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PMP Exam Themes – The Perspective You Need To Develop To Be Prepared – Learn to Think Like the PMI (#1 in the series PMP Exam Themes – The Perspective You Need To Develop To Be Prepared)
By Brian Denis Egan, B.Sc, M.Sc., M.B.A., PMP – Global Knowledge Course Director

Questions on the Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam are written from a particular perspective. The examiners assume certain operating conditions are in place without stating those conditions. The problem for project managers (PMs) taking the exam is that these assumptions are never clarified by the Project Management Institute (PMI®). To make matters worse for, these assumptions must be gleaned from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®). If you know from the outset what perspective should be taken, studying for the exam is greatly simplified. You need to know how the examiners were thinking when they wrote the questions.

If you have extensive project experience you are likely familiar with the old adage “project management is responsibility without authority”. Project managers become experts at getting things done without access to the tools of authority.

However, do not let your experience override one of the underlying assumptions inherent in PMP exam questions. As far as the PMI and its exam are concerned, PMs should have, and therefore do have, ultimate authority for a project. In situational exam questions, it is assumed that the PM has the authority to do the right thing in every situation. This is a far cry from the reality that most people experience. In order to answer situational exam questions correctly, you must learn to think “PMI”. That is, you must know the presumptions of the examiners. Only then will you able to choose the best answer among the possible choices. Do not let your personal experience override your PMI thinking.

Preparing for the PMP exam, therefore, requires both an understanding of the best practices according to PMI and an understanding of the unwritten perspective of the examiners. These underlying assumptions are key to success on the exam:

  • Working in PM heaven—PMs hold ultimate authority
  • Always be proactive
  • Corrective action is the correct reaction
  • Planning is king
  • Update the plan regularly
  • Product life cycle costing leads to best decisions
  • Communication is a PM’s primary tool
  • Err on the side or formality
  • Avoid gold plating
  • PMs are stakeholder centric
  • The importance of lessons learned

About the Author

Brian Denis Egan is CEO of a manufacturing company (Book Box Company) and a management consultant. He has written three professional development manuals and numerous white papers on aspects of management science. Since 2000, Brian has been a part-time instructor for Global Knowledge within the Management product line.

This article was originally published in Global Knowledge’s Business Brief e-newsletter. Global Knowledge delivers comprehensive hands-on project management, business process, and professional skills training. Visit our online Knowledge Center at for free white papers, webinars, and more.

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