PMP Exam Last Minute Tips: Important Psychological Preparation

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PMP Exam Last Minute Tips: Psychological Preparation to Boost Your Performance Of the PMP Exam

After going through the PMP Exam prep courses for the 35 Contact Hours, gaining approval from PMI for scheduling the Exam and finishing the exam guide/book and end-of-book mock exams, are you looking for some Last Minute Tips to be really well prepared for writing the Exam?

I have once heard an example of a world-class marathon runner who broke his legs 2 months before the run. He did not quit but continue training. How? By running the race in his mind for mental training. The day came when he participated and finished the marathon, his result was just shy of his personal best!


We can steal the idea of mental preparation for your exam taking to boost your exam results too! Below I will highlight a few key areas you would need to know to help you ace the PMP Exam in the first try.

Article Highlights

My Personal Exam Taking Experience

I took the PMP Exam a while ago (here is my lessons learned). At that time I did not know many of the psychological preparation tips listed below. I was just too “shocked” to learn these the hard way with ups and downs in my mind. That affected my performance for the exam though I could eventually pass it. I do hope fellow Aspirants would learn at least one or two things from the list below in order to have the best mental preparation.

PMP Exam Last Minute Tips: Psychological Preparation

  • Tips 1: No Brain Dumps are allowed NOW
    • Perhaps your trainer or lessons learned you read from the web advise you to do Brian Dumps during the tutorial time before the beginning of the exam so that you could always refer to it while taking the exam. This trick would give you an extra competitive edge for your performance. NO MORE NOW. Exam centres around the world are banning this Exam Brain Dump tactic to ensure fairness. Don’t get me wrong. You can still do Brain Dump, but only after the PMP Exam has begun (not during the tutorial time).
    • If Brain Dump is a useful technique for you, you would need to practise your brain dump during every mock exam you take during your exam preparation so that you can have better time management for answering the 200 questions in 4 hours including the 10+ minutes doing the brain dump.
    • If your Exam centre still allows you to do brain dump during the tutorial time, this would boost your confidence as you have 10+ minutes more for writing the exam!
  • Tips 2: The Washroom / Toilet may be very far away from your exam room
    • As every exam centre is different, the location of the washroom/toilet may be quite far away and it may take you 5 minutes of more to walk to and back from the washroom/toilet. Also, every time you need to take a break from your exam, you will have to wait for the centre staff to assist you doing all the administrative procedures and carrying out the sign-ins and security checks when you are back.
    • Bearing this in mind, when you plan scheduled breaks, the duration of the breaks should never be less than 10 minutes (better for 15+ minutes).
    • You are also advised to try walking from the door of the exam room to the toilet before the exam has begun so that you will not waste time finding the toilet during the exam as the 4-hour exam period will not be paused during your break!
  • Tips 3: Security Checks
    • Every time you enter the exam room (including the first time and after every breaks), you would need to sign in and undergo a security check. Mine security check involved rolling up the sleeves and showing all the pockets (including pockets of trousers) before the invigilator and a recording camera and be scanned with a metal detecting wand. That would take 5 – 10 minutes. So be prepared to arrive at the exam centre at least 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time.
    • If you are pregnant, you may inform the exam invigilator and request not to be scanned with the metal detecting wand for fear of radiation that may be harmful to your baby.
  • Tips 4: Exam Room Environment
    • You will probably be seated in an exam room in which different candidates are taking different examinations. Different exams may have different start and end time and the format may be different too. Some candidates may need to type a lot which may create some annoying noise while others may come and go often.
    • If you are easily disturbed by the noise and disturbance, you may request to wear ear plugs to be provided by the exam centre. But please note that some exam centres may not have ear plugs and you are recommended to bring your own and ask for their permission before wearing one.
    • The exam room may be cold or warm depending on the setting and weather. You are advised to bring your own coat / sweater to the exam centre. However, kindly note that your sweaters cannot be removed when you are in the exam room. You may sign out and have your sweater stored in the locker if you feel hot.
    • You may also want to know that the exam room is monitored by continuous audio and video recording.
  • Tips 5: Beware of extremely difficult “Pre-test” questions
    • Among the 200 questions you have got in your PMP Exam paper, there are 25 pre-test questions. In your exam, some questions may be more difficult than the mock exam questions you have attempted before. And these are likely to be the “pre-test” questions.
    • Don’t be discouraged. Just move on. There are some difficult and easy questions. It would be a pity if you spend too much time on the difficult one and fail to earn marks from the easier ones.
  • Tips 6: No Immediate Exam Results after submitting your exam online
    • After submitting your exam paper for marking by pressing the “End Exam” button, you will NOT see the screen telling you whether you have passed or failed the PMP Exam immediately.
    • You will be greeted with a survey first asking you about your exam experience. I am sure no Aspirants would be in the mood to answer the survey with joy. Exam takers may choose to skip the survey.
    • After submitting / skipping the survey, candidates will be present with a blank screen for a few seconds before they finally get the results of the exam. I do hope that you can read the “Congratulations” message!

Key to be Well Psychologically Prepared

As the marathon runner practises running a full marathon everyday in his mind to keep his body engaged, Aspirants may practise taking the full-length (i.e. 200 questions for 4 hours) mock exams by simulating the exam interface and environment — it is recommended to take online exam simulators that have an interface very similar to the real exam, including the virtual calculator. You would be good to try the real exam if you can consistently score over 75% or above in any mock exams that you write for the first time (i.e. you haven’t attempted the mock questions before).

Aspirants are also advised to schedule brain dump (if needed) and breaks into the 4-hour period in order to devise a strategy they feel comfortable.

It is hoped that after two or more tries of full-length mock exams, Aspirants will be fully prepared both psychologically and intellectually for passing the PMP Exam in first try!

Further Tips

Wish you PMP success!

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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

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