined until the system is at least 50% developed and more details become available. The 'System Development' work package will take at least a couple of months to complete. What is the best way to resolve this problem?
A) Obtain expert judgment on the system testing work package and decompose it now before executing the system development work package
B) Decompose the system development work package now and decompose the system testing work package later
C) Break down the project into multiple phases so that the system testing work package goes into the second project phase. This will allow you to plan for the second phase after the end of the first phase
D) Consult your Project Management Plan to determine what to do in this situation
Correct Answer: B) Decompose the system development work package now and decompose the system testing work package later
You cannot obtain expert judgment about the issue, because (as the scenario hints) this expert judgment for the state-of-the-art technology is not available.
Breaking up the project scope into multiple phases just for the sake of obtaining an escape route for project planning is never a good idea. Projects are divided into multiple phases to obtain more control over the project and the deliverables, not to solve one minor issue of decomposing your WBS.
Also, as you are currently planning your project, your project management plan is unfinished; it can't help you at this point in time.
The only valid approach is that you should use Rolling Wave Planning and decompose the system development work package now and then decompose the system testing work package later, when more project information becomes available.
Reference: PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, page 152
The To-Complete-Performance-Index (TCPI) allows a projection of the anticipated performance required to achieve a goal.
As a simple example: You are driving in your car to a friends house. You promised that you would arrive at 3pm. It is now 2:15pm and you have 30 miles to go. Your TCPI is the speed that you need to drive in order to arrive on time. (This is obviously not a perfect example for the TCPI, but it gets the point across: The TCPI defines the performance required in order to achieve a previously set goal.)
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) - Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013 defines TCPI as the calculated projection of cost performance that must be achieved on the remaining work to meet a specified management goal, such as the budget at completion (BAC) or the estimate at completion (EAC). That is is why there are two formulas - one calculates the TCPI to achieve the BAC and one to achieve the EAC.
TCPI can also be compared with the Cost Performance Index (CPI). This can provide additional performance information. For example, if the TCPI is greater than the current CPI then future efficiency must improve if the project is to achieve the BAC or EAC.
If the comulative CPI falls below the baseline plan, all future work of the project will need to immediately be performed in the range of the TCPI (BAC) to stay within the authorized BAC. Whether this level of performance is achievable is a judgement call based on a number of considerations, including risks, schedule, and technical performance. Once management acknowledges that the BAC is no longer attainable, the project manager will prepare a new estimate at completion (EAC) for the work, and once approved, the project will work to the new EAC value.
Review the complete definition plus examples from the PMBOK® Guide Fifth Edition starting at chapter 22.214.171.124.
From a project management perspective, a schedule consists of a list of a project's tasks with intended start and finish dates. Tasks are the lowest element in a schedule; they are not further subdivided. Those items are estimated in terms of resource requirements, budget and duration, linked by dependencies and scheduled. Project Scheduling helps identify all of the tasks that are required to complete a project on time. It adds dependencies between tasks so that if one task slips, the tasks related to it slip.
[On a side note: As we mentioned in last week's tip, in many organizations the terms "project management plan" and "project schedule" are often used interchangeably. If this is the case in your organization, then please make sure that you understand that for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam, these are two distinctly different documents. Please refer back to last week's tip for the discussion of the project management plan from a project management perspective]
Before a project schedule can be created, a project manager will typically have a work breakdown structure (WBS), an effort estimate for each task, and a resource list with availability for each resource. If these are not yet available, it may be possible to create something that looks like a schedule, but it will essentially be a work of fiction. They can be created using various estimation methods. A good best practice is to include the people who will perform the actual work in the estimation process. The reason for this is that a schedule itself is an estimate: each date in the schedule is estimated, and if those dates do not have the buy-in of the people who are going to do the work, the schedule will be inaccurate.
In many industries, such as engineering and construction, the development and maintenance of the project schedule is the responsibility of a full time scheduler or team of schedulers, depending on the size of the project. And though the techniques of scheduling are well developed, they are inconsistently applied throughout industry. Standardization and promotion of scheduling best practices are being pursued by the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE), the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. In some large corporations, scheduling, as well as cost, estimating, and risk management are organized under the department of project controls.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) - Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute (PMI)®, Inc. says the following about the Project Schedule: As a minimum, the project schedule includes a planned start date and planned finish date for each activity. Develop Schedule is the process of analyzing activity sequences, durations, resource requirements, and schedule constraints to create the project schedule.
Read more about Project Schedule in the PMBOK® Guide.
For more PMP® exam tips, watch this video:
Key Activities for the PMP® Exam (for PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition)
A project management plan is a formal, approved document that defines how the project is executed, monitored and controlled. It may be summary or detailed and may be composed of one or more subsidiary management plans and other planning documents. The objective of a management plan is to define the approach to be used by the Project team to deliver the intended project management scope of the project. The project manager creates the plan following input from the project team and key stakeholders. The plan should be agreed and approved by at least the project team and its key stakeholders.
[On a side note: In many organizations the term "project management plan" and "project schedule" are often used interchangeably. If this is the case in your organization, then please make sure that you understand that for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam, these are two distinctly different documents. We will discuss the project schedule in next week's tip.]
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) - Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute (PMI)®, Inc., 2013 also defines Develop Project Management Plan as the process of documenting the actions necessary to define, prepare, integrate, and coordinate all subsidiary plans. It defines how the project is executed, monitored and controlled, and closed. The management plan content will vary depending upon the application area and complexity of the project. It is developed through a series of integrated processes until project closure. This process results in a project plan that is progressively elaborated by updates and controlled and approved through the Perform Integrated Change Control process.
The plan typically covers topics used in the project execution system and includes the following main aspects:
* Scope Management
* Schedule Management
* Financial Management
* Quality Management
* Resource Management
* Communications management
* Project Change Management
* Risk Management
* Procurement Management
It is good practice and mostly required by large consulting and professional project management firms, to have a formally agreed and version controlled plan approved in the early stages of the project, and applied throughout the project. Project planning is part of project management, which relates to the use of schedules such as Gantt charts to plan and subsequently report progress within the project environment.
Get a full load of the definition and examples of the Develop Project Management Plan process in the PMBOK® Guide 4.2 to 4.2.3
Here is another PMP® tip which can help you to be more prepared for the PMP exam. Watch it now!
A Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), also known as RACI matrix or Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC), describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process.
It is especially useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in cross-functional/departmental projects and processes. RACI is an acronym derived from the four key responsibilities most typically used:
- Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is typically one role with a participation type of Responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required.
- Sometimes also knows as Approver or final Approving authority. This is the one ultimately accountable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one to whom Responsible is accountable. In other words, an Accountable must sign off (Approve) on work that a Responsible provides. There must be only one Accountable specified for each task or deliverable.
- Those whose opinions are sought; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.
Very often the role that is Accountable for a task or deliverable may also be Responsible for completing it (indicated on the matrix by the task or deliverable having a role Accountable for it, but no role Responsible for its completion, i.e. it is implied).
A grid that shows the project resources assigned to each work package.
Outside of this exception, it is generally recommended that each role in the project or process for each task receive, at most, just one of the participation types. Where more than one participation type is shown, this generally implies that participation has not yet been fully resolved, which can impede the value of this technique in clarifying the participation of each role on each task.
Furthermore, there is a distinction between a role and individually identified persons: a role is a descriptor of an associated set of tasks, which may be performed by many persons, and one person can perform many roles.
For example, an organisation may have 10 persons who can perform the role of project manager, although traditionally each project only has one project manager at any one time; and a person who is able to perform the role of project manager may also be able to perform the role of business analyst and tester.
On larger projects, RAMs can be developed at various levels. For example, a high-level RAM can define which a project group or unit is responsible for major phases of the project, while lower level RAMs are used within the group to designate roles, responsibilities and levels of authority for specific activities.
A common type of RAM that uses responsible, accountable, consult and inform statuses to define the involvement of stakeholders in project activities.
The matrix format shows all activities associated with one person and all people associated with one activity. This also ensures that there is only one person accountable for any one task to avoid confusion.
The PMBOK® Guide also states that one example of a RAM is the RACI chart, showing the work to be done in the left column as activities. The assigned resources can be shown as individual or groups. The RACI is just one type of RAM; the project manager can select other options such as "lead" and "resource" designation or others as appropriate for the project. The RACI is particularly important when the team consists of internal and external resources to ensure clear divisions of roles and expectations.
It is recommended that the project manager involves team members when developing the responsibility assignment matrix. While the PM can develop an initial, rough draft, it is impossible for him or her to know exactly how tasks should be performed in each area of expertise. Involving the team therefore not only leads to a more precise matrix, but in addition the team members will also feel greater ownership of assignments, leading to greater commitment and participation.
PMP® Exam Sample Questions
Test your understanding of the RAM with this sample question from the PMP® Exam Simulator:
Which type of tool will you use to depict the relationship between work to be done and project team members?
D) Gantt chart
Correct Answer: A) Matrix-based.
Explanation: A responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) is a grid that shows the project resources assigned to each work package.
Reference: PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, page 262
A work breakdown structure (WBS) in project management and systems engineering, is a tool used to define and group a project's discrete work packages in a way that helps organize and define the total work scope of the project. A work breakdown structure element may be a product, data, a service, or any combination. A WBS also provides the necessary framework for detailed cost estimating and control along with providing guidance for schedule development and control. Additionally the WBS is a dynamic tool and can be revised and updated as needed by the project manager.
One of the most important Work Breakdown Structure design principles is called the 100% Rule. This Rule states that the WBS includes 100% of the work defined by the project scope and captures all deliverables – internal, external, interim – in terms of the work to be completed, including project management. The 100% rule is one of the most important principles guiding the development, decomposition and evaluation of the WBS. The rule applies at all levels within the hierarchy: the sum of the work at the “child” level must equal 100% of the work represented by the “parent” and the WBS should not include any work that falls outside the actual scope of the project, that is, it cannot include more than 100% of the work. At the same time, it cannot contain only 95%. It must contain 100% of the work. It applies to the activity level. The work represented by the activities in each work package must add up to 100% of the work necessary to complete the work package.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) - Fifth Edition, states that Create WBS is the process of subdividing project deliverables and project work into smaller, more manageable components. The work breakdown structure (WBS) is a deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables, with each descending level of the WBS representing an increasingly detailed definition of the project work. The WBS organizes and defines the total scope of the project, and represents the work specified in the current approved project scope statement. The planned work is contained within the lowest level WBS components, which are called work packages. A work package can be scheduled, cost estimated, monitored, and controlled. In the context of the WBS, work refers to work products or deliverables that are the result of effort and not to the effort itself.
Read more about the WBS in the PMBOK® Guide.
One of the more obscure terms that you need to know for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam is the "Tornado Diagram". Basically, the diagram is a typical display format of the sensitivity analysis. Let's look at this in more detail.
A Tornado diagram, also called tornado plot or tornado chart, is a special type of Bar chart, where the data categories are listed vertically instead of the standard horizontal presentation, and the categories are ordered so that the largest bar appears at the top of the chart, the second largest appears second from the top, and so on. They are so named because the final chart appears to be one half of a tornado. This diagram is useful for sensitivity analysis - comparing the relative importance of variables. For example, if you need to visually compare 100 budgetary items, and identify the largest ten items, it would be nearly impossible to do using a standard bar graph. However, in a tornado chart of the budget items, the top ten bars would represent the top ten largest items.
This is applicable to wide range of project domains – Financial, Constructions, Software, Sales, Services, etc. Tornado chart can be used for analyzing sensitivity in other project constraint (cost, time, quality and risk) objectives also. The longer the bar the greater the sensitivity of the project objective to the factor. The factor that have the greatest impact is located at the top, and the bar ends indicate the low and high value of the factor. It assists the project manager in focusing on the most critical variable of the project, sort and prioritize the variable according to their impact on the project objective, realize how much the value of the project is impacted by the uncertainties of the project, and decide where you need to invest any additional efforts.
You can find the Diagram in the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition starting in section 126.96.36.199 as part of the sensitivity analysis.
One of the more important steps in preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is to schedule you exam date as soon as you meet all the eligibility requirements. This will give you a specific date toward which you can work. Now you have deadline - a big red "X" on your calendar - and this will motivate you in your studies. If you don't have the date scheduled you can always find excuses for not studying and delaying things. But having the date in your mind and calendar will drive you to study regularly.
Now that you see your exam approaching, here are a few good study activities:
Read A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Read it twice. Because the PMP® exam is largely based on the PMBOK® Guide contents, it makes sense to know what it says. However, the PMP exam requires far more than just recounting facts. You can’t just memorize the PMBOK® Guide and pass the exam. You must understand how each of the PMBOK® Guide’s processes, along with their inputs, outputs, and tools and techniques would be applied in real live project situations. So a good way to enhance your studies is to apply the concepts you learn from the PMBOK® Guide on your projects right away.
Next, read the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, and as with the PMBOK® Guide, read it at least twice. Think of project scenarios for each topic that will be more meaningful and help you remember the concepts as you study the Code. Learn how each section in the Code is different and why each one is necessary for the project management profession.
And lastly, don't forget to discuss project management topics with others to really learn the material. Find a local or online study group and meet with them as you study for the exam.
Checkout this YouTube video for more valuable tips and increase your chance of a successful PMP Exam.
There is a bit of a disconnect that Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam takers report as they are preparing for the exam. Because you must be an experienced project manager to take the exam, you bring years of experience in managing projects and using tools & techniques with you. Often, these are based on company internal project management best practices and tactics that you found working for you. However, the PMP® Exam requires that you apply the concepts from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) to real-life situations as presented in the exam questions. If the methodology that you are experienced in using is not aligned with the PMBOK® Guide, then you may pick the wrong answers in your test.
Furthermore, the projects you manage may not have required you to deal in all the PMBOK® Guide's Knowledge Areas. For instance, risk management was something I did very rarely on my projects and maybe in your career you never had to deal with procurement. So it is likely that you’ll be more comfortable with some project management knowledge areas and processes than others. This can lead to two problems:
First you may feel that because you are an absolute pro in scheduling (after all you have years of experience here) you can slack off in your studies and rely on your own project management experience instead. You tend to minimize studying for the areas you know best. But this can hurt you because the PMBOK® Guide’s approach is the correct approach for the PMP® exam.
The second is the tendency to minimize the importance of project management areas with which you are unfamiliar. Just because I didn't do much risk management doesn't mean that it isn't important. But we are creatures of habit, so it's only normal to also think that the "unimportant" areas on our projects are also "unimportant" on the exam. PMPs are expected to demonstrate a good understanding of all aspects of project management as defined in the PMBOK® Guide. So pay particular attention to the processes with which you are not familiar.
So what's the best approach? I always recommend to my students that they study the PMBOK® Guide at least twice before taking the exam and that they immediately start using the practices learned on their projects. Applying the theory from the PMBOK® Guide on your projects is the best way of learning it and passing the exam.
OK, I really hope that you will NEVER have to make use of this Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam tip: If you fail PMP® Exam twice, then consider waiting a bit instead of taking it for a third time right away. Here's why:
Once your PMP® Exam application is approved you are given one year and three attempts to pass. In case you fail PMP® exam thrice or all of these three attempts, you need to wait one year before filing another application to try again.
So... If we assume a worst case scenario of you failing the exam twice within ten months, this means that you now have two months and one more attempt to pass the exam left. But think about it: you are already nervous, studying to pass the exam has become a real chore and you may question your ability to pass the exam. Add to this your personal life, your work load that may come in the way of your studies and you can see that your third attempt might not go well either. And if you really fail a third time, then you'll have to wait one year to re-apply.
So why not give yourself a clean slate?
Instead of going head first through this wall and failing for a third time, simply let your PMP® Exam application expire, apply again and give yourself another year and 3 fresh attempts. Granted, doing this is more expensive (The Project Management Institute (PMI)® members pay $275 for a re-examination vs. $405 for a full application), but it removes the pressure of having to cram for your 3rd attempt in the short time left as well as as the mandatory 1 year wait after the failed 3rd attempt.
Of course, this is a very personal choice and the timing of when you failed your first two attempts must be considered as well. If you take good measures to pass on your third attempt, or if your two failed attempts happen early on in your eligibility period then it might be better for you to go and try for a 3rd time right away. But if you're unsure about your readiness or if time is running out, then letting your application expire is a valid choice.
The PMP® Exam is not an easy exam. You have to find the correct answer to 200 multiple choice questions within 4 hours. That's just 1.2 minutes for each. And sometimes it looks like more than one of them are correct. In this free episode of The PM PrepCast we discuss 2 concepts and 4 techniques of how to approach questions and finding the "best" answer so you make sure you don't fail PMP® exam the third time.
One of the most important activities for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam Prep is to take mock exams. Be sure that you do this only after reading A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) at least once. Also remember that failing mock quizzes does not mean you will fail the PMP® exam. Online sample exams should be used as a progress indicator in your preparation. Nothing more.
Most students tell me that they repeated their sample exams again and again until they were satisfied with the results. There is a danger in that approach: when you take the same sample exam again and again you will start to remember the questions. You will remember that you answered B in your last attempt, and that the correct answer is C. This means your result will improve every time you repeat the same sample exam.
But on the PMP® Exam you only have one chance!
So my recommendation is this: Sign up for an online PMP® Exam Simulator™. This simulator will cost you some additional money, but their two major benefits are that they offer a large number of questions & quizzes that you can take (no repetition!) and they allow you to test yourself in an environment that closely resembles the actual PMP® Exam.
Therefore, go beyond searching for free PMP® Exam questions on the internet and use the professional tools that are available to you.
Watch this video for additional study tips and techniques when preparing for the PMP® exam:
You may have read lots of PMP® exam tips and tricks but don't dismiss this tip off-hand simply because it may sound so obvious. Prepare for PMP® exam and think about what you will wear for your exam. Wearing uncomfortable or constricting clothing can be a distraction during the exam. You want to be able to focus on the questions and not on your tight pants. Therefore, think about it in advance. Plan to wear loose and comfortable clothing. Wear something that you have worn before so you know it doesn't itch or have a tag that scratches your neck all the time.
On top of that (pun intended) you are going to want to dress in layers. That way you can adjust to the temperature in the room. Bring a sweater even if you are taking the test in the middle of summer and it is hot outside. PMP® exam locations may be air conditioned and you may need something warm. If you take the test in the cold of winter make sure that you can take off several layers just in case the test center is very hot.
You can also bring a jacket; roll it up and put it into the small of your back in case your chair is uncomfortable.
For more tips on how to prepare for PMP® exam, sign up to the PMP Exam Tips newsletter or visit our YouTube channel and learn from videos like this:
Three Ways To Prepare For PMP® Exam
It is important to be in the right frame of mind and good physical shape before going in for The Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. Knowing that you have done the best you can in your PMP Exam Prep and getting yourself in the right frame of mind will give you the advantage over others. Here are a few ideas on preparing:
Don’t sleep late on the day of the exam: Students often study late into the night before an important exam. This was OK in your college days, but now you are a professional with years of experience. You should be able to plan in such a way that you study regularly and don't need to cram the night before. So make sure to get enough sleep the night before. A tired brain does not work efficiently. You know best how much sleep you need to function properly, so plan accordingly.
Read the questions properly: It’s not a war; you don’t need to hurry as soon as you get in. Have a plan as to how you will approach the exam (i.e. answer 50 questions in 50 minutes, then take a 5-minute break). Read all questions properly and make sure you know what they are really asking.
Don’t over-examine: Feedback from many student surveys shows that the first answer chosen is usually the correct one. So don't go back and change your answers again and again. You don't have time for that anyway and you should be confident enough by know to properly analyze the questions to find the best answer. Only when the text from a later question gives you a spark to an earlier question, that go back and change it.
Checkout this YouTube video for more tips:
What usually happens is that students preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam try to go through too many PMP Exam Prep books or on-line courses thinking that they will be able to absorb everything that they watch and read. That is far from the truth. Too many PMP exam prep books will in fact confuse you. Usually, one good exam prep book and one course is enough to complement A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Reading the PMBOK® Guide is of course a must for any PMP® student and no exam prep book is a substitute for it. And don't forget to read the the PMBOK® Guide Glossary. As boring as that may seem, you'll really get to know and understand the terminology you need for the PMP® certification exam.
There are topics on the exam that are not mentioned in the PMBOK® Guide, but still make regular appearance on the exam. Many popular exam prep books cover these topics. But Project Management Institute (PMI)® adds new topics on an ongoing basis so it's difficult to know what lies ahead on your own exam. To be able to overcome this, it is wise to learn from others. Try to read PMP® online forums where exam passers are more than willing to share their experiences in taking the exam. Read their lessons learned to hear what topics may appear. This can be an essential part of your preparation, but don't get carried away. Spending a few minutes daily, reviewing and commenting on posts is usually sufficient.
So instead of muddling your brains with too many prep books, choose the one you like best to complement your PMBOK® Guide studies to ensure a successful PMP® certification exam.
To know the Essential PMP® Certification Exam Study Materials, watch this video:
The Internet is full of sites and blogs that help you prepare for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. As part of your PMP® Exam Prep, you should take advantage of the many free, on-line sample exams. These will help you assess your readiness to take the actual exam.
Whether you can or cannot find time and money to enroll in a formal, classroom-style PMP® Exam Prep course, answering hundreds (even thousands) of PMP® Exam sample questions is a must. In the first few weeks of your PMP® Exam Studies. it's OK to use just the free ones offered by various sources. These questions prepare you for the rigors of the actual examination for your certification and give you some idea of what to expect. While these do not necessarily reflect actual test questions, they can provide tips and guides to properly respond to any question that may come your way on the "real" exam. The free questions help you to sharpen your knowledge and identify areas where you need to study more.
However, after some weeks you will not only tire of constantly searching for new free questions. You will also begin to notice that free questions are not always of the same quality. Some are excellent, some are OK and many are really bad. That is the moment when you have to consider signing up for a PMP® Exam Simulator™. Yes, subscribing to such a simulator is going to take some money, but in the end, your goal should be to pass the exam. Invest this money into being well prepared for the exam.
So when taking courses for your PMP® Exam preparations, make sure that you get at least some free test questions offered by these courses. Together with the free sample questions on the internet and the ones of your PMP® Exam Simulator you will be able to prepare yourself well.
Watch this video to know the most important thing to do when preparing for the PMP® exam:
Classes that offer extensive and comprehensive coverage or the material required should go onto your short list. The primary benefit of these sessions is that you can interact with the trainer (make sure that he/she is Project Management Professional (PMP)® certified) and with other project managers in the classroom studying alongside. This interaction ensures you get a firsthand experience on how to approach situations and the underlying principle that govern them.
Make sure to stay away from "boot camp" classes. The best courses are those that meet once a week over the course of several weeks and allow you to do self-study in-between and really soak up the material over time.
Through this classroom type learning, you are given a weekly "checkpoint" to see how much of the lessons are really learned and retained. This is important because the PMP® Exam tests your ability to apply the theory to real-life project management situations through varying scenarios in the exam questions. A large number of free tests are available online that you can use to assess if you are ready for the exam. Beyond the free tests that only go so far you should also consider subscribing to an online exam simulator that will really test your knowledge and ability to pass the exam. These online exam simulators teach you the necessary time-management skills for this 4-hour exam and the detailed reports allows you to review your performance and learn the correct answers for questions you missed.
If you have not decided on which PM Exam course to get, begin by visiting various sites in the Internet. Here you get to choose which one is best suited for you and start preparing for your certification exam. An in-classroom PMP® exam prep course is one of the best ways to begin preparing for the PMP® Exam. They are easy to find on the internet.
Checkout this YouTube video for addittional tip:
Remember that even though the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam is largely based on the Project Management Institute (PMI)®'s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) you should not only know all of the concepts from here, but you must be able to analyze and answer the situational exam questions with a combination of practical project management knowledge and with what the PMBOK® Guide says. Generally speaking, going against PMI® principles is never a good option. At least not during the PMP® Exam. It is also better to choose the ethical option even though they may seem to be the tougher choice.
Here is what to expect on the exam: The PMP® Exam consists of 200 Multiple Choice Questions, which must be answered within 4 hours. These questions are randomly generated from a question database which has many hundred questions. Out of 200 questions answered, 25 questions are pre-test questions which will not be used for scoring. These pre-test questions are randomly inserted by the computer into your exam with the idea of evaluating whether these will be used as "real" questions in future exams. This is a normal and valid way to test new questions on actual exam takers and see how they respond. But because you don't know which ones are the pre-test questions it is important to answer all the 200 questions to the best of your ability.
Since 25 out of 200 questions are not used for scoring, effectively, 175 questions are used for scoring on the exam. However, PMI® does not release a "passing score", so we don't know how many questions must be answered correctly in order to pass. After the exam you will be given an examination report on which you can see the areas where you were Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient. It also tells you whether you passed or failed.
So the problem is this: If we don't know how many questions you have to answer correctly in order to pass the exam, how can you prepare? My recommendation is that you answer as many sample questions as you possibly can before you take the exam and gain your confidence. Only by taking many mock exams can you raise your understanding. By doing this you will come to a point where you will feel ready and know that you are ready. This is the point where your studies and practice exams will have given you the level of understanding and confidence and you will answer all PMP® Certification Exam questions correctly by applying both your practical experience from being a PM and the theoretical know how from reading the PMBOK® Guide.
For more tips, watch this video - The Short Guide to Becoming a PMP
How would you feel if you fail the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam by just one question? Avoid this by using your exam time wisely. Here is one such strategy:
Four hours is plenty of time for you to read and re-read all PMP® exam questions. You should be able to go through all questions in your first pass in about two to three hours. During this first pass you will probably not know all answers to all questions. That's OK because that's what the "mark" feature is for. Use it to mark the questions you are unsure and then use the remaining time to review all those questions in detail that have stumped you at first.
Another strategy is to concentrate on the easier PMP® exam questions first (those that you feel you'll find the right answers for quickly) and then come back for the harder questions in your second pass. In this way, if you are confronted with a particularly puzzling question, you will simply mark it and move on to the next. Many test takers report that sometimes, a succeeding questions provides a clue or gives you the "nudge" that you need to figure out the difficult ones you have skipped.
Remember also, that some questions will appear to have two right answers. In this case you have to answer the question by trying to think like A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). So if you have studied and understood the concepts from your PMBOK® Guide, then there is really not much to fear before going into the exam room. And don't be surprised to come across questions that are framed in an unusual way or use terms that are unfamiliar to you. In these cases the examiners want to know that you understand the processes rather than just memorized them.
Last but not least: Remember to check, check and check again that you have answered all the questions. Make sure not a single one of them is unanswered. There is no penalty for answering a question incorrectly. So go ahead and guess on those questions where you really have no idea. Who knows... that might just be the question that lets you see "Pass" instead of "Fail" on the screen.
Here is a short video for you to watch:
Going into the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam, it is always helpful to know that the exam is designed by experts who want to know that you thoroughly understand the methods, processes and principles of project management and how you would apply them in a given situation. Most of the exam questions revolve around a given real life scenario and they are based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). That is why the PMP® exam is a test of real life project management practices, tools, techniques and principles described in the PMBOK® Guide.
It does not mean however, that you are required to memorize the content of the whole PMBOK® Guide.
Instead, in order to succeed on the exam, you will need to have a lot of hands-on experience in project management and be able to relate it to the theory in the PMBOK® Guide. That's why a minimum of 4,500 hours of experience (7,500 if you don't have a bachelor's degree) is a prerequisite to take the exam. Your real life experience of managing projects in your industry will make everything much easier. Many situations in the questions will be familiar to you because you have lived through them.
So here is my recommendation: Study the PMBOK® Guide 2-3 times. Note that I say "study" and not simply "read". Begin applying the principles described on your day to day projects and also relate them back to your previous projects. That way you will see how these principles work. Doing it this way will make you a better project manager and help you pass the exam, as opposed to just mindless memorization.
Checkout this YouTube video for addittional tip:
As the saying goes: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Keep this in mind as you prepare for PMP® exam. It simply means that you should not solely depend on what others say about their experiences in taking the exams. Everyone's experience is different.
What you must remember at all cost is that you have prepared well for the exam and that you can do this! When you walk through the doors into the exam room, the most important thing for you is to pass the exam. You can partially achieve this by preparing yourself physically and mentally for the event. After the exam everyone has a story to tell. For example, one of my students wasn't allowed to change any clothing and the other one wasn't allowed to use the bathroom. These examples are of course extreme but they might happen to you.
So what if something similar happens to you? Take a deep breath. Listen to this "odd rule" that the testing center staff is informing you of. And then follow it. Don't jeopardize your chances. Play along and do the best you can. Adjust yourself mentally to the situation and work with it.
Remember: What really matters is that you relax, concentrate and pass the PMP® exam.
Don't blow your chances of passing the PMP® exam and earning your PMP® certification by failing to prepare for exam day logistics. Here's what you need to do before the exam and on exam day to make sure you're ready mentally, physically and logistically.
Watch this video to learn more:
The Project Management exam is the hottest certifications exam today. It is the most challenging project management certification exams to prepare for. This is because most of those thinking about taking this exam are at the stage of their career when they are already working full time and then they try to find the time to study for their certification.
If you think that the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification exam is your average college test where you can cram yet still get high marks, then think again. The PMP® exam is anything but easy. It is an experience-based exam in a 200-question, four-hour computerized format. When you are studying for the exam, you could answer the sample questions easily enough in the comfort of your own room with no ticking clocks, no distractions and no security cameras pointing at you. However, during the actual examination, you will find yourself in a radically different setting.
Think of it as the battleground and you as the soldier. And any good soldier would create a battle plan before the exam. He knows that planning can spell the difference between passing and failing. You have to formulate strategies in terms of how to answer and review the questions, how to ease the tension from your body and how to replenish your energy. Your battle plan will serve as your guide during the exam and will help you focus on the task ahead of you. With a battle plan, you will be able to breeze through your exams knowing that you have everything under control and and can maximize the time allotted for you to finish the exam within the allowable period.
Don't try and take the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam immediately after exam your PMP® exam prep class. Similarly, don't wait for months either. The right moment is usually between 2-5 weeks after you finish your class. A good PMP® Exam preparation course provider will tell you to do more reading and practice exam questions. They should also direct you to training products specifically designed for the purpose. Additional, on-line or software based training products with training materials that provide you with your 35 contact hours of project management training plus the exam preparation materials that get you ready to pass the exam can even be considered.
Relax. The Project Management Institute (PMI)® does not want you to fail the exam. But they also don't make it easy. PMI® primarily wants to ensure that you have grasped the best practices captured in the PMBOK® Guide so they fine tune their exam to ensure an acceptable pass ratio.
There are still a few formulas to be learned (mainly in the cost management area). Some students report that they saw no formula based questions at all on their exams and others say that they were really, really glad that they had studied the formulas so in-depth. You should therefore learn the formulas and their applications, and then, before the actual exam starts, write them down on the scratch pad that will be provided in the exam room. You want to do this before beginning the exam so you won’t have to dredge them from memory in the midst of an anxiety attack.
Don’t hesitate to go back and change the answer to a previous question. You will encounter the situation where answering one question provides you with further insight into a previous question.
Study hard, read a lot and practice many simulated exams until you ace every one will help you pass your PMP® Exam.
Checkout this YouTube for additional tips:
If you are preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® or Certified Associated in Project Management (CAPM)® exam, you need to have a study plan or in PM terms, a project plan. As an experienced project manager you know the value of a project plan. So practice what you preach in your PMP® exam preparation. Be a planner, and apply good project management in the process.
An example of a study plan for the PMP® Certification is as follows:
- Go through the training in no more than 2-4 months. Set a schedule, and stick to it. Review the appropriate section of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) with every topic in the training.
- Purchase a PMP® exam preparation course and include it into your plan. Print out study aids that are part of the particular training module, especially if these cover topics that you find difficult. After finishing the course, take simulated exams.
- Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. This will make you a little sharper and alert for information as you continue the training. You can take another full PMP® or CAPM® exam simulation every 2-4 weeks, and adjust your study plan based on results.
- In the last month leading to the exam, focus work with the simulations on your trouble areas by using the flash cards and other training materials. Aim for 80-90% scores during your simulated tests as you get close to the actual exam. This will give you confidence that you are ready to pass, and if the scores are lower, will give you more impetus to work harder.
- Read books, online materials, free templates, listen to podcasts, and any other materials that fit your learning style to see things from different angles and approaches.
The key really is to practice good project management and you will succeed. Increase your chances of project management exam success with a project plan.
For more tips, watch this short video about The 7 Things You Need to Prepare for the PMP® Exam:
The Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification examination is a computer-based exam that is offered at testing centers worldwide. The exam is based on much of the information contained in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
The questions in the PMP® Exam are based on the following process groups from the PMBOK® Guide: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, Closing and Professional Responsibility. So expect questions like: Which process is applied to break down the project into smaller, more manageable elements?, or: Which Tools and Techniques are part of Risk Management Planning? Some questions use project management terms that may be interchangeable with others. There will be a few questions that require you to perform simple math calculations. Or you will be required to interpret graphs or diagrams on some questions.
The number one statement to remember is that you need to answer all questions on the exam from the perspective of the PMBOK® Guide, even if you feel that this question is one of those that are not 100% aligned with the standard. Asking yourself "What would the PMBOK do?" is a good place to start.
Remember that Project Management Institute (PMI)® is trying to present an ideal environment for project managers that might be different from your own experience. The PMBOK® Guide will help you a lot here simply because it gives the right answers to all the questions that you will encounter during the exams. Or it will at least point you in the right direction. So if you really want to be prepared for your exams, read your PMBOK® Guide extensively and understand the lessons here.
The Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is a computer based exam with 200 multiple choice questions. This means that each question has exactly one correct answer. The exam will give you exactly four hours to answer these questions. If you prepared well, this should be a breeze. Most find four hours to be more than sufficient for the exam. (It took me 3 hours and 58 minutes because I wasn't feeling well on that day.) Out of these 200 questions, 25 questions are pretest questions. These are randomly places through out the exam and are used for research purposes. These questions will not count towards your final score. But even though you will only be evaluated on the basis of 175 questions you still must answer all 200 because you won't know which are the 25 pretest questions.
The Project Management Institute (PMI)® does not release the actual score that is required for you to pass the exam. All they tell us is that "The passing score for all PMI® credential examinations is determined by sound psychometric analysis." So nobody but PMI® knows how many questions you have to answer correctly in order to pass.
This is important: Remember that there is no negative marking on the exam. This means that you are not penalized for questions that you answered incorrectly. There is just "correct" or "wrong" for the scoring. This means that if you leave a question unanswered your answer is "wrong". So remember not to leave any question unanswered. You need to answer them all.
After you click on finish and submit the exam, you will see on-screen whether you passed or failed. This takes about 10 seconds but feels like an eternity. You will also receive a printed examination report that tells you how you did in the various process groups.
To feel confident that you can do it, you must have undergone enough preparations and must have taken practice exams several times based on the lessons learned from the study materials of your choice.
Watch this YouTube video where Cornelius Fichtner, PMP answers dozens of questions about the PMP® Exam.
The Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam is mainly based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The most current version was published in 2012 and most people find a bit difficult to read. But due to the fact that the exam is based on this book, it is important that you actually read and understand all that it contains. As a supplement to studying the PMBOK® Guide in preparing for the exam you need to get additional reference material. I recommend that you buy separate PMP® Exam Prep books that will further enhance your understanding of the subject matter. These books will help make the complicated concepts from the PMBOK® Guide clearer and they also give you more information and tips on how to prepare for and pass the PMP® exam.
So here is my tip: read and understand the concepts from the PMBOK® Guide and other PMP Exam Prep books. Also work through the sample questions and exercises in your PMP exam prep book. And lastly, take as many sample exams as you can to gauge your understanding of the concepts. Go back and review the sections in the books that you did not score well and try again.
When you start scoring above 80% the first time you take any mock exam then you are ready for the real exam. Remember that it takes a lot of preparation to make sure that you pass your PMP exam and receive your certification. So study hard, learn well and be confident of your ability to get your certification.
The amount of material you need to master to pass the PMP certification exam may see overwhelming, but it's possible to accomplish provided you follow a simple, four-step process for studying for the exam. Watch this video below:
PMP Exam Study Tips and Techniques
After several intense and hard weeks of study and preparations, you are now ready to take on the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. And the mental preparation in the last 24 hours before you actually take it are just as important as the weeks of study before. You want to be well prepared, both physically and mentally, to tackle the questions and pass the exam.
And so, going into the eve of the exam, it is important that you can feel relaxed and do not worry. This will help you prepare mentally for the challenges of the next day. One of the most important techniques here is to take one, possibly even two days off from work. This way, you can focus only on your exam and not worry about any work related deadlines as well. Keep your focus!
And obviously, you also want to make sure that you get a good night's sleep. Go to bed early and avoid things that could give you stress. Wake up early in the morning, do some light exercise just to get you warmed up and ensure that you get a good breakfast. Let my own experience be a lesson for you: avoid any food that's unfamiliar or exotic for you. You don't want to get an upset stomach during the exam like I had.
Remember, a positive attitude will help carry the day for you and help you achieve your goal of passing your PMP® certification exam.
One important recommendation I have for those taking the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam is that to manage the time allotted to answer each question on the exam. Call it budgeting, call it time management, call it whatever you want; but do it! You need to walk into the examination room with a clear plan on how many questions you will answer per hour, when you plan on taking a break, and what you will do if time seems to be running out.
Remember that the exam is composed of 200 questions that you must answer within 4 hours. That's 1.2 minutes per question. Once you begin, the clock starts and will not stop even when you take a break. So plan your approach - say for the first 2 hours, answer all easy questions first and mark those difficult ones for later. Be sure to read all the questions carefully and understand them before you answer. Then take a 10 minute break before going back to the harder questions for the rest of the allotted time. By doing this you will be able to finish the whole exam on time.
But that's just one of many possible approaches and you should define your own. And by having a plan and implementing it you will relieve a lot of the exam pressure. So plan well, and budget your time wisely to succeed.
One of the important aspects of preparing for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification is going through a process of answering a series of sample PMP® exam questions that are purposely meant to test your readiness for the big day. As you may already have realized, studying for the exam requires a lot of work, including taking numerous sample tests to find out if you can cope with the question format of the actual exam.
This is why we recommend that you take at least 1,000 sample PMP® exam questions using a PMP® exam simulator. This means that you simulate a complete 4 hours exam to gauge your ability to finish the actual exam on time. As a general rule of thumb: If you are able to correctly answer at least 85% or more of the practice questions on your first try, then you are ready for the PMP® Certification Exam.
It is important that you take these PMP® exam questions in sample exams as they prepare you for the rigors of the exam day, and the type of questions that will be asked. It is even possible that you will encounter questions similar to the ones on your sample tests during the actual exam.
Remember that Project Management Institute (PMI)® does not release the actual number of questions that you need to answer correctly in order to pass. They are very vague about it and you can read up on the exact scoring system in the PMP® Handbook. The best that you can do is to take a shot at practicing with sample exams using a PMP® exam simulator. That helps you to get prepared.
To help you decide what to look for in a great PMP® Exam Simulator, watch this short video:
Top 10 Features of a Great PMP Exam Simulator
After weeks of studies and training, you are now ready to take your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. You have invested enough effort and prepared yourself for the exam day on a positive note. But having a positive attitude towards your exam is just one half of the story. You also need to feel right on D-day.
It is important that you are comfortable and relaxed. One of the things that you can do to achieve this is by making sure that you dress right for your PMP® certification exam. Feeling good in your clothes helps a lot to keep you focused on the task ahead. For this exam you not only want to be prepared but also relaxed and comfortable. Just imagine how distracting a scratchy clothing tag in your neck would feel during a 4 hour, stressful exam!
So dress comfortably and dress in layers. That way you can easily take off a layer if the room is too warm. And bring a sweater or light jacket that you can put on should the room be too cool for you. Remember, if you are comfortable and your clothing is just right for the temperature, chances are you will feel better and the right answers to the exam questions might just naturally come out.
The Project Management Institute (PMI)® has developed a set of criteria and credentials for recognizing Project Management professionals worldwide. The credentialing process is fairly rigorous, including: three to five documented years of work experience in project management, 35 hours of project management related training, and successful completion of the multiple-choice Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. The amount of material on the PMP® Exam is vast and can seem overwhelming, but don’t be intimidated! Having and using the 7 items in this article will ensure you are prepared to meet the exam head-on and achieve optimal results both on exam day and in your future career.
1. PMP® Credential Handbook
Including everything from an overview of the PMI® certification program to exam policies and procedures, the PMP® Credential Handbook is available for free online at: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/~/media/PDF/Certifications/pdc_pmphandbook.ashx. The first 20 pages of the handbook cover many exam basics and are a must-read for every potential examinee. Becoming familiar with the application process, payment policy, and examination administration rules will go a long way to making the actual exam day less stressful.
The material on the PMP® Exam is vast and detailed. This is not an examination you can “cram” for in a couple of weekends. Plan to take the exam after spending 10-12 solid weeks of studying for an hour or two nearly every day. Naturally, this schedule will have to be flexible enough to fit in with the rest of your responsibilities and commitments.
3. A Study Plan And Schedule
As project managers, we are well aware of the importance of a plan and schedule. Create a study schedule over 10-12 weeks that fits with the rest of your responsibilities. Depending on your job and household commitments, you may need more or less time. Take a practice exam to evaluate your weaknesses and consider spending more time on those areas. Be realistic in how much material you can cover each day and set weekly goals to track your progress. Don’t forget to include time for refreshing breaks and activities that you enjoy.
4. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide)
The PMP® Exam is based on the most current version of the PMBOK® Guide. Specific principles include communication, cost management, human resources, integration, procurement, quality, risk, scope, and time management. It is essential to understand each of these topics individually and how they work together for overall project management success.
5. Self Study Course
It bears repeating: The PMP® Exam covers a large amount of material in a relatively short period of time. Don’t be discouraged! While many project managers are able to successfully schedule their time to achieve optimal results, almost everyone can benefit from an online or self study course.
The latest generation of self study courses come to you as PMP Podcasts/Videocasts, that you download to your laptop or portable player. In this way your PMP® Exam preparation becomes completely portable.
Self study PMP Podcasts help divide the material into manageable portions and assist you in developing a successful schedule. Focused instruction over a specific timeline will help you meet your study goals and may count toward the required 35 hours of project management instruction.
6. PMP® Exam Prep Book
There are a wide variety of PMP® Exam prep books available. Some people call them “study guides”. They complement and explain the dry concepts from the PMBOK® Guide and having one at hand in your studies is an absolute must. Go to your local bookstore and select one that fits with your style of learning and covers a variety of high- and low-yield topics.
7. Questions. Questions. Questions.
A large number of free PMP® Exam sample questions are available from hundreds of resources on the internet. These free mock exams are a good start, but because they are free they will only go so far for you. You will also want to subscribe to an online PMP® Exam Simulator to have access to the highest possible quality of samples.
Your study plan must include answering as many practice questions as possible including at least seven to eight complete 200-question practice exams. This type of preparation will help gauge your study progress and prepare you for the format of the real thing. You will be nervous on exam day, but becoming intimately familiar with types and formats of questions will help reduce anxiety and prepare you for success.
To sum up, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure you are prepared for the PMP® Exam. Including these 7 items in your studies will reduce anxiety and eliminate stress associated with the exam day. Study hard and good luck!
This YouTube video shows 7 items, concepts and best practices that you should be aware of and apply in your PMP® Exam preparation.