Using PMP Exam Language Aids Is A Recipe For Failure

pmp exam language aids

Should you use PMP exam language aids while taking the exam?

My answer would be a big and unequivocal NO.

You might ask, “Why shouldn’t I use language aid when PMI gives it for free”. You might add that why PMI would offer language assistance for so many different languages if there was no utility.

Let me answer your questions and explain everything about PMP language aids in this post.

PMP Exam Language Aids

All PMI examinations are conducted in English. But there are many aspirants, across the Globe, whose native tongue is not English.

PMI provides language aids to help the certification aspirants whose first language is not English. At the time of writing this post PMI was giving support for 14 different languages.

  1. Arabic
  2. Brazilian Portuguese
  3. Chinese (Simplified)
  4. Chinese (Traditional)
  5. French
  6. German
  7. Polish
  8. Hebrew
  9. Italian
  10. Japanese
  11. Korean
  12. Russian
  13. Spanish
  14. Turkish

The language aids are available for understanding questions and answer options of the PMP exam. But, they are not available for pre-exam tutorial and post-exam survey, which are administered in English language only.

You Should Opt For Language Aids

You can opt for the language aids at the time of applying for the exam. They are available at no extra cost for the exam aspirants.

Once you complete the PMP application and make the payment for the exam fee, you will receive an email notification confirming your request for the aids. This email will come immediately after you complete the payment process.

You should definitely opt for language aids at the time of PMP application. But you should avoid using them during the exam.

Let me explain why and how.

Why You Shouldn’t Use the Language Aids

The language aids do not cost money and they are very comforting because English is not your native tongue. However, they are extremely costly in terms of time.

Consider this. You may need ‘n’ seconds or so to answer an exam question. But you would need more time to answer the same question if you use a language aid.

While taking the exam, you are up against the clock. You just do not have extra time to understand questions or answer options.

Use English Language Study Material for the Exam Prep

You would find a few PMP books that are written in your own language. The PMBOK Guide is also published in many languages. You would also find many PMP training courses in your native tongue.

But you should not use them. Using them is a recipe for disaster.

Why? You might ask.

The language aids are provided only at the time of exam. They are administered and protected under the PMI Test Security & Confidentiality rules.

So, you do not have access to them or any similar aid before the exam. Consider the following question.

Would it be fruitful to do the exam preparation in Arabic or German or Chinese or any other language and then take exam in English?

The answer is obviously No. I would suggest you to prepare in English even if takes extra effort and energy to do so.

How Should You Use the Language Aids During the Exam?

You would be under time pressure while taking the exam. So, during the exam, you should avoid any activity that would eat up your time.

A better way to is to prepare for such uncertainties before the exam. And, that is why I suggested you to use English language material for your studies in the previous section.

During the exam, if you do not understand a question properly or are uncomfortable answering it then you should mark it for review and skip it. You can come back to it later when you have answered rest of the questions.

You should practice skipping questions at the time of your studies and not during the exam. You can choose a good PMP simulator to practice full length 200 questions mock tests.

Is It Fair to Conduct PMP Exam Only in English?

PMI does not disclose language-wise or country-wise PMP certification statistics viz. how many people appear from each country, how many opt for a particular language aid, what is passing or failure rate from each country etc.

However, if we look at the PMI’s salary survey for project managers, there are 4 non-English speaking countries in the top 7. This gives us an indication that a large population of non-English speaking people might be taking the PMP exam.

Till now, the exam are conducted in English even though the PMBOK Guide is being published in many languages. I think this will not change in the perceivable future. So, the best option is to take it in your stride and do some extra preparation for the PMP exam.

You would say that this is not fair. But like many other things in life, you should take it up as a challenge and deal with it.

You might say that the PMI is not providing the level playing field. I would say that we don’t know. The PMI does not disclose the PMP exam passing criteria also. So, it is possible that they might be giving extra benefit to people who opt for using the language aid. Who knows?

Final Thoughts

I am not a native English speaker. But, I have learned the language and use it quite well. You might have figured that out after reading my blog posts.

Your situation may be very different from mine. You may be thinking of using the language aids. You should definitely opt for them while applying for the exam. However, for the reasons stated above, I would urge you not to use them during the exam. You should prepare well beforhand by using only English language study material.

Over To You

Were you thinking about using the language aids before reading this post? Are you still contemplating about them? In what circumstances, do you think, one should use the language aids?

I welcome your comments below.

Praveen Malik, PMP

​Praveen Malik ​is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with a rich 23+ years of experience. He is a leading Project Management Instructor, Coach and ​Advisor. He ​has successfully trained thousands of aspirants for the PM certification exams.

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