PMP exam changes: What’s new and how should you prepare for it?

Last updated on December 22, 2022

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The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is one of the popular certifications all over the world. The certification, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), is widely considered to be essential for project managers. It is a great boost if you want to take the next step in your career.

The exam is mainly based on the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide, which incorporates the current industry standards in the field of project and resource management. If you are planning to sit for the exam, make sure you know the specific qualifications for applicants. This would include certain hours in leading and directing projects as a project management professional, in addition to hours in project management education.

PMP exam changes: What’s new and how should you prepare for it?

However, the format has recently been changed in response to the changing scope of project management across organisations. So,

1. What are the changes in the PMP certification exam?

The increasing role of technology in businesses has impacted the role of the project manager. This was the premise for the need to change the scope of PMP certification as well. The PMI usually conducts timely research every 3-5 years to understand how the profession has changed over time.

The change in the PMP examination will be implemented in the exam from July 2020. PMI, with its leading group of experts, had last updated the PMP course exam outline in 2015. The current change in the outline would also highlight what project management of the future is going to be like. The results of the recent research has been published in the PMP Examination Content Outline in June 2019, which will be subsequently reflected in the exam format of July 2020.

2. Outline of the PMP exam

In order to understand how the current exam outline will change, let’s take a look at the existing content outline. In 2015, the PMP exam format and outline was based on 5 domains identified by the PMI. These were based on the various stages in the project life cycle and includes various tasks. The different processes and guidelines would be related to various tasks in the candidate’s proficiency. The different domains and their weightage in the PMP examination are as follows:

Sl. No.DomainsPercentage of items in the exam

  • IInitiating13%
  • IIPlanning24%
  • IIIExecuting31%
  • IVMonitoring and Controlling25%
  • VClosing7%

The latest version of the PMP outline would replace the above five domains and three new domains will be introduced. These would include the following:

  1. People: Emphasizing the skills and activities associated with effectively leading a project team. 42% of the questions in the new PMP exam format will be from this domain.
  2. Process: This domain would discuss ways to reinforce the technical aspects of managing a project. It will form 50% of the questions in the new PMP examination.
  3. Business Environment: It discusses building the connection between projects and organisation strategy. The availability of the domain would be less in the current course and would be more interwoven through the entire course material. Only 8% of the questions in the new PMP exam will be from this section.

With the above three new domains, the outline would span the entire value spectrum, including predictive, agile and hybrid approaches. Predictive methodologies cover approximately 50% of the course outline, while agile and hybrid technologies cover 50% of the approaches in project management. This ensures new project management methodologies are made a part of the PMP course, enabling participants to have updated information as a part of the system. Project management officials (PMOs) would also get access to trends and approaches in business and to implement it easily in their projects and help achieve their strategic objectives better.

3. What should be a part of your PMP exam prep?

A project management professional certification is both expensive and time-consuming. If you are not a PMI member, sitting for the examination would cost you US$555, and US$405 if you are a member. With this in mind, it’s in your best interest to give the exam your best shot on the first attempt itself.

In this regard, getting through the PMBOK guide and mastering it would need some considerable time which may be difficult while being at a demanding job. While you would find numerous tips online to clear the exam, but you should make sure you spend a few hours every day to go through it and master the guide. Taking a trial PMP preparation course and exam would also be really helpful.

It should also be noted that the PMBOK v7 is set to release in 2021. This would incorporate the new outline changes. This might prove to be a challenge for examinees in 2020. So if you are planning to sit for the PMP 2020 exam, the last day to sit for the exam in the old format is 30th June 2020. Post-that, it is advisable that applicants sit for the exam once the new PMBOK study guide is released, giving them more time and the updated material to prepare.

Getting the certification may be expensive, but the attempt is worth it. Not only does it add value to the resume, but a PMP certification is also the most widely recognised and valuable certificate programme. It is the best way to get recognition from the industry as well. The attestation is also not specific to a particular professional background or industry.

Whether you are just starting out in your career, or have been working for quite some time, a PMP certification would always be of value. It offers great networking opportunities with similar professionals globally, and will definitely be a great boost to your career.

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