Preparing for the PMP® Exam: What Happens on the Day

08 March, 2013

Uncertainty causes stress. Given that every project is unique and all have their fair share of unknowns, the role of a project manager tends to be stressful. It is probably for that reason that the Project Management Institute (PMI) insists that aspiring Project Management Professionals (PMPs)® sit the PMP® exam in a Pro-Metric Centre, rather than in the comfort of their own homes, or even in the offices of PMI Registed training providers, like Velopi.

For PMI, the only approved Pro-Metric Centre for the Republic of Ireland is in Barrow Street, Dublin. It is right next door to the Grand Canal DART station, but candidates from out of town are recommended to spend the previous night in the nearby Grand Canal Hotel, which is only a short walk away. In this way you avoid risks associated with public transport or your own vehicle letting you down and thus reduce your stress levels.

Plan to arrive at the Centre in good time. It is a good idea to explore the area beforehand, so that you are sure you know where the centre is. When you enter the centre, there will be a reception desk to the left of the door. When I arrived, for an early exam, no one was at this desk. Turn right – the examination rooms are at the end of the corridor. There should be someone to help seated down there.

It is very formal. You have to present your passport and scheduling letter and they will check if you are booked in for the PMP® exam. They will scan you with one of those wands they use in airports if you set off the metal detector. If you are acceptable after all that, you are given a key to a locker and you can put your stuff safely away. That stuff will include your watch, any food/drink you may have and anything in your pockets – you are not allowed take anything (except the locker key) into the exam room with you. Do not argue with them - they are doing their job! So give them what they want and stay calm.

Then it’s just a case of waiting in the lobby area for your exam to start. Some people will use this interval to cram some last minute study in. Others will use the time to relax, arguing that, if they don’t know it now, they will never know it. If you have followed the process Velopi outlined to you in your PMP® Exam Preparation course and have done the PMP® sample exams you will be quielty confident.

Be aware too that the building is quite warm, so be sure not to wear very heavy clothes.It can also be surprisingly busy, because the driver theory tests are also conducted here (driving also being a stressful activity). You will be seated in front of a computer terminal and a pencil, together with a few sheets of paper will be provided. Ask for them, if they are not.

The staff member will have launched the PMP® exam program before you enter. This includes an introductory demo explaining how everything works. If you have attended a PMP® preparation course and have taken some of the Velopi trial exams, this will be familiar territory to you. Remember, your exam does not formally start until you run through this demo program. However, this demo has a 15 minute limit, so you will be forced to start the exam after that.

As outlined to you in the training course, this is effectively an additional 15 minutes of exam time so use it as we told you to! Do the memory dump: Fill out the knowledge areas/process groups grid and jot down all the formulae you will need – the earned value stuff, the number of communications channels, the PERT formulae etc. This activity will calm you down – remember the exam doesn’t start until you complete the demo or the 15 minutes expires. Drop us an e-mail if you want a free copy of our PMP® formula sheet.

You have 200 questions to answer and 4 hours to do it. If you have completed the trial exams (and we highly recommend that you do), you will have an idea of how long this exam will take you. You will also appreciate the physical strain of such a long exam, so plan your breaks if you need them. At least take a break after two hours, but a break every hour makes sense to soem people. Stick to whatever strategy you had used in the sample exams on our exam simulator.

Just put your hand up to get attention of a staff member and out you go. Note, you can’t take anything out of the room with you, except your locker key. You also will have to sign that you left the room and will be subjected to the wand on the way back in.

Some people find it a good idea to eat a quick snack at this point, do some stretching exercises and even close you eyes. There is a real danger of going into auto-pilot mode during a test of this length and losing your concentration. Use the breaks to clear your head.

Some people will rush through all of them and then return to those they skipped over. Others will study each one carefully and consider each of the multiple choices before moving on, never returning to the question. Again, stick to whatever stratgey worked for you in the sample exams and with what you agreed with the Velopi trainer. You can go back and review any questions you want to. It is a good idea to ensure you have selected an answer for all questions. There is no negative marking.

When you have attempted all 200 questions, you face the moment of truth: submitting your work for evaluation. It will be a nerve wracking few moments before the result comes back. Hopefully it will be a positive one and you will leave the room on a deserved high. Don’t forget that the staff will print off confirmation of your result for you. And be sure to let Velopi know your good news.

It is highly recommended that you take a PMP® preparation course before applying for the exam. While years of experience matter on the front line of project management, insights into the sorts of questions that the PMI will throw at you will assist no end on the day of the exam. Please contact Velopi to discuss your PMP® exam requirements.

Good luck!

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