Project Management

Key Changes to PMP Examination from January 02/2021

The PMI® obliges to its responsibility of creating Project Managers who stay ahead of the time and thus conducts a thorough research every 3-5 years to understand the changing aspects of the project management profession and evolving responsibilities of the next-gen project managers. As a result of one such research, a new PMP Examination Content Outline was publicized in June 2019 and based on that, the new PMP exam format will be applicable w.e.f. 2nd January 2021.

PMP 2021 Exam Changes

Some vital changes are coming to the PMP certification examination, scheduled from 2nd Jan 2021. The content and structure of the exam will be majorly revamped. As described in the new PMP exam content outline, PMI conducted a research study into emerging trends in the project management profession called as Global Practice Analysis. The intention was to understand various job tasks and associated methodologies recurrently, regularly used by the people. The outcome of this study resulted in knowledge and some additional focused skills required to practice as project management professional. Hence the PMP exam is getting modified to echo these practices.

key changes in PMP Exam

1. New domains

PMP® exam is moving ahead from the existing domains of ‘initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling & closing’ to the new exam content outline based on three new domains namely People, Process, and Business environment. If closely observed, we can understand these new domains are aligned more closely with the PMI Talent Triangle® sections namely: Technical Project Management, Leadership, and Business and Strategic work.

Different industry requires different flavors of project management practices. The business environment realm tests common concepts and does not get into any particulars around project types.

The domain wise weightage now will be

People 42%
Process 50%
Business Environment 8%

About half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches. Predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches will be found throughout the three-domain areas listed above and are not isolated to any particular domain or task.

3 Domain of PMP Examination Changes
Key Changes In PMP Examination

2. Additional Reference sources to create PMP exam questions

Guidelines for developing PMP exam questions state that every question must have reference to at least two source documents.

Although PMP exam is not a test based ‘only’ on the PMBOK Guide, presently one out of two mandatory reference sources of PMP exam question is PMBOK Guide. This is normally to make sure the question is based on reputable, traditional source and not just their recommendation or credence. The second reference source usually is a non-PMBOK source.

As the global practice and job task analysis resulted in more people-based skills and agile approaches, different reference sources will get added and relative dependency on the PMBOK Guide will get reduced to an extent. New PMP Exam Content Outline is based on People, Process and Business domains, overall competence of the professional is expected to be well beyond the topics of PMBOK Guide. The preparations of the PMP contenders will need to have studies on understanding and applying the concepts described in the domains, tasks and enablers listed in the exam content outline.

3. New content

The global practice analysis discovered that agile as well as hybrid (Predictive +Agile) the life cycle approach is increasingly used in the industry. To reveal this, the new exam content covers the complete value delivery gamut – Predictive, Hybrid, and Agile approaches. The inclusion of agile concepts and increased weightage on the ‘people’ aspects of projects represent a major change. Basic approaches towards conflict management, servant leadership, and periodical reviews like retrospectives etc. will now be a regular part of the PMP exam which were previously part of the PMI-ACP® certification exam.

4. Different question types –

As per present PMI announcements some new question types are also getting introduced which are different from the existing MCQ (multiple choice questions) format having four options and candidates selecting the most correct answer. The new design of questions include drag-and-drop and selecting correct matching graphical representation (graph or chart) to the given scenario or vice versa. This addition is for analyzing the interpretation and representation technique, the capability of the professional.

In a nutshell, the reduction of 5 to 3 domains in the PMP exam means:

  1. The content outline is ‘radical’ but provides greater value than the previous exam content outlines.
  2. The new PMP exam will assess candidates on these three domains:
    • People (42%)
    • Process (50%)
    • Business Environment (8%)
  3. Within these domains, the questions will be based on Tasks (what Project Managers do) and Enablers (actions needed to accomplish the tasks)
  4. PMI states that Nearly 50% of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the remaining 50% will represent agile or hybrid approaches.

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