The PMP exam is preceded by a short awareness session, and the duration of this session is 15 minutes. In this session you are made aware of the graphical user interface and how to use it; for example, how to select answers, how to mark a question for review, how to submit answers, etc.
I have always advised my visitors to complete this session as soon as possible and utilize the remaining time to note down important formulas, concepts, or draw a memory map. I tell them not to complete the awareness session quickly as it will start the exam immediately.
Now the situation is different.
You are no longer allowed to make notes on scratch paper during the awareness session. You now must wait until the exam starts. Once the exam starts, you can use the scratch paper and write notes.
Below is the response from Mr. Gregg Shaffer, who is the manager of the REP program at 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 centres:
- 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.
I have spoken with a few successful exam takers and can confirm that Prometric has started implementing this policy. You will be informed by Prometric before entering the room that you will not be allowed to take any notes on paper during the awareness session.
In some cases they did not provide the scratch paper during the awareness session. Aspirants had to ask for it once the exam had started.
How Will This Policy Affect You?
The duration of the PMP exam is four hours. I have observed that if you are well prepared for the exam, you will take 2.5 hours to 3.00 hours to complete the test, and in most cases not more than 3.5 hours.
So you can see that after completing the exam you will be left with enough time.
So instead of having leftover time at the end, you can utilize it before the exam. You will only spend about 5 to 10 minutes in noting down the brain dump, but it will help you a lot during the exam. Therefore, think strategically and note down the brain dump quickly before starting the exam.
I have received several emails from aspirants and they were concerned that the brain dump was completely banned.
No, this is not true. You cannot make your brain dump during the awareness session, but you can make and use it once the exam starts and your clock starts ticking.
So, no worries.
Prohibiting making the notes during the awareness session has more of a psychological impact. It is not going to affect you much. Making a brain dump will only take around five minutes, which you can do once the exam starts.
If you are well prepared, time will not be an issue for you, and you will complete the exam with time to spare. Therefore don’t worry; complete the awareness session, be patient, note down the brain dump, and then start the exam.