Before the PMP exam starts, you will go through a short awareness session. The duration is 15 minutes, and it shows the user interface and explains how to navigate: how to select answers, how to mark a question for review, how to submit answers, etc.
15 minutes is more than enough time for this session and many PMP aspirants were completing it early and using the remaining time to note down important formulas or concepts.
The PMI has ended this practice immediately.
Now you cannot take any notes during the 15 minutes of the awareness session.
If you have completed the session, end it, start the exam, and then you can make your notes.
I used to recommend that PMP aspirants complete this awareness session quickly and use the remaining time to note down important formulas, concepts, or draw a memory map.
Now the situation is different and you must wait until the exam starts.
Below is the statement from Mr. Greg Schaffer, who is the manager of the REP program at the PMI.
He posted the following update in October 2016 in a LinkedIn group created for PMI REPs:
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve received a few questions regarding the practice of “brain dumps” while taking a PMI exam. Here is PMI’s policy on this matter and what will be enforced at Prometric testing centers:
- Testing candidates can start to utilize their scratch paper/note boards once the exam has officially started.
- Doing a “brain dump” during the 15 minute tutorial period or prior is not allowed.
- All scratch paper/note boards will be collected at the end of the testing session.
Please keep this policy in mind if you advise your students about this practice.”
Nowadays, Pearson VUE conducts the PMP test and they are following the same policy.
I have spoken with a few PMP exam takers and they told me that they were not allowed to make notes during the awareness session. In fact, they were told so before entering the exam room.
Sometimes, they did not provide the scratch paper to aspirants during the awareness session. Aspirants had to ask for it once the exam started.
How Will This Affect You?
The duration of the PMP exam is four hours and if you are well prepared, you can complete the test within 3 hours.
You will have enough time, so instead of having time left over you can use some before starting to make your notes. You need 5 minutes to prepare the brain dump, therefore, think strategically and make brain dumps immediately after you start the exam.
I have received many emails from PMP aspirants regarding the brain dump. They thought that it was banned.
This is not true. You cannot prepare your brain dump during the awareness session, but you can do it once the exam starts and your clock starts ticking.
Banning brain dumps during the awareness session has more of a psychological impact than anything else. It will not affect you much; it takes only a few minutes to prepare it and you can do it once the exam starts. Time is not an issue if you’re well prepared. Do not worry; complete the awareness session, start the exam, note down important points on a scratch paper, and then start answering questions.
Did you prepare a brain dump for your exam and how was it useful? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.