To be successful in passing your PMP Exam, just knowing the material may not be enough. You must also develop some practical test taking skills. Throughout your academic experience it is likely that you have encountered many types of test question formats, such as oral questions, essay questions, fill-in-the-blank questions and true or false questions. Your PMP Exam employs a multiple choice question (MCQ) format.
MCQ exams have been proven to be highly effective for testing complex intellectual knowledge, reasoning ability and understanding. Good MCQ exams (like the PMP Exam) are both objective and reliable.
To pass, MCQ test takers must study for recall, but more importantly for understanding. Good MCQ exams require you to 1) recognize answers to problems, 2) recognize correct reasons for relationships, 3) establish causal links and 4) demonstrate an understanding of principles and standards.
Good MCQ exams make liberal use of reasonable appearing distracters. Distractors are intended to discriminate between those who truly know the correct or best answer and those who have only a cursory familiarity on the subject.
The PMP Exam presents all questions with 4 unique multiple choice answer options. There are no true/false questions and there are no combination answers where two or more answers form a correct choice. The test taker must choose the best answer from the presented choices. In some cases, one or more answer options may be correct or have some degree of correctness; the test taker must determine the best answer from his or her understanding of the subject matter.
The Science of Answering MCQ Exam Questions
Step 1: Know How to Read the MCQ
Approach each MCQ as a mutually exclusive independent event. Read the MCQ carefully, looking to determine precisely what the question is really asking for:
- Identify the correct answer?
- Identify the best answer?
- Identify the first best action?
- Identify the least best action?
- Identify the exception?
- Identify the incorrect alternative?
Many MCQ’s will be straightforward, but many will include irrelevant information and other distracters. Be thankful for the straightforward questions, but expect distracters.
Be on the lookout for distinguishing terms. Directly in the wording of many MCQ’s, you will find some distinguishing term or phrase. For example, fast tracking may appear in a question. You should recognize fast tracking as a key project management term. It may be the distinguishing term in this particular MCQ. If you focus some attention on the distinguishing term, you may be able to identify the correct answer even before reviewing the answer options.