PMQ exam tips: 1

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The APM PMQ Exam 

The exam is 3 hour duration, closed book. The paper contains 16 questions, each related to one of the 12 learning outcomes. You must answer 10. There may be one numeric question about Earned Value Management.

Each question is worth 50 marks with a total of 500.

To pass, you must achieve an aggregate score of 55% – i.e. 275 marks from 500.

If you’re PRINCE2 Practitioner qualified and taking the PMQ for PRINCE2 Practitioners exam, the exam is 2 hours with 6 questions from 10. The pass mark is 55% – i.e. 165 from 300)

Be Prepared

Do your pre-course reading. There is a huge amount of knowledge to absorb for the exam and whilst you may already have some experience there are bound to be some areas where your knowledge is lacking in part, or in full. Its recommended you spend time each day before the exam studying the material, make yourself a revision plan and stick to it.  


The point of revision is to learn and study what you don’t know. Some people practise the topics they can do well and whilst this is very comforting it won’t help you if you haven’t revised the topics you don’t know. If you find one topic is just too hard then give it up and move on to another. You’ll be examined on 16 topics from 37 and need to know about 10 of them, so you can realistically expect to ignore a couple of topics completely. We advise you to ignore topics you find very difficult but work extra hard elsewhere. Remember every time you say “I won’t bother with this topic” you are saying to yourself “I’ve got to answer 10 from 15, or 14 or 13 or 12 etc”, depending how many you ignore. Try to spend as much time as you can afford revising for the course and exam.  

Manage your Time

Within the 3 hours you have to complete 10 questions and that equates to 15 minutes per question plus 30 minutes reading and planning time. A common failing in an examination is to run out of time. You must spend a maximum of 15 minutes on each question. If the question asks for an explanation that requires 5 points to be made then that equates to 3 minutes per point made. If the question has two or more parts then the marks will be split between them and each 10 marks is worth 3 minutes of your time. Thus answering the questions will take 2.5 hours. The remaining 30 minutes should be used firstly to read the paper thoroughly and select your ten questions – say 10 minutes. Use a further 10 to read through your answers, which leaves 10 minutes for anything you like! 

Aim for 75%

Remember 100% or 55% still result in a pass. It is not graded. There is no need to get every question 100% correct, neither should you aim for the bare minimum. Aim for a 75% mark. This is a good pass and comfortable, you can still drop a few marks and pass.

Choosing your PMQ exam questions

  • We recommend the “tick, tick, query, query” system.
  • Firstly read the paper thoroughly; when you read a question that you know you can do well, put a “tick, tick” against it.
  • On the second pass put a “tick” against your second choice.
  • Third time around put a “?” against the question you would have a go at if you were really pushed.
  • That leaves the rest as “??” for those you wouldn’t try under any circumstances.
  • By now with any luck you will have 4 – 5 question with a “tick, tick” where you can hope to score about 80% each; 2 or 4 with a “tick” where you can hope to score about 60% and 1 – 4 with a “?” where you can hope to score about 45% each.

An optimistic result:

5 at 80%, 4 and 60% and 1 at 45% giving an overall score of around 68%.

A pessimistic result:

4 at 80%, 2 at 60%, 4 at 45% giving an overall score of around 62%.

In other words you don’t have to be brilliant at everything!

If you’re really struggling and you have to choose a couple of “??” from your paper do a mental calculation on the marks, and select one where you think you’ll score best. 

Answering the PMQ Exam Questions

It’s not necessary to write volumes to pass the APMP exam but you must take note of the guidance issued by the APM, given the Key Words. On average each question will cover between 1.5 to 2 sides of paper, about 15 to 20 sides in all. Start each answer or part answer on a new page, it makes it easy to mark and keeps you on track. It’s also a good idea to number your paragraphs so that it clear what your 5 points are. Don’t keep writing! Each point you make should be a new paragraph and that means leaving 2 or 3 lines gap between the paragraphs. This stops you waffling on about a single point, keeps you on track, and makes it easy to mark (no bad thing if you need the benefit of the doubt!).

Ensure diagrams have a title, are clearly labelled and have a key if applicable. For graphs, clearly label each axis and state the scale. Be neat but don’t waste time. Use a ruler if possible.

Use short sentences and simple words. Avoid all use of jargon and acronyms. If you’re tempted to use them then explain what they mean. Remember the examiner can only mark what you’ve written. If your statement means more than one thing explain them all. Avoid using “etc”, if there is something to say, say it.

Remember you’re telling the examiner what you know and many people don’t write something down “because it’s obvious”. Of course it’s only obvious if you write it down!

Use your own experience when answering the questions. For example, there are as many project life-cycle definitions, as there are industries and organisations. They all have a beginning, middle and end but will be phased differently to suit the organisational needs. So you could start your answer to a question about the benefits of using a project life cycle along these lines:

“I work for XYZ Company and our life cycle has the following phases: inception, definition, delivery, handover, benefits realisation”. This enables…….

Answer Planning

When you’ve chosen your questions start making lists of the points you’re going to make. Call them “lists of 5s” as most questions ask for 5 things. You won’t always be able to make the list straight away for every question. Just answer the question where you’ve a full list, and as points occur to you about other questions write them down. When you’ve completed a question, review the questions left and add to the lists. Very quickly you’ll have built up a set of points for all the questions and you can concentrate on writing the PMQ exam answers. 

Final Point


“READ the PMQ EXAM questions carefully”.

Read the questions at least twice and analyse their content. They should be clear, and it should be obvious what’s required. 

GOOD LUCK – I hope this helps.