by: John Niec, PMP
Be sure to follow up this blog by watching our video on “How to Effectively Read Questions on the PMP Exam”.
If you’re preparing for a certification exam, work backwards. At cPrime the focus is on Project Management and especially the PMP, but this method is a sound for any certification exam that uses multiple choice questions.
What does “work backwards” mean? When attempting to answer a multiple choice question, read the answers before the question. Therefore, work backwards. This method works well for questions that are a paragraph in length, not a single sentence. To prepare for a certification exam, master reading questions through practice. Deconstructing multiple choice questions is a skill that improves with repetition over time.
Here’s the steps:
1) Read the question mark (usually the last sentence of the question.)
2) Read the answers.
3) Eliminate wrong answers if possible.
4) Read the question.
5) Reevaluate the answers eliminated.
6) Make a selection.
Below is a sample question that we will use as a demonstration. Don’t be tempted to read through the question. Follow along with the instructions and see the usefulness of this technique.
Step 1 – Read the question mark. Scan the paragraph for the last sentence. It asks, “What is the best way to proceed?” The logic here is to read for direction and emphasis. Is it “best,” “least,” “first” or perhaps the thing to “never” do?
Step 2 – Read the answers. Here four choices are presented.
Step 3 – By process of elimination discard answers that are least appropriate in relation to Step 1.
a) “Ignore…” Eliminate questions that “ignore.” Once something has been revealed it most likely can’t be ignored.
b) “Disclose…” Acceptable. Keep it for consideration.
c) “Discuss…” Questionable. “Discussion” is good, but “consensus” is questionable. PMs do not operate in the world of consensus.
d) “Take…” Eliminate answers that defer authority to senior management. Project Managers should know their level of authority and know how to proceed without checking with senior management.
Step 4 – Read the question. After you have a sense of direction and the answers, read the question from an informed position.
Step 5 – Reevaluate. “A” and “D” remain eliminated. Answer “B” is still acceptable. “C” was questionable and is now eliminated.
Step 6 – Select. “B” is the best choice in this example.
SAMPLE QUESTION 1
Your company is managing a software implementation project for a fortune 500 client and you are the Project Manager. Several months into the year-long project two of your project team members begin debating about how to proceed. One of your team has discovered the client has problems with their procedures and gaps in their processes. This discovery is within the bounds of information the team needs to know to implement the software, but the solution to this discovery is hundreds of hours of additional consulting work that is beyond the statement of work. Another team member is adamant about the need to stick to the statement of work, and that bringing up the discovery could delay the project by months, or even cause the client to cancel the project entirely. What is the best way to proceed?
a) Ignore the discovery and stay within the bounds of the statement of work.
b) Disclose the discovery to the client, even though they might believe you are trying to expand the contract.
c) Discuss the situation with the entire team and come to a consensus how to proceed.
d) Take the situation to senior management.
Please add a comment if you have any suggestions or find these tips helpful!