The PMP exam is approximately a four-hour (230 minutes, plus two 10-minute breaks), 180-question test. The questions on the PMP exam are designed to measure your ability to apply project management principles and techniques, including planning and organizing, monitoring and controlling, risk management, and procurement management, among others.
The PMP exam currently has 180 questions, including five non-scored questions. The five non-scored questions are designed to validate questions for future exams. All the questions are randomly assigned, so you will not know which questions these are.
With more candidates taking the test by computer, PMI has added several new question types beyond the traditional multiple-choice questions. These are multiple responses, hot area, drag and drop, and fill-in-the-blank. Let’s look at each of the question types in more detail.
The multiple-choice question has one correct answer and three incorrect answers (distractors). The correct answer is often the most obvious, but it's not always. The distractors are usually more complicated or less evident than the right answer; however, they can sometimes be nearly identical to the solution. Remember that you need to choose the BEST response.
For these questions, if you are confident that you know the answer, mark it on the first pass over the test. Mark them off if you need more confidence, but you can eliminate two distractors. It may come down to guessing on your last pass over the questions. Remember, since there is no penalty for guessing, you should answer all questions.
The shortest answer choice tends to be correct because long answers have been known to misdirect readers into thinking there might be more than one possible solution for what seems like an easy question (for example: What does x equal?). If you're having difficulty deciding between two answers with similar lengths and wording but different solutions, try reading each statement out loud so that your ear can help guide which one sounds better than another - if an idea sounds off, then chances are there's something wrong somewhere!
Multiple-response questions make up roughly 15% of the actual PMP exam. You are given a scenario and then asked to choose the best responses from several possible answers. There may be more than four choices, and more than one will be the correct answer.
These can be tricky because they require you to use all the information provided to select your answer choices. These questions are often formatted in a way that is only sometimes obvious what the correct answer is. However, review each option carefully and understand how each one works with other options. In that case, you can select which ones provide more correct information than others. Multiple response-multiple answers are required to achieve the best solution (you cannot just choose one).
A hot area question is where you click on a graphic to select your answer. You can click anywhere on the diagram to choose. As with other questions, select the best area that meets the response requirements.
Drag and Drop
With drag-and-drop questions, you need to place items in a certain order by dragging them. For example, you may have a bunch of descriptions of project phases, and you need to put them in the correct order according to their lifecycles.
Essentially, these questions will ask you to arrange pieces/parts or lists chronologically. These types of questions also lend themselves to testing vocabulary and terminology. For example, drag the definition to the term or the term to the meaning.
Fill in the Blank
Fill-in-the-blank questions may occur on the exam in multiple ways. For example, the text of a multiple-choice or multiple-response question may contain a blank filled in by your selections. Actual fill-in-the-blank questions will have a paragraph or table missing some information and a box for you to enter that missing information. You must fill in the blanks with your answer to complete the question. For example, you might be given a table of information and then expected to type in the row number of a row meeting certain criteria.
There are many types of questions on the PMP exam, but you can learn how to do them well by practicing. You can read books, watch videos about the exam, or ask questions about someone who has passed it. Or you could take one or more sample tests, which I did before my exam.
I recommend doing at least one practice test so that you won't be surprised by any unexpected things when you're taking your actual exam. Practicing with each question type is essential, so you are prepared for any question on the exam.
Want to know more about how the exam is scored? Check out our article, What is the Minimum Passing Score for the PMP Exam? Also, be sure to download the PMI Certification Handbook and the Exam Content Outline available at PMI.org for the latest information.
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