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Extra 15 minutes reading time for PMQ exam

15 Mar 2022

APM have added a further 15 minutes reading time to the PMQ examination, making its total length 3 hours 15 minutes. How then should a candidate allocate their time?

The MSC Study Guide advice, based on a three-hour exam, is 20 minutes reading and planning, 10 minutes contingency, writing 10 questions at 15 minutes each - this gives 6 minutes for part A (40%) and 9 minutes for part B(60%).

The APM advice is that the PMQ exam is three hours long with an additional 15 minutes reading time at the start. They then say that it  "Has been designed for you to answer 10 question within 3 hours, which works out as 18 minutes per question, including reading time. This can be further broken down as 7 minutes for the part a) 20-mark questions and 11 minutes for the part b) 30-mark questions."

Interesting because nowhere that I can find, do APM recommend time is spent planning answers; funny really as the course is about planning before doing!!

The APM review of the PMQ examination last year reported that the examiners felt that the biggest cause of failing a question was that the answer did not answer the question as set. So extra time should be used to avoid this common cause of failure.

Firstly note that the word explain means "Give an account of the purpose(s) or reason(s)". This is a narrow definition not always appreciated by candidates, who may be used to a meaning of explain how.

Secondly APM state that "You must also recognise the broad topic area or context and the specific aspect of a question.

Consider the question “Describe how motivation is used to improve the performance of a project team.” In this question the command verb is ‘describe’, the broad topic area or context is ‘improve the performance of a project team’, with the specific aspect being ‘motivation’.

A response that focuses on motivation as a general concept would receive very few marks, but a response that places the use of motivation in the context of improving the performance of a project team has a greater chance of being awarded high marks."

So perhaps more time needs to be spent planning rather than doing.