Certification FAQ – PMP, PMI-ACP, ITIL v3 Foundation

PMP Exam Prep

By becoming a member of PMI, you will gain access to a downloadable PDF file of the PMBOK® Guide (6th edition) for FREE. You are also allowed to print out a copy of the PMBOK® Guide for your personal use / exam prep.

PMI takes copyright infringement very seriously (as willful copyright infringement is a violation of the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct which may result in suspending of the PMI Certificate credentials). The downloaded PMBOK® Guide PDF is password protected and watermarked with the PMI membership number of the one who downloads it. And therefore it is unlikely to find FREELY available PMBOK® Guide PDF files on the internet.

Alternatively, you can also purchase a printed copy of the PMBOK® Guide from Amazon.


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According to the update history of PMBOK® Guide, PMI would release a new version of the PMBOK® Guide every 4 to 5 years in order to catch up with the changes in project management practices and trend (e.g. Agile project management is becoming much more important).

Currently the most current PMBOK® Guide update was on December 2012 which is several years ago. Thought there are “updates” to the PMBOK® Guide these few years, the majority of them are just correcting typos and logical errors. The PMBOK® Guide is in need of an update.

And PMI has made a lot of groundworks from 2012 in collecting feedback on the PMBOK® Guide 5th edition as well as noting the latest trends of project management.

PMI has announced that the PMBOK® Guide 6 will be released at around the following schedule:

  • 1st quarter of 2017 for draft release
  • 3rd quarter of 2017 for the final release — that’s around June 2017 (hopefully)

(Click here for a detailed discussion of what have been changed in PMBOK® Guide 6th edition — the changes are not many, unlike the major structural changes from PMBOK® Guide 4 to PMBOK® Guide 5.)

For Aspirants, the most pressing question should be when will the PMP® Exam be changed to be based on PMBOK® Guide 6th edition.

Fortunately, PMI will allow current Aspirants to continue taking the PMP® Exam based on the current version of the PMBOK® Guide for up to half a year.

That means the new PMP® Exam update to be based on PMBOK® Guide 6th edition is in the first quarter of 2018.

Therefore it is safe and recommended to begin your PMP® Exam preparation based on PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition as of now. Read here for the reasons.

Aspirants will only have to study for the exam based on PMBOK® Guide 6 if they begin their studies after Nov 2017 (an average PMP® Aspirant will need around 2 months’ time to be well prepared for the exam).


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Don’t be late for the PMP® Exam. Arrive at the PMP® Exam center at least 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled time. If you are late, the worst case is that you may be denied entry to the PMP® Exam room. In such case, a ‘no-show’ status is implied, resulting in a fail for the PMP® Exam. You will need to pay for the re-examination fee and re-schedule another timeslot for the exam.

However, some PMP® Exam centers will exercise discretionary power to allow you to sit for the PMP® Exam even though you are late (maybe probably for several minutes). But don’t count on that as this is different for different PMP® Exam centers. It is therefore advisable to mark down the telephone number of your PMP® Exam centre and ask for their policies once you have the feeling that you will be late for the exam.


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For each set of 200 PMP® Exam questions, only 175 will be counted towards your final score. The rest 25 questions are termed as “pretest questions” according to PMI.

Pretest questions can be considered as “trial” questions which are used to gather statistical information on the “validity” of the question. If the performance of the candidates on a pretest question is in accordance with normal distribution, PMI will consider adding the question to the question bank for the real PMP® exam.

Otherwise, should too many or too few candidates are able to answer the pretest question correctly, the quality of the pretest question is in doubt and would probably not to be included in the real exam.

What has “pretest questions” to do with PMP® candidates?

PMP® candidates are affected by the pretest questions in the following way:

  • Since pretest questions are distributed randomly in the set of PMP® questions, PMP® candidates will have no way to determine whether a question is “real” or “pre-test”.
  • If many of the “pre-test” questions are too difficult to answer, this may adversely affect the psychological state and confidence of the candidate. This may directly affect the performance of the candidate in the real exam.
  • PMP® candidates may be tempted to spend too much time on the pre-test questions since some pre-test questions are not constructed clearly.

In my PMP® Exam, the first 10 questions were very difficult that I spent more than expected time on that, I couldn’t but think that “will I fail the exam?”. Luckily, the rest questions were similar to what are on the sample question papers that I had tried before. I managed to get a pass in the first try.

My recommendation is to prepare well for the PMP® Exam and ignore those “out-of-syllabus” questions by guessing the answer and move forward. Don’t be discouraged if many “out-of-syllabus” questions appear in a row or at the beginning of the exam. Remember to keep your cool and move on!

I have also shared other psychological preparation for you to ace the exam:


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The ITTO (inputs, tools and techniques, outputs) of the PMBOK® Guide is by far one of the most “dreaded” question types of the PMP® Exam. It really takes a great memory to remember all the 600+ ITTOs from the PMBOK® Guide in the PMP® Exam preparation.

Many PMP® aspirants would surely ask themselves: should I remember all the ITTOs?

In my PMP® Exam, there are less than 4 questions about ITTOs (though as the PMP® Exam questions sets are different for different PMP® candidates, you may get more or fewer questions on ITTOs) – which is only 2% of all the PMP® Exam questions. Among those 4 ITTO questions I encountered, only one was asking directly about which is the ITTO for the process. The other three were just kind of related to ITTO, e.g. what would you use for a process at hand. The other questions on my PMP® Exam were mainly situational questions.

As a reference, I passed the PMP® Exam with ‘Proficient’ in Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and ‘Moderately Proficient’ in Closing domain.

As you can see, the PMP® Exam is more about than asking you to apply the project management concepts than to memorize all the facts from the PMP® Exam.

Further reading: PMP® ITTO mindmap (not yet updated) – it is far more efficient to make use of mindmap to remember discrete facts such as ITTOs, this PMP® ITTO mindmap can be downloaded free!


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In additional to the ITTO questions, PMP® Maths formulas questions are generally considered to be the more difficult questions.

In my PMP® Exam question set, I got around 10 PMP® calculation questions in total (that is around 5% of all the questions). 5% is definitely not a significant number of questions for the PMP® Exam which has 200 questions.

If you are not comfortable with the PMP® Maths questions, it is advisable to just guess the answer, flag it for review and move on to the next question. Don’t spend more than the allocated time (around 2 minutes for each question) to the PMP® calculation questions as the Maths questions carry equal marks with other PMP® questions. When you still have time at the end of the PMP® Exam, you may spend more time with the Maths questions.

Plus, it is highly advisable to write down all the PMP® formulas at the beginning of the PMP® Exam as your PMP® Exam brain dump in order to offload your brain.

Further reading: PMP® Maths / Formulas Guide


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Perhaps, this is the question every PMP® aspirants would probably have during their course of PMP® Exam preparation, especially while they are reading the PMBOK® Guide. Most PMP® candidates would agree that the PMBOK® Guide is way too boring for reading or studying. But since the PMBOK® Guide is published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) which is the authority behind the PMP® Exam, it is logical to consider the PMBOK® Guide as one of the most important reference book for the PMP® Exam.

It would be a great help if some authoritative voices would assure that they can pass the PMP® Exam in first try without having to even read the PMBOK® Guide once. Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question.

A survey of 100 PMP® Exam candidates (who successfully pass the PMP® Exam) has found out that only 5% of them did not read the PMBOK® Guide during their study. That means 95% of the PMP® candidates did read the PMBOK® Guide at least once during their PMP® exam prep. Though it can be safely said that all of the most popular PMP® Exam reference books (like Andy Crowe, Headfirst and Rita) do cover most of the materials in the PMBOK® Guide, the emphases and organisation of the material would be quite different. In particular, since the PMP® Exam tests not about your project management knowledge, experience nor skills but how deep you understand project management from PMI’s perspectives, the PMBOK® Guide is the only place where you can fully understand PMI’s viewpoint in an organised and systematic way. All other PMP® Exam prep books would include the personal viewpoints of the authors.

In order to fully prepare for the PMP® Exam, it can be said that the PMBOK® Guide is indispensable. If you have the time, do read through the PMBOK® Guide at least once. There is no need to read it from cover to cover in one attempt. You can read the PMBOK® Guide together with your PMP® Exam prep book chapter by chapter. Most PMP® Exam prep book would organise the materials according to the sequence as used in the PMBOK® Guide. By reading the PMBOK® Guide and your PMP® Exam prep book in parallel, you can compare the two literatures to understand what are the differences between them in order to have a more comprehensive coverage of the materials required for the PMP® Exam.

Though the PMBOK® Guide is boring (according to most PMP® aspirants), it is a worthwhile read for the PMP® Exam!


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What is the most realistic mock PMP® Exam one can take? It is to take the mock PMP® Exam at the same centre as one would take the real PMP® Exam.

Prometric, the organisation that runs the PMP® Exam for the computer based test around the world, has launched a new service for test driving the PMP® Exam for PMP® aspirants. The “Test drive” all PMP® aspirants to take a mock PMP® Exam at the Prometric center for 30 minutes for the cost of US$30.

As long as there is a free place in the test centre and you are willing to pay the mock exam fee, you will be able to take the mock exam in real conditions as part of your PMP® Exam prep.

More details on PMP® Exam Test Drive can be found on the Prometric website.


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PM PrepCast™ Executive has a price tag of US$1199.99, which is way much expensive than the PM PrepCast™ Standard and the PM PrepCast™ Elite. Though there is a 28% discount applied to the sum of all products included in the PM PrepCast™ Executive, many would wonder is it worth to invested almost 3 times more than the PM PrepCast™ Elite which is already a great PMP® Exam Prep course and question bank.

What are included in PM PrepCast™ Executive

The PM PrepCast™ Executive is the package of the PM PrepCast™ Elite plus a few more:

  • PM PrepCast™ – the highly acclaimed online PMP® Exam Prep course providing 35 contact hours to qualify for the PMP® Exam (US$199.99)
  • PM Exam Simulator – access to 1800 PMP® mock exam questions to be written in an environment that resembles the real PMP® Exam interface
  • 12 hours of live personal (one-to-one) coaching (US$89.99 per hour * 12 = US$1079.88)
  • 5 hours of live group coaching sessions (US$49.99 per hour * 5 = US$249.95)
  • PMP® Formula Study Guide –  which includes the Formula study guide, Formula brain dump / cheat sheet and 105 formula sample questions (US$29.99 value)
  • Premium eBook Bundle – which includes the PMP® Essentials Study Guide, ITTO Memory Jogger and PMI Exam Audit Kit) (US$29.97)

What are the PMP® Live Coaching?

PMP® live coaching will offer you the chance to work with a PMP® coach during  your PMP® Exam preparation through an internet connection in order to maximize your opportunity to pass the PMP® Exam in first try. PMP® live coaching is also the most time-efficient way to prepare for your PMP® Exam as you can get immediate advices from an experience PMP® Exam Coach who will help you to formulate a tailor-made study plan that suit your schedule and style of learning. I still remember I have to “google” hundreds of blogs and webpages in order to understand how to plan for my PMP® Exam and carry out the study.

You will work with the PMP® Exam Coach during your PMP® Exam Prep journey, usually once a week or at a schedule that suits you, all the way from the very beginning of planning the study plan, answer your queries, assess your knowledge gaps and help you to determine whether you are ready for the real PMP® Exam.

Since the PMP® Exam Coach has profound experience in helping PMP® aspirants to study and pass the PMP® Exam, he can offer you valuable tips and tricks to help you attain the PMP® Certification in the shortest time possible.

As the name implies, “Personal Coaching” will allow you to meet one on one with the Coach, all the time is dedicated for you. You can present your case and the Coach will give you personalized advices. You can book the timeslots that are most convenient to you.

On the other hand, in “Group Coaching”, you will join other PMP® aspirants every week at the same time to discuss the common PMP® Exam topics such as:

  • Project management framework
  • Earned Value calculation / PMP® Formulas
  • PMP® practice questions / sample questions review

You will gain the benefits of peer discussion.

Other than the fact that the Coach will meet you through an internet connection instead of meeting you face to face, the PMP® Live Coaching service will offer you all the benefits of PMP® Exam bootcamps.

Who is the PMP® Coach?

The coach is Dan Ryan, MBA, PMP®, who has over 20 years experience in the IT and project management industry. Dan has been delivering face-to-face and virtual PMP® Exam prep courses since 2011. He has pioneered a unique, blended learning solution to tailor to the needs of every individual PMP® aspirant. Dan currently lives in the United States.

Is the PM PrepCast™ Executive Worth the High Price Tag?

Online learning, just like the PM PrepCast™ Standard, offers a cost-effective way to prepare for studying and preparing for the PMP® Exam. However, online courses require you to have excellent disciplines and probably more time as you will need to do researches into the difficult topics yourself. You may also have to waste some time to search for accurate information on the internet. If that describes you, then you are an ideal candidate for the PM PrepCast™ Standard/Elite.

But, if you flourish with the help of an instructor or if you are too busy to do researches on your own, the PM PrepCast™ Executive is the most suitable PMP® Exam prep for your among the different PM PrepCast™ products. The PMP® Coach will assist you all the way from your planning to tackling PMP® practice questions to confirming your readiness to attempt the real PMP® Exam. Try to think of the time saved and the possibility of not having to re-take the PMP® Exam owing to failed attempt, the high price tag is not really that expensive.

In addition, normal PMP® bootcamps will have dozens of PMP® aspirants studying together with you. This means that the course instructor will have to divide his/her attention among all the students in the class. For the Live Personal Coach, you will have the FULL attention of the PMP® Exam Coach for 12 hours! The time should be enough to answer your every questions about the PMP® Exam!


Below is a simple chart to help you understand the various PM PrepCast™ products on sale in the market:

  • PM PrepCast™ Standard = PM PrepCast™
  • PM PrepCast™ Elite = PM PrepCast™ Standard + PM Exam Simulator
  • PM PrepCast™ Executive = PM PrepCast™ Elite + Coaching + Formula Study Guide + Premium eBook Bundle

The PM PrepCast™ Elite is the most popular PMP® Exam Prep package providing both the required 35 contact hours certificate and lots of good PMP® Exam practice questions.

If you have the time to navigation through the planning processes for your PMP® study through trial and error and discipline to stick to your study plan, I would highly recommend the PM PrepCast™ Elite which is both cost effective and high in quality.

I would like the interactive nature of PMP® Exam Study bootcamps (where you can talk directly to the instructor on any queries you have and have the instructor assist you to plan your study) but there is none around you or  you are too busy to take 5 days off to attend the bootcamp, the PM PrepCast™ Executive would be perfect for you as you can prepare for the PMP® Exam at the comfort of your room or office without the need to travel a lot.

Wish you PMP® success!



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Following the announcement of updating the syllabus of the PMP® Exam in Nov 2015, every publisher of PMP® Exam Prep book are working extremely hard to get the updated version of the book out to help fellow PMP® aspirants to begin preparing for the new PMP® Exam.

Rita's PMP Exam Prep book 8th Edition updated

Rita’s PMP® Exam Prep book 8th Edition updated

The publisher of Rita’s PMP® Exam Prep book, RMC Learning Solutions, has just announced the updated eighth edition of Rita’s PMP® book will be published by end of July 2015 has been published, has been published: take a look at the preview of the Rita’s PMP® Exam prep book here. The new edition of the PMP® Book includes new tasks and modified knowledge and skills as mentioned in the PMI Role Delineation Study 2015 as well as the new PMP® Exam Content Outline.

This latest version (8th edition) of the Rita’s PMP® Exam preparation book is updated to align with the PMBOK® Guide 5th edition as well as the PMP® Exam Content Outline released in June 2015. PMP® aspirants aiming to take the PMP® Exam on or after 2nd Nov, 2015 are advised to purchase the Rita’s PMP® Book updated 8th edition instead of the original 8th edition.

But as the changes are not considered drastic, PMP® aspirants preparing for the PMP® Exam based on the original 8th edition will still get a pretty good coverage of the new PMP® Exam syllabus as the PMBOK® Guide is still the 5th edition.

Note: If you own the original 8th edition of the Rita’s PMP® Exam Prep and would like to sit for the PMP® Exam after 1st Nov 2015, you are advised to download an update document issued by RMC which covers a few changes to the Rita’s book so that you are good for the new PMP® Exam!


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RMC Learning Solutions is now shipping the updated eighth edition of Rita’s PMP® book (note: if you are buying a new exam prep book, you should look for the “updated 8th edition” not the “8th edition”). 

The new edition of the PMP® Book includes the updated tasks and modified knowledge and skills outlined in the new PMP® Exam Content Outline (for PMP® Exam in 2017) so that the book will have full coverage of the exam syllabus.

However, does this mean that the original 8th edition of Rita’s book is no longer useful?

The good news is that the original 8th edition of Rita’s PMP® book is still valid for the new PMP® Exam, in RMC’s words:

Comparing each line of the 2015 PMP® Examination Content Outline to the previous version published in 2011, RMC has determined the changes were mostly minor, and/or already consistent with our interpretation of the project manager’s role in the existing edition of the book.

Since the changes in the PMP® Exam syllabus nor the contents of Rita’s book are NOT dramatic, RMC has actually issued an additional “update” for owners of the Rita’s PMP® book 8th edition which can be downloaded here (as you will see, there are just several changes only).

In fact, a recent PMP® exam taker has read both the 8th Edition and the 8th Updated Edition from cover to cover and find that basically the Rita’s PMP® 8th Edition = Rita’s PMP® 8th Edition Updated. He passed the PMP® Exam in first try.

Therefore if you get hold of the original 8th edition of Rita’s book, you can still rely on it to ace  your PMP® Exam. There is no need to purchase the updated 8th edition.


Note: I passed the PMP® Exam with 4 Proficient and 1 Moderately Proficient, click here for my study notes, resources and tips (can be downloaded for free).


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For those who would like to get PMP® certified, one of the major roadblock should be worrying about the level of difficulties of the real PMP® Exam.

PMI has published a PDF file containing 3 official sample PMP® questions to help PMP® aspirants to get a taste of the level of difficulty as well as the wording of the real PMP® Exam questions:

As you will see, in order to correctly answer the PMP® Exam questions, you must get to know the exact meaning of the terms used by PMI. The good news is that all the terms can be found in the PMBOK® Guide. However, the questions also require you (as the project manager) to exercise expert judgement to understand what actions to take next (which is one of the most difficult type of PMP® Exam questions).

You would definitely like to attempt more PMP® Exam practice questions (best of all many quality sample PMP® Exam questions are FREE).


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