PMP® Exam Changes and What You Need to Know About PMBOK® 7

Across all industries, the need for project management professionals (PMPs) is increasing. That hasn’t changed for a long time — but technology is changing the role of a project manager. Enter the newest PMP exam and PMBOK Guide version 7.

To become a PMP and join the ranks of the expanding call for top-tier talent, you must first pass the rigorous exam to get certified. The new PMBOK 7 guide is coming out in August. Simplilearn is aligned as an Authorized Training Partner for this.

The new PMP exam changes were initially expected to roll out in July 2020, but were delayed due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that studying for the PMP exam required a different approach as significant variations to it were implemented on January 2nd, 2021. 

The only thing constant is change, and a career in project management is no different. For this reason, the Project Management Institute (PMI®) conducts thorough research every three to five years to better understand how the profession has evolved. Through their in-depth analysis the PMI determines what knowledge should be tested that best reflects the ever-changing roles and responsibilities of certified project managers. 

The new PMP exam changes that went into effect at the beginning of 2021 are based on recommendations from research conducted in 2019. Knowing and understanding the upcoming changes are imperative to best prepare for the PMP exam.

Post Graduate Program In Project Management

The Complete Project Management ProgramExplore Course
Post Graduate Program In Project Management

3 Significant Changes to Note in the New 2021 PMP Examination

  1. PMP Exam Format
  2. PMP Exam Content
  3. ATP Exam Preparation

Let’s take a closer look at how these changes will impact learners looking to attain their PMP certification in 2021 and beyond! 

Here’s the full rundown of changes to assist in your PMP exam preparation.

PMP Exam Format

Modifications to the exam format may appear insignificant, but understanding how your knowledge and experience will be tested is key to your PMP exam preparation. The 2015 version of the exam consisted of 200 multiple choice questions that cover the five domains of project management. The PMP exam questions were formula based, situational, and knowledge based. 

The new PMP exam version contains 180 questions that cover the updated three domains and will be a combination of multiple choice, multiple response, matching, hotspot, and fill in the blank. 

To accurately test the agility of candidates, the latest PMP exam has more scenario-based questions that include animations to best test the flexibility and soft skills of candidates.

While studying for the PMP exam, be sure to review the Agile Practice guide to prepare for questions about both agile and hybrid approaches.

PMP Exam Content

The biggest changes that learners can expect when studying for the PMP exam lies within the exam’s content. 

Though both the 2015 and 2021 exam versions break the content down into a number of domains, the quantity and subject of the domains have changed drastically over the last five years. While the previous exam’s content focused on the specific stages of managing a project — initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing — the new exam focuses on broader topics such as people, process, and business development.

Here’s a closer look at the changes to aid in your PMP exam preparation:

The Old 2015 Exam

Following the natural flow of managing a project, the previous PMP exam version organized its questions into the following PMP domains:

  • Initiating the project (weighted at 13 percent)
  • Planning the project (weighted at 24 percent)
  • Executing the project (weighted at 31 percent)
  • Monitoring & controlling the project (weighted at 25 percent)
  • Closing the project (weighted at 7 percent)

The New 2021 Exam 

A project manager’s job is forever progressing. The new PMP exam is a clear reflection of the changing occupational demands and will focus on three primary domains:

People

Weighted at 42 percent of the exam, this domain evaluates a candidate’s leadership of their project team. A sample of tasks evaluated include:

  • Building/leading a team
  • Managing conflict
  • Ensuring your team is adequately trained

Process

Holding half (50 percent) of the weight of the entire exam, the stage in the process is where professionals evaluate the technical aspects of project management. A few process tasks on the PMP exam include:

  • Planning and managing budget and resources
  • Integrating project planning activities
  • Managing project changes

Business Environment

Drastically small in comparison (8 percent) to the other domains, this domain tests a project manager’s ability to adhere to organizational requirements. A sample of tasks include:

  • Planning and managing project compliance
  • Evaluating benefits and value of project
  • Supporting organizational changes

Review the complete 2021 content outline to prepare for the PMP exam.

The Exam Will Be More Difficult 

With so much new content on new topics and methods coming out with PMBOK 7, it stands to reason that this new test will require a wider breadth of study to cover everything. In short, there’s a lot more to know and master, so the exam will objectively be more difficult. 

Contact Hours are a Minimum Requirement 

The PMI has a requirement of 35 verified contact hours of “specific instruction that addressed learning objectives in project management.” 

With the new, bigger exam, however, 35 contact hours are now the minimum. Expect in-depth exam prep to be much longer. 

Exam Questions Will Come from Agile and Hybrid Methodologies 

About half of the questions in the new PMP exam now regard agile and hybrid methodologies. This differs slightly from the old exam in that the percentage of such questions is comparatively lower than it used to be. Keep this in mind when studying for the PMP.

As a part of the PMP exam prep, let us look at the study tips.

6 Study Tips for the New PMP Exam

1. Utilize the PMBOK® Guide

The PMBOK Guide 6th edition is still a reliable resource, yet PMBOK 7 is just around the corner — August 1st. Be sure to take advantage of either guide (while keeping updates in mind) and use them as a map for your different areas of study. 

PMI suggests studying one knowledge area of the guide each week. Once you’ve mastered the guide, you’re ready to move on to other study material to supplement what you’ve learned and build on that foundation. 

2. Get Yourself a Good PMP Prep Book

A PMP textbook is a must-have when you undergo PMP exam preparation, and some top authors to look for are Rita Mulcahy and Andy Crow. With a text book you’ll get some sample questions and answers to help you study, test your ability to apply what you’ve learned to real-life scenarios, and score yourself on your performance. 

3. Take PMP Exam Prep Workshops (Online)

Normally, you have the choice to do PMP exam preparation workshops in person (i.e., in a classroom) or online. Due to COVID-19, only online prep workshops are currently available. Online options are less expensive and allow you to choose options that best suit your study and learning style.

4. Use Online PMP Simulators

PMP simulators are practice PMP exams hosted only online, giving you the ease to test yourself and study whenever and wherever needed. These exams test candidates with questions that mirror the official PMP exam, as well as replicate the exam environment for optimal preparation.

5. Use Flashcards

Whether you use self-made flashcards or opt for electronic versions of the study aids, these are an excellent form of studying for the PMP. Downloadable flashcards are available and can be stored on your device of choice, or they can be printed. Test yourself on vocabulary words, scenarios, experiences, and whatever else you need with this tried-and-true method.

6. Engage with Study Groups and Discussion Forums 

Though this will look different thanks to the new norm of social distancing, you can engage in study groups hosted online to ask questions, offer answers, and meet others preparing for the PMP exam. Online discussion forums are also a great place to engage with others, get access to useful resources, and learn from another’s experience.

New Authorized Training Partner Structure

Along with significant updates to the content and structure, the 2021 PMP exam changes will also apply to training and exam preparation. Previous REPs (Registered Educational Providers) will soon be replaced by ATPs (Authorized Training Partners) to aid learners in their studies.

As an approved ATP, all training materials used for exam prep must first be approved by the PMI. To access resources, learners will be assigned a digital license key through their ATP. Once assigned their unique license key, learners will gain access to a plethora of training resources, all vetted through the PMI, which include:

  • Project manager checklist
  • Spotlight videos
  • Practice assessments
  • Student manual and knowledge checks
Enroll in our PMP® Certification Course today and develop a strong foundation in the principles of project management.

Simplilearn Is Your PMI® Authorized Training Partner

If you’re working toward receiving your PMP certification, your PMP exam preparation may feel like navigating uncharted waters. Whether you are an aspiring professional or a team leader who recognizes the benefits of upskilling your employees, we have you covered with PMBOK 7.

Let Simplilearn pave the way. As an Authorized Training Partner with PMI®, we make studying for the PMP exam easier than ever!

About the Author

SimplilearnSimplilearn

Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

View More
  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.