The PMP certification is the most widely recognized in project management and attaining it is the dream of many professionals. The PMP certification validates your knowledge, skills, and capabilities of leading and directing projects.
You must go through a lengthy process to earn this title. The grand finale is a computer-based exam. Once you pass this test, you are a PMP.
The test consists of multiple-choice questions. A good understanding of the PMP exam structure will help you in your preparation.
What is the PMP Exam Structure?
You have to understand the PMP exam structure if you are going to attempt the exam. A project has five phases: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing. The PMP exam questions are distributed throughout these phases, in addition to another domain, which is known as professional conduct and code of ethics.
Initially, it was a separate domain in the exam, but now the PMI has distributed it uniformly among the other five domains.
Now, let’s get to the point.
The PMP exam is composed of 200 multiple-choice questions. Out of these 200 questions, 25 are pretest; the marks for these questions do not affect your score. These pretest questions will be placed randomly throughout the exam, and you will not be able to distinguish them from other scorable questions.
As you cannot differentiate, you should assume that all 200 questions are scorable. These pretest questions are used to test the validity of future examinations.
The duration of the exam is four hours. There is no scheduled break; however, this does not mean that you cannot take one. Keep in mind that the clock will continue to count down even if you are on a break.
Before your test begins, you will be shown an awareness session. This session will explain how to navigate the exam: how to select and answer, how to mark a question for later review, etc. This session lasts for 15 minutes.
As soon as you finish the awareness, your test will start. Please note that 15 minutes is the maximum duration for this session. You will not be allowed to make any notes.
After submitting your answers, you have to complete a survey, and then you can see your results.
The awareness session and the survey are not added to your four hours of exam time.
The table below shows how the exam questions are distributed throughout each phase:
The above table is with reference to the latest PMP exam content outline, updated in June 2015, and the PMP handbook (available here) which was updated on 1 April, 2019.
Regarding the number of questions, you can estimate that:
- The initiating group will have 26 questions
- The planning group will have 48 questions
- The executing group will have 60 questions
- The monitoring & controlling group will have 50 questions
- The closing group will have 16 questions.
Keep in mind that questions based on Professional and Social Responsibility are distributed among these process groups. Moreover, the number of questions covering this topic is not publicly known (to the best of my knowledge).
Note that the initiating and closing process groups have the lowest number of questions. If you do not perform well in these two groups and you receive below target grades, another below target grade from any other group can crush your dreams of passing the exam on your first attempt.
Tips for Attempting the Exam
Keep the following points in mind:
- You have to answer 200 questions in 4 hours, which means 1.2 minutes for each question. Manage your time accordingly.
- Don’t linger on tough questions. Leave them for later review.
- Since there is no negative marking, don’t leave anything unanswered.
- Try to save 25 minutes at the end of your time to review the answers you marked for later.
The PMP exam has 200 questions and you have to finish these questions in four hours. If you are well prepared, this is enough time to complete all questions and pass the exam. Attempt all questions and make sure that you have enough time to revise before you hit the submit answer button.
Good luck with your PMP exam.
Here is where the series of five posts ends. If you require any further assistance, you can ask me in the comments section or refer to the PMI website.
The other posts are as follows: