The PMP Exam

What does the PMP exam test?

Before we start talking about the things that the PMP Certification Exam is meant to test in a candidate, let’s take a look at the some of the common fallacies about the exam. The PMP Certification Exam isn’t meant to test your:

    Project management experience.
    General Knowledge or common sense.
    Understanding of industry practices.
    Expertise in using software tools.
    Theoretical knowledge gained at a management school.
    Intelligence Quotient.

What the PMP Certification Exam does in fact check is:

    Whether you have a good knowledge of PMI’s processes.
    Do you have a thorough knowledge of the technical vocabulary and terms that are used to describe the various processes.
    Will you be able to apply these processes in a wide variety of situations.
    Do you have the aptitude to apply the correct formulae to scheduling, costing, estimating etc.
    Do you understand your responsibilty as a professional as it applies to project management.
A word on the Exam Structure

The PMP Exam consists of exactly 200 questions, covering a broad range of topics, but out of the 200 only 175 questions are scored and counted. The other 25 questions are called pretest questions and thought to be experimental questions that PMI evaluates for use on future exams. These 25 pretest questions are not counted towards the individual’s grade but here’s the tricky part – you will never know which questions will be counted and which are the experimental one’s.

The PMP exam consists of questions from six performance domains and the percentage for each domain is as follows:

    Initiating the project – 11%
    Planning the project – 23%
    Executing the project – 27%
    Monitoring and controlling the project – 21%
    Closing the project – 9%
    Professional and social responsibility -9%
How much will you need to score to pass the exam?

The PMP exam is a pass/fail type exam. In order to pass it, you need to answer 141 questions correctly out of the 175 scored questions. That’s about 8 1 % of the questions, which is an extremely high percentage for an exam such as this. You should aim to give it your best shot and to make sure that your best efforts help you get to the passing score set by the PMI.

How much does the PMP exam cost?

I highly recommend you to become a member of the Project Management Institute before taking the test. The membership fee is $129.00 which includes $119.00 membership fee + $10.00 activation fee for new members. You can apply for the membership through the official website –, or by calling the PMI at (610)-356-4600 and requesting an application form.

Thereafter, you’ll be provided with a membership number which can be utilized to receive a $150.00 discount on the exam’s normal fee which is paid by non-members. After the discount, the examination fee is $405.00 for a member in good standing. Now, if you decide not to become a PMI member, it will cost you $555.00 to apply to take the test.

Apart from the financial benefits, you’ll get a host of other incentives by joining the PMI, including a subscription to PM Network and PM Today, published by the PMI; discounts on project management books and PMI-sponsored events etc.

PMI’s credential maintenance requirements and ongoing education

The PMI expects all project management professionals to have an ongoing commitment to the field of project management apart from demonstrating their knowledge and experience. To promote such commitment, the PMI has set the requirement of completing at least 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every 36 months for PMP’s to maintain their certification status. Further information regarding PDU’s is provided in the PMI Continuing Certification Requirements Program Handbook which is provided to all PMPs.

The time limit for the test

The PMP exam lasts for 4 hours or 240 minutes. It can be rather unnerving to take a test while the clock is ticking away. Although it is a long exam, candidates get a substantial amount of time to finish the test.

What’s the format of the question paper?

The PMP exam is of a multiple choice format, each question having four answers, marked A, B, C, and D, and only one of those four choices is correct. Unlike in some exams, there is no negative marking for incorrect answers, so it is a good idea for you to try and answer every question on the test. Leave any of the questions blank is not advisable.

What is the testing environment like?

The testing environment of the PMP certification exam is formal just like other professional exams. You can’t talk during the exam; no notes, books, paper, cell phones, PDAs, or any type of calculators are allowed into the examination room. You will be under the constant observation of the test proctor and the testing area is under recorded video and audio surveillance. A candidate should be mentally prepared for all this as it can be rather distracting and even unnerving at times.

So, that’s about all the information you need to know about the PMP exam. Prepare well and I wish you the best of luck. If you’re looking to get some exam practice under your belt before taking the PMP Exam, I highly recommend the PMP Exam Simulator Program. It is a PMI® R.E.P. approved program based on the current PMBOK® Guide and offers a very realistic Simulated PMP® exam environment. You also have the option to retake all exams as many times as you like and it offers 9 full exams with a total of 1800 questions with detailed explanations for all answers. Click Here to learn more.