Scheduling Your PMP® Exam

Earning the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) globally recognized Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification begins long before you find out your PMP exam score. In fact, you must have an approved application before you can even look at dates to schedule and take the PMP Certification exam. To earn the coveted PMP certification status, it is important to know the PMP exam requirements, how to prepare for the PMP exam itself, and what to expect for the PMP exam day experience. A failure to plan and prepare will increase the risk of a failing PMP exam score thus adding costs to the process for any PMP exam retake fees.

What is needed to schedule your PMP certification exam

No matter how many years of experience you have worked as a project manager, you cannot simply Google “PMP exam” and sign up for a PMP exam. PMI carefully manages each step of the overall PMP credentialing process which begins with the requirements to get the opportunity to sit for the PMP exam.

PMP certification application requirements

On the PMI website, the educational and experience requirements for starting the PMP exam process are provided. Note there are specific schooling levels, training hours, and work experience requirements for the PMP exam application; each requirement must be documented and verifiable.

Use PMI’s PMP Application Checklist to guide your efforts and ensure you are ready for the next step.

For the work experience requirement, note clear information and documentation of your claims is needed. Make sure you have information for: where you have worked, your role and responsibilities, and the duration of projects. Your PMP application will be denied if you do not meet the work experience requirement.

The education and training hours must also be supported by specific information and documentation including institutions attended, courses completed, and qualifying hours. Failure to have all of the PMP application requirements for education and training will lead to a denied PMP application.

PMP exam application audit

PMI randomly selects applications for audit as part of continuous governance and quality standards for PMP credentialing. If your PMP exam application is selected for an audit, you will need to provide specific documentation for each component. If you fail the PMP application auditing process, you will not be allowed to schedule for the PMP exam itself. Learn more about the PMP application audit process on the PMI’s Certification Resources FAQ page.

PMP certification exam fees

After you have submitted the PMP exam application on the PMI website, they will review it. If not selected for an audit nor denied for missing requirements, your PMP application will be approved. With that PMP application approval, PMI will provide you with instructions for scheduling your PMP exam and charge you an exam fee.

  • PMI Member price in 2021:                $ 405 (US dollars)
  • PMI Non-member price in 2021:        $ 555 (US dollars)

The fee must be paid in full in order to schedule your PMP certification exam session. You cannot schedule your PMP exam without an approved application and fees paid in full.

How to get ready for the PMP certification exam

The PMP exam certification process includes not only years of working in the profession, hours of focused training, but also the discipline to complete an in-depth application. Here’s a checklist for the steps needed before scheduling your PMP certification exam date:

  • Carefully review PMP certification exam application
  • Ensure you have PMP certification requirements (education and experience)
  • Create a PMI.org account to submit an application
  • Submit a completed PMP certification exam application
  • Pay PMP exam fees (pending approved application)
  • Save your PMI Eligibility ID from the scheduling notification
  • Create an exam study plan

How to schedule your PMP certification exam

When scheduling your PMP exam, look for a date that will provide you ample time to prepare and study, including PMP exam prep classes, bootcamps, and even practice PMP exams. PMI provides a seven-page instruction list for scheduling a PMP certification exam session. All PMP exam certification sessions are managed by the third-party proctoring service, Pearson VUE testing.

Test Administrators | Pearson VUE

Have your unique PMI Eligibility ID from your PMI scheduling notification available, then go to the Pearson VUE site for the most current testing protocols and information. There are both online and in-person options available. However, not all PMI exams are available at all testing centers. Use Pearson VUE’s “seat availability” tool to confirm specific PMP exam availability.

You can schedule your PMP exam, whether a proctored online version or in person at a testing site, either online or by phone. Speak with both PMI and a Person VUE representative if you have testing accommodation needs. 

Changes in the PMP certification exam administration due to Covid-19

The global health crisis triggered by the spread of Covid-19 in 2020 had a direct impact on the PMP certification exam schedule. While in 2018 and 2019 all testing had to be completed onsite at an official testing center, 2020 travel and safety requirements sparked the need for more widely available online PMP exam testing options. Pearson VUE provides this PMP exam information related to Covid-19 changes:

COVID-related testing information
Most Pearson Professional Centers (PPCs) are open for exam delivery. We also continue to deliver exams to any third-party test centers (PVTC and PVTC Selects) with the ability to operate, though some may be operating at limited or changed capacity based on their own discretion or in response to government mandates. Visit our COVID-19 information page for the latest information regarding exam requirements, health and safety practices, and any country-specific policies.

For more information around Covid-19 related testing changes, including rescheduling and refunds, access the Pearson VUE PMP exam Frequently Asked Questions page.

Information needed to schedule your PMP certification exam

Whether you are looking to take your PMP certification exam in-person at a testing site or in a proctored online setting, you need the following information as you look for dates and locations:

  • PMI Eligibility ID
  • Testing Program: PMI
  • Name of Examination
  • Your PMI ID
  • Verify your first/last name, email, address, and phone number listed in your PMP application

Find a PMP certification exam testing location

Prior to finding the PMP certification exam schedule or dates, determine your testing location.

  • Search for PMP test center locations on the Pearson VUE website
  • Schedule the PMP exam:
    • by phone via Person VUE customer service
      • Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. CT (closed on local holidays)
      • Number: +1 866 241 5527 (toll-free) / +1 952 905 7397 (toll)

Scheduling your PMP certification exam

PMP certification exam dates will vary by location and testing format (proctored online or in-person at a testing site). Once you have selected a location, format, and date, you will receive an email confirmation of your PMP examination appointment. You will also be able to retrieve your PMP certification exam schedule confirmation from the Pearson VUE website.

Studying for the PMP Exam?


How to reschedule or cancel your PMP certification exam

Despite all of your best efforts, the unexpected can happen and you may need to reschedule or even cancel your PMP certification exam date. There are specific procedures to follow for rescheduling or cancelation of PMP certification exam dates, in addition to fees incurred for the change.

Reschedule or cancel confirmed exam certification date

PMI’s PMP exam instruction guide lists these steps to reschedule or cancel your PMP certification exam dates:

  • Log in to PMI.org with your account information
  • Navigate to myPMI
  • Click on Review Application Status
  • Click Reschedule Exam or Cancel Exam.
  • Follow the guidance to schedule your exam through Pearson VUE

Rescheduling and cancelation fees

As of October 2021, PMI’s PMP exam instruction guide lists exam change fees as:

  • Before 30 Days → No Fee
  • Within 30 Days → $70
  • Within 48 Hours → You forfeit the entire exam fee


Be careful as you plan and schedule your PMP exam date to prevent the wasted time and cost associated with rescheduling or canceling.

Checklist for scheduling your PMP certification exam

  • You have the required PMP certification exam schedule information ready
  • You understand testing changes due to Covid-19
  • You found a PMP certification exam location
  • You scheduled your PMP certification exam date

PMP certification exam overview

The PMP certification exam of 2021 does not reflect the exam as it was structured in 2015, 2018, 2019, or even 2020. This is because the exam evolves to stay aligned with global project management best practices. As of 2021, the PMP certification exam has three content domains:  

  • PEOPLE – emphasizing the soft skills you need to effectively lead a project team in today’s changing environment
  • PROCESS – reinforcing the technical aspects of successfully managing projects
  • BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT – highlighting the connection between projects and organizational strategy

The time needed to prep for PMP certification exam

This is not the time to block off a day to cram and hope for the best. One survey of 100 PMP® credential holders asked how long they studied, and the answers ranged from a week to 6 months! The conclusion was about 2 months of 2 – 3 hours of daily study (so roughly, 90days x 2.5 hours = 225 hours).

Keep the time needed to prep and study in mind as you look at PMP certification exam dates; pick a PMP exam date that allows you time to attend training and complete practice tests. It can be very helpful to have training or bootcamp dates available at the same time you are looking at PMP certification exam dates. You want to complete your PMP certification exam training with a realistic amount of time available for you to take the bootcamp, solidify what you learned, and then take the exam so it is fresh in your mind. [RG1] 

How to prep for the PMP certification exam

Project Management Academy’s PMP® Exam Prep Strategy Guide includes great advice for the aspiring PMP® credential holder: Allow Sufficient Time to Prepare. Your PMP® exam preparation should include:

  • select a PMP® Exam prep course from a PMI Authorized Training Provider
  • review the PMP® certification requirements from PMI (passing the exam is only one part)
  • create (and stick to it!) a study schedule that includes review materials and practice exams
  • manage your exam prep schedule with time for study, prep course, practice exams, application, and exam day

Through years of experience helping professionals prepare for the very unique PMP® exam, Project Management Academy instructors [RG2] have seen a consistently higher exam pass rate for students who have a plan with each of those components regardless of their project management experience on the job.

The prep course will help orient you to the unusual way the PMI may ask questions and how the PMI technicalities and terms are woven into the exam. Remember, the PMP® exam is not a test of your project management abilities, it is a test of your knowledge of PMI standards and recommended practices.

How the PMP certification exam has evolved

It is important to note a PMP exam change was announced in 2020 and implemented in 2021; it aligns with content from the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – 7th Edition, along with several other notable project management references. Whereas the 2020 PMP certification exam was mostly shaped by content in the PMBOK® Guide – 6th Edition, the exam in 2021 and beyond assesses your knowledge of a broad spectrum of project management topics.

Those planning to take the PMP often ask PMP certification holders questions like, “what should I expect on the exam” or “how many questions were on the exam about [topic]?” Note the PMP exam has changed over the years, so if you are getting insights from someone who took the exam in 2018 or 2019 their experience may not be relevant in terms of testing environment (onsite vs proctored online) or even content.

For example, the 2015 Examination Content Outline was changed for the 2021 exam.

DOMAINECO 2015ECO 2021
IInitiatingPeople
IIPlanningProcess
IIIExecutingBusiness Environment
IVMonitoring & Controlling 
VClosing 

Always be sure you are using current PMP certification exam prep materials. No one wants to put in the time and effort to prep only to find out during the exam that the content focus areas have been changed. Using a PMI Authorized Training Provider ensures what you practice and study will reflect what you experience during the PMP certification exam.

Structure and duration of the PMP certification exam

As shared by PMI, the PMP certification exam is comprised of:

  • 180 questions in a combination of multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot, and limited fill-in-the-blank. 
  • 230 minutes allotted to complete, with two 10-minute breaks.

Note the PMP certification exam will have both knowledge check items (like definitions and tools) but also knowledge application items (like what is the best choice for a specific situation). In the 2021 PMI Examination Content Outline, PMI shares:

“About half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches. Predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches will be found throughout the three domain areas listed above and are not isolated to any particular domain or task.”

PMI’s exam content outline for 2021 also provides this distribution of questions by domains:

1Source: https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/certifications/project-management-professional-exam-outline.pdf

Although the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK) is a key source, it is by no means the only information used to craft the PMP certification exam questions. Using a PMI approved training solution is the best way to gain insights into the exam structure, approach, and content because PMI provides approved training providers the materials used.

PMP certification exam day

You have an approved application, paid the PMP exam fees, and studied hard. It is test day and you are well-rested, on time for the exam, parked, and ready to go. What could go wrong?

You can get turned away if your identification is the wrong form or if you try to bring in a prohibited item.[RG1]  That pack of crackers you want for a mid-exam snack could cost you the opportunity to become a  PMP credential holder!


It is vital that on your PMP certification exam date you follow ALL of the check-in procedures, whether onsite at a testing center or online with a proctor. Failure to have approved identification documentation or attempts to bring in contraband will forfeit your PMP exam opportunity. So, before your scheduled PMP certification exam, be sure you know what you can and cannot bring, plus what information you must have ready for access to the testing center.

Before PMP certification exam day

  • STUDY!!! Complete PMP exam prep training and practice exams
  • Be ready for an on-site testing center
    • Have information about how to access the test center
    • Know how long it takes to drive to the testing center
    • Know where to park
    • Know what you can and cannot take into the testing center
  • Have secure testing space for the online exam with a proctor
    • Have information about online testing access
    • Have strong and reliable internet access
    • Meet all technical requirements for testing
    • Be prepared to coordinate with a proctor
  • Get a good night’s sleep before exam day no matter how you are taking the exam!

What to expect from the Pearson VUE testing center

What to bring to the testing center

Be at the testing center ready to sign in 30 minutes before the scheduled appointment to allow for the check-in process. For an onsite testing appointment, bring:

  1. PMI ID number
  2. PMI confirmation number
  3. a valid and current (non-expired) form of government-issued identification that includes:
    1. English characters/translation
    1. Your photograph
    1. Your signature

Acceptable forms of government-issued identification include a valid driver’s license, valid military ID, valid passport, or valid national identification card.

What not to bring to a testing center

Be sure you know not only what is required for the testing center, but the items that are prohibited. Check the Exam Scheduling Instructions for Pearson VUE testing (updated June 2020) for a listing of prohibited items including:

food, beverages book bags, coats, sweaters, luggage, calculators, eyeglass cases, pagers, cell telephones, tape recorders, dictionaries, watches, wallets, medication, eye drops, any personal items

If you try to bring them in, you will be prevented from entering and not allowed to take the PMP certification exam.

Test accommodations with Pearson VUE

The Exam Scheduling Instructions for Pearson VUE testing (updated June 2020) includes contact information for those granted test accommodations from PMI:

  • Candidates who live inside North America must call the Pearson VUE Accommodation Specialist Department at +1 800 466 0450
  • Candidates who live outside North America must contact the Pearson VUE Contact Center in their region. Please visit http://www.pearsonvue.com/pmi/contact for contact information.

You must contact Pearson VUE with any testing accommodation requirements BEFORE you schedule the PMP certification exam. They will not make any changes once the exam is scheduled; if you need accommodations but schedule the exam first, you will have to cancel (including paying cancelation fees), contact Pearson VUE, and reschedule with the needed accommodations. Learn more at the Pearson VUE PMP certification exam information page.

How do you get your PMP certification exam results

You will receive a general “pass/fail” notification immediately following submission of your electronic exam. The final testing information is sent by Pearson VUE to PMI, and then you will receive certification documentation from PMI.

Conclusion

In addition to the PMI Scheduling Instructions for Person VUE Testing, you should also review PMP exam information within the PMP Handbook and the PMP Exam Content Outline. The time and effort to understand the PMP certification exam process, including the exam application itself and how to schedule the exam, will position you for a successful testing outcome. It is a rigorous and demanding exam. Study hard and plan carefully. The reward is an internationally recognized professional achievement with the potential to propel your career forward.

Upcoming PMP Certification Training – Live & Online Classes

NameDatePlace
PMP Certification TrainingJan 24,25,26,27
8:30am-6:00pm
Boston, MAView Details
PMP Certification TrainingFeb 12,13 & 19,20
8:30am-6:00pm
Boston, MAView Details
PMP Certification TrainingDec 11,12 & 18,19
8:30am-6:00pm
Online - Eastern Standard Time (EST)View Details


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Erin Aldridge
Content Manager at
Erin Aldridge