How to answer APM PMQ exam questions the secret tips.

Paul Naybour

February 2021 Update for the exam based on the 7th Edition of the Body of Knowledge.

Whilst these principles still apply the list and describe questions are no longer used in the BoK7 exam. We have a new course on how to pass the APM Project Management Qualification focused on exam technique. This is ideal for

  1. People preparing for the PMQ who just want a quick refresh on the exam technique.
  2. People who are re-siting a BoK7 exam and need to improve exam technique
  3. People who are converting from BoK6 to BoK7 exams.

The course only costs £50 plus VAT and is available for instant access.

One of the things people struggle with when preparing for the APM Project Management Qualification exam is the best approach to answering the questions. The marking guide looks for three things in general

1) For list and describe questions a list of the points that you are going to make in the answer. Strictly is applies only to the list and describe questions but I think its useful in describe and explain questions. You won’t lose marks for including a list in explain questions, but you will lose 20% of the marks if you don’t include a list in list and describe questions. So get into the habit of always making a list to plan your answer.

2) Each question paragraph is generally marked against two sets of criteria. Have you demonstrated basic understanding and have you described further understanding of the topic. Each represent half the marks, so you won’t pass the exam if you just demonstrate basic understanding.

How to demonstrate further understanding. Basic knowledge is demonstrated by a statement of fact. Take a typical question:

List and describe the differences between project and business as usual?

The list would look like:

1) Projects are unique.
2) projects are temporary.
3) Projects produce a product only once.
4) Projects are often funded out of capital
5) Projects have a higher risk of failure. 

Score 10/50 =20%

Take the first point which is worth a further 8 marks, 4 for basic understanding and 4 for demonstrating further knowledge.  and then describe it

1) Projects are unique whereas business as usual is on-going. 

This describes the what and is only going to get 2/4 for basic understanding and 0/4 for demonstrating further knowledge.

1) Projects are unique and in general have not been executed in this configuration before whereas business as usual is on-going and are often repeated day in day out. 

This is still just covering the what but would get 3/4 and 0/4. To get the further understanding we need to add an explanation of why this is important and include examples.

1) Projects are unique and in general have not been executed in this configuration before whereas business as usual is on-going and are often repeated day in day out. For example the operation of a metro system day in day out is a good example of a BAU operations whereas the construction of a new metro system is an example of a project. This is important because BAU operations must focus on doing the same thing in a very consistent way whereas project must concentrate on the management of change and associated risks.

In  my view this paragraph demonstrates both basic understanding and further knowledge. The key phrase this is important because is quite useful in helping you explain why a project manager would care about the point you are making. I hope this help and please do leave your feedback below.

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Best of luck with your Exam.

A guide to...
Project Management Qualifications

5 thoughts on “How to answer APM PMQ exam questions the secret tips.”

  1. Dear all I though you might like to know that this exam is now called the APM PMQ, but other then the name everything else is the same.

  2. Gordon, yes your experience is very good to illustrate the examples. However even people quite new to project management can develop good examples by reading about projects in the press or working through their own examples such as building a house, as seen on Grand Designs.

  3. Yes Paul. Very helpful. The first time I sat the paper I was given very short notice by my employer and consequently majored on my experience and other academic knowledge. The APM though, I learned the hard way, need a demonstration of the relevant BoK material plus that additional demonstration of praxis or ‘lived-in’ knowledge; how applied. Worthwhile in study and revision perhaps to pause, consider, and list personal experience of the subject matter: make the knowledge personal and hence more memorable too!

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