PMP FAQs: All that you need to know about PMP (Part 1)

What is PMP?

PMP certification has become one of the most sought-after global certifications for project managers across all industry domains. It has become one of the key disciplines in overall strategic management and is considered more of a science than an art.

Project Management used to be one of the most ill-defined profession, with no formal discipline and practice. In 1969, PMI (Project Management Institute) undertook the noble cause of creating a body of knowledge for project management and also creating enough awareness in the industry about the need for formalizing the role of a project manager and also laying the foundational standards for project management.

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), was developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) as a standard guideline. Today, PMBOK guide is being adopted by organizations across the globe. PMBOK guide has been evolving and today we have the 6th Edition of PMBOK guide. The most accepted method of demonstrating one’s understanding of PMI's project management standard (PMBOK) is by achieving the PMP certification. The PMP certification has grown in its stature to become one of the most sought-after and internationally recognized management credentials since early 2000.

What is the Current outlook on PMP credential?

PMP certification is becoming more and more valuable globally. The industry is moving towards a stage where all project managers will be expected to be PMP certified. Although PMP certification has been around for almost 20 years now, the value of the certification is only growing by leaps and bounds. The ROI of doing a PMP certification is very high. A PMP credentialed Project Manager not only gets preference for critical project management assignments, he/she gets paid better than a non-PMP credentialed Project Manager.

PMP certified Project Managers are working across industry domains including IT, Construction, Banking, Pharma, Energy/Power, Telecom, Petroleum, Automotive, Technology to name a few.

It is consistently being ranked in the top 5 industry certifications across global career surveys. And in project management domain, PMP is the No. 1 professional certification for Project Managers worldwide.

There are more than 850,000 active PMI members and more than 750,000 active PMP credential holders globally, and the number is only growing.

What are the Top 10 Reasons to earn a PMP credential?

Getting a certification is a key step in career development which recognizes competence and qualified individuals. Here are the top ten reasons why project management practitioners opt to become PMP-certified.

1. PMP credential shows your commitment and devoir to the project management profession.

2. PMP credential recognizes your knowledge, abilities, and skills in project management.

3. More companies are employing PMP credential holder as project managers.

4. PMP credential holders earn 23% more on average than their counterparts.

5. PMP credential can lead to brighter career opportunities and advancement.

6. PMP credentials prepare you for greater and better job responsibilities.

7. Organizations with more than 1/3rd of project managers as PMP certified are able to deliver more of their projects on time and within budget.

8. PMP credential builds self-confidence as a project manager.

9. PMP credentials allow for greater acknowledgment and recognition from peers and also from employers.

10. PMP credential enhances the profession by creating a large community of like-minded professionals who are on the same understanding of the profession.

You may also like: Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Go into Project Management

What is the PMP Exam format?

The PMP exam is designed to equitably measure and gauge the project management knowledge of an examinee. The PMP exam covers concepts and theories which are directly derived from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide. The PMBOK® Guide is an internationally recognized standard (IEEE Std 1490-2011) which sketches about the project management fundamentals which is applicable and acceptable to a wide range of industries.

The PMP exam currently is based on PMBOK Guide 6th Edition. This was launched in September 2017 and this Edition brought changes in the PMP exam with effect from 26th March 2018.

  • The PMP exam comprises of 200 total multiple choice questions.

  • There are 25 randomly placed "pre-test questions" which do not count towards the pass/fail determination.

  • Individuals have 4 hours to complete the exam.

  • There is no negative marking for wrong answers.

Exam content reflects the knowledge areas and processes based on the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. The PMP examination will have questions from the 49 project management processes, 5 project management process groups and the 10 knowledge areas as described in PMBOK v6. The percentage of questions from each process group is described below:

  • Initiating (13%)

  • Planning (24%)

  • Executing (31%)

  • Controlling and Monitoring (25%)

  • Closing (7%)

One can refer to the PMP Exam Content Guideline for more details about the exam content and list of tasks performed under each of the above 5 domains at the below link:

What is the Passing Score in PMP Exam?

Since 2007, PMI does not publish any standard passing score for the PMP exam anymore. That means the passing scores for different individuals may be different based on the difficulty levels of the questions for specific tests. This makes PMP exam seem to be a little mysterious.

Historically, the last passing scores published by PMI for PMP exam were:

1. 137 out of 200 (till 2005)

2. 106 questions correct out of 175 scored questions. (between 2005-2007)

In the current scenario, one should simply aspire to answer as many questions correctly as possible. A score above 75% should be a minimum target to be safe.

After submitting the final test, the result is declared as Pass/Fail and the proficiency levels in the five domains are declared. Proficiency levels can be “Proficient”, “Moderately Proficient”, “Below Proficient”, etc.  There is no absolute score awarded in the final result.

One will have to receive an overall PASS grade to pass the exam.

Hence, for an exam taker, the most important thing to be considered for preparing well for the exam will include being fully conversant with the entire PMBOK guide, all 5 process groups, 10 knowledge areas and 49 processes will be key. Selective reading and preparation will be detrimental.

Related reading: Top 10 tips to crack the PMP exam in your first attempt

What are the prerequisites for applying for PMP Exam?

PMI has laid down some prerequisites for applying for the PMP exam. Following are the details:

Option 1

Option 2

Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)

Four-year degree

7,500 hours leading and directing projects

4,500 hours leading and directing projects

60 months of project management experience

36 months of project management experience

35 PDU of project management education

35 PDU of project management education

What does PDU stand for?

PDU stands for Professional Development Unit. 1 PDU is equal to 1 contact hour of project management training.

It is wise to take the mandatory project management training from a Registered Education Provider of PMI. It is ideal to enroll for one of their PMP Preparation Boot camp encompassing 35 contact hours. The PMP prep boot camp will provide all the necessary knowledge to kickstart the preparation.

Learn more Top 8 Ways To Earn PDUs For Maintaining Your PMI Certification

What is the Cost of PMP Exam?

The cost of PMP certification is as below:

For PMI Members, the cost is $405  + PMI Membership cost is $139 (Total of $544)

For Non-PMI member, the cost is $555

What are the benefits of being a PMI Member?

It is always wise to take the PMI membership at a cost of $139 and then apply for the PMP exam at a cost of $405. This way, one not only saves $11 overall, but one also gets access to a complimentary copy of PMBOK Guide and many other PMI standards without any cost. PMI members also receive access to the regular journals of PMI. PMI members get access to various other premium resources including global webinars on project management.

What is the PMP Application Process?

Every PMP aspirant will need to fill up the PMP application form and submit the same to PMI. PMI generally takes up to 5 working days to review the application and get back with an approval or rejection. If an application is not accepted, PMI sends a detailed mail explaining the reason for the same.

In case an application is not accepted by PMI, the aspirant can always write back with appropriate responses to the objection PMI review team would have raised. In many instances, the application gets accepted after your follow-ups with clarification.

Did You Know? 6 Reasons why PMP certification is worth it

Step-by-Step guide to the Application process

The PMP application has to be filled up online at PMI’s website. The website is aspirant first needs to create a new registration at the PMI portal and then go to the PMP application page on the portal.
The PMP application information has to be filled in online. No documents need to be uploaded along with the application. Below is the list of things to be filled up in the PMP application.

  1. Personal details (Such as Name, address, your educational qualification etc.)

  2. PM Experience details (Need to fill up project details which explains what you did in each of the projects)

  3. PM Education detail (Need to provide details of your mandatory 35 hours project management training agency name, date and hours etc.)

The application filling up process is a very simple and straightforward method. One needs to keep following the instructions and fill up the relevant details. The key portion of an application is the project management experience details that one needs to fill up. It should be written using PMI language and terminology to make it look more convincing.

One should not feel shy to get a completed PMP application reviewed by an expert if needed.

What is PMP Application Audit?

PMI randomly picks up some of the applications for audit. If an application has been selected for audit, then the applicant will have to provide a copy of documentary evidence as guided by PMI audit process. If an application is selected for audit, there is no reason to panic. One simply needs to follow the process and collect all document copies and send to PMI. The only fall out of audit will be the application approval process gets delayed by 2-3 weeks.

What is the best Strategy to prepare for PMP exam?

It is mandatory for a participant to go through decent project management training for 35 contact hours. Hence, it will be very wise if one takes up a good PMP preparation training program. The training will provide the required momentum and knowledge to start preparing for the PMP exam.

Most of the PMP Preparation Training providers also give access to mock questions and tests, which is a vital tool during one’s preparation.

Generally, after the PMP prep boot camp, one can prepare for the exam in a time span of 30-45 days’ time with an average effort of 2-3 hours per day. It may vary a little bit depending on individual learning styles.

Also read The PMP Exam: How to pass in 30 Days!

A typical strategy should be to read 1 chapter at a time from PMBOK guide and practice questions for that chapter. Ideally one should be able to complete 1 chapter between 1-2 days depending on the chapter length and details. This way, one can complete a full round of reading of PMBOK in a time span of 13-20 days.  Then take up 1 full-length PMP mock test. One needs to analyze the results once the full-length test is complete.  It is very important to analyze every wrong answer and understand the reason of mistake. This enables to bridge the knowledge gaps and prepares one better for the exam.

Then complete the 2nd round of reading of PMBOK guide as above. This time laying more emphasis on the weak areas as found in the 1st round of reading. Again, take up the 2nd PMP mock test and see how you are doing. 
One should plan to take the entire full-length test in a single session of 4 hours. This will help in developing the ability to remain focused for such a long duration, which is a key requirement for the actual PMP exam.

Generally, if you score above 75% to 80% in a new mock test, and if you can analyze the reasons for all the wrong answers; then, that is a decent indicator of your readiness for the test.

One should take up a few more mock tests before the exam. A good PMP preparation training program will provide access to enough mock practice questions.

Finally, the Do’s and Don’ts for the PMP Exam Day

There is no standard rule for scheduling your test date; but, it may be ideal to schedule your test on a Monday, if possible. This way, one gets the preceding weekend to relax and calm down, and not have the need to take any extra time off work.

There are 2 slots in which PMP exam is conducted, morning and afternoon. Choose a slot based on your preference, whether you are a morning person or an afternoon person.

One should visit the PMP exam center once before the scheduled date so that there is no last minute confusion looking for the location of the center on the day of the exam.

It is advisable to stop all preparation in the evening before the exam. It is important to remain calm and relaxed before the exam.

You must carry 2 IDs, make sure that the names in the IDs exactly match with the name given on the application.

You may like to take a small break during the exam if you need. But, you must remember that the break time is a part of the 4 hours test time itself. No additional time is granted for taking the break.

We wish you all the best in your PMP journey. We will be coming up with some other articles with more information on the same series.

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Sunil Agrawala