You get 15 minutes on your computer to get used to the exam software, if you are already aware you may "end" the session and start the exam directly. I took my 15 minutes to get accustomed to the environment and be more comfortable.
The exam has 150 questions, out of which 15 are for future tests and will not be scored. All you have to do is answer 135 questions in 3 hours. The time limit is not a problem, it's ample time to think, rethink and choose the answer. Questions are all mutiple choice. You also get a calculator on your screen for calculations.
Once you complete your exam, you get to know if you passed or failed along with an analysis sheet which shows the 9 zones you have been tested for and how you flaired in them. It doesn't provide you with any score or percentage to take back home. You either get it or you don't.
The questions tests different arenas -
- The input and outputs of terms like say "schedule network diagram"- this tends to get a little confusing and you have to be very sure since 2 choices will look similar and correct. This is the major part of the exam.
- Analysis of situations and the action which you will take based on your leadership skills
- Calculations - Formula based and are not too detailed.
- Difference between terminologies
How you can make your study error-proof: I thought I was smart enough to read the PMBOK and get through the exam. So, the exam prooved- I'm not.
If you have worked in project management for years and have been part of all the process executions, you can perhaps get through the exam by just reading the PMBOK. It wasn't true for me, first, I haven't been in this arena for long enough to gain experience in all the processes. Second, I haven't seen half of them being implemented. So, my idea is based on the theoritical aspect by reading of the book.
I think one flaw I had in my preparation is while studying is that we tend to develop a pattern for it and rarely try other things. So, while I was sure I was studying it the right way and had my hand written flash cards to help me I wasn't perhaps thinking about breaking the pattern. Thats what got me.
I have to be honest and tell all of you who would like to prepare for the exam that I was confident giving the exam and though I was very close to getting it, the truth is I didnt. However, that should not deter anyone , use the process of elimination to figure out your answer and read well. Using prep materials is good, since it guides you on the your thinking process and I will be using it for my next attempt.
I remember looking at my computer screen for my result and not being able to read the entire paragraph. I read that I didn't make it and all I could think was waking up everyday at 5.30 to study and that I had to do it again. It's hard taking the load at work and coming back home late and studying.
The entire process has taught me something more worthwhile, the credentials are hard to get and I have tremendous respect for all who have made it.