Taking the PMP Exam

Prepare for PMP Exam

Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by andrewshih


Learn the strategies on what you can do once you step into the testing room on what you can do right before the PMP exam, and during the PMP exam to increase the chance of passing the exam, as well as what to expect after the exam.


  • Minimize exam interruptions.  Don’t drink too much liquid before the PMP exam but if you need to use the bathroom do it ahead of time.
  • Test the calculator.  Test out the physical calculator and make sure it works before the exam.
  • Make yourself comfortable.  Your test site may have an earmuff at the desk that you can use to block out noise as people go in and out of the exam room.  The exam room will mix with people taking different exams.  Take time to adjust your seating to make yourself comfortable and can stay focused for the duration of the exam.  Position paper, pencil, and calculator (if you requested one) in the ready position before you begin the test.
  • Take your time to go through the PMP exam tutorial.  You should go through the tutorial for two important reasons. First, the online practice exam site may have a very different look and feel, so it’s very important to get acclimated with the real PMP exam interface rather than trying to figure it out during the exam. Second, the tutorial provided a very useful tip on how you can use the right mouse click to eliminate wrong answers so that you can focus your effort on the remaining choices and not be distracted by the wrong ones.  It’s especially for coming back and reviewing the marked questions so you do not have to waste time reading choices that you already eliminated.


  • Don’t get stuck on one question.  Keep in mind that 25 out of 200 questions are not scored and you cannot tell which ones they are. Therefore remind yourself that the one you are stuck on may not even be counted for your final score so don’t get bogged down by it.   Try your best to move swiftly, eliminate the wrong answer, choose an answer, and mark it to review later if needed.
  • Aim for one minute per question.  PMP exam has 180 questions that you need complete in 230 minutes.  You would aim for a speed of about a minute per question.  There should be plenty of time to finish the exam and I prefer to leave about an hour in the end, knowing that I have finished the exam and have time to review and check marked questions.
  • Take brief breaks to stay focused.  Staying focused for the full duration of the exam is not an easy feat.  You should take brief breaks for a few seconds or a minute if needed to take a long breath and de-stress yourself to help clear your mind.


Once you are done with the exam and submit the exam, you will find out whether you pass the exam or failed immediately (yes, it may take a few nail-biting seconds).  In addition, the exam result will tell you the area that you did above average or need improvement.  However, the exam result does not tell you the exact score as the goal is simply to determine if you pass or failed and give you clues on your strength and weakness.

Finally, congratulation if you pass the exam and earn PMP certification. Time for a little celebration.  If you are eager to jump-start on earning professional development credits (PDU), here are ways to earn PDU according to PMI.

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