PMP® Exam Changes: What You Need to Know

Ringing in the new year means something a little different if your resolutions involve finally becoming a certified project manager. 

Although the new PMP exam changes were initially expected to roll out in July 2020, due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PMP exam changes were postponed to the beginning of 2021. This means studying for the PMP exam will require a different approach as significant variations to the exam are set to be implemented 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 coming 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.

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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 and soft skills of candidates, the new PMP exam will have more scenario-based questions that include animations to best test the agility 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 process domain evaluates 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 covered under the business environment domain 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.

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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

While the PMBOK 7th edition is still currently in development and expected to be released in early 2021, learners can use the PMBOK 6th edition, along with their ATP to study for the PMP exam.

Enroll in our PMP® Certification Course today and develop a strong foundation in the principles of project management.

Simplilearn Is Your Authorized Training Partner

If you’re working toward receiving your PMP certification, your PMP exam preparation may feel like navigating uncharted waters. 

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

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