The following interview with Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow, was recorded at the PMI Global Congress 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona:
You have read the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) publication, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), from cover to cover; studied other Project Management-related texts; and you feel you are preparing well to take and pass the Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. There are, however, a number of myths related to the exam process and the exam itself that you are not sure are valid. In this article, we are going to take a look at six myths related to the PMP® Exam process and bust them so you can quit worrying about what is true and continue with studying for and taking the exam.
Myth1: You need to score a 61% to pass the PMP® Exam
No, while this was true at one time, it is no longer the case. Passing the PMP® Exam is no longer determined by the percentage of questions you answer correctly. It is calculated using a sound psychometric analysis. In essence this means that the harder questions are worth more than the easier questions. So you get a higher score if you answer more of the harder questions correctly and a lower score if you answer more of the easier questions correctly. The minimum score needed to pass is determined by the overall difficultly of your individual exam.
Myth 2: Only PMI Registered Education Providers are authorized to give PMP® Exam Prep Courses
No, there is no authorized or unauthorized training material for the PMP® Exam. Several types of training companies can provide training for the PMP® Exam, which may include courses or programs offered by PMI Registered Education Providers (REP); training companies or consultants; PMI component organizations; employer- or company-sponsored programs, distance-learning companies, which need to include an end-of-course assessment; or even university or college academic or continuing-education programs. Essentially anyone can provide training for the PMP® Exam. The advantage of ensuring your training comes from a PMI REP is you have the assurance that the provider has been reviewed by PMI for standardization and quality.
Myth 3: Obtaining the PMP® Certification will lead to a higher salary
That depends. The potential to see an increase in salary depends on several factors including your country of employment, years of experience, and the average size of projects you manage. Every year PMI conducts and publishes information related to their salary survey. In the 2012 report, it was found that even with a sluggish economy, the average salary for a PMP® credential holder had risen. However, there is no guarantee that passing the PMP® Exam will lead to a higher salary.
Myth 4: The exam application audit process uses applicant profiling
No, the exam application-audit process is completely random. When completing your PMP® Exam application, keep in mind that you may be audited, so be prepared just in case you are selected. Make sure you are 100% truthful; have documentation to back up anything you claim on your application such as training certificates; and mention to current and former employers or colleagues that you are applying to take the PMP® Exam in case they are contacted by PMI to verify any assertions on your application. Think of this application as a job application; there is a chance that your references will be checked.
Myth 5: You must know the Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs) by heart
No, you do not need to spend time memorizing the around 500 ITTOs described in the PMBOK® Guide; instead you need to understand the concepts behind them. It is possible you will have questions on the PMP® Exam such as “Which of the following is not an input to the Create WBS process?” where memorizing the ITTOs may help. However, it is more likely you will have questions that relate to how or why a specific ITTO is used in a process and memorization will be of no use to you when answering those types of questions. So, your goal needs to be to fully understand the concepts of each process in the PMBOK® Guide, not the memorization of the ITTOs.
Myth 6: You need 35 PDUs before you can take the PMP® Exam
Almost. You need are 35 contact hours before you take the PMP® Exam -- not 35 Professional Developmental Units (PDUs). So you are required to have at least 35 contact hours to be eligible to take the PMP® Exam. You do not need to worry about PDUs until you have obtained your PMP® Certification, then you must follow PMIs Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) and earn 60 PDUs every three years to maintain your PMP® Credential. Remember, you need contact hours before taking the PMP® Exam and PDUs after.
There are many PMP® Exam myths, and it is often difficult to distinguish what is the truth and what is myth. Myths can be difficult to eradicate so remember, anytime you come across something that makes you scratch your head or say “hmmmmm”, you can verify what you have heard or read by checking the PMP® Handbook or writing to PMI Customer Care; they are happy to help dispel myths.
Have you been hearing coworkers talk about taking the Project Management Institute® Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®? Or have you been seeing the acronym PMI-ACP® more frequently? Has that left you wondering what exactly the PMI-ACP Exam is and if it is for you? Here we will look into what PMI-ACP means and provide you with information outlining the exam requirements, the exam content, and what you need to do to maintain your PMI-ACP certificate once you pass the exam.
First things first -- What does PMI-ACP stand for? PMI-ACP is the PMI® certification that “recognizes an individual’s expertise in using agile practices in their projects, while demonstrating their increased professional versatility through agile tools and techniques”. (Project Management Institute). In other words, once you pass the PMI-ACP, you are then considered a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner. Passing the PMI-ACP Exam indicates to employers and others both inside and outside the Agile Community that you have demonstrated experience working on Agile projects, and knowledge of Agile practices, principles, tools, and techniques.
Secondly, how can you be sure if taking the PMI-ACP Exam is the right step for you? First you need to have the desire to become a PMI-ACP. Next you need to verify that you meet the PMI-ACP certification requirements in four areas; educational background, general project experience, Agile project experience, and training in Agile practices. For educational background you need to have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent). In the area of general project experience you need at least 2,000 hours (12 months) of general project experience within the past five years. In the area of Agile project experience you need to have at least 1,500 hours (8 months) of experience working on project teams that specifically used Agile methodologies within the past three years. Keep in mind that you cannot count the same hours or projects towards general project experience that you do for Agile project experience. Finally, in the area of training in Agile practices you need to have at least 21 Contact Hours. A Contact Hour is considered one hour of formal education, in this case formal education in Agile practices.
Once you have all of your general project and Agile project hours documented, and you have obtained your 21 contact hours, you are then ready to start your application to sit for the PMI-ACP Exam. You can complete the application online at www.pmi.org, or download a PDF copy of the application, fill it out and then submit it by mail. If you select to apply online you will have 90 days to complete the application. If you have already earned your PMP® or PgMP® credential then PMI has already verified you have fulfilled the 2000 hours of general project experience requirements to take the PMI-ACP® Exam, and this requirement will be waived.
Now that you know what PMI-ACP stands for and what the requirements are to take the exam, what should you expect when it comes to the exam? The PMI-ACP Exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions that need to be answered within three hours. There are two areas of questions on the PMI-ACP® Exam. Half of the exam questions cover Agile tools and techniques, and the other half cover Agile knowledge and skills. Additional information on what is specifically covered on the PMI-ACP Exam can be found in the most current copy of PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline.
Once you take and pass the PMI-ACP Exam, you will need to focus on maintaining your certification. This is accomplished by obtaining at least 30 professional development units (PDUs) during your certification cycle, which is three years and starts the day you pass the PMI-ACP Exam. A PDU is earned for each hour spent conducting activities in one of two divisions; education or giving back to the profession. You can earn all 30 PDUs with educational activities, but are limited to 20 PDUs per cycle for the giving back to the profession category. All activities in either category must be within the specialized area of Agile project activities in order to be counted towards maintaining your PMI-ACP certification. If you are already a certified PMP® or PgMP® you can claim Agile project activity PDUs toward maintaining your PMP or PgMP credential. So you still only need to earn 60 PDUs in total in three years, not 90. And remember that all PDU hours you earn towards your PMI-ACP certification must be in the area of Agile project activities.
Obtaining your PMI-ACP certificate demonstrates to others your knowledge of Agile practices, tools, and techniques. Make sure you understand PMI’s most current requirements to qualify to sit for the exam prior to starting the exam application process. An additional source for information related to the PMI-ACP Exam and exam process can be found at www.pm-prepcast.com/agile.
Is studying for and obtaining your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification one of your personal or career goals? Are you wondering about things such as where is a good place to start, what materials might be the most helpful in studying, or how many practice tests are just right or too many? Are you interested in the experiences and insights of those who have been there, were once also wondering many of the same things, and who have recently passed the PMP® Exam?
If any of these questions sound familiar to you then there is a forum you need to explore on The PM PrepCast website. Every post is from those who have recently obtained their Project Management Professional Certification and are willing to provide tips and information concerning their study methods and experiences taking the PMP Exam. These individuals most likely were where you are today, full of questions and concerns, and looking for a place with information and answers.
Let’s take a look at one example from this forum. It was written by Scott Coonrod, PMP, not too long after he obtained his PMP certification. In his PM PrepCast Forum post he discusses how he studied for and prepared for both the PMP Exam and the exam day itself along with his experiences at the test site.
Lessons learned and other tips related to preparing for the PMP Exam:
Lessons learned and other tips related to PMP Exam study materials:
Lessons learned and other tips related to taking the PMP Exam:
These are just a few examples of the PMP Exam related lessons learned and other tips offered by someone who has recently been in your shoes and has shared his experiences. You can access these lessons learned and other tips and many more in The PM PrepCast Forum at http://www.pm-prepcast.com/ll.
About the authors: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM is a noted PMP Exam Prep expert. He has helped over 26,000 students prepare for the PMP Exam with The Project Management PrepCast and offers what is possibly the best PMP Exam Simulator on the market.
Scott Coonrod, PMP recently obtained his PMP certification (April 2014) and has 17 years of experience in the electric motors industry; mostly leading or championing projects. He currently is developing and leading the Project Management Office (PMO) for the manufacturing operations of a multi-billion dollar global manufacturer of motors, generators, switch gear, and mechanical gearing aimed at converting power into motion to help the world run more efficiently.
As a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®, the last thing you want to happen is to have your certification suspended. This happens if you do not earn the required 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) within your three-year recertification cycle. Often, once the stress of taking and passing the PMP® Exam is over, you step back into focusing on projects and other deadlines, and the need to earn PDUs is relegated to the back of your mind or even forgotten all together. You want to avoid a situation in which your recertification cycle is coming up and you have earned only a few, or worse yet, no PDUs. So, let’s take the task at hand - “The need to earn 60 PDUs within the three-year recertification cycle” - and break it down as a 6-step plan of attack:
Step 1: Learn the Rules
The first thing you need to do is learn the rules for earning the required PDUs. Just like if you want to drive a car, it is best to start by learning the traffic rules. The best way to learn the rules for earning and claiming PDUs is to read the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) section of the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook at http://www.pm-prepcast.com/pmphb
Step 2: Review the online CCR System
Every PDU earned needs to be reported through the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) ® online CCR System. You can report your PDUs through the CCR System, print a copy of your PDU transcript, review PDU category limits, and see your progress towards recertification. The best way to understand the CCR System is to check out the system for yourself. You can find it at https://ccrs.pmi.org/.
Step 3: Plan to earn PDUs from multiple categories
In Step 1 above you learned that PDUs can be earned in six categories. The goal of this step right here is to plan how many PDUs you would like to earn from each category. You do not have to earn PDUs in all six categories, and you could simply earn all of your PDUs in category A (Courses offered by PMI REPs, Chapters and Communities). However, understanding each category may lead to you earning PDUs in categories you had not initially considered. Plus, as you plan your PDUs, you will see that working as a professional in project management will earn you 15 “free” PDUs for just for doing your job. That leaves you with only needing to earn 45 PDUs in the five other categories.
Step 4: Find providers that meet your lifestyle
Once you plan your PDUs, you need to find PDU providers that will best fit your lifestyle.
Step 5: Take Action!
Now that you know the rules, are familiar with the online CCR System, have planned your PDUs, and have found providers that fit your lifestyle, you need to take action to earn your PDUs. In most cases signing up for PDUs can be done online with your selected provider. Once you are signed up, all you need to do is attend your selected training event.
Step 6: Claim your earned PDUs immediately
You have attended a webinar, completed training, or maybe attended a PMI Chapter dinner meeting and have earned PDUs. Now you need to input that PDU information into the online CCR System at https://ccrs.pmi.org. You will have all of the information you need on the certificate you receive from each training event. Immediately inputting your PDUs not only keeps you from forgetting to claim the PDUs you have earned, but also each time you log into the system you can see how many PDUs you have earned and how many you still need to earn.