The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a must-have for many project managers. It demonstrates your ability as a project manager to your current and prospective employers, and can help you take the next step up the corporate ladder. That said, it is not an easy road, and preparing for the exam can be a time-consuming and stressful business.
As adults, we don’t take exams that often. Part of the nerves and stress relating to the PMP exam comes from not knowing what to expect. You can prepare for the exam by revising the material from the knowledge areas of the PMBOK® Guide, but that should be only part of your preparation. You can also practice what the exam will be like by working through sample questions in a realistic, online environment. A PMP exam simulator provides this. Sitting sample tests with an exam simulator will help you face the real exam confidently.
Here are the 7 criteria to consider when selecting a PMP exam simulator to best suit your needs:
1. Select PMI Registered Education Providers only
One of the most important criteria is making sure you choose a PMP exam simulator from a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P). A R.E.P. is an organization approved by PMI, and the certification and logo shows you that the product meets established quality standards.
2. Compare the price to your budget
Studying for the PMP exam can be expensive when you include training materials, books and the exam fees. You will probably have a budget for your PMP journey, so compare the prices of PMP exam simulators and select one that provides the highest level of quality for a price you can afford.
3. Ensure that the simulator is based on the most recent PMBOK® Guide
Don’t waste time using an exam simulator that isn’t based on the most recent PMBOK® Guide! It sounds simple, but be sure to check that the PMP exam simulator you are looking at is actually based on the latest version. If it isn’t, you could waste a lot of time on questions (and answers) that will not accurately reflect what the exam will be like.
4. Establish the simulator content
Select a PMP exam simulator that has lots of questions. Lots. After all, you’ll be studying for 8-12 weeks, so you could be using the simulator often. It makes the exam prep too easy if the simulator presents you with same questions over again, so opt for a tool that offers you a great variety to test your abilities fully.
While you are looking into the questions find out who wrote them. Choose a simulator where the questions have been written by a group of PMPs. This ensures that you will be seeing questions from a variety of people, which have most likely been peer-reviewed to ensure quality.
5. Check it has full exam mode
The PMP exam simulator you choose should have a full exam mode. This means that you can take a practice exam in advance of the real thing. It should be very realistic, with the option to mark questions for review, as that is what you will be able to do during the actual exam. Ideally, you will want to choose a simulator that enables you to take the tests as many times as you like.
You’ll also want to check that the questions are presented in the same proportion as in the real exam. For example, about a third of the questions in the real exam are from Executing a Project. Your choice of PMP exam simulator should do the same to make the practice exams as realistic as possible.
6. Check it offers learning mode
Learning mode in an exam simulator is a good option to support your day-to-day studies during your PMP exam preparation. You can use learning mode to review various areas of the syllabus. For instance you might want to focus on questions coming from just Project Cost Management Knowledge Area or just from the Initiating Process Group. You should also be able to take a quick timed exam with a small number of random questions over your lunch break.
In learning mode, a good simulator offers hints for questions if you are struggling, and will even show you the answer so you know what you need to review. The simulator must also explain the logic behind the questions, and point you in the right direction if you make a mistake.
7. Establish the level of technical support
PMP exam simulators can be web-based or available to download and install on your computer. Either way, find out what sort of technical support the company offers. Ideally, look for a company that provides help when things go wrong through a forum, FAQ on their website, or a ‘contact us’ page. In the worst case, you might want to return the product completely, so find out if they offer a full refund if you are not satisfied.
Work through these 7 criteria for every PMP exam simulator that you are considering, and you will find a product that meets your needs. Having chosen a PMP exam simulator, you can use it to fully prepare for the exam, and you will enter the exam room knowing what to expect. Good luck!
About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He has helped over 13,500 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