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Guide To PMP Exam Question Type

It is always a good idea to prepare with a good understanding of the PMP® exam questions type. After all, PMP® certification could be one of the best investments of your life. There are plenty of reasons why the importance of a PMP® certification is consistently rising for the past few years. Most of the Project Manager positions in the market today expect one to have it. A certification is a conspicuous way of telling the world that you are a credible resource and that you take your profession seriously. It gives you the lingo and vocabulary to communicate effectively with a diverse set of audience who could belong to different industries. It gives you a structured approach which is applicable to almost any kind of project. When you are aiming for something that could drastically change your life, you better put your best foot forward. I have seen a lot of people preparing for the PMP® without understanding the pattern and types of exam questions. This leads to a lot of futile efforts at times. In this article, we will have a quick look at the PMP exam question types and how they are spread across various stages of a project.

A PMP® certification exam has 200 multiple-choice questions. Each PMP® question has 4 options where only one is correct. These questions are spread across 5 different domains of a project, therefore before we get in to PMP question types, let’s go through what a different phase a project has. The PMP exam is designed to test you across all these phases. They come together to form the project lifecycle and each phase leads to the next making it an inseparable chain. What’s common in all these phases is the that each phase must exactly define the work deliverables, the resources involved and control and approval benchmarks.

Five Stages of a Project

Project Initiation – This is where the project kick starts, and the focus is to develop a generic understanding of the project. It involves a business case which basically includes a cost benefit analysis to assess the feasibility of the project. You may see critical stakeholders working to see if the project deserves a greenlight or not. If it is approved, then one may need to create a project charter.

Project Planning – This phase aims to create a blueprint for the team to work with. The primary reason is to clearly define the goals of the project. The goals should be specific, measurable, realistic and timebound. One should try to create an environment of collaboration in achievement of these goals and should try to break them into small tasks.

Project Execution – As the name suggests this is where the deliverables are realized, and it usually begins with a “Kick off” meeting. You will see that teams are developed, and resources are assigned during this phase. The project manager would be involved in setting up project tracking systems and updating project schedule and plans as needed.

Project Monitoring – Even though this is a separate phase, it is often conducted in conjunction with the Project Execution phase to avoid any lapses.

Project Closure – During this phase contractual roles are concluded, and valuable contributions are recognized. You may even see a ceremony to mark the closing of the project. Project Manager is responsible to understand what went well, what did not go well and what are the areas of improvement for the next project. One would also work on assessing the final budget and archiving the documents in repository.

Now that we have a good understanding of the various phases of a project, let’s have a look a different type of PMP® exam questions.

Situational Questions – One of the core skills for a PM role is to filter relevant information from a lot of unnecessary stuff. That’s why you have situational questions on the exam. These questions are lengthy and throw a lot of random information at you. You may feel that it has many correct answers but that is obviously to catch you off guard. The key is to eliminate incorrect answers. Focus on extreme words like MOST, ALWAYS, NEVER ttc. to eliminate the choices.

Formula Based Questions – You have around 49 formulas in the PMBOK guide. These formulas are used for basic calculations as well as some complex workings such as probability. The key to these questions is memorizing the formulas and practicing. You may find these questions particularly easy or hard depending on your mathematical abilities. But whatever is your level, you must be able to crack this part with appropriate time and effort.
Knowledge Based Questions – Typically these questions will be in direct reference to the content in the PMBOK guide. These questions test you on your understanding of various charts, tools and techniques inputs, outputs etc. These should be easy to handle if you have read the PMBOK Guide well.

Interpretational Questions – These PMP® questions will test you on your ability to apply the concepts you have learned to infer the true state of a situation on condition. You would need to choose the option that best describes the given state in the question.

Technique Based Questions – You will learn various tools and techniques during your prep for the exam. These PMP® exam questions will grill you on your familiarity with these tools and techniques. These questions are different than the knowledge-based questions however and would require you to infer how a specific tool or technique (relative to a certain Project Management Process) applies to the given situation.

Each domain has relative weightage in the exam and it is always a good idea to plan your effort accordingly. I also suggest that you should a spend money on buying prep questions for PMP® if your education provider is not providing it.


  • Tunde
    February 8, 2019

    Useful information, thx.

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