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Episode 464: PMP Exam Lessons Learned 2021 (Free)

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Are you thinking about taking the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam?

Perhaps you are well into your PMP® studies already. Join Cornelius Fichtner, PMP as he shares a wealth of great information to help you prepare for your exam, as well as his up-to-date recommendations on how to best study for the 2021 PMP Exam.

Cornelius has been monitoring online PMP certification forums for you and gathered important lessons learned from those who have taken and passed their exam. Get his top tip for what every person studying for the exam needs for success.

This episode was recorded with a live audience and they asked lots of additional questions that Cornelius answers on the fly. So if you are looking for insights and secrets to the 2021 exam, then don't miss his analysis and recommendations.

And for those of you interested in getting certified, make sure you check out our PMP Certification Training by visiting

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Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Video Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: In this episode of The Project Management Podcast™, we are going to see what it is like to take the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam with lots and lots of lessons learned.

Hello and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at This is the live stream for Episode 464 and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. Thank you everybody who’s joining me live at this time and thank you also to all my faithful and loyal subscribers listening and watching this episode later on.

Today, we look at the PMP® Exam. To be precise, we are going to review insights, tips, and tricks for the PMP Exam that I have gathered while reading literally about 200 lessons learned from those who have recently taken their PMP Exam.

And quick note for you: If you are not actually attending the live stream live with me right now here, but if you are instead listening to the recording of this Podcast episode, this is a video episode. If you are using a podcast app to play this on your phone, tablet, and you’re only getting the audio then do look for the ‘play video’ episode link in the show notes of your app or if you cannot see that link, then you can just go to and simply stream the video live from the website.

Video Presentation

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Learning objectives for today. At the end of this episode, I want you to be able to describe what to expect on 2021 PMP® Exam. Now when it comes to the PMP Exam, I have been a PMP trainer and coach since about 2008, so I have been doing this for over a decade and since the PMP Exam has changed at the beginning of this year, I’ve been reading a lot of these lessons learned there. And yeah, this is what we are going to review today, all those findings.

And this here is the agenda. So we are going to hear from those who have actually taken the 2021 PMP® Exam. You can see there in the sub-bullet, I say: “Lessons Learned #1 to Lesson #?” This presentation has 119 slides, okay? So yeah, I don’t know how many we are actually going to be able to get through. But I can also tell you that this is the fourth time that I’m doing this. So I said, not the first time that we are looking at lessons learned. But I have new sections today. We’re going to look at five, six new sections, new about COVID, Question Content, Question Language, Self Doubt, and the Pearson VUE tutorial. And at the end, I do have ‘Take Action’ to pass your PMP Exam.

And we got the first comment here from Ian Flores: “I was scheduled to write the exam in September.” So Ian, I can help you with that because you were probably scheduled to take the exam, the old 2020 exam, and now it’s 2021 and you are wondering what I can do? I studied in 2020. Now, I have take the 2021 exam. At the end, I do have a section where I talked about exactly that and where I can help you understand what you can do to ‘shall you go with upgrade yourself to the 2021 exam? So keep watching, this is coming. But you know, you may have heard from my voice here 119 slides. I’m not sure if we can get through all of the lessons learned that I have today. I will do my best and get all of that information to you.

And now, let us get started with one of the new sections that I have, Covid Vaccine, yes! I actually found some feedback regarding COVID vaccine and the PMP® Exam. And it is this here! This particular candidate says: “Do not get your COVID shot the day before any exam. I had my vaccination appointment rescheduled by the provider from the day after to the day before and kept it.” It’s very hard these days to get an appointment for COVID vaccine. I understand totally that he or she did this. “But have night sweats, chills, and I hardly slept a wink.” So I can only imagine how hard it must have been to go through the exam.

Michelle asks: “Will you be taking questions about the classes at the end of the Lessons Learned?” Michelle, go ahead. Just type them in and I will do my best to bring up your questions and answer them as we go through the presentation.

Next section, so that was the COVID. Question Types. Let’s start with that. You may be aware in the past 2020, PMI had a very simple format. Question, four answers, A, B, C, D. Now, select the most appropriate answer. Well, those days are gone. Now, they are multiple question types. We still have the A, B, C, Ds, but we also have A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and then you have to select three, two that may be correct. There are drag and drops. There are point and click. There are fill in the blanks. So there are quite a number of question types that you have to be aware of.

First one here: “I had four question types: Matching was by far the easiest.” So that’s when you have to drag and drop from the right to the left, maybe put a process into the correct order. “Selecting multiple answers was kind of tricky but not very difficult.” It’s the one where you have eight answers and they say three of these are correct. Select the three that were correct. And “Also there were questions where you had to click on a chart.” So that’s point and click for an example an S curve, where is most money spent in this graphic and then you have to click in to that curve and say: ‘This is where most money is being spent.’

Alright! Ian says: “I recently passed the CAPM last month.” Congratulations, Ian! “As to difficulty level, how difficult is the PMP Exam?” Ian, we’re going to get to that. Question difficulty is a topic, is a section that we have. But we’re still in the question format. “In terms of the new format questions,” this candidate here says, “I got matching and multiple response, I’d say about 20 questions overall were like that.” And ignore the second one here for fill-in-the-blank questions. We’ll get back to the fill-in-the-blank questions in just a second here.

Alright! This one here is: “There were several drag-and-drop questions. One click on the diagram questions. Many ‘choose three,’ ‘choose two’.” In the real PMP Exam when you have choose three, choose two, you cannot continue unless you choose the correct number. So you have to choose three. You have to choose two. You cannot say, next, go to the next question without selecting the appropriate number here.

Now, back to the fill-in-the-blank questions: Fill-in-the-blank questions means instead of selecting A, B, C, D, you have to type in A, B, C, D. But here is the thing, I see fewer and fewer of those, okay? And it seems to be that PMI is actually starting to remove those fill in the blanks, okay? I can’t be a hundred percent sure. No official statement from PMI, but based on the lessons learned that I am seeing, fewer and fewer where you have to type A, B, C, D versus click A, B, C, D.

Also, we have this one here: Seen once only. Somebody who said: “A really weird drag-and-drop question style where you had…” like two on the right, one on the left and then you had to drag one over. You have multiple of those. It’s really hard to explain. Even he or she couldn’t explain it to me when I followed up how exactly is this. So there seems to be some sort of a secondary, potentially weird drag-and-drop questions now that PMI is working on, excuse me, question type I mean, not question style because question style, that’s our next segment right here.

We looked at the question types. Now, we’re looking at the Question Style. In the past, PMI had to take a lot of discussions, shall we call it, about the fact that your questions are not real-life. They are blue sky, green grass. They don’t represent reality. It seems very much that that has changed and is changing because many people are saying this like this one here: “PMI is really trying to measure how much you are able to apply the knowledge to real-life scenarios,” okay?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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