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PM Tips: Exam Tips from a PMIT Instructor

PM Tips


Thinking about taking your PMP or CAPM exam? One of PMI Toronto’s exam prep instructor's offers some key tips to get you ready for the day. These key insights have helped several project managers prepare for their PMP exams. Just remember:

Mindset is the key to success

What You Need to Know: Prior to Taking the Exam

Scheduling Tips & Common Questions

        1. When is the best time of day to take the exam?

Aim for a time of day when you will be at your most alert. There’s a way to measure what time of day that is. Three weeks prior to the exam start tracking your energy levels—between 8am to 5pm—based on a score of 1-10 (1 being the lower energy level and 10 the highest energy level). If you consistently track your energy level score between 6 to 8 then you’ll be able to know a good time where your energy is at its highest. The philosophy behind this is being able to manage your personal energy.

      2. How early should you arrive for your exam?

Arrive at least 30 minutes before your exam to be safe. You’ll have time to check-in and get yourself ready for taking the test without feeling rushed.

3. How can someone study the day before or the day of the exam effectively?

Review the high-level overview of content and brush up fundamentals of weak areas.

4. What should food or drinks should you bring?

Plan to have some food or supplements on the day of the exam. Aim to have foods that provide:

    • Sustained and stable energy levels to avoid sharp energy-level crashes and ensures hunger is satiated for an extended duration of time
    • Complex carbohydrates
    • Protein
    • An increased energy level, such as
      • Coffee, appropriate dosage of caffeine pills, etc.
        • Don’t drink three coffees before the exam when you typically only have one 
        • Too much caffeine will encourage bathroom breaks. Avoid this distraction.
        • Nothing out of the usual dosage for a person that would give them too much energy.
    • Relaxation
      • “A 2020 systematic review concluded that L-theanine supplementation between 200 and 400 mg per day may help reduce stress and anxiety acutely in people with acute stress, but there is insufficient evidence for treatment of chronic stress.”
      • Green Tea

       5. What else should you consider for the day of the exam?

Workspace preparation tips:

    • Absolutely no distractions—put phones away, have a paper and pencil to write down thoughts once entering the exam room

      Clothing tips

    • Dress warmly with layers that can be removed to ensure temperature regulation is manageable and not a distraction.
    • Prioritize comfortable clothing to ensure no distractions.

       Minimize stress

    • Practice test questions. Use this handy guide for new question types.
    • Try not to look over notes too much before the exam, as this could cause anxiety
    • Get a good night’s sleep. You need to be energized for the big day! 

What You Need to Know: During the Exam

Guiding You Through the Exam

1. Pace yourself during the exam.

Don't rush through the questions and risk missing anything. 

2. Prioritize the questions. 

For questions that are challenging, skip and answer them at the end of the section. A good strategy is to leave difficult questions until the end because students will have seen questions that may likely help them solve the other questions

There are a few strategies for breaking down questions and discarding irrelevant information and focusing in on important information.

  • There’s always more information in the questions than is needed 
  • Think from a PMI perspective. This isn’t real-life so think of how PMI sees how this should be versus what is really is in real life. Consider this approach the happy path approach.

Remember that some of the answers are clearly wrong.

  • Pick out the keywords in the question. If it’s agile look for agile-type terms, when predictive, focus on the sequence of steps we take
  • Consider the Domain focus - People, Process, Business to help connect back to the focus areas in those domains
  • Anything team-related is “Building the Team”
  • Anything business process-focused, consider the areas related to the EEFs and OPAs
  • Anything related to team is in the “High Performing” team, both agile and predictive

3. Breathe.

Stress and anxiety can happen but don't let this overtake you. Take a breath and have a bottle of water to sip on to ground yourself. You’ve got this!




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