An Introduction to the PMP: Exam Details and Process

August 23, 2018 by Ravi Das (writer/revisions editor)
The Project Management Professional (PMP) and the PMI Talent Triangle are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.


In the world of cybersecurity, there are many certs that stand out, but there is one that has probably been around the longest: the Project Management Professional, or PMP for short. This certification is currently offered by the Project Management Institute.

As of this year, there are over 833,000 PMP certified professionals, with 218 PMP chapters in 210 countries.

Domain Areas of the PMP

The scope of the PMP exam is broken down into five knowledge domains, which include the following:

  • Project Initiation (13% of exam coverage)
  • Project Planning (24% of exam coverage)
  • Project Execution (31% of exam coverage)
  • Project Analysis and Monitoring (25% of exam coverage)
  • Project Launch and Closure (7% of exam coverage)

The Scope and Nature of the PMP Exam

The actual exam is composed of 200 multiple choice questions. Unlike some other IT certs, the PMP is closed-book, and no other kinds or types of materials are allowed into the testing center. It is important to note that 12.5% of the exam coverage (25 questions in all) are considered to be “sample” questions and are used to examine for suitability in future exams.

These questions appear sporadically throughout the exam, and they do not are not used in calculating the final score of the exam. Thus, the candidate is only graded on 175 questions.

The candidate is allowed up to four hours to take the exam, which is offered by the Prometric Testing Centers worldwide. The actual exam is computer-based; this guarantees that the candidate will know their results almost immediately. There is also a paper-based version of the exam that is currently offered but is only available in a limited number of Prometric Testing Centers.

Interestingly enough, the PMI does not reveal any sort of official passing score. The computer notifies the candidate if they have passed or failed the exam and displays the candidate’s proficiency level in each of the domain areas. Proficiency can be at one of four levels:

  • Above target (this indicates a high level of domain proficiency);
  • Target (this indicates an average level of domain proficiency);
  • Below target (this indicates a below-average level of domain proficiency).
  • Need improvement (this means that none of the above proficiency levels have been met, and the candidate is advised that much further review and/or training is needed in those respective domain(s)

Candidates who take the paper-based version of the PMP exam typically receive their pass/fail status along with the above information in about four weeks. If a candidate has failed the exam on the first attempt, he or she is allowed to take it up to three times in a calendar year.

The following matrix describes the cost structure for taking the PMP Exam:

Exam Type PMI Status US Dollars Euros
Center-based testing (CBT) member $405 €340
Paper-based testing (PBT) member $405 €340
Center-based testing (CBT) nonmember $555 €465
Paper-based testing (PBT) nonmember $555 €465
Reexamination CBT/PBT member $275 €230
Reexamination CBT/PBT nonmember $375 €315

The PMP Process

The following diagram reviews the entire PMP examination process:

Important points to consider:

  • Submitting the application online is the preferred method (it will take a maximum of five calendar days for full processing)
  • Application payment can be made via online payment, wire transfer, traditional check or money order
  • When you submit your application to the PMI, it means that you agree to abide by the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Certification Application/Renewal Agreement. But keep in mind that a small percentage of applications are subjected to an audit. This means that further information is required to confirm your work and educational history

PMP Examination Requirements

Not just anybody can appear for the PMP exam. There are strict and exhaustive guidelines which have been set forth, and are as follows:

For those candidates with a high school diploma or associate degree:

  • 5 years of direct project management experience
  • 7,500 hours of direct leading of an actual project(s)
  • 35 hours of formal project management education

For those candidates with a degree or advanced degree:

  • 3 years of direct project management experience
  • 4,500 hours of direct leading of an actual project(s)
  • 35 hours of formal project management education

Also, the following are the typical characteristics of candidates whom appear for the PMP Exam:

  • The individual performs their duties with minimal supervision and is 100% responsible for all of phases of the project management life cycle
  • Have direct oversight and management of the various cross functional teams in order to deliver and execute the project deliverables to the client’s satisfaction within tight timeframes, budgets and limited resources
  • Possess an in-depth knowledge of at least one traditional project management methodology and be able to apply those skills efficiently and effectively to any type or kind of project that has clearly-established requirements and project deliverable deadlines. Examples of these models which most PMPs have a solid grasp of include the following:
    • Agile
    • Scrum
    • Kanban
    • Scrumban
    • Lean
    • XP (Extreme Programming)
    • Waterfall
    • Prince 2

Study Materials For the PMP

In general, there are three ways to prepare for the PMP:

  1. Via boot camps

    There are many boot camps that are available, but one of the most highly-regarded ones is that offered by the InfoSec Institute. They offer a 5-day boot camp, and on the 5th day, you are offered a chance to take the actual PMP exam. This is the only boot camp known to have this option.

  2. Via online training

    There are plenty of online training courses that are available, and a simple Google search will reveal the ones that are best suited for you. The PMI also offers their own host of online training courses.

  3. Via book

    There are plenty of PMP books that are available online as well. As a result, there is not one book that can be deemed to be the best; it all depends upon what your preferences are. Most come with training CDs, access to online content and mock quizzes and exams and so forth.

Final Thoughts — The Benefits of Receiving the PMP Certification

Because of the very rigorous nature of the PMP requirements and the difficulty in actually passing the exam, there are a number of key benefits that are derived from it. These include:

Quick Growth and Advancement in Career

The PMP is a long-established, internationally-recognized certification that is highly-regarded by the entire business community, both IT and non-IT. By obtaining the PMP, you will gain access to a very unique and specialized group of professionals that are already PMP certified. Thus, there will be tremendous opportunities for networking and to meet other contacts who can land you a higher-paying job with more project management responsibilities.

Enhancement of Skill Set

As just described, the requirements for even just appearing to take the PMP are quite high. By passing the exam, you will show any future employer that you have a very strong skill set and are ready to lead a team.

Enhancement of Marketability

By having passed the PMP, it means that you can you can work across a broad spectrum of activities, whether it is related to IT or not. It also means that you can interact with a wide range of people, with greatly differing backgrounds and skillsets. And since the PMP cert is so highly valued by many industries, there is the potential that you could be in high demand literally all over the world.

High Earning Potential

Research has shown that a PMP cert holder typically earns at least 20% more in terms of salary versus a non-cert holder. In fact, the following matrix describes the pay range for job titles that possess the PMP cert:

Job Title Salary
General Project Manager


IT Project Manager


IT Senior Project Manager


IT Program Manager


IT Director


Engineering Project Manager


Director of Operations



Seriousness of Work

By possessing the PMP cert, it shows any employer that you have the total dedication to your chosen field, and thus, are highly-disciplined in effective project management skills. Most importantly, it also shows that you can deliver a project to the satisfaction of a client, which in turn, could mean more repeat business for the organization that you work for. This will bring you that much more prestige.

Also, since you will be dealing with people with many different attributes and skill sets, it is quite possible that they may need training as well in project management techniques. By having the PMP, this will even demonstrate your ability to effectively train others as well.

Finally, for very specific detail about the PMP application process, and how to maintain your Continuing Certification Requirements, click here.



Project Management Professional (PMP), PMI

Project Management Professional (PMP) Handbook, PMI

Best PMP Book And Study Guide For Certification Exam Prep, PM by PM

5 Amazing Benefits of PMP Certification, KnowledgeHut


Posted: August 23, 2018
Articles Author
Ravi Das (writer/revisions editor)
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Ravi is a Business Development Specialist for BiometricNews.Net, Inc., a technical communications and content marketing firm based out of Chicago, IL. The business was started in 2009, and has clients all over the world. Ravi’s primary area of expertise is Biometrics. In this regard, he has written and published two books through CRC Press. He is also a regular columnist for the Journal of Documents and Identity, a leading security publication based out of Amsterdam.

You can visit the company’s website at (or; and contact Ravi at

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