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The Day of Your Test

There is a lot of emphasis on prepping for your certification or credential exam, however, another important component of the process is the actual testing experience. Test anxiety is the number one cause of failure on these exams. By knowing what to expect on test day, you will hopefully greatly reduce your anxiety!

You will schedule your exam for a date and time convenient for you through the Prometric.com website. After entering your information, you will be able to search for local Prometric testing centers.

Know Where You’re Going!

Prior to your exam, be sure that you have confirmed the location of the test center. I strongly recommend driving to the test center, mimicking the route you will take on your actual test date, at the same time. This will help you gauge traffic conditions and verify the location.

To illustrate the importance of this… I personally use the Goodyear, AZ test center. If I followed my Tom-Tom’s directions, it actually takes me west on Van Buren, instead of east, and then never finds the correct location. Oops.

What Is Your Peak Time?

Everybody has their “time” of the day when they are at their best. Use that to your advantage and schedule your test for your peak performance time. Keep in mind that the PMP exam is a 4-hour test – a marathon, not a sprint!

Day Of Your Test

Be sure to arrive a few minutes early. They do have the right to refuse you if you are late. Depending on how far you are from your test location, I recommend have a great “brain-food” snack such as a piece of fruit while en route.

Upon arrival you will sign in and wait to be called by the administrator. (This is a great opportunity to use the restroom!)

When your name is called, you will be asked to provide your photo ID which MUST match the name under which you scheduled your test.

All of your belongings (and all means: wallet, purse, turned off cell phone, watch, test confirmation papers, etc.) will be placed in a locker and you will be allowed to keep the key with you throughout the test process. If you brought a drink or a snack that you intend to consume during the test, you will need to leave it outside of your locker. Ask the attendant where you can keep it – some centers have a shelf and others tell you to put it on top of the lockers.

The administrator may ask you to turn your pockets inside out. And remember you won’t be allowed to chew gum!

You will sign in the log book and be provided with a couple of pencils and a booklet of scrap paper. I recommend asking if you can use one of their calculators versus the on-screen calculator (as it’s a bit klugey). However, your request may be turned down.

Kind of interesting… on my last PMP exam (2008), my PMI-RMP (2010), and my PMI-SP (2010), I was allowed to use one of their calculators. However, when I recently took my PgMP exam (2011), the administrator looked it up and “per PMI, you can only use the one on the screen”. All at the same test center.


You will be escorted to your computer station within the actual testing room. Keep in mind that there will be other people in there testing on all types of exams.

The first thing to do is acknowledge your name on the screen of the PC. Once you do that, you will need to start the tutorial that will explain how to interact with the testing system. It’s very, very simple!

HOWEVER, my recommendation, click the “START” on the tutorial but before proceeding with it, take the opportunity to write out your dump sheet. This will be all the formulas and any other key concepts that you feel you will need during the test. (see our other blog post on the recommended dump sheet).

If you do not hit “START”, there is a possibility the system will time out while you’re writing your dump sheet and you will need to have it re-set by the administrator (they tend to frown upon that!).

You have a total of 15 minutes to complete the tutorial which is more than enough time to complete it and do your dump sheet.

When the tutorial is complete, you will be prompted to begin your exam.

The Actual Exam

In the upper corners of the screen you will see how much time you have used and what question number you are on.

You will be provided with one question at a time, with four multiple choice answers. You may have some questions that are used for subsequent, sequential questions, but ultimately asking something different. This is most common with earned value questions where they will give you the scenario and ask the CV (for example) and then the next question is the same scenario but now they are asking for SV.

For each question, you have the option of answering it, skipping it, and marking it for review. Especially at the beginning of the exam I recommend marking questions you can’t answer quickly.

This serves two purposes:

  1. Allows you to “cycle” through the questions quicker, which will bring your adrenaline levels down to a functioning level (hopefully!)
  2. Helps alleviate the fear of the unknown, as you’re moving through the questions, almost like thumbing through a paper test

Cycle through as many times as you need to in order to complete all of the questions.


I also STRONGLY recommend not going back through and changing your answers. Go with your gut/instincts. Probably 80% of the time we see students changing answers on their practice tests, they get the question wrong.

If, during the exam, you need to take a break (snack, restroom, stretch, etc), you will need to go sign-out and then sign back in. Keep in mind that your time keeps ticking!

Dress comfortably – I have experienced the test room being very cold and very warm. If you have a sweater/sweatshirt on when you go in the room, you must leave it on throughout the exam – no taking it on and off as the temperature adjusts. If it gets too hot, you will need to sign out and put it in your locker.

Finishing Your Exam

Once you have answered all of the questions, you will submit your exam. This is, potentially, one of the most stressful moments of the entire process.

Many exam takers will say that they weren’t sure when they hit SUBMIT if they passed.

After a few moments (which can feel like years) of the PC churning, you will be asked to complete an online survey. After submitting the survey, more churning.

And then there it is: your results. Either you “passed” or you “failed”.

You will sign off the computer and walk out front. The administrator will have you sign-out of the log book and print off and officially “stamp” your test results.

Your score report will give you a proficiency (proficient, moderately proficient, below proficient) rating in the following domains:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring & Controlling
  5. Closing

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