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PMP Exam Changes in 2021: Are You Ready?

It is said that “change is the only constant.” The PMP exam is no exception. In fact, it changes roughly once every two years, and we are seeing a change coming up in about six months. PMI will start conducting the exam based on a new pattern as of January 2, 2021.

The PMP exam change has created quite a stir in the certification community. Many aspirants are confused about the changes. You, too, may have heard about the change and may be looking for answers. In the following article, I’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand more about what is coming.

Let’s take a detailed look at what all is changing in January of 2021.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about the PMP Exam Change

 

1. When will the exam change?

The last date for taking the current version of the PMP exam is December 31, 2020. From January 2, 2021 on, PMI will administer a new version of the exam.

The exam was supposed to change on July 1, 2020, but PMI postponed it by six months because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, this is the second time PMI has postponed the exam. Earlier the exam change was scheduled for December 16, 2019, but due to some administrative delays, PMI postponed it then also.

 

2. What is the last date for taking the current version of the exam?

The last date for taking the exam in its current form is December 31, 2020.

 

3. What is first date for taking the new version of the exam?

The new version of the exam will begin on January 2, 2021.

 

4. What is going to change?

The PMP exam is based on the Exam Content Outline (ECO). The ECO is akin to a syllabus for the PMP exam. PMI usually revises the ECO once every three to five years. It is done to keep up with the current trends of project management and also to maintain standardization of the PMP exam.

The ECO for the current version of the exam was published in 2015. The new version of the exam will be based on the ECO released in May of 2019.

The current version of the exam is based on five project management domains. Refer to the following table for the names of these domains and proportion of the exam questions that come from each.

 

The new version of the exam will be entirely different. It will focus on just three domains.

 

5. Is there a new edition of the PMBOK Guide?

No. The PMBOK Guide 6th edition is remaining the same.

PMI has been planning to release the 7th edition of the PMBOK Guide in late 2020, but no firm date has been announced. The current version and the new version of the exam will not be impacted by the changes in the PMBOK Guide.

Furthermore, there is a popular misconception that the PMP exam is based on the PMBOK Guide. It is not. The PMBOK Guide is just one of the reference books used in preparation for the exam. It covers most of the things that are listed in the ECO.

 

6. Why is PMI changing the exam?

Every three to five years, PMI conducts research to understand how the project management profession has progressed. This research is defined as a Role Delineation Study (RDS). It seeks to reveal the impact of emerging trends in project management. It also determines how the responsibilities of project managers have changed over the years.

The ECO for the PMP exam is based on the RDS. The last RDS was done in the year 2015, which resulted in the current version of the ECO. PMI conducted another RDS in 2019, and came out with a new ECO as mentioned earlier. From January 2, 2021, new ECO will become the basis for the PMP exam.

 

7. Should I take the exam now or after the change?

It is advised that aspiring PMP Certified project managers should take the exam before the end of this year, as there is going to be a substantial change in the exam pattern. The new pattern is likely to be much harder as there is a significant difference between the current ECO and new ECO.

Here is an excerpt from the new ECO:

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.

PMP cost notwithstanding, the certification can give you a potential boost in salary. According to PMI’s global salary survey, PMP Certified Project Managers earn 22% higher on average than their non-PMP counterparts.

 

Conclusion

The new PMP exam ushers in a level of uncertainty, simply because it is based on new information and a new format. Most agree it is going to be much more difficult. If you are considering when to take the exam, I would recommend you try to complete it this year to avoid unpleasant surprises. Even if you have not started preparation for the PMP exam, you can do so now. There is still plenty of time to study for the exam. Many will need 8-12 weeks for the exam preparation, so being preparation now and plan to take the exam a month or two before December 2020.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. When are you planning to take the exam? In your opinion, how much time is needed to prepare for it?

 

Praveen Malik
Written by Praveen Malik

Praveen Malik, PMP, has two-plus decades of experience as a project management instructor and consultant. He regularly conducts project management workshops in India and abroad and shares his project management thinking in his blog, PM by PM.

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1 Comment
  1. Thank you for keeping us up to date with the changes. I agree with your assessment, it makes sense to take the exam in 2020 based on the fact there are study materials available in addition to the PMBOK.

    Reply

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