PMP Mindset: Tips for answering PMP Questions

Sitting for the PMP exam can be daunting. But, being well prepared and following the next tips and tricks will surely help you adopt the right mindset for passing your exam. In this blog post, you’ll find a number of key strategies and tips to help you efficiently deal with the PMP questions and ace your exam.

Servant Leadership

When answering PMP exam questions, adopting a servant leader mindset is critical. You should always choose the option that most applies to servant leadership practices since PMI promotes this approach over autocratic and authoritative leadership styles. Therefore, the correct answer is typically the one that entails involving the team in the decision-making process.

What to do first

One of the most commonly asked questions in the PMP exam is the one implying a scenario with multiple options of the most convenient first step the project manager should take. Even though more than one option might seem to be the right answer, you should always keep in mind that the question is about the right first action. Therefore, before picking the right answer, read over all four options to weigh which one of them makes the most suitable first action in the given scenario or situation.

Analyze before you decide

Situational questions are frequently lengthy and complicated. This type of question offers a brief description of a certain scenario and asks you to pick the best potential solution. The proposed options are often tricky with a slight unnoticeable difference that requires reasonable and logical thinking to distinguish the best course of action.

This kind of question necessitates a thorough analysis of the situation and a deep understanding of what is going on and most importantly what went wrong. So, read the question carefully and analyze the presented issue before selecting the best option.

Understand metrics

Our next piece of advice is concerning metrics. PMP exam questions no longer imply any mathematical calculations. So, just make sure to have a firm grasp of KPIs, their proper use, and what their different values indicate or reflect.

Do not break the rules, standards, or regulations

Keep in mind that a project manager must adhere to all rules, laws, and standards. So stay away from any options that entail breaking rules. Project managers should not violate rules, act out of standards, or make any decisions that compromise quality or that do not comply with regulations and processes established by their organization.

Be proactive

An important quality of a project manager is being proactive. A proactive project manager is constantly ready to deal with any major problems that arise. They should have the ability to anticipate problems and actively identify, analyze, and mitigate project risks before they turn into hindering issues.

In other words, proactive project managers should plan ahead for the long term rather than only reacting when issues occur. Thus, answers that require the project manager to wait and respond to a problem after it has occurred, or continually be in reactive mode to challenges that develop and threaten to derail them, are most likely wrong.

Do not escalate

Understanding how to apply the escalation approach correctly is critical for project managers. Some people tend to overuse this approach with every new problem they face while they should be avoiding escalation unless something impedes the project that is beyond their control. Some situations and issues necessitate higher-level intervention because the authority, resources, decision-making, or effort needed to handle them are beyond the scope of the project manager. Hence, options that involve escalation are often incorrect.

Face-to-face communication

When you encounter a question concerning the suitable communication method, you should mostly select face-to-face communication as it is the most direct, powerful, and effective way of communication. Face-to-face communication has numerous advantages including communication clarity, enhanced problem-solving, and strengthened professional ties. It also fosters trust and reduces the risk of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. It is generally more preferable than emails or any other forms of indirect communication especially when it comes to discussing with team members or making decisions that could have a significant influence on the project. Indirect communication, however, can be used as a means of communicating data and exchanging project information.

Never fire or replace a team member

Another important tip is to avoid options that involve directly firing or replacing a team member. Managing a poor performer can be a more successful technique than dismissing them. Team members should be terminated only in extreme cases, such as theft or a physical confrontation. Thus, choose an option that incites you to communicate with the team member and resolve the issue, defining what is expected of them to give them a chance to improve their performance. 

Pay attention to positive terms

You can figure out the best answer to a question by paying attention to the keywords used. For example, positive terms including “discussing,” “collaborating,” “helping,” or “coaching,” are often an indication of the correct answer, while options including negative keywords such as “instructing,” “expressing dissatisfaction,” “escalating,” and so on should be avoided because they are most likely incorrect.

Apply the elimination technique

The elimination technique is the simplest way to end up with the most accurate answer. Instead of looking for the correct answer, look for and eliminate the incorrect answers first. In multiple-choice questions, for example, you can cross out one or two options that appear to be the least likely right answer and then do a more in-depth analysis of the remaining options and select the one deemed most appropriate.

If you are still unable to identify the correct answer, simply skip the question and move on to the next one. Don’t spend too much time pondering questions to which you can’t figure out the answer. But, remember to go back to it at the end; perhaps you’ll have enough time to figure it out by then.