In this chapter, we'll provide an overview of the CompTIA Project+ exam (PK0-004), how to apply for the exam, and some study tips to get you started. You'll also have an assessment test at the end of this chapter to see where your knowledge lies and areas to target for further study. While this information is readily available online in a variety of places, this overview will provide you with all of the information you need to know in one place.
This chapter covers the following:
- The CompTIA Project+ exam
- How to apply for the exam
- What to expect on exam day
- Study tips
- Assessment test
Project management has been around since the dawn of time. Imagine trying to figure out the best way to build a fire for the very first time or how to catch a dinosaur without getting hurt! Humans have always found ways to improve how things are done. Think of ancient Greece and Rome, and imagine the artistic creations and the building of incredible architecture; in a lot of cases, people were creating better ways of doing battle and organizing their troops. All of those are projects.
In the industrial age, project management was applicable to building tall edifices, ships, and trains and utilizing new machinery to improve commerce and quality of life. Now, we are in the technological age and even though we are still building tall edifices, trains, planes, and automobiles, we are finding new types of projects that need their own best practices.
Many project management best practices have stood the test of time, such as scheduling, budgeting, resourcing, and determining what the result will be. The reason they have stood the test of time is because they work.
Our use of tools and best practices will need to be adapted so they work for technological projects, such as protecting your organization with cyber security, installing servers or software development, and help-desk management. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to project management in any industry, and most of the time our organizational processes and enterprise environment influence our projects the most.
But what if you had multiple tools and knowledge at your disposal to adapt and adjust as needed to meet the demands of your projects? What if you could adapt those best practices to conform to your organizational processes and industry? Then it wouldn't matter whether you were trying to catch dinosaurs, building the Colosseum, or building a data center. You could pick and choose what would work. That is the beauty of learning best practices. On top of that, if you can prove you know those best practices through certification, now you have some project management clout in your back pocket!
The CompTIA Project+ exam is designed for people like you: professional people who have set best practices based on their organization but are looking for a common language to use, those who need tools and best practices that have been proven over and over again to work but are adaptable to your environment.
Having one or multiple project management certifications shows your willingness to learn, try new things, and improve your organization's projects, which in turn provides value to the organization. Congratulations for taking the first step to career improvement!
Project management is in high demand globally. Project managers make anywhere from $70,000 to $150,000 based on their location and what types of projects they work on. Every organization has an IT department and even if you don't have a lot of experience yet, going into the career of project management without a lot of bad habits is greatly appreciated by organizations. So, don't worry if you're just starting out, because the CompTIA Project+ exam was designed for you.
Everything you will cover in this guide will prepare you for not just certification and passing an exam, but my hope is that it will also give you the tools you can use right away on your current or future projects.
You may see some things in this guide and on your exam that don't necessarily align with your organization's best practices or simply won't work in your current environment. That is totally okay! You will need that information to answer questions correctly on your exam, and maybe as you progress in your career you'll find a need for some of those skills.
Everything we will cover can be found on CompTIA's exam content outline overview on the CompTIA website (https://www.comptia.org/).
You'll want to review the topics that are tested on and how each topic weighs as far as your score is concerned. The following is an overview of the skills you will learn in this guide and an overview of the exam information. All chapters have review questions to help target your exam studies, plus you'll gain an understanding of the best study tips to pass the exam the first time. When you review the exam content outline on the CompTIA website, you'll see it is broken down into several categories:
- Project basics
- Project constraints
- Communication and change management
- Project tools and documentation
All exam questions fall under these domains or categories. The following section shows everything we will cover in this guide, along with the correlating domains found on the CompTIA website.
Here are the list of things that we will cover in this guide:
% of Exam
1.0 Project Basics
2.0 Project Constraints
3.0 Communication and Change Management
4.0 Project Tools and Documentation
Here the details of the chapters and the corresponding domains that they cover:
Chapter 1: Introduction to the CompTIA Project+ Exam (PK0-004)
Understanding what CompTIA is and the value of Project+ certification
- How to apply for the Project+ exam
- Having a good understanding of the best study tips and tricks to pass the exam the first time
- Review question types pertaining to the chapters to help target your studies
Chapter 2: Project Initiation
- Defining organizational structures and influencing factors on projects
- Recognizing the different knowledge areas that can be utilized on projects
- Understanding the role of the project manager including skills like communication and problem solving
- Understanding the development of a business case and how projects are selected
Chapter 3: Project Roles and Responsibilities
- Defining the different roles on a project team and what each role is responsible for
- Understand the different types of PMO and why they are important to the project
Project basics, communication, and change management
- Understanding the importance of managing stakeholder needs and interests on the project
Project tools and documentation, communication, and change management
- Creating a stakeholder matrix and determining a strategy for managing stakeholder engagement
Chapter 4: Developing a Project Charter
- Understanding the different types of life cycles and process groups in project management
- Knowing the necessary information to build a comprehensive project charter
Project constraints, project tools, and documentation
- Listing the steps to gain formal approval of the project charter
Project communication and change management
- Recognizing the elements of an effective kickoff meeting
Chapter 5: Creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
Project Constraints, Project Tools, and Documentation
- Recognizing the importance of creating a scope-management plan
- Identifying acceptance criteria and performance measurements
- Developing a scope statement
- Developing a work breakdown structure and WBS dictionary
Chapter 6: Developing a Project Schedule
Project Basics and Project Constraints
- Creating and navigating a network diagram
- Understanding different techniques to estimate duration
- Identifying the different types of resources that can affect duration
- Review the importance of a schedule baseline
Project Basics, Project Tools, and Documentation
- Navigate critical path methods and how schedule-compression works
Chapter 7: Resource Management Planning and Communication Considerations
Project Tools and Documentation
- Using matrix, hierarchical, and text-based documentation to determine resource needs
- Recognizing different conflict-management techniques and when they are appropriate
- Reviewing team-building and motivation techniques
Project Basics, Project Tools, and Documentation
- Determine ways to monitor team performance throughout the project
Chapter 8: Budget and Contingency Plans for Risk
- Demonstrating different ways to estimate costs based on the situation
Project Constraints, Project Tools, and Documentation
- List the typical information found in a cost baseline
Project Basics, Project Tools, and Documentation
- Using earned value formulas to track performance
- Best practices for identifying, analyzing, and responding to risk
Chapter 9: Monitoring and Controlling Project Work
Communication and Change Management
- Understanding the change-control system and how to process changes through formal change-control systems
Project Tools and Documentation
- Understanding the procurement process and the different types of contracts
- Reviewing how sellers are selected and the project manager's role in procurement
Chapter 10: Formal Project or Phase Closure and Agile Project Management
- Identifying best practices for closing out a project
- Understanding different project-ending types
- Understanding the basics of Agile project management
- Hybrid project management
Project Tools and Documentation
- Learning how to create lessons learned
- Preparing a final project report
The CompTIA Project+ exam will rotate through different questions across multiple test takers, however the number of questions and the basics of a passing score are the same globally, as are the domains and the scoring weight. Here is some information about the test:
- Number of questions: Maximum of 95
- Type of questions: Multiple choice
- Length of test: 90 minutes
- Recommended experience: Minimum of one year of managing, directing, or participating in small- to medium-scale projects
- Passing score: 710 (on a scale from 100–900)
While the steps for gaining your Project+ certification may seem fairly easy, it's important to know what those steps are, so you can begin to prepare for your exam. The following steps will help guide you through the process:
- Review the exam objectives
- Practice for the exam by answering the practice questions at the end of every chapter
- After you have studied for the exam, review and answer as many sample questions as you can to prepare for exam day
There are several steps involved in preparing to take your exam. The following information will walk you through the process:
- Purchase your voucher from the CompTIA website and then find a testing center and schedule your exam at a nearby location. It's possible there will be an in-home remotely-proctored exam if a location can't be found near you.
- Pearson VUE are the proctors for in-person exams, so you will need to create an account on their site as well. Visit https://home.pearsonvue.com to do that.
- Once you have an account, you will be able to buy a voucher (if you haven't obtained one through the CompTIA website already); choose a testing center near you and schedule your exam.
- Pearson VUE also offers scheduling via phone if you are having trouble scheduling online.
From the CompTIA Project+ page, you can navigate to all of the information to pay for and schedule your exam.
Here is what you can expect on exam day:
- Show up a few minutes early so that you can sign in. You will be asked to provide two forms of identification, and to leave your belongings in a locker provided by Pearson VUE. The proctor will give you something to write on and something to write with, and then walk you to your computer station.
- The exam will be computer-based with one question presented on the screen at a time. You will easily be able to navigate the exam by using the Next and Back buttons.
- You also have the ability to mark questions for later review in case there's a question you're not sure of or that you cannot answer.
- You may have a short tutorial on how to navigate and mark questions before you begin your exam.
- For any questions that involve formulas, you will have access to a calculator built into the question, so you don't have to do any math in your head. Yay!
- The exam will present you with situational questions and will ask you to put yourself in the shoes of a variety of positions on a project team. The majority of the questions are written from the project manager's perspective, but be prepared to understand all of the roles on the project team.
- You may find that some questions have two or more correct answers. Do your best to select all that apply. It is also likely that you will get questions that contain extraneous information that doesn't pertain to the correct answer.
- Once you submit your exam, you will find out within a minute whether you have passed your exam, and Pearson VUE will give you a certificate proving you have passed. Your certification is good for life without the need for continuing education credits or future retakes of newer versions of the exam.
- CompTIA will mail you your certification shortly after. You may want to buy a frame for it. It's a big accomplishment and you should be very proud!
Here are some study tips to help you prepare for the exam:
- Take and retake practice exams until you score approximately 85-90% several times in a row. Be aware that the practice questions in your student guide will not be the same questions you will get on your exam as there is a test pool of thousands of questions.
- You never know which questions you will get on your exam. You could be sitting next to someone taking their Project+ exam and they would have a different pool of questions to answer. The content is aligned to the domains and exam content outline, but it is presented in different ways.
- The exam itself is not adaptive, so the pool of questions you get when you sit down will not change based on your knowledge of one topic over another.
- I highly recommend that you use these practice questions as a way to solidify the information rather than to rote memorize it, as you will find the actual exam questions will differ.
- If you find yourself memorizing the answers to the questions in this guide without actually knowing why an answer is correct or incorrect, it may be helpful to test yourself with additional practice exams that present the information in a different way.
- CompTIA can also provide you with a couple of free questions via request from their website, and they offer a paid service called CertMaster Practice.
- Be careful about old or incorrect brain dumps on the internet as there are multiple websites that have exam information. Do your research before selecting sites that provide additional practice questions.
- Make sure that you read everything carefully! If you don't read carefully, you may miss a better answer or the nuance of the question itself.
- Use this study guide to review all pertinent information, best practices, and suggested processes. You may find if you are already working on projects that you do not need to utilize what is suggested as a best practice in a student guide and on the exam. The reason for this may be because of your organizational processes and your enterprise environment.
- Remember project management is not a one-size-fits-all situation. You may learn some new best practices that you want to incorporate in your day-to-day, and you may learn some best practices that are not relevant in your day-to-day. The best advice is to learn the content as it's presented to pass your exam and then determine ways where you can incorporate the recommended best practices into your current or future projects.
In this chapter, you reviewed all the necessary information about the CompTIA Project+ exam as well as study tips, and why certification is beneficial to your career. It's never a bad idea to reread this chapter after you finish your studies to remind yourself what to expect. Use the domain review as a guide to focus your studies prior to your exam. It's a great checklist for a knowledge review. The assessment test is a great overall gauge of current knowledge and where you should focus as you move forward.
In Chapter 2, Project Initiation, we will cover project initiation, review the definition of a project, program, and portfolio. Then, we will cover different organizational structures that will impact how a project is managed. We will also review different project selection techniques, development of a business case, and your role as a project manager.
Below you will find a baseline assessment test to see what areas to focus on while studying. Don't worry if your score is lower than you might like. You are just starting this journey! It's less about your score and more about areas to focus on, or even to observe what best practices are different from your day-to-day. These questions are a good cross-section of what you can expect on your exam. You can find the answers to these questions at the Back Matter section of the book under Assessments. Good luck!
- While controlling quality on your projects you will monitor repetitive activities and plot sample variance measurements to determine if the product is in control (which is defined by being plus or minus three standard deviations of the mean). Which tool and technique does this describe?
- Scatter diagram
- Statistical sampling
- Pareto chart
- Control charts
- You've prepared the following analysis for two different projects for review by the selection committee. Project A's payback period is 8 months and its NPV is -27,000. Project B's payback period is 10 months and its NPV is 150,000. Which project should the selection committee pick?
- Project A, because its NPV is lower than Project B's
- Project B, because its NPV is highest and there is more than six months difference between payback periods
- Project B, because its NPV is a positive value
- Project A, because its payback period is shorter than Project B's payback period
- Who should always issue the project charter?
- A person internal to the project's organization
- A project initiator or sponsor
- A low-level manager of the performing organization
- A high-level manager of the performing organization
- Standards and regulations concerning the work of the project should be taken into consideration during the planning process. All of the following are true regarding standards and regulations except:
- Standards and regulations are one of the elements included in the enterprise environmental factors and are part of planning for quality
- Regulations are approved by a recognized body and employ rules and guidelines that should be followed
- Regulations are typically imposed by governments
- Standards are not mandatory
- Which of the following is the best description of a project charter?
- It describes both the project scope and the product scope at detail level.
- It authorizes the project and the use of organizational resources to meet project requirements.
- It breaks down the project scope over several steps to describe the project on work package level.
- It describes all activities which are necessary to create the project deliverables.
- At the beginning of project execution, you notice there are different opinions between team members relating to project work and deliverables, and to the level of overall complexity. What should you do first?
- Give your team members some time to develop a common understanding of the project scope and product scope. Upcoming interface problems may be resolved later.
- Use the risk management processes to identify and assess risks caused by misunderstandings and develop a plan with measures in order to respond to them.
- Organize meetings to identify and resolve misunderstandings between team members in order to avoid interface problems, disintegration, and costly rework early in the project.
- Use interviews in private with each individual team member to inform them of your expectations and your requirements in an atmosphere of confidence.
- During execution of your project, you have observed that a team member is being isolated by other team members. Which is a wrong approach in such a situation?
- The interpersonal relationships between team members are their private issue. You should not interfere.
- You should apply team-building measures to improve the team's effectiveness.
- You should try to get feedback from the isolated team member to understand the situation.
- You should try to get feedback from the other team members to understand the situation.
- Change-control systems serve all of the following purposes except?
- Track the status of change requests
- Define the level of authority needed to approve changes
- Control scope-creep completely
- Document the procedures that describe how to submit and manage change requests
- A project has undergone a major scope change, which increased cost and work levels. What does this mean for earned value data?
- The cost baseline will be updated, and the new baseline will be the basis for future earned-value analysis.
- As baselines should generally not be adjusted, the project is due to exceed its budget from now on.
- There are several reasons to change a baseline, but not scope changes. The project will exceed its budget.
- Earned-value analysis becomes useless after a scope change, the technique should not be used any more.
- During your project planning, you have determined that you will need to compress your schedule to meet a customer's schedule constraints. You have moved some activities to be performed in parallel instead of sequentially to compress the critical path. What technique have you used?
- Fast -Tracking
- Schedule Compression
- Resource Leveling