By Cornelius Fichtner, PMP
You’ve read the PMBOK® Guide, you’ve studied hard and you feel that you are ready to take the PMP® exam. But understanding the topics isn’t the only thing you’ll need to make a success of the exam. Wouldn’t it be great to have the chance to take some sample questions, so you really know what the exam is going to be like?
You can use a PMP exam simulator to give you an insight into what sort of questions you’ll face during the exam. Here are 10 things to look for when choosing which PMP exam simulator to use:
1. Does it have full exam mode?
Choose a simulator that offers full exam mode. This will show you what the PMP exam is really like. With full exam mode, you can take a complete practice exam in your own home or office. It’s very realistic, and taking practice exams like this will help you understand what to expect on the day.
2. Does it have lots of questions?
You don’t want to be sitting at the computer after a day of studying and find that the same questions appear on the screen time and time again. Choose a PMP exam simulator that has lots of questions, preferably over 1,500. This will give you plenty of variety. Varied questions are more challenging, more interesting for you, and make your experience of the simulator more realistic.
3. Are the questions presented in the same proportion as in the exam?
Having lots of questions is only half the story: you also need to make sure that the questions presented on screen are shown in the same proportion as in the PMP exam itself. For example, in the real exam, 13% of the questions will come from Initiating a Project. If your PMP exam simulator shows too few or too many questions from this section, you won’t get a realistic view of what you’ll be presented with on your exam day.
4. Is the vendor a PMI Registered Education Provider?
A Registered Education Provider (R.E.P) is an organization approved by PMI to issue PDUs for its training materials. You might not have your PMP certification yet, but get into good habits now and make sure that you use a PMP exam simulator from a reputable, PMI approved company.
5. Who wrote the questions?
You want to know who is behind all these questions, don’t you? Try to find a PMP exam simulator that has questions written by a group of PMPs. That way, you know that behind the scenes the question writers have adapted a variety of styles, debated over the answers and the phrasing, and peer reviewed each others’ work.
6. Is there a ‘mark for review’ feature?
In the real exam, you’ll see the ‘mark for review’ feature. This enables you to put a question to one side for the moment and return to it at the end. Don’t let a difficult question take up all of your time. In the real exam, you’ll want to skip it and complete as many of the questions as possible, then go back to the ones you have marked for review. A good PMP exam simulator will let you do the same.
7. Does it have a learning mode?
There’s more to PMP exam preparation than just taking practice exams. You can also use a PMP simulator to help you learn. In learning mode, you can get hints for the questions, or you can see the answer to the question. This is useful if you want to consolidate what you have learned so far.
8. Does it explain why you got questions wrong?
You also need to know why you got questions wrong! It’s very frustrating to just see ‘Wrong’ on the screen without an explanation or a reference back to other materials so that you can revise your understanding of that concept. A good PMP exam simulator will explain the rationale and help you understand why you made a mistake.
9. Is it based on the most recent PMBOK® Guide?
This is an obvious one: you need to choose a simulator to help with your PMP exam prep that is based on the most recent PMBOK® Guide! If it isn’t, you can’t guarantee the relevance of the questions or the accuracy of the answers.
10. Will it let you take the tests multiple times?
A great simulator won’t limit the amount of times you can take the tests. Repeating the tests (especially if you got some of the answers wrong) is a good way to gain confidence and improve your exam results. Look for a PMP exam simulator that allows you to retake the tests as many times as you like.
Last but not least, your PMP exam simulator will not only help you prepare properly for the exam, but it will also help you approach the exam environment confidently. You’ll know what to expect, and prior knowledge is a great stress reliever! A great PMP simulator will give you an important edge in passing that all-important exam.
About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He has helped over 13,000 students prepare for the PMP Exam with The Project Management PrepCast at http://www.pm-prepcast.com and The PM Exam Simulator at http://www.pm-exam-simulator.com