PMQ Exam tips: 2

Posted on: 14th May 2016

PMQ exam – Key Word understanding is critical to pass

List and Describe, Explain and State are four important keywords in your PMQ exam set of questions.

Timing is key to PMQ exam success

If you’re an accredited PRINCE2 Practitioner, choose the 2 hour exam that recognises prior learning. You will not be questioned on a group of topics covered in your PRINCE2 exam. Please ask for our document that outlines the differences.

3 hour exam [180 minutes] – you must answer 10 from 16 questions

  • 15 minutes to read and select your best 10 questions
  • 15 minutes to spend on each question – Total 150 minutes
  • 15 minutes to check and read through your answers

2 hour exam [120 minutes] – you must answer 6 from 10 questions

  • 15 minutes to read and select your best 6 questions
  • 15 minutes to spend on each question – Total 90 minutes
  • 15 minutes to check and read through your answers

Marks to pass the PMQ exam

  • You’ll need to score an overall percentage of 55 across all the 10 questions which you answer.
  • Each question carries a total of 50 marks.
  • To pass, you’ll need to score 275 out of a total of 500 possible marks.

Markers are provided with guidelines on how to mark against keywords. The following examples highlight the need to provide at least a reasonable answer, appropriate to the question.

EXPLAIN

  • Poor (0-3 marks) – providing little/no or incorrect answer content
  • Weak (4-5 marks) – limited relevant answer provided, insufficient content
  • Good/adequate (6-7 marks) – a reasonable answer, appropriate to the question
  • Very good (8-9 marks) – good points made which are both relevant and well explained
  • Excellent (10 marks) – answered fully, giving competent/coherent responses

DESCRIBE 

  • Poor (0-2 marks) – providing little/no or incorrect answer content
  • Weak (3-4 marks) – limited relevant answer provided, insufficient content
  • Good/adequate (5 marks) – a reasonable answer, appropriate to the question
  • Very good (6-7 marks) – good points made which are both relevant and well explained
  • Excellent (8 marks) – answered fully, giving competent/coherent responses

LIST AND DESCRIBE

There are up to 2 marks for the list item and up to 8 marks for the description provided.  Candidates may display their list in a number of ways:

  • As a distinct list at the beginning of the page of their answer.
  • As a keyword or phrase at the start of a paragraph as an initial statement (usually with a full stop).
  • An underlined keyword or phrase at the start of a paragraph.
  • A highlighted keyword or phrase at the start of a paragraph.
  • Candidates who do not clearly provide list items are missing up to 2 marks per list item.

For list and describe questions, there are instances where candidates simply repeat their list item in the description.  This cannot score twice.  The words used in the list item are scored first.  If candidates then goes on to restate the same point in the description, they cannot score more marks.

The tick system explained

  • Read through the paper and tick the questions from your top subjects.
  • Check the number of questions you’ve ticked.
  • It not enough; go through the questions again double ticking additional questions where you are less confident.
  • Check the number of questions you’ve ticked.
  • If still not enough, choose from questions that are from your weakest subject. Don’t forget, you may see and easy question from a difficult subject and a difficult question in one of your easy subjects.
  • Check the number of questions you’ve ticked.

How much should you write for each question?

Its not about how much you write, but how well you answer the question. To get full marks for a question you need to demonstrate not only basic knowledge but also further understanding. It’s therefore important to include examples and cross-references to other parts of the syllabus within your answers. A typical question has five parts or paragraphs and you should aim for at least three sentences per paragraph to get good marks.

Don’t let this problem trip you up

The most important point about the PMQ exam is to make sure you read the question, and answer it. If the question is asking for the benefits of something, give benefits. If the question asks you to describe the process, then describe the process. Many failures stem from a poor relationship between the answer and the question as asked. It may seem very obvious but when you’re rushing through the questions its something that must be at the forefront of your thoughts.

  • For some explain questions the APM are seeing list items, which are not allocated marks.  Whilst it is fine for candidates to list their answer content in order to structure their responses, there are no marks for doing so.
  • For a question requiring steps in risk management, some candidates are providing a summary of what risk management is.  This is not required by the question, and therefore doesn’t attract marks.
  • The APM fully support use of alternate terms or phraseology as long as the content is applicable to the question posed.

Points to consider when completing your PMQ exam paper

  • Its important that examiners can read your exam papers. If they can’t read them, they can’t mark them.
  • Practice writing for three hours.
  • If you follow the timing techniques above, then you’ll have 15 minutes to provide a comprehensive answer per question before quickly moving on to the next question.
  • Start each PMQ exam question on a new page. It will mean that you can go back to make changes without making your paper look a mess.
  • Leave a big gap between bullet points, so you can annotate and add more information to them as you go through the paper.
  • If you use acronyms, write what they stand for in the first instance.
  • Assume that you’re not writing for a project management professional, but someone who doesn’t understand project management terminology. Be prepared to explain.

Link to the APM for more information.

Link to our APMP course

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