It’s huge! The new PMP exam in 2021 changed on Jan. 2, 2021, and it is a big shakeup compared to the current PMP Exam that is valid until Dec. 31, 2020.
The ancient philosophies converge in one crucial concept: change is the only constant, and in that sense, the Project Management Institute (PMI) is acting faithful to their tradition to change the content and outline of the PMP exams every 3-5 years.
The reason for that constant changing is to keep reflecting the progress and evolution of the project management profession and adapt it to new trends that have been positively impacting the way we manage and execute projects.
To define the new outline, content, and kind of questions, the PMI gets support from subject matter experts (SMEs) from top leading organizations worldwide. Based on those collected insights, defines the new topics to be covered.
What has PMI changed in PMP?
What are the main changes that you will be facing from January 2 onwards?
Basically, in a nutshell, the main changes are:
- Regarding the exam outline, we will be moving from 5 domains (e.g., Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Control, Closing) into 3 (e.g., People, Process, Business environment).
- The agile and adaptive methodologist will have more weight in the exam.
- According to the PMP Exam Content Outline (ECO), 50% of questions will come from adaptive or hybrid approaches, and the remaining 50% from the predictive viewpoint.
- The exam is tougher: 25 new tasks have been added, meaning you will need to study harder.
- Due to COVID-19, the exam will remain available as an online proctored test until further notice.
- 5-Day Official PMI Course: only trainer-lead online course developed and approved by PMI will be the only official training program source (check “PMI ATPs” section for more details)
- Exam reduced to 180 Questions & extra Time and One extra Break
Once you have calmed yourself and stop hyperventilating, let me go a little bit deeper into the 2021 PMP Exam changes and clarify your most common questions and doubts in the following lines.
PMP New Focus on Principles
The PMI understands that we, as project managers, must focus on our duties and comply as PMs to add value to the business. By focusing on the human factor by delivering the expected outcomes, the new exam’s outline focuses on principles rather than processes: the PM must focus on the result and not deliverables.
Regarding the changes in domains, the following table will help you understand the exam content split and how those had evolved:
So, the question in order is: How to tackle this?
New PMP Domains:
The best way to succeed on the PMP exam is by having a clear understanding of the concepts and principles regarding the project management professional and the content and outline that the PMI will be examining.
So, how to understand the new 2021 outline? By understanding what the domain and tasks mean, that we summarized as follow:
- Domain: a high-level knowledge area essential to the practice of project management
- Tasks: underlying responsibilities of the PM within each domain area
- Enablers: illustrative examples of the work associated
For more details, please check this link to the “Examination Content Outline –January 2021”, where you could check the list of tasks related to each of the three domains and understand those based on the enablers.
Adaptive & Agile Methodologies:
Since the PMP Exam in 2021 will have 50% of questions dedicated to agile or adaptive methodologies, you must develop that knowledge if you are not already familiar with it.
We highly recommend complementing your study with 100+ Agile Tools and Techniques for Agile & Lean Project Management 🧰 and learning about agile approaches.
Another significant resource that you could take advantage of: the PMI had developed their Free online training to close the gap regarding adaptive and agile methodologies; this training will be available from January 22 to April 18, 2021. More details on this link.
PMI ATPs Overview
Since most PMP certification candidates consider highly valuable and “necessary” to prepare according to PMI sources and guidelines, for the PMP Exam in 2021, you will need to complete a 5-day trainer-leaded preparation course delivered by a PMI Authorized Training Partner (ATP).
You could still take advantage of other training resources. However, their training content won’t be full “PMI-developed” PMP exam prep training materials; that means that those could be seen as not-official training resources that would work as a complement to the official training program designed by the PMI.
According to PMI, the new PMI “Authorized Training Partner Program” aimed to ensure that you will use high-quality training programs for your preparations and establish a homogenous set of high standards.
However, self-paced online training will remain valid to get the required 35 contact hours.
We highly recommend looking for the PMI “ATP” badge before purchasing any training material, especially if you haven’t earned the still-required 35 contact hours.
Please feel free to get more details regarding the “Authorized Training Partners” on the following link.
Online Proctored PMP Exam:
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PMI accelerated the deployment of the online proctored exam alternative. However, if you prefer to attain a testing center, it is still possible.
For more examples from the prototyping question available, please check a summary prepared by PMI on the following link.
Our 2021 PMBOK Hack
Throw it out the window – its a waste of your time. It literally only covers 50% of the exam. The PMBOK does not cover Agile whatsoever it only speaks about project management plan. If reading solely reading the PMBOK is your plan you will fail the PMP exam in 2021.
What Does this mean to you passing PMP in 2021?
As the world changes, so the PMI does, and this is a good practice for all of us involved in the project management profession. The main reason to update or change the PMP exam is to keep this certification relevant and current based on the new trends and best practices in the industries.
The PMP Exam in 2021 recognizes the role of project managers as an integrator who has adapted to new trends (e.g., Agile, SCRUM, etc.) to confirm proficiency on the common approaches to popular adaptive methodologies, especially in the SW and technology industries.
With the new domains described in the 2021 ECO, the PMI aims to ensure that certified project management practitioners pay special attention to develop soft and technical skills. Moreover, the PMI also seeks to ensure that the project managers develop a skill set that will help them drive projects’ success and create business value.
Top 5 Tips to pass the PMP exam in 2021 on your first attempt:
- Adapt to the coming changes by preparing yourself according to PMP Exam in 2021, beyond the PMBOK.
- Complement your training by reviewing “The Agile Practice Guide” especially if you are not an Agile practitioner.
- Complete 5-Day Official PMI Course provided by a PMI ATP organization.
- Look for a lot of official mocking exams and practice, practice, practice.
- If you are coming from more traditional industries like construction or oil, it is important to grow yourself regarding the adaptive or agile approaches.
A final thought: we are getting deeper into a VUCA world (Volatile Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous). Developing a resilient approach in our profession by adaptation and constant changing will help us develop the proper and effective skill sets to deliver value to our projects.
In that sense, thank you PMI for the constant change!