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PMP Exam Update: What you need to know!

In January 2021, the Project Management Institute (PMI) will release an updated version of their world-renowned Project Management Professional (PMP) qualification.

Why is the PMP Exam Changing?

Simply put, the exam is changing because the role of a Project Manager has evolved.

The PMI® typically conducts research every 3-5 years, to understand how the marketplace has progressed, review the impact of emerging trends, and keep an eye on how the responsibilities of project managers have changed in that time. The PMI last conducted this research in 2015, resulting in the current PMP exam content outline.

The PMI did not work alone - subject matter experts from leading organisations around the world have worked alongside the PMI on the design and development plans.  

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What are the current changes to the PMP Exam?

The updated PMP exam content outline was published on 30 June 2019, and it defined the syllabus and content of the PMP exam. The PMI are now updating the PMP exam, to match the new syllabus. The updated exam will be going live from the 2nd of January 2021.

The current PMP exam is based on five performance domains (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, Closing). From January 2021, the exam will be based on just three domains (People – 42%, Process – 50%, and Business Environment – 8%).

For the three domains listed above, the exam outlines ‘Tasks’ – what Project Managers do, and ‘Enablers’ – the actions Project Managers take to complete the tasks.

According to the PMI, around half of the exam will represent predictive project management approaches, while the second half will represent agile or hybrid approaches.

How these changes affect the PMP exam

  •    The updated exam is bigger – Around 70% of the current exam is found within Domain II: Process, with Domains I and III (People and Business Environment) having mainly new content
  •    Agile is a must – 50% of the questions in the updated exam will focus on agile and hybrid approaches, meaning you must have experience and knowledge of what it's like to work in these environments
  •    The exam will be harder – The addition of new methods and topics you need to know about will naturally increase the difficulty of this exam.
  •    Contact Hours are the minimum - PMI requires you to verify “at least” 35 contact hours of specific instruction, which addressed learning objectives in project management. In light of this, any other project management courses that you have undertaken, can only enhance your learning around PMP. 

Will the PMBOK® Guide change?

No, we will not see a PMBOK® seventh edition until around Q2 of 2021, meaning the Sixth Edition continues to be an appropriate exam reference. More importantly, the PMP exam has never been a test of the PMBOK so the best preparation for the exam continues to be attendance at a PMP training event. 

Examination preparation – What to do now?

Taking the PMP exam on or before 31st of December 2020

  •    Continue studying as normal. No changes required.
  •    Use the current 2015 PMP Exam Content Outline for general exam guidance.
  •    Use the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition.
  •    Look to book your exam no later than the 31st of October 2020, to avoid the last-minute rush of delegates looking to take the exam before the big changes (and this also gives you a buffer, should you fail).

Taking the PMP exam on or after 2nd of January 2021

  •    Make sure you download the new 2019 PMP Exam Content Outline, and read it thoroughly, so you understand the topics you’ll be asked on the updated exam.
  •    As it’s still valid, continue to study from your PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition.
  •    Study ‘The Agile Practice Guide’ and learn as much as you can about agile approaches.
  •    Study using the updated materials provided to by e-Careers as your training provider.
  •    Schedule to take your PMP exam on or after the 2nd of January 2021.

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