What is the PMP Examination Structure?

July 26, 2020
Fahad Usmani
PMP Examination Structure c

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:

PMP exam structure

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.

Summary

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:

  1. What is the PMP?
  2. What are the PMP Eligibility Criteria?
  3. What is the PMP Application Process?
  4. How Expensive is the PMP Certification?
  5. What is the PMP Exam Structure? (You are here)

PMP Question Bank

This is the most popular Question Bank for the PMP Exam. To date, this PMP Question Bank has helped over 10,000 PMP aspirants pass the PMP exam. 

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PMP Formula Guide

This is the most popular Formula Guide for the PMP Exam. If you face difficulty with attempting mathematical questions for the PMP exam.

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Speak Your Mind

  • My girlfriends father will only let me marry her if I get the PMP in first attempt. I have been in project management for a cotton farmer for 4302 hours, and am waiting for the postman to bring my final year results. Should I marry my neighbours son instead?

  • Hi I’m Rashmitha
    I’m doing MBA. I would like to do PMP certification course with MBA. What is the process and how many exams we should face? I don’t have basic idea also and I know it will be very useful for my future.

  • By the way, we got funding and actually implemented to completion the staff quarters project; installed sport facilities and equipment for the school football team and equipped the school computer lab… I was effectively the Project Manager for these… Hoping this extra information helps…
    Thanks

    • Hello Mr Paul,

      Sorry for replying you late as I was in vacation.

      I see that you have four year bachelor degree that means you should have at least 4500 hours of PM experience.

      Now, find your total hours of PM experience in your part time job and in your current job. Add these two (One year equals to aprx 2000 hours). See if it covers 4500 hours. If not, then try to find any PM activities in your other jobs, converts into hours and add all. Now, see the result again.

      I’m positive that you qualify for the PMP exam.

  • Hello there,

    I have just enrolled for my PMP Exam preparatory course with POMI of Ghana. I would like you to kindly assess my eligibility based on the following:

    1, I hold a four-year bachelor’s degree (convocation in 2004)
    2, One year part-time as project team member (Enumerator)
    3, Banking (from 2003-2007) – focused on implementing corporate social responsibility policy where I coordinated the construction of a two Clinics (antenatal care and Sanatorium) for 2 years, 2005-2007;
    4, 2008-2010 as Vice Principal of a Senior School I coordinated efforts in mobilising funds for financing of the construction of staff quarters, provision of sporting facilities and equipment for the school and provision of laptops for the school computer lab;
    5, During the same period, I coordinated fundraising efforts which built my first Village Consumer shop (2010) and currently coordinating the renovation of my Village Nursery School (April 2011 to date)
    6, I am in full time project management from June 2011 (through to June 15, 2015) where I am the Project M&E Officer.

    Grateful if you could kindly put these together and see if I am eligible to pursue the PMP qualification.

    Thanks

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