On the Day of the PMP® Exam

09 December, 2013

The one thing that unites humanity – the single thing that we have in common – is that we are all unique. This makes giving advice difficult, because what works for one person might not be effective for someone else. However, when it comes to the Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam, Roy Keane’s maxim – fail to prepare; prepare to fail – applies in spades.

The first thing to appreciate is that the Project Management Institute’s insistence that the PMP® exam be taken in an official Pro-Metric centre means that PMP® exam slots are not as available as you might think. Applying for the PMP® exam does not mean that you will be given a slot tomorrow. More likely, the nearest available slot will be at least a month away. So get your application in early, ideally during your PMP® exam preparation course. Again, be aware of your own preferences. Are you a morning and afternoon person? Make sure you pick a slot that catches you at your best.

For people outside Dublin, especially for those in the Real Capital, it is annoying to learn that the only Pro-Metric centre we can use is in Barrow Street, Dublin. There are Pro-Metric centres in Bishopstown and Little Island but, apparently, there are Pro-Metric centres and Pro-Metric centres. Sadly, the Cork ones are not adequate for the job of hosting a PMP® exam.

So, unless you live in Dublin and have completed your PMP® exam preparation course in Dublin, your PMP® voyage will involve travel. This is a pity for those of you who have done your PMP® training in Cork, Galway or Limerick because you might not get a chance to visit the venue before you do the exam. One thing the Barrow Street centre has in its favour though is that it is, literally, next door to the Grand Canal DART Station. When you exit the station, turn left and walk to the end of the block.



Straight ahead of you will be the Grand Mill Quay building. This houses the Pro-Metric Centre.



You will see the sign for the Pro-Metric Centre on the entrance straight in front of you. If you have the opportunity to visit the place during opening hours before the exam, it is a good idea to call in. This is where the driving theory test takes place, so it can get busy. It is a bit disorienting – on entering, you will find yourself in a sort of hallway, with posters on the walls. Reception will be down the corridor on your left. If things are quiet, the receptionist should be able to explain where to go on the day. If there is no one at the desk, then take a look down the corridor to your right. This is where the exam hall is. It is here that you will have to present yourself on the day. Another useful landmark: the restrooms should be straight ahead of you when you enter reception.

Having gone through school exams and, perhaps, college exams, you will be aware of what works for you in terms of how to tackle the day. I have always believed that if I do not know the material now, it is too late. So I never study on the day of an exam but, when I was awaiting my PMP® exam there was a woman earnestly studying one of those PMP® preparation books. I remember thinking that it looked like a hedgehog, there were so many post-its marking each page. If you take that approach, then make sure you bring whatever material you need along with you.

However, no matter what sort of student you are, treat this like an international flight. When you go to the airport, you have to bring your passport and flight tickets. Similarly, when you go to the PMP® exam, make sure you have a printout of your PMP® exam booking and your passport. Also, make sure the name on the booking form matches that on your passport. They take identification very seriously.

I guess the big question everyone asks is: am I up for it? Have I enough work done to tackle this exam? Taking a PMP® exam preparation course is a good start. Any of the PMI Registered Education Providers (like Velopi) will provide an excellent foundation for your PMP® exam. However, it is important that you strike while the iron is hot, or in this case, while the material is fresh. Try to schedule your PMP® exam within two months of the PMP® preparation course. The longer you leave it, the less likely you are ever to do it. Trying to study the PMP® material while holding down a full time job and dealing with family demands is difficult, but you need to make the time available for it. Again, it depends on your personality. Some people can study in a crowded room with music or television on. Others need total quiet and a ticking clock can drive them to distraction. Some of you need long blocks of study time, whereas others will do better with more, shorter stints.

The big thing though is to make sure you have several four-hour blocks where you can attempt trial PMP® exams. This is a vital part of Velopi’s Blended Learning Solution and will really help you to appreciate what a four-hour, 200-question, multiple-choice PMP® exam involves. The PMI has some very subtle tricks to catch out the unwary – having several answers that look the same is one of them. When your concentration levels are dropping, you might read the question correctly, but pounce on the first answer that looks right, rather than reading each option through. In the trial PMP® exams, you will learn quickly how long you can answer PMP® questions without losing concentration. Make sure you plan breaks before this happens.

What you do in the break depends on your disposition. Some people like to eat or drink something. Others just need to walk around and stretch a bit. It is well worth stopping for five minutes to recharge your batteries. Armed with your PMP® exam pit-stop strategy, you should have nothing to fear on the day.

But the Pro-Metric people will do their best. They will provide you with a locker to put all your stuff. This includes everything in your pockets and your watch! You have to go through something like airport security before you are allowed into the hall – one of the staff will scan you with a hand-held wand. However, the PMP® exam is taken in your own little cubicle. You will be furnished with a pencil and paper and the staff will ensure your terminal is set up for the PMP® exam.

The first screens will explain how the exam will work, where the calculator is and so on. If you have done the simulated PMP® exams, you can skim through this quickly. However, do not rush to start the actual exam. You have fifteen minutes to study the demo, so use that time to download your knowledge of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK®) onto the paper. Essentially, you should draw the knowledge areas / process groups grid and record all the earned value, net present value and communications channel formulae. This will provide useful support in the heat of the PMP® exam, when some of these will fly out of your head.

Once you click to start the exam, you have four hours and it will be very similar to the simulated PMP® exams you did at home. Do not forget your pit-stop strategy and just raise your hand when you want a break. Leaving the room involves returning and the security scan again. You also have to sign out and sign in again. But the main thing is to do the stretching and eating that you found helpful in the trial PMP® exams.

When you are finished, there will be a slight delay before you get your results. You will be expected to fill in a survey in this time. It is a brilliant way to get people to do your survey, but I suspect that the results are biased as PMP® exam candidates might equate their answers to their ultimate PMP® exam results, so will be inclined to say good things about the experience. On completing the survey, you will get your result. Hopefully, you will pass it and enjoy a sense of euphoria as you savour the moment of becoming a Project Management Professional (PMP)®. The staff will print off your result and you can leave the building with a genuine sense of accomplishment. But this will only happen if you are well prepared.

For more details of Velopi’s PMP® exam preparation classes, please visit our training page or contact us directly.
 

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