Tips for the PMP® exam day

And now the PMP® exam day has finally come. You show your ID to the manager of the Prometric center, and then he takes you to your desk. The test program loads and you take the brief tutorial. Then a button appears "Click here to start your exam"...

Yes I have been there. As a PMP®, I am bound not to disclose any information about the exam. But I can offer you some useful PMP® exam tips, that will help you maximise your chances:

  1. Arrange your travel to the Prometric centre at least 30 days before the exam, in such a way that will allow you to arrive on time and with a good safety margin. Avoid a tight travelling schedule: even if everything goes smoothly, you will accumulate uneccessary stress that may weight on your exam performance. Additionally, make your travel arrangements in order to reach the Prometric centre in a good shape. For example, avoid driving long hours to reach the testing centre and then immediately start the exam. If avoiding a long journey is impossible, then consider travelling the day before the exam and spending some extra money for a night stay in a nearby hotel.
  2. Get familiar with the exam location in advance, possibly some days before taking the exam. Open Google Maps and search for the Prometric centre address. Take some time to examine the route to the centre, take some mental notes about it, then switch to Google Street View and have a look at the Prometric building and the surroundings. Why? Because if you are a little anxious, the day of the exam, walking from the parking lot or from the hotel to the exam centre, you will have the feeling that everything is under your control, and, having slashed the unknowns to the minimum, you will be able to keep yourself more focussed on the exam.
  3. Take a bottle of water, a RedBull or other energy drink of your choice and something to eat with you to the exam centre. You will need to let everything in a locker outside the exam room because it is forbidden to bring anything with you into the exam room. In case you get thirsty or hungry, you can always walk outside the exam room and ask to the manager to recover your food (just remember that the exam timer will not stop). Additionally, if you are a human being like me, after 2 hours and 100 questions you may realize that your concentration is vanishing. Then you know what to do: when you start getting unfocused get outside of the exam room, have your energy drink, take a 2 minute break, breathe, and then go back to the fight!
  4. Always check your pace during the exam, and remember to do this expecially during the first hour. Remember that you need to answer 50 questions per hour: it is very important that you keep this pace right from the start! After the 1st hour check your status: you need to be in the ballpark of 50 answered questions. If this is not true, if you are in the forties or, worse enough, in the thirties, then increase your pace immediately. The more gap you accumulate, the more difficult will be for you to complete the full 200 questions set. Check again your pace after 2 hours: you need to be in the ballpark of 100 answered questions, better if you are slightly above that mark, let's say you are answering question number 105. Remember that after 4 hours the exam system will automatically close your test and score it, and that only the answered questions will bring you points.
  5. Time is of the essence. If a question is too difficult for you to crack, do not loose to any more time with it, pick your best guess and move to the next question. There is no reason to dedicate more than 2 minutes to a single question: the exam is plenty of questions, so keep your valuable time to carefully answer the next ones.
  6. Never let a question unanswered. I will say this again, because this is really of a paramount importance: never let any question unaswered! Even if you do not have a clue of which the right answer may be, always pick your best guess before going to the next question. Remember that wrong answers receive no penalty. The exam system lets you mark questions for later review. My suggestion is: do not fall in this trap! You have just 72 seconds per question, and believe me, at the end of the exam you will be exausted and will have no time or energy left to go back and review questions. So repeat this mantra with me: as you go on, never let any question unaswered.
  7. Finally, a word about the translation aids. As you may know the PMP® exam questions are translated in 10 different languages: if you are not a native English speaker, then remember to book the proper translation aid when booking the exam on the Prometric website. Having said that, my suggestion is that, if you feel proficient enough with English (for example you studied on the English version of the PMBOK®, and you are familiar with the english project management terminology) then I suggest you to read the english version of the question and answers anyway. Do not read only the translated version.

I hope that you'll find these PMP® exam tips useful. Good luck with your exam!

Previous PMP exam tip: Getting ready for the PMP exam - the 600 hours study plan

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