Difficulty Level & Salient Features of PMP Certification Exam


PMI PMP exam is one of the tougher certification exams primarily because of the nature of questions asked and all options similar answer choices. As per the current pattern there are 4 to 5 options given to each question and all the choices seem to be correct you have to choose the best between them. They are related to managerial profile and require judgment, practical experience and a detailed know how.

 First and foremost one should know the eligibility criteria for the exam and what the pattern for the exam is. You also need to take PMI Membership as by doing so you would get complete 1 year standard online course material access from PMI. Also you will get the access to soft copy of the latest PMBOK Guide. As far as preparation is concerned one should go through the student manual provided by SarvaShikshan® e-Learning, as it’s an extract of the most important must read content and should be sufficient

Thorough Revision & Question Bank. This is the 2nd critical activity to do. You need to revisit the course taught to you during the training at least 2 to 3 times so that the content fits into your brain. Ideally one should focus on the direction and guidance provided by the trainer from SarvaShikshan® e-Learning, as far as how much and when to study as part of the preparation to counter the difficulty level. You don’t need to remember the Inputs, tools, techniques and output or for that matter any definitions but the syllabus itself is huge and needs reading over and over again. At SarvaShikshan® e-Learning if you do training  you will get soft copies of study material such as student manual, Project Manager Checklist, Spotlight Videos, Activity Files, Self-Knowledge Check etc. as now everyone is moving towards online reading and soft copies of documentation.

You will also get to solve the question bank provided by PMI to SarvaShikshan® e-Learning, which we consider as a mock test to be solved by candidates when they are completely ready with their study and revision etc. Since we are Premier Authorized Training Partner (ATP) to PMI with ATPID: 4592, the question bank provided by PMI should be considered as good as a final exam. One should take the solving of the question bank very seriously and attempt it like a final exam, because the score achieved in the solving of the question bank will really decide whether a candidate is prepared to give the final exam or no. The question bank has to be solved with proper time bound and following all the protocols and compliance of a final exam. With the revised syllabus of PMP 2021 exam, there is an inclusion of almost 50% portion of agile and the remaining 50% will be traditional project management (waterfall model) with some questions are expected to be on hybrid approach to project management. I.e. combination of agile and waterfall or traditional project management.

As far as the understanding goes, agile is comparatively an easier topic to understand and grasp, so ideally the PMP exam of today should be easier than previous exam before 2021. Off course there is no alternative to rigorous study and clear the exam with above target level, one has to study thoroughly and understand the concepts very clearly, use all the practical experience if one has to clear the PMP exam.

Let us discuss about some interesting tricks of the trade and plan to study to clear PMP exam…

  1. Do a focused study for 2 months (recommended daily 2 hours) for your preparation and do not fall in the trap of reading too many books. This will never assist you, but instead, it will confuse you and you will get minimum time to concentrate on important topics and the very essential in the course material provided.
  2. Take official 36~40 contact hours training at SarvaShikshan® e-Learning, who will guide you at every step of your way. Reading the student manual as many times as possible is going to help a great deal in the understanding of the concepts and definitions of Project Management and its related topics.
  3. Read the student manual thoroughly the second time to clear your concepts more clearly and bring to limelight the important charts or formulae or process charts with markers, so that next time you can focus only on the marked descriptions rather than a whole lot.
  4. You may need to keep in mind all the formulae to be specific Earned Value calculations and try to grasp their meaning… with abbreviations like EV- Earned Value/AC – Actual Cost/PV – Planned Value/BAC – Budget At Completion etc. You are bound to get some questions on these topics the questions would be relatively simple to answer. Try to understand the Integrated Change Control process and methodology very precisely and clearly…you may be asked in exam questions on scenarios or case studies or real life situations whenever there are modifications and alterations happening in a project.
  5. Understand and keep in memory SarvaShikshan® e-Learning process chart, this will assist you to know better when a process takes place and what comes before or after that particular process or methodology. Keep in memory and try to understand concepts, principles and processes explained in student manual well.
  6. First and foremost you should refer all the study material provided by SarvaShikshan® e-Learning and then you should refer to additional books (if any) as suggested by the trainer.
  7. SarvaShikshan® e-Learning online course material will also include chapter tests after end of each chapter, you should solve each one of it before proceeding to next chapter.
  8. Before you attempt your final PMP exam, solve the entire question bank provided by SarvaShikshan® e-Learning. This is must to test your endurance limit to sit for a 4 hours exam. The true benefit of solving the question bank is to guide you on your errors and mistakes and how and how much you have to study further as part of the preparation for your PMP Exam.
  9. You may need to go through the course material one more time with following revision of Process Groups, Knowledge Areas, Mapping or formulae etc. and you can yourself realize that you have gained enough confidence and control on topics. If you are getting more than 75% correct answers by solving the question bank then be rest assured that you are nearing an end to your preparation and studies because you are almost ready to attempt the final exam.
  10. During the actual PMP exam, do not get nervous or anxious, carefully take care of time…many are behind schedule initially but as you start to get involved in the questions with your thought process you tend to catch up.SarvaShikshan® e-Learning is one of the most reputed institutes in Pune for doing PMP Certification India. We even have students from US, UK, Canada, Australia, Middle East, Far East etc., who search for PMP Certification India and get connected with us. You have to believe in yourself, if you follow well defined and proper study plan, there is no doubt you will get good score.

    Salient Features of PMP Exam

    1. It is Lengthy & Tiring –With 4 hour’s duration, the PMP Exam is considered as one of the very few longest certification exams that anyone can come across in management certification exams and it really tests a candidate thoroughly. It is mentally exhausting by any standards.
    2. It not only tests the students thorough knowledge and understanding about project management but also how effectively it is applied in day to day working – Most of the known exam concentrate on capability to sustain knowledge. However, the PMP Exam actually tests a student’s capability to apply project management process and methodology practically rather than just test the on paper or bookish know how of it. The choices of answer are almost similar in meaning context etc. and that is where the hard part is, you need to choose the option which is best and most suited to the question you are answering and only a deep understanding of a process or methodology with some accurate logical reasoning can help a candidate determine the right answer choice.

    Even with great amount of project management experience, very few project managers use standard and well defined best practices, PMI processes thoroughly throughout projects and in all possibility, they would be better in some areas and not so good in others. That is the reason, they need to spend most of their time learning the areas they are unknown with before having the required expertise levels to go for the PMP exam – just having experience will not assist to clear the exam.

    It is has been said by experts that on an average around 120 hours of studying is required to attempt the PMP exam in addition to the compulsory 36 contact hours, and the ideal window period of studying is nearly between 45-60 days, to be exam ready. Spending less time than told just now could mean insufficient preparation and over exceeding the time given over a longer period means that you are risking to forget earlier learned topics and chapters.

    In many experts opinion, the best approach or follow through is to have a well chalked out plan to get exam ready. On the other hand, just because it’s challenging, does not mean it’s impossible.

    1. Giving The Exam Online instead of Exam Center or Vice Versa – This particular option can have its pros and cons and we would discuss some of it below.
      1. Apart from the convenience factor associated when giving the exam Online, it’s always better to give the exam at the center. The major hurdle in giving online exam is to have a decent internet connection which is seamless and not breaking up frequently. Although some people prefer to go to exam center and give the exam as there a particular environment is created and that makes you focus on the exam more than you would if giving the exam online. However it changes for every individual. Many candidates may have a separate study room or an office kind of room in their house where they get all the isolation, privacy and non-interference of family members especially when the person is doing office work. In such cases it’s easy for the candidate to focus and concentrate on the exam without any disturbance.
      2. There is always a threat of the internet connection going down or a power outage occurring at home and if there is no inverter back up then it’s all the more difficult. Even if there is an inverter back up it may not last long for 4 hours to sustain the total exam time. Sometimes there might be some issue cropping up with your laptop as well which will make it difficult to proceed with online exam. One benefit of traveling time could be saved with all the traffic hassles nowadays and getting fatigued and tired by the time you reach the exam center if it’s not that close to where you stay. What’s more important is you stay fresh and positive while you are about to attempt the exam.

Whatever maybe the case PMI is always going to ensure that difficulty level of PMP exam stays intact although it maybe be less now compared to the exam before 2021, where the majority of the focus was on the traditional project management (also called as waterfall model). The reason we say the difficulty level might be less now compared to earlier is because of the inclusion of agile portion or syllabus with almost 50% weightage, rest of the questions maybe a combination of waterfall model and hybrid model, which is a combination of waterfall and agile.

It is normally considered that understanding agile could be slightly easier than understanding traditional project management, because of the ways its principles, processes and concepts are defined and explained in the world market today. Maintaining the difficulty level of PMP exam is what makes it more unique and challenging and most sought after certification exam in the world today, else it would have been a piece of cake for everyone to clear the exam and gain PMP Certification, and in the process PMI would have lost its sheen or importance of the PMP Certification exam.

It’s the sole reason why PMI is still able to maintain its high proficiency, reputation popularity and importance in the world market today!


Ajay Girme

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