Frequently Asked Questions

What does Bill Lewis Training offer?

Project Management has been around for hundreds of years.  After all it is just getting things done in an organized fashion. Many are asked to do just that with no real training or methodology to be successful. BLT offers the opportunity to take your project management experience, add a little training and earn your Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification.

What’s the value of becoming PMP certified?

Most project managers understand the basics and can keep projects moving but they lack the standardized skills that PMP certification training provides. Some project managers may not have any formal training and do what works or seems best.  PMP certification training provides a standardized methodology for project management. Certification may not make a better project manager, but it will provide the right tools and procedures to perform better project management. Like any certification, whether in the medical field, a pilot, the legal profession, public accountant or automobile technician, all show that the holders of those certification have met the standards and skills set forth by well-recognized bodies of knowledge and professions. Having PMP certified project managers provides the framework and methodology to conduct and coach others in good project management. There are over 725,000 certified project managers and the PMP certification is one of the most recognized.

What's new in the 6th edition PMBOK?

The new 6th edition PMBOK was released September 6th, 2017.  It is bundeled with a seperate copy of the Agile Methodology.  The PMBOK now has 49 versus 47 process steps, a few name changes, added focus on Agile and the Talent Triangle. The ITTOs have been expanded, and new sections on concepts, trends, tailoring and Agile start each chapter. It is 756 pages and incldues the ANSI standard for Project Management. PMI memebers can get a PDF download via the PMI website.

How is the PMP Exam scored?

The PMP exam is scored based on a psychometric scoring basis which means each test is graded based on its own difficulty. Each test is different and some have more difficult questions than others. Scores are computed when you select the grade test button and produce a result of pass or fail. Scoring assessment also includes evaluations of Above Target, Target, Below Target or Needs Improvement for each of the five process groups. Several years ago, the passing grade was approximately 61% but now there is no number published. Most figure it is about 65% to 67%. Testers will get no number evaluation, so that value remains unknown.

How difficult are the questions in the BLT Testing Center?

The BLT testing center has questions that try to match real PMP exam questions. Current PMP exam questions are lengthier than they have been in the past. Answers are generally not as long but some answers are a sentence. Most answers are two to five words. Based on years of teaching and reviews of several other exam preparation providers, the following are the website owner’s estimate of question difficulties. Oliver Lehman -11, Rita Mulcahy -9, Andy Crowe -7. BLT questions are about a 9+. Testing is never easy, so the BLT testing center may be harder than the real exam but that should help in testing preparation.

What are the changes in the 6th edition PMP exam?

The new PMP exam started March 26, 2018.  The test will still use the last role delineation study (June 2015) as its guide but will incorporate the new steps, terms and added topics.  New topics include, Agile, the talent triangle, concepts, trends and tailoring for each knowledge area. The first three chapters of the new PMBOK have been rewritten significantly. Despite these changes in the PMBOK, current feedback from exam takers shows very little changes from the old exam. New terms and new process steps are covered but tailoring, Agile, considerations and trends are not showing up in exam questions. The Talent triangle has been seen as an exam topic.

Can you pass the PMP exam with a score of Needs Improvement or Below Target?

Currently there is limited test data to answer both parts of this question. There is data to show a user scored a Needs Improvement in Closing and Target or Above Target in the other four areas and passed the exam. I am going to assume that the same would be true for a single score of Below Target in Closing and even Initiation. Based on previous test data, I assume that either of these scores in Planning, Executing or Monitoring and Controlling would not result in passing the exam. As more data is available, this will be updated.

How many practice exams should I take?

As a PMP exam instructor, I suggest that students take at least 4 full practices tests. Other questions by process groups, knowledge areas and specialty questions also count toward a total suggested 1000 plus questions. Most instructors will say that the more questions, the better. To prepare for the exam, taking tests from as many different sources is better than a single source. There are many great testing centers available. There are also many phone applications that can help prepare for the exam. Taking practice questions is good but reviewing your misses and guessed questions is even more helpful. Review the explanations if available and check the PMBOK or other sources to understand best answers. The score to achieve is 75% or above.

What is a good score for a practice test?

Practice tests are hard to gauge because they are just practice. As much as you may try to make it real, it isn’t and that affects the scores. So, what should you settle for as a “good” score? 75 is the score to make. Higher is better but 75 is a score that will meet expectations for the real exam. For smaller tests of just 10 questions it may be hard to score 75. I have always told my students that 80% is equivalent to a 100%. If you can score 80% on the PMP exam practice questions you are effectively maxing the test. Take each practice test like it is real, review missed or guessed questions. Try to score 75% or higher.

What are the different PM Certifications?

There are several different types of certifications in the field of Project Management. The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers many different certifications including the Project Management Professional, Certified Associate in Project Management, Program Management Professional, Risk or Scheduling Management Professional and the Agile Certified Practitioner. Each of these certifications has its own requirements which include an application and testing. For detailed information on all of these certifications go to PMI.

Which is better, in person or online training?

It all depends on your needs. There are pluses and minuses to each. In person training gives you the best chance to get the most information in a dedicated format with the opportunity to ask and get answers to concepts or questions, but it requires you to be away from your office or work and may require travel. Online training may be done in your own home or office but could come with distractions. Power outages, internet reliability all may make online training risky.  The course materials and content are the same in an online mode but the effectiveness is limited and may not get the results you need or want.  But you can make online training work and be effective if you and your instructor are willing to do the things necessary to make it work. Full attention, no multitasking, is required in in online training. Instructors should engage with online students regularly but if they don’t that engagement must come from the student. Online training has its conveniences and risks so you want to make sure you get all the training you need and paid for.

Do I need to memorize the ITTOs

The answer is no, but you do need to know them. This means being able to apply the process step and understand where it is in the processes of doing a project. Many of the ITTOs happen in a certain order while many others can happen at any time in a project. There are many “YouTube” videos dedicated to coaching people how to learn the ITTOs. BLT has a few resources that may be useful – an ITTO training deck and specific questions that focus on the details of each component of the ITTOs. Page 61 in the current PMBOK 5th Edition is the starting point for the ITTOs but the details outlined in each section of the PMBOK are also essential.

What are the changes in the new 6th edition PMBOK PMP exam?

Changes in the exam are actually few. Yes, the new terms for some of the process steps are different. The three new process steps will probably get a question or two. The main changes are not as significant as most anticipated. There are questions on Agile and the Talent triangle but it still follows the June 2015 role delineation study which outlines the topics that will be covered. Feedback has been that the questions are longer. There are many questions about what you as the project manager do next. It has been reported that there are several change management and quality control questions. There have not been many, if any, of the old ITTO questions, like which of the following is not a tool and technique of a specific process. If there is a focus on the ITTOs, it is on the outputs of the process and knowing when they occur in the project.

How long does it take to complete the PMP application?

Feedback from several students indicates that the application takes about 10 hours to complete. Most of the time is in preparation of the data you’ll need to complete the application. Education data, points of contact for projects worked, including emails and phone numbers, take time to collect. Documenting hours per project and breaking that down to hours worked for each of the five process groups takes time. The best way to is to collect your project data, document it in a word document per the instructions of 500 characters per project using PMI terms and concepts, and then cutting and pasting it into the on-line form. Data on line is saved for 90 days.

Once my application is submitted, what happens next and how long does it take?

The application is submitted on line and it takes about 5 days to get a reply from PMI. That reply will state they have received your application and you will have one year from the date of the application to take your exam. Your next step is to get scheduled for the exam at a Prometric testing center but you can’t do that without paying for the exam. Time waiting to pay takes off of your one-year deadline. If at the time of payment, you get audited, and the audit is resolved in 7 to 10 days, your deadline will be readjusted to one year from the completed audit date. If you are not audited and pay for the exam you’ll get a validation number that you’ll need to get a testing date from an examination center. Once you schedule your exam it cannot be changed, with two exceptions. The first is a major personal or family issue that must have documented proof and the second is you rescheduling with a payment of $70 no later than two days before your exam date.

How likely am I to have my PMP application audited and what happens if I do get audited?

PMI says that applications are audited on a random basis. 10% of all applications get chosen for audit. If you get audited it is most likely random unless you left something out or did not comply with all the instructions. You’ll know that you got audited as soon as you pay for your exam. So, if there is a long period of time between submitting your application and payment, you may think you have not been selected for audit. After swiping your credit card, you may receive a notification that your application was selected for audit. The audit process takes about 7 to 10 days. PMI will send information to those you selected as points of contact for your project work and they will validate your work and application contents. They will sign and seal the information and send it back to PMI. You will get notified when the audit has been successfully completed. Also, as part of the audit you may be asked to provide proof of your education and if needed of the 35 hours of class work required per the application. This will require copies of certificates or diplomas. Failure to respond to the audit will result in a failed application and you will need to resubmit a new application. Audits are not always resolved in one try. I have data to support students having to continue to answer questions or submit new data, or even reword their project descriptions to satisfy the audit.

What new terms are showing up on the new exam?

New terms on the exam so far have been limited to business value, the talent triangle, and Agile. New terms also include the name changes in the old process steps, particularly the changes from Control to Monitor for Communications, Risks and Stakeholders. Human resources is now just Resource Management and Develop and Manage Project team is now just Develop and Manage team. So far there has been no feedback to show any questions on the new Key Concepts, Considerations, Trends and Agile sections added to the PMBOK. Keep in mind that this test, despite having a new PMBOK edition, is still using the June 2015 role delineation study which outlines the true content of the exam. A new RDS is not expected until 2019 or 2020.

PMP Knowledge Sheets

Many PMP exam takers request and need the one sheet of information that they can use to study and work on getting ready for the exam. There are many versions available. BLT has a couple of versions. One is a two page summary of all the key terms, formulas, concepts and numbers that will be on the exam as direct questions or as concepts embedded in other questions. The other tool is an eight page “overview” of all things PMP. This set of eight pages can be laminated and covers some of the same information in the two page sheet but also has sample questions, information about the application process and the test itself.  Both of these documents are available in PDF form. They are included as part of the shared resources for students but can be purchased separately.

Are there other PMP Prep Guides

There are several other PMP prep guides available. Each has their pluses and minuses. They may be a good supplement to any PMP training.  These include Exam Prep books by Rita Mulcahy, Sohel Ahkter, CrossWind, Aileen Ellis or Andy Crowe.

Course Forms and Templates

Study materials for the training class include many of the basic forms used in the training. Also included are study aids including templates, formulas, information on the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) and general study guidance.  Study materials are available for class attendees by request or may be purchased here.

What are the must know formulas for the PMP exam?

There are over 20 formulas associated with the PMP exam. To have a better chance of passing the exam, you should be familiar with all of them but must know via memorization or other means at least the following 13 formulas. The last 9 you should be aware of.
a. The PERT (program evaluation review technique) formulas – Beta distribution, standard deviation and variance. (3)
b. The communications channel formula and the Expected Monetary Value formula – probability times impact. (2)
c. You must know the key earned value management or analysis formulas. These include Planned and Earned Value, Schedule and Cost Variance, and Performance Index. (6)
d. And last, the forecasting formulas including the basic Estimate and Variance at Completion. (2) These will be the most likely formulas that show up on the exam.
e. Others that you’ll need to be familiar with include To-complete-performance index, Estimate to Complete, the other Estimate at Completion formulas, Point of Total Assumption, Buyer/ Seller share ratio and how to determine lease versus buy. The last formula is for total float. You can learn the formula or just know the key elements of a singe node, Early Start, Early Finish, Late Start, Late Finish. Remember, Finish minus Start of either the early side or the late side will reveal the total float. (9)

What other sites would be helpful for me to review?

There are many links to great PMP materials and I have no intention of trying to replicate what’s on these sites. BLT’s favorite sites and the ones that will help you get your PMP or other PM certification are as follows.  Brainbok; Deep Fried Brain;PM Study Exam Central; Passionate PM; Project Management Academy; Master of Projects; PM Prep Cast

What’s a Registered Education Provider?

PMI R.E.P.s are organizations that are approved to offer training in project management and issue professional development units (PDUs) to meet the continuing education requirements needed by PMI credential holders. To earn the R.E.P. designation, a provider must meet or exceed rigorous standards for quality and effectiveness as defined by PMI.  Training companies submit their materials to PMI for review and pay about $1200 per year to be a register provider. As a R.E.P. they are authorized to use the PMI logo in their advertising.

Do you need a registered education provider?

It is fine to use a registered training provider but not required. Being a registered provider just means the trainer has paid a fee of about $1200 per year, that PMI has reviewed and certified the trainer’s abilities, and allows them to use the PMI logo for advertising.  The key is to use a trainer you’ve checked out. Using a registered training provider may be overrated.

How does the BLT Testing Center score tests?

The BLT testing center scores the test based on percentage scores for all questions. The percentage score is then assigned a value of Above Target, Target, Below Target or Needs Improvement. For Process Groups, Knowledge Area and Other tests scoring is based on the following numbers. 0 to 50 is NI, 51-67 BT, 68 to 78 T, and 79 or above AT. The PMP Exam is graded using several possible scoring possibilities. Initiation and Closing have fewer questions and factors are taken into consideration for both. For example, a student taking a 30 question PMP practice exam may score a 50% by missing one of the 2 questions in the closing process group and be graded as Needs Improvement. Overall, the scoring maybe tougher for the Testing Center than the real exam.

What are the most difficult knowledge areas?

Typically, the toughest knowledge areas are Integration, Stakeholder, Procurement and Risk management. This is based on data from over 500 students and their in-class scores in these knowledge areas. The highest scored areas are Professional and Social Responsibility, Quality and Time Management.

What is the most difficult process group?

The most difficult process group is monitoring and controlling. There are many questions on the exam covering change management. The other reason this is hard is the formulas users need to know are generally covered in these questions. Cost, Time, Risk and Procurement all have formulas and they typically present as Monitoring and Controlling questions.

How many math-based questions will the PMP exam have?

After collecting data from over 200 test takers and other sources, the answer to that is about 12 math questions and another 6 or 8 math-based questions. The math questions require computation, the math based require a knowledge of the formula or math required. 18 to 20 questions are no more than 10% of the total questions. There are about 13 must-know formulas that show up on most exams. PERT, Earned Value, Communications, and Risk are the keys to these formulas.

Are there questions on the PMP exam not covered in the PMBOK?

The exam is based on the contents of the PMBOK and some say about 80 other project management sources. PMI will not disclose the list of sources, if there even is one. But the answer is yes, there are questions on the exam that are not in the PMBOK. The PMBOK is just a guide. Project managers all over the world and the way projects are done today all contribute to topics and questions for the exam. PMP exam prep books like Rita Mulcahy, Andy Crowe, Crosswinds, Global Knowledge and others all attempt to cover the highlights in the PMBOK and “all” the other topics that may show up on the exam.