PMP / PMBOK Guide FAQ 5 – How to Find the Best Answer to PMP Certification Questions?

pmp / pmbok guide faq 1

Many PMP Certification Exam aspirants find answering PMP Exam question very difficult. No because of the fact that they are not well prepared for the PMP Exam but that since many questions appearing on the exam paper are “situational questions”. Arriving at the correct answer of PMP situational questions is usually not straight forward in most cases. Below is a discussion of a situational question with one of my blog reader recently. Hope the discussion will help PMP aspirants to learn something from it.

How to Find Out the Correct Answer for PMP Certification Situational Questions

The other day I received an email from a reader, asking for a discussion about a PMP certification exam question:

Thank you so much for your helpful PMP test prep web pages. The links to questions and your formulas have helped me in studying for my re-test.

Since you already have your PMP, is it safe for me to ask you one question that I cannot find the answer to in any online or textbook resources in case it comes up again on the next test? Or am I not allowed to discuss questions?

Please let me know. I’ve written to my bootcamp teacher and he has not responded yet.

The reader remembered a question from the first PMP exam attempt but could not find the correct answer from reading the PMBOK® Guide or other PMP Certification Exam prep books. Below is my reply:

Thanks for your email. It’s written in the PMP handbook that the attendants of the PMP Certification Exam are not allowed to disclose any questions on the exam. But, if you try to make up a question in a similar fashion (not in the exact wording of the question that appears on your PMP Certification exam) but similar in the nature or level difficulty, it should be okay.

Do drop me your question to see if I know how to answer it.

But be assured that if you cannot find answers to the question in any textbooks, the question should be “experimental” which would not be counted to the final score. I have personally encountered some questions asking about materials in PMBOK® Guide 4 but not in PMBOK® Guide 5. Thanks!

I then received the mock PMP Certification Exam question, it is quite interesting indeed.

Thanks for getting back to me and for reminding me of the PMI policies on questions. Wow after all my worrying, I’ll bet you’re right about the question being experimental, I totally forgot about that!

In any case, your suggestion is a good one, and here is a similar idea with 2 clearly wrong choices and 2 possible choices (which is where I got confused)…

You are a Project Manager for a company in Denmark. Your project will take place in Denmark, Spain, and Canada. You are finishing the Plan Procurement process, and have completed your source selection criteria. Which is the best way to proceed?

a) Control procurements
b) Host a bidder conference
c) Create the risk register
d) Advertise

What do you think?

Below is my thinking about the question and how to tackle the answers. I first tried to eliminate two obviously wrong answers (the elimination technique). Then I tried to re-read the question to look for any possible clues for deciding which answer is the correct one:

Thanks for the question.

After the “Plan Procurements”, the process to follow is “Conduct Procurement”. I suppose “control procurements” and “create the risk register” are the clearly wrong choices. For the rest two “Host a bidder conference/Advertise”, it all depends whether you have already have a list of suppliers or you will need to advertise to get prospective suppliers.

Given the two choices, “Advertise” must come before “Host a bidder conference” should these two are to be carried out.

However, depending on the actual situation, since the project is a multinational project and the choices for suitable suppliers may be quite limited. The prospective suppliers may be contacted by invitation. Therefore, “Host a bidder conference” is also a logical choice.

If I were to answer this question, I would choose “Advertise” (just by guessing).

The reader agreed with my choice and provided a further reasoning for that:

Thanks for taking the time to answer that question!

I agree with your choice. In my research, I can’t find any best practices on multinational bidder conferences, as one would guess that could be quite expensive and challenging. Advertising sounded good to me, too, in that case.

I would say, with the advancement of technologies, we can now make use of video conferencing for multinational bidder conferences and the cost would be justifiable. But it is important to really consider the question in real world scenarios.

As you can see, situational PMP questions are indeed quite challenging in that one must make use of their own real-life experience in making judgement about the correct answer. Perhaps this is why the PMP certification is such a prestige credential nearly every professional project management would love to achieve.


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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2 Responses

  1. Anthony says:

    I have a problem in answering process problem identification questions in the risk management area. This is part I lack knowledge on. Question asking what have the “The project team has identified all the risks during the project planning and is moving forward in the risk management process. What has the Project Manager done wrong in this situation?” How can I close my gap regarding these questions so I can move forward with my studies.