How to prepare for the PMI-RMP Exam

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The PMI-RMP® credential is an industry renowned certification, certifying that Risk Management Professionals have the necessary knowledge to apply project risk management knowledge, principles, tools, and techniques. The PMI- RMP Certificate sets Risk Managers apart from each other as it is recognized as being one of the most difficult risk management exams to take.

This article will assist you in preparing for the PMI-RMP Exam.

PMI Risk Management Professional (RMP) Exam Pattern Changes

The PMI-RMP exam previously consisted of 170 questions. The current version is a change from previous years when the exam was longer and had more questions. It’s important to note that there’s no negative marking on this exam. You should attempt all questions.

The exam consists of :

  • 115 questions
  • 100 of those are scored questions
  • 15 are un-scored questions

You have 2.5 hours (150 minutes) to complete the exam, which equates to just over a minute to complete each question.

After the exam, you’ll be assessed on four performance categories: above target (AT), target (T), below target (BT), and needs improvement (NI). Your report will show your score in each category. Above target means your score is above expectation; Target means you met the expectations; Below Target means your score is below expectation and Needs Improvement means you are far below expectation and need to really study hard to improve in that area. For each of the five domains, you will have one performance rating category.

The PMI RMP Exam Blueprint

The domains for the RMP Exam Blueprint are set out in the examination content outline (ECO). The ECO sets the blueprint for the exam. It tells you how many questions, and what overall percentage of questions, will come from each domain.

The PMI RMP Exam Domains
Image illustrating the PMI RMP exam domains

The domains and percentages of questions on the RMP exam have changed in the year 2022. The new domains are as follows:

  • Risk Strategy and Planning: 22%
  • Risk Identification: 23%
  • Risk Analysis: 18%
  • Risk Response: 15%
  • Risk Monitoring and Reporting: 12%

This translates to roughly 25-26 questions out of 115 questions for Risk Strategy and Planning, 23% or 26-27 questions out of 115 for Risk Identification, and so on. While the number of questions for each domain can vary a bit, the RMP exam is pretty consistent in sticking to the outline.

RMP Exam Content

Next, we’ll take a look at the domains which are covered in the exam.

To understand what each domain entails, you’ll need to download the ECO, which is available for free on PMI.org.

A domain is defined by PMI as “the high-level knowledge area that is essential to the practice of project risk management.” An example of a domain would be risk identification.

Every domain will have a number of tasks. A task is defined by PMI as “the underlying responsibilities of the project risk manager within each domain area.” For instance, under the domain of risk identification, we have task number three, “Document risk triggers,” and task number five, “Develop risk register.”

So in this domain, you have tasks such as developing the risk register or documenting the risk triggers, documenting the risk owner or documenting the potential risks and responses to them.

Similarly, for other domains such as “risk response” or “risk strategy and planning,” you will have a number of tasks.

Enablers

Next, we’ll look at enablers. Enablers are illustrative examples of the work associated with a task. However, the examples provided in the ECO are not exhaustive, so there may be other enablers as well. The ECO provides some sample enablers. As an example, for Domain 2 – risk identification, and the task statement of “Developing a risk register,” we have the following enablers.

These include:

  •  Analyze the validity of identifier risk and the triggers associated with triggers.
  •  Examine the risk attributes, like probability, impact, and urgency.
  • Value servant leadership.
  • Establish risk origin or ownership, which can be internal or external.
  • Clarify risk as threats or opportunities.

The RMP exam has changed a lot in recent years. They’ve changed the ECO, the exam pattern, and they’ve introduced new Agile concepts. When it comes to risk management, the servant leadership style is predominantly used in the exile domain. Now they’re saying that if you want to apply risk management in an Agile project, you need to know how to do that, how to use these enablers, and of course, this particular leadership style.

When identifying risks, we use a SWOT analysis to classify them as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats. A negative risk is classified as a threat, while a positive risk is classified as an opportunity.

Simply put, a domain will have a number of tasks.

Each task will have a number of enablers. In total, we have five domains and we have 19 tasks. For your exam, you do not have to remember the tasks or the enablers, but you have to familiarize yourself with them and you have to understand the domains.

Domains, Tasks, and Enablers

A domain defines the scope of what should be known, while a task corresponds to what should be done. Enablers provide guidance on how to carry out a task, with examples.

This is depicted in this figure.

For instance, in the “Risk Identification” domain, the task would be to develop the risk register. The enabler would be to document risk triggers, such as “What is the risk to us? (minute 25:00 – not sure what he is saying)” or work with “Servant Leadership”

PMI RMP References to Study for Your Exam

1. PMI’s foundational standards for risk management in portfolios, programs, and projects.

PMI has updated the reference sources to use for the RMP exam in 2022. There are eight reference books and guides, with the primary source being PMI’s foundational standards for risk management in portfolios, programs, and projects. This standard was released a couple of years ago and is the most important reference source.

2. PMI’s PMBOK 7th Edition

Next to that, you have PMI’s PMBOK 7th Edition, which was released in 2021. The PMBOK 7th Edition is a principle-driven standard, with performance domains. (he breaks up really badly here – so found this on the PMIs website) There are 12 project management principles in The Standard for Project Management, and 8 performance domains with respect to project management.

The PMBOK, 7th edition introduces several models, methods, and artifacts for risk management. These include risk management models, artifacts such as the Risk Register and Risk Report, and methods such as Short Analysis, Monte Carlo Analysis, Latin Hypercube Simulation, and Response Strategies. The PMI Practice Standard for Risk Management is a very old edition, released in 2009, but still contains some valuable content, such as the risk statement.

Among the 12 new Project Management principles outlined in the 7th Edition of the PMBOK, you have risk management principle number 10, which is “Optimize Risk Responses.” This is very important for your RMP exam. Of course, you have to also go through other principles, such as complexity, uncertainty, and system thinking principles.

In addition to the Project Management Principles, you also have eight performance domains which include:

  • Stakeholders
  • Team
  • Development, Approach, and Life Cycle
  • Planning
  • Project Work
  • Delivery
  • Measurement
  • Uncertainty

The most important performance domain will be the “uncertainty” performance domain where you have risk-related concepts available in detail.

Project Performance Domains
Project Performance Domains

3. The PMBOK Guide Sixth Edition and PMIs Practice Standard for Project Risk Management

The PMBOK Guide 6th Edition and the PMIs Practice Standard for Project Risk Management are not listed as required references for the RMP Exam, but they will be needed. Let’s take a closer look at why.

The PMBOK Guide 6th Edition has a dedicated knowledge area called Project Plus Minus. This is where you’ll find information on risk management. While the PMIs Practice Standard for Project Risk Management is not required, it’s a good resource to have on hand when preparing for the RMP Exam.

If you go through this foundational standard for risk management, which is your first and main reference source, they have direct references to the PMBOK 6th Edition. Although it is not listed as a reference, this foundational standard is referring to it, so you have to go to the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition.

Also, the Framework for Risk Management, with all the processes of risk management, such as planned risk management, identifying risks, perform qualitative risk analysis, performing a quantitative risk analysis, planned risk responses, implementing risk responses, and monitoring risks. All these seven processes are exhaustively elaborated in PMBOK 6th Edition

In addition to that, there are a number of tools and techniques and additional data with respect to the processes in this foundational standard. You can also look at the 7th edition as a wrapper over the 6th Edition

In addition to the standards and guides, you have some additional books, but I won’t put a lot of emphasis on them. The reference sources are not the blueprint for your exam. The examination content outline will set the blueprint for your exam.

Things to consider when prepping for the RMP Exam

When you’re studying for the PMI RMP Exam, it’s important to make sure that your preparation material covers the Exam Content Outline (ECO). The ECO is the blueprint for the exam, and the percentage of questions on the exam is based on that. So, if you want to be confident that you’re studying the right things, make sure that your preparation material includes a clear mapping to the ECO. Otherwise, it’s not worth your time.

As mentioned in the Eco, you will be tested on both traditional agile and hybrid methods. Hybrid is a combination of Agile and Traditional elements resulting in a non-agile approach.

So your exam prep should include agile concepts like servant leadership, or how to do risk management in a Scrum environment or Kanban environment. 

In the 7th edition they have agile related concept as well with respect to risk management. How to do a risk review or how risk review maps with respect to product review or retrospective and adaptive or agile environment. Those learning you should have for every domain.

You should make sure you’re familiar with the latest edition of the PMBOK Guide and use that as the foundation for your studies. In addition, use the latest examination Content Outline to guide your studying. Finally, take at least one thousand practice questions to make sure you’re fully prepared for the exam.

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Written by Satya Narayan Dash
Satya Narayan Dash is a management professional, coach, and author of multiple books. Under his guidance, over 2,000 professionals have successfully cracked PMP, ACP, RMP, and CAPM examinations – in fact, there are over 100 documented success stories written by these professionals. His course, PMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass, has made many successful PMPs, and he’s recently launched RMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass and ACP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass. His web presence is at https://managementyogi.com, and he can be contacted via email at managementyogi@gmail.com.  
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