In the PMP exam, you are going to see six types of questions. The types of questions are as follows:
- ITTO based questions
- Definitions based questions
- Situation based questions
- Formula based questions
- Interpretational questions
- Questions on professional and social responsibility
If you ask any PMP aspirant about the scariest questions on the PMP exam, you will most likely get the same answer.
Yes, these are ITTO based questions. ITTO stands for Input, Tools & Techniques, and Output.
Almost all PMP aspirants are scared of ITTO-based questions, and they try to find the easiest way to solve them. This is a never-ending process because there is no shortcut to solving these types of questions.
If you are preparing for the PMP exam, you might be afraid that you may fail the exam as a result.
If the only option you can think of is to memorize all ITTOs blindly; it’s not just you; almost everybody who is taking the PMP certification exam have the same thoughts.
The discussion on “how to solve ITTO based questions” has taken place many times in many PMP related forums, groups, and various blogs. However, it is still being discussed passionately because none of these forums, groups, or blogs deliver the right answer to satisfy the nerves of the PMP aspirants.
Every PMP aspirant is looking for a shortcut to tackle ITTO-based questions.
Anyway, in this blog post, I am going to talk about ITTO-based questions, and then how you should prepare yourself to handle these questions on the PMP exam.
What are ITTO Based Questions?
The PMBOK Guide is divided into knowledge areas. Each has many processes and every process has many inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs.
For example, let us consider the “Create WBS” process. In this process, you create the WBS.
Input is something that you will need to create an output. The input will be a scope management plan, a requirement document, and a scope statement, etc. These plans and documents are necessary to create the WBS; therefore, these are called “inputs.”
The next step is how you will create the WBS. You will use your experience, knowledge, and best judgment and break down the work into manageable parts, which is called the WBS. During this process, you have used your experience and knowledge, and this is your “Tools & Techniques”.
Obviously, this process was to create the WBS, so the output will be the “WBS”. So, you have seen what the Input, Output, and Tools & Techniques are.
A question on ITTOs may look like this:
What is the output of the Create WBS process?
- Risk Register
- Project Charter
- Stakeholder Register
- Scope Baseline
Let’s discuss each option one by one.
A risk register is an output of the Identify Risks process, the project charter is an output of the Develop Project Charter process, and the stakeholder register is an output of the Identify Stakeholders process.
So, none of these are correct.
Now we are left with the last option, i.e., scope baseline, but it does not seem to be correct in prima facie. If you dig further into the scope baseline, you will find out that the scope baseline consists of scope statement, WBS, and WBS Dictionary.
Since it consists of WBS and the name of the process is Create WBS, this must be the correct answer.
This is an example of a question based on ITTOs that you are going to see in the exam. The questions may also ask for the input of a process, or they may give you the name of the process and ask you to identify the correct tool and technique for the given process.
How many ITTO based questions will you see on your Exam?
There used to be many direct ITTO-based questions on the PMP exam. I believe an aspirant saw around 10 questions.
However, these days there are fewer direct questions on ITTOs. A few successful exam takers told me they got two or three on their exam. Although every exam is unique and this number can be greater, I haven’t had any successful exam takers telling me they got many ITTO based questions.
Currently (as of Oct 2019), I believe you may or may not see direct ITTO based questions. However, there will be many indirect questions based on ITTOs, therefore, it is in your best interest to study ITTOs. Answering indirect ITTO-based question is much easier than answering a direct ITTO-based question.
How I Dealt with ITTO Based Questions on my Exam
I did not have a strategy to deal with ITTO-based questions during my PMP exam preparation. Moreover, I didn’t look for any strategy, shortcuts, or tricks to remember ITTOs.
My focus was on my study materials and the PMBOK Guide. I read the books along with the PMBOK Guide. I drew some memory maps to visualize the process flow and find the errors in it. This helped me understand ITTOs and the process flow better.
I repeated this process many times, and in the end, I was very confident in solving ITTO-based questions.
How Should you Prepare Yourself for ITTO-Based Questions?
The PMBOK Guide has 49 processes, and each process has many ITTOs. It is difficult to memorize all those ITTOs, however you can understand these ITTO easily as the relationship among ITTOs is logical and can be interpreted easily.
Whenever I visit any PMP exam related forum or blog, I see that many PMP aspirants are asking questions such as:
- How do I memorize or remember ITTOs?
- How do I solve questions based on ITTOs?
- Is it necessary to memorize ITTO to pass the PMP exam?
In different places, you will find various suggestions, tricks, and tips, but here I am going to tell you how you should deal with ITTOs.
Before going any further, let me ask you a few questions:
- Is it possible for everyone to memorize all ITTOs?
- Does the PMI want you to memorize these ITTOs to pass the exam?
- Why does the PMI ask questions based on ITTOs in the exam?
The PMBOK Guide, 6th edition has ten knowledge areas, and these knowledge areas have 49 processes. These processes have hundreds of Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs and I doubt that every one of you can memorize all these ITTOs.
Also, I don’t think the purpose of the PMP exam is to test your memorization power. PMI did not design ITTOs to be memorized, and if you are doing this to pass your exam, then you are exploiting the whole certification process, and most importantly, you are ignoring the logic behind these ITTOs.
You may wonder what is the purpose of ITTO based questions and why does the PMI want you to answer these questions?
The real intention behind ITTO based questions is to check your understanding of:
- How do the processes flow?
- How are the processes interrelated to one another?
- How do the processes depend on one another?
- How do the processes affect one another?
Therefore, you must take some time to think about it, study the processes in the PMBOK Guide as many times as you can, and visualize the relationships among the processes.
In the earlier example where the question is asking about the output of the Create WBS process, although you may guess that the output is WBS, this option is not given. The given option is scope baseline, which consists of WBS, WBS dictionary, and scope statement.
Therefore, the answer is scope baseline. Likewise, there will be many ITTO-based questions on the exam where answers will not be clear.
Read the PMBOK Guide, understand the concepts, and try to visualize the process. Understand each ITTO and think about why we need them in that particular process. Try to create an ITTO chart on an A3-size paper randomly and repeat it every day. It will help you remember the location of each ITTO.
You can also create flashcards for ITTOs and play with them in your free time.
I strongly recommend you create flashcards for process groups and the knowledge areas map available on page 25 of the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition, and try to arrange them as given on page 25. If you are able to do so, you can get many answers correct in the PMBOK Guide.
If you follow the above guideline, understanding ITTOs is not as difficult as they seem.
ITTO based questions constitute a considerable part of the exam questions, and they can help you to score high marks if answered correctly. Unfortunately, many PMP aspirants do not try to understand the logic behind these ITTO based questions and either avoid them, or try to memorize them blindly.
Please note that these ITTOs are not developed to be memorized; they are created to make you understand the project management process flow. You are dismissing all logic behind the ITTOs and devaluing the PMP certification process if you try to memorize or avoid them. Moreover, memorizing ITTOs will not help you much, as there are fewer direct ITTO-based questions than indirect ITTO-based questions.
Do you find ITTO based question difficult to solve? What strategy are you planning to use for these types of questions? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.