PMP Test Breakdown

The Project Management Institute (PMI) develops several exams for project management professionals. One of these exams is the Project Management Professional exam (PMP). This computer-based exam measures and assesses one’s ability to apply their project management knowledge in six different domains regarding project management. These domains are initiating the project, planning the project, executing the project, monitoring and controlling the project, closing the project, and professional and social responsibility.

There are two ways in which to apply to take the PMP examination. There is an online application on the PMI website, and there is a paper copy of the application in the PMP Credential Handbook, which also can be found on the PMI website.

Both applications require the applicant to document and list their eligibility to take the PMP examination. The eligibility requirements are as follows: high school diploma (or equivalent) with 7500 hours experience leading and directing specific tasks with 60 months of project management experience and 35 hours of formal project management education, or a bachelor’s degree with 4500 hours experience leading and directing specific tasks with 36 months of project management experience and 35 hours of formal project management education.

Supporting documents proving one’s eligibility do not need to be submitted with either the online or the paper application. However, some applicants are randomly audited by PMI, and these applicants are required to send in supporting documents relating to the eligibility. Fees must also be paid at the time of application, and these fees are outlined on the PMI website.

Once an applicant has applied to take the PMP examination, and their application has been successful, they will receive an electronic authorization to test (ATT) letter. This letter has information on exam scheduling. To schedule an exam, test-takers must go to the website for Prometric to select a test date and a testing location. The PMP exam is offered during normal business hours Monday through Saturday. Specific testing dates and test locations can be found on Prometric’s website. It is recommended to schedule an exam six weeks before the preferred test date.

The Project Management Professional exam is a computer-based examination, and it contains 200 multiple choice questions. Twenty-five of those questions are pretest questions, and these questions are not part of the overall test score. They are used to help test makers in the development of future test questions and exams.

The test questions cover six different domains of project management:

  • initiation of the project (11%)
  • planning the project (23%)
  • executing the project (27%)
  • monitoring and controlling the project (21%)
  • closing the project (9%)
  • professional and social responsibility (9%)

All of the test questions are developed and validated by content experts and are referenced to current project management text resources. The questions are also monitored using psychometric analysis.

The exam is given in English only, but there are available exam aids to use in translating the exam questions into ten different languages. These exam aids need to be requested during the scheduling process, and more information on the exam aids can be found on the PMI website. Test-takers are given four hours to complete the examination, and there is also a 15 minute computer tutorial at the beginning of the examination.

After taking the computer-based PMP exam, a printed copy of the exam results can be obtained. Results can also be found online within five to seven days of completing the exam on the PMI web-based certification system. Each score report is diagnostic in nature; including a percentage breakdown for each of the six domains tested on the exam, as well as a pass/fail designation. A passing score is determined using the Modified Angoff Technique. This technique uses actual data and collective judgments from PMP credentialed individuals around the world.

In preparing for the examination, it is best to study several specific content areas as related to project management, using textbooks and other materials. These content areas are: communication management, cost management, human resources management, integration management, procurement management, quality management, risk management, scope management, and time management. Sample exam questions can also be found online on the PMI website.