How to Prepare for Your PMP Certification Exam

Don’t negate all of your study and preparation for your certification exam by stressing out or mis-managing the day of your exam!  Here are some tips to help you minimize stress and maximize exam scores when it’s time to actually sit the test.

Tip #1: On your certification exam day (be it PMP, CBAP, PgMP or something else), you should be relaxed, psychologically prepared, and confident.  Try to be well rested and adequately nourished when you take the exam. Staying up all night before the exam for some last minute studying is not a good idea! 

Tip #2: Make sure you know the location of your testing center prior to exam day.  Perhaps consider doing a “drive by” of the exam location so you know where you are going and exactly how to get there.  You can also scope out your favorite coffee spots along the route!  Just remember that you can’t take any food or drink into the testing area, so you will need to finish your coffee or snack before you start the exam.

Tip #3: You might call your testing center the day before your exam to confirm your exam date and time and the hours of operation.  I suggest this based upon the experiences of one of my best buddies, Peggy.  She made it through a surprise and unpredicted Colorado spring snowstorm (8 inches of fresh snow, such fun!) and many car accidents in her way to get to her early morning exam. The story gets even better. When Peggy showed up at her testing center to sit her certification exam she discovered that the location of the testing center had moved the week before! Luckily, the new address (handwritten, no less) was taped to the front door. 

Peggy rushed to the other location and then began her exam. Almost everyone, including the exam center staff, was late to work that morning so the damage was minimal.  However, the stress spike caused by this situation made Peggy have to sit at the computer for about 30 minutes before she could calm down and focus on the exam itself. This is when you discover the power of preparation, since she passed her exam with flying colors. The testing center staff told her that she had been notified of this relocation by email, but she could find no message from them in her inbox. Yow!

Tip #4: When you arrive at the testing center, you will need to lock up your personal belongings in a locker or leave them in your car for the duration of your exam.  The testing center staff will provide you with pieces of scratch paper and pencils, which you will need to return to them after your exam.  They will also take you into the testing area, seat you at your computer, provide you with headphones to muffle the noise, and confirm that the correct exam is being provided.

Tip #5: You have some time before the exam must start if you take the tutorial on how to use the exam software.  I recommend that you run the tutorial and then use this time to jot down any “cheat sheet” notes on the scrap paper that you have prepared prior to the exam.  Of course, these notes and reminders must all be in your head as you can’t take your own paper into the testing area.

Tip #6: Be aware that there could be other folks in the testing area taking a wide variety of exams, so people may come and go during your testing interval.   If you are easily distracted, this activity may take your attention away from your exam.  You may take a break during the exam; however, the timer keeps going while you are away from your seat!

Happy testing!

Susan Weese

BTW, while we are on the subject of certification exams, remember that Learning Tree has some excellent certification preparation courses on this and related topics.  The courses include the heavy hitters that prepare you for the PMP and CBAP exam:

Preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam (5 days)

Preparing for the IIBA® CBAP® Certification Exam (4 days)

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