Achieve PMP Exam Success, 6th Edition: A Concise Study Guide for the Busy Project Manager

Achieve PMP Exam Success, 6th Edition: A Concise Study Guide for the Busy Project Manager

by Diane Altwies, Diane White

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604271522
Publisher: Ross, J. Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/01/2018
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 526
Sales rank: 597,593
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Diane Altwies, PMP, PM Fellow, has been managing software development projects for nearly 30 years as a program or project manager in the insurance, financial services, and healthcare industries. Diane is the CEO of Core Performance Concepts, Inc., a premier teaching and consulting organization specializing in project management, program management, business analysis, and developing advanced courseware topics for project managers. She is a frequent speaker at professional meetings and symposia across the country and a Fellow of PMI Orange County. Diane has an MBA in Finance and Marketing and a BA in Production Management, both from the University of South Florida. In addition to this book, she has co-authored two others: Program Management Professional: A Certification Study Guide with Best Practices for Maximizing Business Results and Achieve CAPM Exam Success: A Concise Study Guide and Desk Reference.

Diane White, MA, PMP, CSM, LSSGB, has been managing projects for over 20 years in the information technology and telecommunications industries. She has integrated all aspects and phases of projects including purchasing, software development, testing, conversion, implementation, and process improvement. Diane is currently the lead instructor at Core Performance Concepts and has a Masters Certificate in Information Technology from George Washington University. She also has a Master of Arts and a BA in Education from the University of South Florida. Diane served on the board of the PMI - Tampa Bay Chapter for five years and the PMI Global Board of Directors from 2011-2013. She actively volunteers in the community as a Project Leader for United Way Hands on Tampa Bay.

Read an Excerpt




A PMP is a project management practitioner who:

• Has demonstrated a professional level of project management knowledge and experience by supporting projects using project management tools, techniques, and methodologies

• Has at least 4,500 hours of experience leading and directing projects

• Has completed 35 hours of formal project management training

• Has passed a computer-based exam administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI)

• Is committed to doing what is right and honorable by following the profession's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

Consult the PMI website ( for the most current information.


The exam has the following characteristics:

• It assesses the knowledge and application of globally accepted project management concepts, techniques, and procedures

• It covers the five performance domains detailed in the Project Management Professional (PMP) Examination Content Outline — June 2015

• It covers the ten Knowledge Areas and the five Process Groups as detailed in the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge(PMBOK® Guide) book

• It contains 200 multiple-choice questions

• It includes 25 questions that are "pre-exam" questions being field- tested by PMI that do not affect your exam score

• It takes up to four hours

Table 1-1 summarizes the distribution of exam questions in each of the five performance domains based on the current PMI PMP Examination Content Outline. Note that the information in this chart may change from time to time.


PMI conducts a role delineation study (RDS) on a periodic basis to answer the question "what skills must project managers have to successfully lead and direct projects?" The results of the study provide the basis for the exam so that it mirrors the practices, methods, and systems of the project management profession. The study validates that the exam is measuring what project management professionals actually do on their jobs.


Performance domains define the knowledge and skills needed by a project manager to complete the tasks in the project management processes competently. They are based on the Role Delineation Study and described in the Project Management Professional (PMP) Examination Content Outline — June 2015. There are five performance domains, which match the five process groups described in the PMBOK® Guide. The domains are also used to specify the percentage of each type of question on the exam.

Performance Domains and Tasks

Table 1-2 lists all performance domains, tasks, and cross-cutting skills.


Below is a list of recommended study tips from project managers who have successfully passed the PMP exam. Think about each one and determine which suggestions are the best for your learning style.

• Develop a plan for studying; see page 23 for a sample study plan utilizing the PMBOK® Guide and this study guide

• Follow the plan on a daily or weekly basis; it is important for you to commit to studying

• Plan your study sessions with time limitations

• Study during a time of day when you are most alert

• Vary tasks and topics during lengthy study periods

• Find one special place for studying and use it only for that

• Eliminate distractions

• If daydreaming, walk away

• Take brief breaks (five to ten minutes) after about 50 minutes of study

• Use practice exams

• Your goal should be consistently getting 80% of the questions correct

• Learn the PMBOK® Guide definitions

• Understand the big concepts first

• Review the introductory sections of each of the chapters in this book

• Try to put the concepts in your own words

• Try to apply concepts to your own experiences (remember your experiences may not reflect the PMBOK® Guide approach)

• Read the Project Management Considerations section of each chapter in this book to test your ability to apply concepts in real-world scenarios

• Memorize

• Important people and their contributions to project management

• Formulas

• Processes and their order

• Inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of each process

• The benefits of each tool and technique

• The data gathering, data analysis, and data representation tools and techniques

• Facilitate memorization by using tools like mnemonics

• Prepare for exam day

• Get a good night's rest

• Avoid last-minute cramming

• Have a good breakfast

• Leave books at home

• Go with a positive attitude

• Get to the exam site early


The exam tests your knowledge of the PMBOK® Guide by asking you many questions on definitions, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs, and it has many situational questions that determine how well you apply PMBOK® Guide concepts to real-life situations. Most people can succeed if they follow these simple steps on test day.

• Watch the 15 minute tutorial

• After the tutorial, take a few minutes to jot down key concepts or formulas that you do not want to forget during the exam

• Relax before and during the exam

• Take deep breaths

• Stretch about every 40 minutes

• If you get nervous, try to relax

• Give yourself a goal and reward yourself

• Resist the urge to panic

• Read each question carefully

• Be especially alert when double negatives are used

• Reread ALL questions containing negative words such as "not," "least," or "except"

• If a question is long and complex, read the final sentence, look at the answer choices, and then look for the subject and verb

• Check for qualifying words such as "all," "most," "some," "none," "highest-to-lowest," and "smallest-to-largest"

• Check for key words such as "input," "output," "tool," "technique," "initiating," "planning," "executing," "monitoring and controlling," and "closure"

• Decide in your mind what the answer should be, then look for the answer in the options

• Reread the questions and eliminate answer choices that are NOT correct

• The correct answer, if it's not simply a number, will include a PMI term

• Make sure you look at ALL the answer choices

• Mark questions to come back to


• Keep track of time (you have approximately 1 minute and 15 seconds for each question)

• Set up a time schedule for each question

• Allow time for review of the exam

• To stay relaxed, keep on schedule

• Answer all questions in order without skipping or jumping around

• If you are unsure, take a guess and mark the question to return to later; do not linger

• For questions involving problem solving:

• Write down the formulas before solving

• If possible, recheck your work in a different way (for example, rationalize)

• Subsequent questions may stimulate your memory and you may want to reevaluate a previous answer

• A lapse in memory is normal

• You will not know all the answers

• Take your time

• Do not be in a rush to leave the exam

• Before completing the exam, verify that you have answered all questions


Can you bring materials with you?


What is the physical setting like?

It is a small room or cubicle with a computer, chair, and desk

Can you take food or drink into the exam area?

NO food or drink is allowed • Can you take breaks during the exam?

YES; you can go to the restroom; your clock is ticking all the time, so you need to determine if you have time and need to take a break to clear your mind

What are the time constraints?

You have four hours (with an additional 15-minute tutorial and 15-minute survey)

Are the exam questions grouped by Knowledge Area such as scope, time, and cost?

NO; the 200 questions are randomly scattered across the Process Groups and Knowledge Areas

Can you take paper and pen into the exam area?

NO; either pencils and paper, or erasable boards and markers are supplied to each tester

Can you see both the question and the answer choices on the same screen?


Is there a way to mark out or eliminate answer choices that you immediately know are not correct?

NO; you can work only on the supplied piece of scratch paper or the erasable board

Is there a way to mark questions you are doubtful of?

YES • When you are done, can you review the exam?

YES, time permitting • Can you review just the questions you marked as doubtful?


Do you get immediate exam results?

YES, if you are taking an online exam; after you are done and press the SEND button, the computer will ask if you are sure, and after you press SEND again, you will fill out an online evaluation of the exam process; a testing center staff person will then give you a detailed report of your results


Many people like to use creative phrases that jog the memory to remember lists and sequences. Examples of memorable phrases follow for the five process groups and the ten knowledge areas.

Memorization Tip for the Five Process Groups:

Henry Initiated a committee named PEMCo to Close down the railway line.

1. Initiating

2. Planning

3. Executing

4. Monitoring and Controlling

5. Closing

Memorization Tip for the Ten Knowledge Areas:

I've Seen That the Cost of Quality Resonates with Customers thatRequire Project Success.

1. Integration

2. Scope

3. Time

4. Cost

5. Quality

6. Resources

7. Communications

8. Risk

9. Procurement

10. Stakeholder

You may want to devise your own memorization tips for processes in each of the knowledge areas. Here is an example of a memorization tip for the Project Scope Management processes:

Planning Scope Means you Create Real Direction, a Sense of a Can-Win attitude and a ViSion for Continued Success.

1. Plan Scope Management

2. Collect Requirements

3. Define Scope

4. Create WBS

5. Validate Scope

6. Control Scope


Some formulas, equations, and rules must be memorized to answer exam questions effectively. The most important items to remember are listed here. Most of these are discussed in more detail in the following chapters.

1. Project Schedule Networks

Project schedule diagrams are created after duration estimates and the relationships between the work packages have been determined. Following a path(s) from left to right makes a forward pass.

Forward pass

• Yields early start (ES) and early finish (EF) dates

• Early finish = early start + duration

• RULE: If there are multiple predecessors, use LATEST EF to determine successor ES

After all paths have been given their forward path, they are traversed from right to left to make a backward pass.

Backward pass

• Yields late start (LS) and late finish (LF) dates

• Late start = late finish – duration

• RULE: If there are multiple successors, use EARLIEST LS to determine predecessor LF

Once the forward and backward passes have been completed, the total float for the node can be calculated by:

• Total float = late finish – early finish

2. Normal Distribution

Normal distribution, commonly known as the bell curve, is a symmetrical distribution, as shown in Figure 1-1. Each normal curve can be distinctly described using the mean and sum of the values.

The possibility of achieving the project objective in the mean time or cost is 0%, with a 50% chance of falling below the mean and a 50% chance of exceeding the mean. Adding one or more standard deviations (s) to the mean increases the chances of falling within the range. The probability of falling within 1s, 2s, or 3s from the mean is:

• 1σ = 68.27%

• 2σ = 95.45%

• 3σ = 99.73%

3. Triangular Distribution

When there are three possible values, each of which is equally likely, the distribution takes on the shape of a triangle, as shown in Figure 1-2.

• With O = optimistic estimate, ML = most likely estimate, and P = pessimistic estimate

• Mean (µ)

• µ = (O + ML + P) ÷ 3

4. Weighted-Average or Beta/PERT Distribution

The beta distribution is like the triangular distribution except more weight is given to the most likely estimate. This may result in either a symmetrical or an asymmetrical (skewed right or skewed left) graph. An asymmetrical graph is shown in Figure 1-3.

• With O = optimistic estimate, ML = most likely estimate, and P = pessimistic estimate

• Mean (µ)

• µ = (O + 4ML + P) ÷ 6

5. Statistical Sums

• The project mean is the sum of the means of the individual tasks: µp = µ1 + µ2 + ... + µn

• The project variance is the sum of the variances of the individual tasks: Vp = V1 + V2 + ... + Vn

• The project standard deviation is the square root of the project variance: σp = σ = [square root of Vp]

6. Probability Distribution

Basic probability theory is applied to situations where uncertainty exists. The theory looks at the total population and breaks it down into components equaling 100 percent.

Given the probability of rain occurring on any day is 40 percent and the probability of the temperature being greater than 70 degrees is 20 percent, what is the probability of a sunny day greater than 70 degrees?

• Rain and greater than 70 degrees: 40% x 20% = 8%

• Rain and less than 70 degrees: 40% x 80% = 32%

• Sunny and greater than 70 degrees: 60% x 20% = 12%

• Sunny and less than 70 degrees: 60% x 80% = 48%

Using probability theory, the chance of a sunny day greater than 70 degrees is 12 percent. Note that all four percentages add up to 100 percent. The total population must always equal 100 percent.

7. Earned Value Management

Earned value management is used to monitor the progress of a project and is an analytical technique. It uses three independent variables:

Planned value (PV): the budget or the portion of the approved cost estimate planned to be spent during a given period

Actual cost (AC): the total of direct and indirect costs incurred in accomplishing work during a given period

Earned value (EV): the budget for the work accomplished in a given period

These three values are used in combination to provide measures of whether or not work is proceeding as planned. They combine to yield the following important formulas:

Cost variance (CV) = EV – AC

Schedule variance (SV) = EV – PV

Cost performance index (CPI) = EV ÷ AC

Schedule performance index (SPI) = EV ÷ PV

Positive CV indicates costs are below budget. Positive SV indicates a project is ahead of schedule.

Negative CV indicates cost overrun. Negative SV indicates a project is behind schedule.

A CPI greater than 1.0 indicates costs are below budget. An SPI greater than 1.0 indicates a project is ahead of schedule.

A CPI less than 1.0 indicates costs are over budget. An SPI less than 1.0 indicates a project is behind schedule.

8. Estimate at Completion

An estimate at completion (EAC) is the amount we expect the total project to cost on completion and as of the "data date" (time now). There are four methods listed in the PMBOK® Guide for computing EAC. Three of these methods use a formula to calculate EAC. Each of these starts with AC, or actual costs to date, and uses a different technique to estimate the work remaining to be completed, or ETC. The question of which to use depends on the individual situation and the credibility of the actual work performed compared to the budget up to that point.


Excerpted from "Achieve PMP Exam Success"
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Copyright © 2018 Core Performance Concepts, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of J. Ross Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Appendix A — Sample Assessment Exam Answers and References,
Appendix B — Sample Final Exam Answers and References,
Appendix C — Glossary,
Appendix D — Bibliography,

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