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The PMP Exam Audit Process

Mar 1, 2008
By applying to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam you also automatically agree to comply with the PMI's audit terms. The PMI writes about this in the credentials handbook as follows:

To ensure that only qualified individuals attain credentials from PMI, we routinely conduct audits of candidate applications. The audit process is primarily random however, PMI reserves the right to audit any candidate or PMI credentialed individual at any time.

Here is what you can do in order to make a possible audit go smoothly and what to expect.

First of all, start out by reading the PMI's Credentials Handbook to learn the basics regarding the audit process. It doesn't list all the details but it is the only official information that the PMI has published on their website about it.

As you fill in your application for the exam answer all questions truthfully. The intention of the application is to show that you fulfill the PMI's eligibility requirements. The intention of and audit is to ensure that only viable candidates apply. Consequentially, If you fill in your application truthfully, then you will have nothing to fear from the audit. This audit process is one of the reasons that the credential retains its high regard.

The audits are completely random and you will be informed via email that you have been selected. This email is usually sent to you the moment that you submit your application. Along with the statement that you have been selected for an audit, the email also contains detailed audit instructions for you.

At this point, it is important to realize that once you are being audited the "clock stops". By this we mean that you have 1 year following the submission of your application to take the actual exam. But during the audit, this "clock stops" and does not continue until after your audit has been processed. So if your audit takes 6 weeks, then you have 1 year and 6 weeks to take the exam.

After informing you that you are audited, the PMI will prepare the "audit package" for you. Log into your account at PMI to find it. This package contains the details that you have submitted for each of your projects on your application. It also contains further instructions. You will now have to do the following:

* In your application you named a primary contact persons for each of the projects that you had worked on. Forward the appropriate section of the package to each of your primary contacts. They now have to verify that the information listed is correct, print and sign the document, put it into a sealed envelope and then put another signature across the sealed flap of the envelope. And yes, the PMI is very serious about this last one.

* You will also have to make photocopies of the certificates you received from your training courses, to show that you have received 35 Contact Hours in training related to the 9 PMBOK Guide Knowledge Areas, for instance from The PM PrepCast.

* Then you will have to send the sealed envelopes and your certificate copies to the PMI for review.

* The PMI will inform you about their decision via email. Should you fail the audit, then the PMI will refund the money that you paid minus an administrative fee of $100.

It is important to realize, that you have the power to expedite the audit process. The sooner you respond, the sooner it is processed. The PMI is usually rather quick in processing your audit documents after you send them in. In some cases it can take as little as 4 days.

Some aspirants choose to proactively resolve any future audit issues even before they are selected. This can be a very effective way in ensuring that you will pass a possible audit. Once you are ready to submit your application to the PMI, submit it to your primary contacts first. Allow them to see your application and tell you if they agree with the information that you have listed. You not only give them an opportunity for input, you also proactively inform them what might be coming during an audit.
About the Author
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is the host of The Project Management PrepCast, the first true PMP podcast. It's the easiest way to prepare for and pass the PMP Exam.
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