When I first heard about the planned changes in the PMP® exam, I was convinced that they were mainly related
to the adjustment of the exam to the 6th edition of the „Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®
Guide)”. I also assumed that the Agile Practice Guide supplement would become a mandatory part. I was also
hoping for new types of questions, but apart from that, the topic did not arouse much emotions in me.
However, when I started to explore the reasons for the changes and their scope, the matter became really
fascinating and even dangerous (especially for people who are planning to take the exam).
The new formula for the PMP® exam has been in force since the beginning of 2021 and is described in detail in the
PMI website (pmi.org), “Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline” – January 2021.
To fully understand the scope of the changes introduced, as well as the expectations of professional project
managers and the assessment of their knowledge and skills, please read the introduction to this document carefully.
There we read that PMI conducted a Global Practice Analysis (GPA) which revealed a number of trends in the
project manager profession not covered in the previous version of the PMP® exam. Therefore, changes were
necessary in order for the exam to reliably reflect the behavioral patterns of professional project managers.
As a result of the introduced changes, we can observe significant differences between the ” Project Management
Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)” and the new version of the “PMP® Examination Content Outline”.
What does this mean for those preparing for certification?
Scope of the exam
The first and most important change is the scope of the material that needs to be mastered.
As the team preparing the PMP® Examination Content Outline was a team independent of the creators of the PMBOK®
Guide, the look at the profession of project management goes far beyond what was included in the „Project Management Body
of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)”. Therefore, we cannot limit ourselves in preparing for the exam, to the knowledge
contained only in the PMBOK® Guide. Agile Practice Guide – the supplement to PMBOK® Guide has become an equal
source of knowledge, however, although it extends it to a large extent, it also does not exhaust it. Among the items indicated
by PMI, the sources of knowledge include:
„Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling”, autor: Harold Kerzner, publisher: Wiley;
„Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Hybrid”, autor: Robert K. Wysocki, publisher: Wiley,
“Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process”, autor: Kenneth S. Rubin, publisher: Addison-Wesley.
A complete list of recommended sources is provided below the text.
As we read in the “PMP® Examination Content Outline Exam Outline”, in order to thoroughly prepare the certification exam,
PMI conducted a Global Practice Analysis (GPA), which included both market research and job analysis (JTA). Research
carried out as part of the above-mentioned analysis confirmed that contemporary project management specialists run
projects in different environments and use different approaches. Therefore, in order for the new PMP® exam to reflect
the situation described above, approximately half of the exam questions will be on an agile and hybrid project management
approach, and the other half on a predictive approach.
Structure of the exam
The exam outline was constructed as follows:
In project management, 3 domains have been defined: People, Process, Business environment. The list below shows the
percentage of questions from each domain.
1.People – 42% of questions
2.Process – 50% of questions
•Business environment – 8% of questions
Within each domain, “Tasks” are defined, ie the main responsibilities within the domain. The number of tasks within
individual domains is presented in the following list.
1.People – 14 Tasks
2.Process – 17 Tasks
•Business Environment – 4 Tasks
For example, Task 1 in Domain I is Conflict Management.
Enablers, i.e. examples showing the work related to the task, are defined for each of the tasks.
For example, Enablers for the “Conflict Management” task are:
•Interpret the source and stage of the conflict
•Analyze the context for the conflict
•Evaluate/recommend/reconcile the appropriate conflict resolution solution
Each set of exam questions covers all Tasks for each “Domain”.
Types of questions
Everyone who prepared for the PMP® exam had to solve hundreds of sample questions, and all of them were constructed in the
same way, i.e. choosing one correct answer out of four possible. I think that for many people it was not only tiring but also
monotonous. It was the same with the exam itself, although there was also added stress. Currently, the exam is much more
varied and therefore less boring.
We have following questions types:
•Choosing one correct answer,
•Several correct answers,
•Filling the gaps,
•Matching terms from two sets to each other,
•Interactive work with graphs and data.
This change will undoubtedly make both exam preparation and passing less monotonous.
Time and course of the exam
The PMP® exam consists of 180 questions and lasts 230 minutes. In the entire pool, 5 questions are test questions, and they
are not included in the exam result (of course, the test taker doesn’t know which of them are test questions). There is a 10-
minute break after every 60 questions, so we have a total of 2 breaks during the exam.
After the break, you can no longer go back to the questions you answered before the break.
So how to evaluate the changes that have been introduced in the PMP® exam?
They are deep, because PMI’s ambition is to maintain the very high prestige of the PMP® certificate and without a doubt
someone who passes this exam has above-average knowledge and the ability to use it in practice.
List of recommended sources:
Agile Practice Guide, Author: Project Management Institute, Publisher: Project Management Institute
Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – 6th Edition, Author: Project Management
Institute, Publisher: Project Management Institute
Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, Author: Harold
Kerzner, Publisher: Wiley
Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Hybrid, Author: Robert K. Wysocki, Publisher: Wiley
Fundamentals of Technology Project Management, 2nd Edition, Author: Colleen Garton with Erika
McCulloch, Publisher: MC Press
Project Managers Portable Handbook, 3rd Edition, Author: David Cleland and Lewis Ireland, Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Information Technology Project Management, 7th Edition, Author: Kathy Schwalbe, Publisher: Cengage Learning
Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process, Author: Kenneth S. Rubin, Publisher:
Project Management: The Managerial Process, Author: Erik Larson, Publisher: McGraw-Hill
The Project Management Tool Kit: 100 Tips and Techniques for Getting the Job Done Right, Author: Tom
Kendrick, Publisher: AMACOM
Check out our PMI® accredited training program Preparation for the PMP® Exam. For more detail go to
– link do szkolenia