Tag Archives: PMI Credentials

Understanding your PMP Score

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PMP, CAPM  and PMI-SP scores are all based on how well you answer multi-choice questions in your exam.

Unfortunately, the information provided to candidates at the end of their PMI exam is minimal. You are told if you have passed or failed based on the number of questions correctly answered (but the passing score is a secret) and you are told if your score is below average, average or above average against a limited number of ‘domains’ or PMBOK® Guide chapters in the case of CAPM. But you are not told what average represents, how it relates to the passing score, or how wide the average band is. In reality the only option is to be happy if you are in the 70% to 80% who pass and talk to your training provider if you have failed. You cannot get anything additional out of PMI.

During your training the situation is (or should be) very different!

Almost every training organisation offers its PMI exam candidates sets of questions to help consolidate their learning – we build our courses around lots of regular tests.  If the tests are well designed they use the standard 4-option multi-choice question format used by PMI and provide feedback to the trainee on the number of questions correctly answered and detailed information about the answers to all of the questions. We do, and so does everyone else I talk to.

However, what many people don’t fully appreciate is the effect of the four options in the PMI multi-choice format and why a score of 55% is definitely in the ‘fail’ category! The cause is the fact that one of the options will always be correct, therefore a set of random guesses will score 25% on average, and the more questions you answer the more the 25% will come into play. The challenge is working out what proportion of the 55% can be attributed to ‘knowing the right answer’ and what proportion is likely to be consequence of the ‘lucky 25%’.

As a starting point, any score you achieve will have a certain number of questions answered correctly because you knew the correct answer and a certain number of questions that you answered incorrectly but fluked the right answer for the wrong reason (the ‘lucky 25%’ effect). One way to assess how many of each are included in your score is to assume a known number of answers are correct because you ‘know the right answer’ and then add 25% of the rest as likely to be correct based on the ‘lucky 25%’ factor. Therefore in a set of 100 questions, if you ‘know the right answers’ to 40 questions and add 25% of the remainder (60 / 4) = 15 you get a score of 55 (or 55%). So whilst superficially a score 55% may seem to be ‘not too bad’ knowing this represents a real score of around 40% gives a very different picture. And the reason increasing your score is quite hard work is because as you real score increases, the remaining number of questions subject to the ‘25% luck’ factor decreases

This chart is one way of assessing what you really know from any score achieved in a 4-option multi-choice question exam. If you don’t know the answer to any question and guess the lot, should still score around 25%. Conversely if you know the correct answer to every question, there are none left to be affected by the ‘25% luck’ factor.

PMI%

In the chart, your total score is represented by the Pale Blue line and the questions you can assume you ‘know the correct answer to’ is represented by the Dark Blue line.

Between these two lines, there are a steadily decreasing number of questions that you did not know the right answer to but got a correct answer to based on the ‘25% luck’ factor. This 25% factor is represented by the Green Line.

To use the chart

See what your score is and convert it to a percentage. This is your ‘Total Score’ on the vertical axis, and is represented by the Light Blue line. Look down the chart to see your real score on the horizontal axis, and the Dark Blue and Green lines will give you an approximate split. For example, if you scored 62.5% in total, you probably know the answer to around 50% of the questions and the random factor added another 12.5%.

Taking into account the possible distribution of results, the ‘luck factor’ is probably somewhere between 10% and 15% (at ± 1SD) meaning there is a 65% probability you actually scored somewhere between 47.5% and 52.5% (but the effect in any specific test may be greater).

Limitations & Observations

This chart explains why PMI has set a passing score above 60% in the past (when we knew this information) and seem to have maintained this policy into the present time. A score of around 65% would assure PMI the candidate probably achieved a score of 50% or better from knowledge. But there are a number of issues with the chart.

  • The first major problem is that on average there will be a ‘25% luck’ factor affecting the questions you don’t know the right answer to, but some people will be luckier than others.  Based on a series of Monte Carlo analyses by Jesus Carrillo we can assume 1 Standard Deviation is a bit less than 5 (at the starting point), therefore the ‘luck factor’ in around 65% of all tests will fall somewhere within the two dotted green lines (see comments below).
  • The number of questions subject to the 25% luck factor decreases as the number of questions you answer correctly increases and because we are dealing with whole numbers this introduced some distortions (skew) into the assessment, as does the 3:1 ratio between wrong and right answers.  The chart is a simplification of quite complex data which hopefully does not limit its usefulness.
  • The next major problem is very few questions will be answered randomly. Most trainers tell there candidates to make sure you answer every question, but the majority of questions will have a considered answer, some considered correctly and other considered incorrectly. This factor is impossible to graph.
  • There is no way of knowing which specific questions were answered correctly for the ‘right reason’ and which were in the lucky 25%. You need to check the answers from you training organisation to see if you were ‘right for the right reason’.
  • The last consideration is the potential to remove some variability by correctly deleting ‘obviously wrong’ answers. If you can remove one option the probability of your guess being correct rises to 33%, if you can knock out two options it is up to 50%. This shifts the odds into your favour but reduces the ‘known to be correct for the right reason’ value. Again impossible to graph.

Summary

Next time you test you take a practice test use this chart to asses your real level of knowledge but make sure you check all of the answers you got right so you can identify the questions you got right for the wrong reason, the ‘25% luck’ factor.

One of the reasons we set our trainees a benchmark score of 75% in our coursework is to help overcome the factors discussed in this post. By the time you are scoring around 75% the effect of the 25% random variability has reduced well below 10% and we know you know enough to score around 65% in the exam without the luck factor. This means most people will pass most of the time; score below 75% and you are starting to rely on the 25% luck factor and there is always a chance you may not have an average amount of luck on exam day.

To help you practice your PMPCAPM  and PMI-SP answering skills we Tweet a new question every day, for today’s see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-PMP-Q-Today.html

PMI Promotes the PMI-SP Credential

 

PMI-SP

And we agree!

Don’t wait to validate your skills and take you career to the next level

Apply Now

To help prepare of the examination and meet the PMI-SP training requirements, our PMI-SP courses are available world-wide via Mentored Email™ to see http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-Planning_One-on-One.html

2014 PMP and CAPM Training Program launched

Mosaic’s classroom training schedule for PMI’s  PMP and CAPM credentials has been published including a new 4 day super intensive Bootcamp!

-  Last courses for 2013 start November 11th – still places available.
–  First Mosaic Bootcamp starts 20th January 2014

See all of our courses at: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-Schedule.html

Classroom courses are offered in our home town, Melbourne, Australia – worldwide we are still delivering our uniquely effective Mentored Email™ course for the PMP, CAPM and PMI-SP credentials.  For more on the Mentored Email™ option see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-Mentored.html

And of course, all of our courses are backed by our training guarantees.

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)

PMI has announced the development of their new The Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)™ credential. The PfMP will be role-based and will require successfully demonstrating experience and education, as well as passing an exam and completing a multi-tier evaluation. Ongoing professional development will be required in order to maintain the credential.

The focus of portfolio management is on aligning the investment of projects/programs with organizational strategy. This credential will be targeted for a seasoned practitioner, who has four to seven years of project portfolio management experience and at least eight to ten years of general business experience.

In the build up to the launch of the credential, this month, PMI will begin its communication about the development of this new credential and recruiting applicants for the pilot phase. PMI plans to formally start accepting pilot phase applications in October 2013 and to administer the first exam for the pilot by the end of December 2013. The full launch of the credential will likely be in the second quarter of 2014.

We will keep you posted as more information becomes available from PMI or you can visit: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/Portfolio-Management-Professional-PfMP.aspx

Project Controls Round-Up Melbourne, Australia and the World

During the last couple of months whilst we have been busy updating our PMP, CAPM and PMI-SP training materials to align with the new PMI examinations lots has been happening on the project controls world.

AIPM have re-launched the Project Controls Community of Practice

The aim of the PC-COP is to provide a direct link between all of the various specialist groups and the more general project management community and is planned as a free to join open forum. Currently centred in Melbourne, the plan is to expand nationally. To get on the mailing list and/or contribute email Mark.Ruffell-hazell[at]defence.gov.au

PMOz introduces more innovation and excitement

The PMOz conference in Melbourne on the 17th and 18th September is shaping up to be a really engaging and fun event – Offering the highest intensity of PDUs of any Australian conference this is a not to be missed opportunity, see: www.pmoz.com.au One of PMOz’s core themes is project controls.

Having said its ‘not to be missed’, unfortunately the dates clash with an ISO Committee meeting in Sweden where I will be representing Australia and working on the development of a proposed standard for Project, Program and Portfolio Governance.

Planning Planet Guild News:

PP now has an area on the site for Guild questions and weekly news updates The Guild of Project Controls (GPC) Forum – Chris Carson the Chief Editor brings us all up to date and occasionally, PP will also give updates some of which are pending… http://www.planningplanet.com/forums/guild-project-controls-gpc
The Guild Standards have so far received great reviews.

PRINCE2 & APM Group Qualifications

In what is likely to be the biggest shake-up in project management good practice in 13 years, the UK Cabinet Office is partially privatising its good practice guidance materials in a new joint venture with Axelos, a subsidiary of the UK based Capita group.

So far nothing has been announced regarding the existing international ‘ecosystem’ of training providers APMG has carefully cultivated since its inception 13 years ago. Currently / formerly APMG accredits the very successful PRINCE2, ITIL, MSP and Agile Project Management Practitioner examinations amongst many others. What impact the Capita behemoth have on these certifications is anyone’s guess.

Axelos’s stated strategy is to exploit “the relational aspect of play linking human activity with the activity of the world”, in other words, ‘gamifying’ learning so that it sinks into people’s brains faster. If they are focussed on “investing and developing new products and delivering new methods of learning” – who will be the examining body? Will APMG continue in that role? And what of the existing training providers?

Axelos is building towards becoming fully operational in January 2014 and will be in listening mode over the next few months, working alongside product users, trainers and examiners to gather together their invaluable expertise: “With thoughtful investment and innovative learning techniques, we are looking forward to developing this unique suite of management tools.” All I can say is watch this space……

Deltec buys Acumen

On the 15th July – Deltek, a leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors, announced that it had acquired Acumen. Acumen offers innovative project planning, analytics and risk management solutions that help companies develop achievable and profitable projects from start to finish. See more at: http://www.projectacumen.com/news-item/deltek-acquires-acumen/#sthash.IaM000bj.dpuf

Governance and Controls Symposium – Canberra

The 2014 Governance and Controls Symposium in Canberra is being hosted by the UNSW @ Canberra (formally ADFA). A range of international and local experts will be speaking. Lock in the dates: 6 – 7th May – more news in a couple of weeks time.

AACEi launches a new scheduling credential

The Certified Scheduling Technician certification program has been established to give less experienced professionals the opportunity to advance their scheduling skills, knowledge, and professional development; and be distinguished as a Certified Scheduling Technician (CST) prior to obtaining the prerequisite 8 years of relevant experience necessary to become certified as a PSP (Planning & Scheduling Professional). The PSP is also offered by AACE International. We are investigating the viability of offering training for this credential. More later

That’s all for now…

Project Management Certifications

Picking the optimum project management certification to advance your career is difficult. Ed Naughton, Director General IPMI (Ireland) has published the following analysis in his “Project Management Trends” newsletter:

This of course raises the question as to which project management accreditation the recruiting company or HR manager prefers. Quite frankly, our experience is that very often there is a distinct lack of understanding by those hiring, as to the relative merits of the credentials that are most commonly considered. The below table provides a comparison of offerings from the main providers (IPMI train both PMP and IPMA certifications).

Cert_Comparison

What, in a nutshell, are the distinguishing features between the three different accreditations. Some schools of thought like to summarise succinctly as follows:

  • IPMA – Competence based
  • PMI – Knowledge based (with a minimal ‘time served’ requirement)
  • APMG – Methodology based & does not require ‘time served’ or address Behavioural skills

When trying to determine which certification is best for your requirements, talk to a reputable organisation that understands the difference between entry-level exam-based PM certifications, and the advanced certifications that can correlate to increased project and business success.

We concur with the summary.  AIPM’s RegPM was not considered as it has little relevance in Ireland! RegPM is a competency assessment where the trainee pays a qualified assessor to review their competence and based on the assessor’s report the certification is awarded. Importantly RegPM does not test the underpinning knowledge of the candidate, just the workplace behaviours and outcomes. AIPM and IPMA are working to align their certifications. For more on competency see: WP1056 Competency

For more on the PMP and other PMI credentials see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-PMI_Framework.html#PMI_Cert

PMI’s 2013 ‘Pulse of the Profession’ Survey

PMI’s 2013 ‘Pulse of the Profession’ Survey makes interesting reading, particularly given most of the world is in or near recession. PMI predicts that between 2010 and 2020, 15.7 million new project management roles will be created globally across seven project-intensive industries. China and India will lead the growth in project management, generating approximately 8.1 million and 4 million project management roles through 2020, respectively.

Along with job growth, there will be a significant increase in the economic footprint of the project management profession which is expected to grow by USD$6.61 trillion. This enormous anticipated growth, along with higher-than average salaries, will make the next seven years an opportune time for professionals and job-seekers to build project management skills.

The squeeze on talent has already started! PMI’s Pulse of the Profession shows that high-performing organizations don’t just emphasise strategy and improve efficiency. They cultivate talent resources to deliver successful projects and programs. With that talent, they can reduce risk, increase stability, improve growth and build a strong competitive advantage.

In contrast, poorly performing organisations that don’t see talent as part of the success equation – they believe the job market is a bottomless pit of skilled people that can be bought in as needed. This puts their projects and their organizations at risk! Whilst more and more successful organisations have adopted talent management as a core competency, many others fail to invest in skilled project management talent and talent development initiatives, and this shows in their performance.

The contrast is stark – high performing organisations are likely to find some $20 million at risk for every 1$billion invested in projects, whereas low performing organisations place $280 million at risk, over 10 time the amount.

The low-performing organizations – those which complete 60% or fewer projects on time, on budget and within scope – are significantly less likely to provide a defined career path for project managers, a process to develop project management competency, and / or training on project management tools and techniques. Poaching talent is a zero sum game that simply drives up costs for everyone.

As a result of this lack of investment, a talent gap exists in project management. A large number of skilled practitioners are reaching retirement age, organisations that train staff hold onto staff and the rest are going to find recruitment becoming increasingly difficult. Talent simply does not grow on trees – skills need developing and nurturing within the organisations that need them.

The reason this matters is that at a time when project success rates are declining and risks are increasing, organisational leadership needs to fill an anticipated 15.7 million new project management roles worldwide by 2020. If they don’t, $344.08 billion in GDP will be at risk – and that’s not even counting the $135 million that organizations already risk for every $1 billion spent on projects.

The ‘high performers’ achieve their results through a combination of good governance and good management. They see project, program and portfolio management as strategic capabilities needed to invest in their organisation’s future. They recognise process improvement and talent management are the two key elements that need investment to deliver outcomes. And they use well proven governance and management processes such as requiring active sponsors (79% of project have active sponsors in high performing organisations -v- 43% in low performing organisations).

Talent management needs investments in selection, training, mentoring and coaching; ideally from internal resources but when necessary using external help to kick-start the development of the internal capabilities. (see more on mentoring and training)

Are you and your team ready to make talent management a strategic priority? Download:
PMI’s Pulse of the Profession™ In-Depth Report: Talent Management,  and
PMI’s Project Management Skills Gap Reportand see how you can build your organization’s success – one project manager at a time. To help PMI have developed a sophisticated career framework, see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-PMI_Framework.html#CareerCentral