Preparing for an exam is universally known to be a stressful experience. Regardless of the exam's scale, the pressure can be overwhelming. Anxiety often stems from a multitude of factors, whether it's the vast syllabus to cover or the limited study time available. The fear of failure, especially in competitive exams, adds to the tension. Now, imagine this scenario: amid all this stress, you learn that the exam's outline and content are undergoing changes. It would undoubtedly throw anyone for a loop, right? Well, this is precisely what Project Management Professional (PMP) aspirants have recently experienced.
For individuals seeking to advance their project management careers or transition into this field, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification holds immense significance. Let's say your closest friend has been diligently preparing to become a project manager for the past few years, and you're still unfamiliar with terms like PMP or PMI. In that case, you might risk your friendship because it's evident you've been forgetful or inattentive. They've likely mentioned the PMP exam several times and may have even enrolled in a PMP exam preparation course.
The PMP certification is highly prestigious, recognized as the definitive qualification for aspiring project managers. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the organization responsible for administering this certification, there are approximately one million holders of this globally renowned credential.
To grasp the formidable nature of the PMP exam, consider this statistic: in the United States, there are only 1,126 certified PMP holders per one million people. With a total population of 331 million, there are roughly 372,726 active PMP certification holders. Now that you understand the exam's rigor, imagine the anxiety and frustration your best friend experienced when the PMP exam underwent changes in January 2021. But what exactly are these PMP exam changes? Is there substantial cause for concern or frustration? Let's delve into the details.
In late 2020, this question proved pivotal in distinguishing those who undertook the old V.6 exam from those who embraced the new 2021 version. As of today, the PMP exam is once again undergoing alterations.
What do these changes entail, and how might they impact you? What is the PMP Certification?
The Project Management Professional certification, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), stands as the pinnacle of project management credentials. It signifies individuals' proficiency in effectively navigating the intricacies of project management, irrespective of their chosen methodology.
Attaining the PMP certification attests to a project manager's capability to adeptly oversee people, processes, and business priorities. This globally acknowledged credential carries immense significance in the realm of project management.
To achieve PMP certification, project managers must fulfill specific requirements and successfully pass a 180-question exam. The exam, curated by seasoned project leaders, pertains to real-life project management experiences.
PMP certification confirms your adeptness in:
- Inspiring individuals and teams throughout all project phases.
- Employing predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches to determine the most suitable project approach.
- Spotlighting a project's triumph and its alignment with strategic organizational objectives.
- Furthermore, PMP certification often translates into enhanced career prospects and financial rewards. According to PMI's "Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey—Twelfth Edition," PMP-certified professionals earn a median salary that's sixteen percent higher than their non-certified counterparts, with this figure rising to 32% higher in the USA.
With over 1,400,000 PMP certification holders worldwide, it's evident that this certification is in high demand.
The PMP Exam: What Remains Unchanged?
While the PMP exam process is undergoing changes starting today, September 25, 2023, it's crucial to acknowledge what remains unaltered:
Exam Content: The core content of the PMP exam, encompassing project management processes, frameworks, and best practices, remains consistent. The PMP exam will continue to assess your knowledge across three key domains: People, Processes, and Business Environment, grounded in the knowledge within the PMBOK 7 and the Agile Practice Guide.
Eligibility Requirements: The eligibility criteria for taking the PMP exam remain unchanged. To be eligible for the PMP exam:
- You must possess a Four-Year College/University Degree or a High School/Secondary School Diploma.
- You must have either CAPM® Certification or 35 Contact Hours of project management education/training (our 5-day Exam Preparatory Course fulfills this requirement).
- If you hold a four-year degree, you need 36 months of project leadership experience within the past eight years.
- If you have a high school diploma or associate’s degree, you should have 60 months of project leadership experience.
PMI's latest policy update focuses on reinforcing data security and forensics measures to safeguard the integrity of the PMP exam. What does this mean for your exam experience?
What's Changing? What's Different Now?
Up until September 25, 2023, you received your exam results instantly, and any misconduct led to an invalidated exam. In such cases, candidates could retake the exam at no extra cost.
Under the new policy, after completing your exam, you'll be informed that your results will be available within 5 business days. During this review period, if any misconduct is detected, your scores will be voided, and you'll receive prompt notification via email. In case of a security failure, you'll need to retake the exam at a Pearson testing center, with the retake fee borne by you.
For those who've been diligently preparing using legitimate methods and adhering to ethical standards, the primary change is a 5-day wait for results. Everything else remains the same.
Changes in The PMP Exam Questions & Duration?
Let's begin by addressing the fundamental question: why did the PMP exam undergo changes? The answer lies in the evolving role of project managers. These exam modifications result from two key factors: the release of the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition in January 2021 and recommendations based on research conducted since 2019.
It's important to clarify one thing: the release of the seventh edition of the PMBOK Guide doesn't render your prior efforts obsolete. The Guide was never intended to be the sole reference material for any candidate. PMI members also enjoy free access to the PMBOK Guide, alleviating any concerns. Now, let's delve into the PMP exam changes.
The first notable change lies in the Exam Content Outline (ECO). Before January 2, 2021, there were five domains under the Exam Content Outline, closely aligning with the five process groups: Initiating (13%), Planning (24%), Executing (31%), Monitoring and Controlling (25%), and Closing (7%). These percentages represented the weightage of each domain in the old PMP exam. However, the new ECO introduces three domains: People (42%), Process (50%), and Business Environment (8%). The previous ECO aimed to assess candidates' knowledge of the five process groups and their associated tasks. The new ECO recognizes that today's project managers operate in diverse project environments and employ different approaches. Consequently, predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches are integrated across the three domains in the new ECO.
Next, let's discuss the number of questions and allotted time. The old exam format comprised 200 questions (including 25 unscored questions) to be answered within 240 minutes. In the new exam, you must respond to 180 questions (including 5 unscored questions) within 230 minutes.
What about breaks? You'll have two of them. The first break occurs after answering and reviewing questions 1-60, and the second break follows the completion of question 120 and its review. Each break lasts for ten minutes.
Now, let's explore the exam modes. Thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, PMI has introduced online proctored exams in collaboration with Pearson Vue. This means you can take the exam comfortably from your home without scheduling hassles. However, center-based examinations are still available for those who prefer the stimulating environment of an in-person exam. Unlike the old exam, which consisted solely of multiple-choice questions (MCQs), the new format incorporates a variety of question types: multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot, and fill-in-the-blanks.
If you find the PMP exam changes overwhelming, it's essential to understand that you cannot revert to the old exam pattern. After January 2, 2021, the PMP exam follows the new pattern. Therefore, my advice is to commence your preparation. Numerous project management skills courses are available to assist you on your preparation journey if you're feeling stuck.
Preserving the credibility and value of the PMP certification is paramount. PMI has taken these measures to address concerns related to identity verification and exam security. Over time, some individuals have attempted to compromise the certification process through unethical practices, such as having someone else take the exam on their behalf. These changes aim to thwart such misconduct and ensure that only deserving candidates attain PMP certification.
Here are steps to prepare for the PMP exam:
Allocate Time: Dedicate ample daily study time. Consistent and focused study is irreplaceable. We recommend a two-month study plan, with one hour of uninterrupted study five days a week and at least four hours over the weekend for practice tests and answers.
Understand PMI's Expectations: Familiarize yourself with PMI's question style by studying the PMBOK7 with the 2021 exam course outline (AOC) and practicing questions. Develop a realistic study plan and utilize effective study tools.
The actual exam includes 180 questions with a 230-minute time limit. Practice full-length mock exams at least three times before taking the real exam.
Prepare for the Security Test: Be ready for the new "Security Test" as part of the exam process. If you're testing at an approved center, follow security protocols and bring proper identification. For the proctored exam at home, ensure you have a quiet, book-free space, test your equipment, and comply with guidelines.
The PMP certification not only signifies passing an exam but also upholding ethical standards in your profession. Avoid unethical practices that could jeopardize your certification.
While the PMP certification journey can be solo, seeking guidance from experienced coaches can simplify the process. Professional training can help you navigate the material effectively. Consider partnering with experienced coaches, like pcl, who can streamline your learning and exam preparation.