Project ManagementWaterfall

Practice All Question Types to Pass the PMP Exam

Anyone who has sat for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam knows that studying the PMBOK Guide and having 35 Contact Hours is just not enough. When you talk to them about the PMP Exam, they will tell you it covers a lot of ground and the questions are not as straightforward as one would hope. Of the ones that have passed the exam, an overwhelming percentage of them will tell you that they used more than just one study method.

Just as a golfer must learn to “drive” and “put” before they ever step onto a 18 hole golf course, the PMP Applicant must also learn the mechanics of taking the exam and what to expect when they arrive on game day. Employing multiple study methods may give you a triangulated understanding of the material as well as illuminating what you do know and what you don’t know.

Being able to answer PMP Exam sample questions is crucial to your exam success. Simple? In concept; yes. After all, the PMP exam has only multiple choice questions. However, there are a number of question styles; each has their purpose and caveats, which makes knowing how to get the most of each question exponentially crucial.

Let’s jump into the PMP Exam question types:

FORMULA based questions are more than just ‘solving for the median’ or calculating earned value. There are around 49 PMP exam formulas that you must know backwards and forwards in order to pass the PMP Exam. Understanding them thoroughly down to the importance of each element will give you the decision making criteria to include or exclude the values in the PMP exam question.

SITUATIONAL questions test your ability to apply theoretical know how to real life project management situations. Often, these questions tend to be very long winded. The idea behind this is that in real life you will be handed both relevant and irrelevant information. Your task is to identify what’s relevant, ignore what doesn’t matter and then act upon the real issues. Be sure to read and accurately identify the actual question being asked of you, so that you can eliminate the useless information.

Often, situational questions will offer two choices which are both reasonably correct, so it’s vital that you identify if the question is asking you the BEST choice, or the NEXT choice, or the EXCEPTION, or the ONLY answer.

KNOWLEDGE based questions require you to identify the meaning of the situation based on your understanding of the facts provided. These questions also occasionally ask “What is the exception?”; e.g. ‘Group brainstorming encourages all of the following except:’

Knowledge based question may also ask you to identify an example chart or graph, such as recognizing a RACI or Pareto chart.

INTERPRETATIONAL questions test your ability to deduce a situation or condition from the description of a status or problem. For example: “If your project has an SPI and a CPI both greater than 1, how well is your project performing?” To solve this, you will need to know how SPI and CPI relate to the project’s performance.

SPECIFIC TECHNIQUE questions will provide a snap shot of a situation, like a network diagram, and ask you to provide an element that’s inherent in that diagram such as forward pass or backward pass.

PMBOK GUIDE KNOWLEDGE questions test your familiarity of specific areas, such as “Which of these processes are not part of the Initiating Process Group?” or “What are the inputs to the Create WBS process?

You need to answer dozens of samples from each question type before you will feel ready to tackle the exam. But how and where do you find good PMP mock exams?

There are many free PMP sample questions available just one short Google search away. However, you want to be very careful, because with free mock questions more times than not, the old adage “You get what you pay for” applies.

The best way to practice sample questions is by signing up to an online PMP exam simulator. You can access the questions over the internet from anywhere and on your schedule. Be sure the questions were created based on the most recent version of the PMBOK Guide. The question population should be a good mix of the types as well as cover all PMBOK Guide concepts.

So, there you have it. If you want to pass the PMP exam, you need to learn about the different types of questions that appear on the exam and practice them using a high-quality online PMP Exam simulator. Once you know how to identify the real question being asked from each of these question types, you’ll greatly increase the odds of arriving at the correct answer. I know this  sounds simplistic, but it is no small task because you’ll need to be able to recall and apply all the theoretical knowledge required, combine it with your own project management experience and relate this to the question at hand.

About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He has helped over 10,000 students prepare for the PMP Exam with The Project Management PrepCast at and The PMP Exam Simulator at

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