Every five to seven years, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® performs a “Role Delineation Study (RDS)”. This is basically a big survey among project managers like you and me from around the world with the goal to identify what it is that we do on our projects. As a result of the most recent RDS, PMI now has a pretty accurate picture of the tasks that we project managers perform, as well as the knowledge and skills required for our job.
PMI has used this information to update the PMP Examination Content Outline. This document is the basis for the PMP Exam. And because this document changed, the PMP exam also has to be updated.
The update to the PMP exam is scheduled for 11 January 2016.
Let’s first look at why this change is happening and then we will examine what this means for you. You’ll be surprised at how little is actually changing.
Why is The PMP Exam Changing?
PMI wants to ensure that the PMP Exam is an accurate reflection of the tasks, knowledge and skills project management professionals actually perform and need on a daily basis. If PMI didn’t regularly add new methods and remove outdates ones, then PMP aspirants like yourself would still be tested on obsolete tools and techniques that were used 30 years ago when the PMP exam first came into being.
The PMBOK® Guide Isn’t Changing
This is important: The PMP Exam is based on the PMP Examination Content Outline and NOT on the PMBOK Guide. Yes, there are many overlaps, but they are not 100% the same and the exam content outline even has some unique sections not covered by the PMBOK® Guide. The PMBOK® Guide itself, however, is not changing.
The PMP Exam Structure Isn’t Changing
The PMP Exam is a computer-based exam. You have to answer 200 multiple-choice questions in four hours. There is no change in this aspect of the PMP Exam.
The Domains and Score Report Aren’t Changing (Much)
When taking the PMP Exam, you will be tested in the five domains of Initiating (13%), Planning (24%), Executing (31%), Monitoring + Controlling (25%) as well as Closing (7%). At the end of the exam you will receive a score report that tells you how you did in each domain and whether you passed or failed the exam. No change.
There is just one minor change here: Executing went up from 30% to 31%, while Closing went down from 8% to 7%. This is negligible and should not affect how you prepare for the PMP exam.
The PMP Exam Eligibility Requirements Aren’t Changing
The PMP Exam eligibility requirements remain the same. You still need to show the same amount of education and experience as before. You can find the details on page six of the PMP Credential Handbook. So there is no change here either.
The Exam Changes on 11 January 2016. No Ifs, Ands or Buts About It.
The change was originally scheduled to take place on 1 November 2015. This was not enough time for everyone involved to get ready, so PMI changed the date to 11 January 2016.
- If you are taking the exam on or before 11 January 2016 you will take the current exam.
- If you are taking the exam after 11 January 2016 you will take the new exam.
The current exam will remain active until 11 January 2016. After 11 January 2016, only the new version of the PMP exam will be administered. In other words:
Your Study Materials Will Change
The new PMP Exam Content outline, includes some modifications to existing tasks, removal of a few tasks and the addition of eight new tasks. Some of the main drivers for the exam changes include:
- Emphasis on business strategy and benefits realization
- Values of lessons learned
- Project charter responsibility
- Enhancing stakeholder relationship.
PMI states that about 25% content change is based on new topics from the 8 new tasks, which were previously not tested. Note that in addition there are other changes to overall exam questions, which will be updated that are not tied to these 8 new tasks.
One of the reasons why PMI has moved the exam changeover date to 11 January 2016 is to give Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s) more time to include all the new concepts into their training materials. It is their responsibility to ensure that their training materials are up to date. And so, as a student, this should not concern you too much. You should simply be able to expect that your provider ensures that your training materials are current. That’s what you are paying for.
My Recommendations For PMP Students
1.) Take Your PMP Exam before 11 January 2016
Plan your PMP exam studies in such a way that you can take the exam before 11 December 2015, which is one full month before the changeover. In this way, you avoid the last minute rush in January when everyone wants to take the old exam before it changes. This timeframe also gives you an extra four weeks to recover and retake the exam, if worst comes to worst and you don’t pass on your first try.
2) Study the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition
You must study the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition no matter if you are planning to take your exam before, on or after 11 January 2016. It is still the primary source to learn about exam concepts.
3.) Use Study Materials From PMI Registered Education Providers
We and other PMI R.E.Ps are working fast to update our study materials to cover the new concepts that are being introduced. And because of this, you and all other PMP students don’t have to worry about the changes at all. Instead, before you buy study materials from a PMI R.E.P., ask them to confirm that the materials are current first.
4.) Read The PMI FAQ:
Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page if you want to delve into all the details.
My final recommendation to you as a PMP student is this: Don’t worry about the coming change too much!
We have done an extensive comparison between the old and new examination content outline and I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing “big” coming. Yes, there are a number of exciting concepts like lean principles, regulatory impact, and emotional intelligence listed in the new outline. But most likely you have already heard of these new tasks, knowledge and skills, or you may even be practicing them at present.
Also remember that PMI is continuously updating the PMP exam. For example, some time back questions about “delegation” started appearing on the exam. PMI didn’t officially announce this and so nobody made a fuss about it. But now that PMI is officially announcing an update everyone gets anxious.
So instead of agonizing about this change, a more positive approach for you as a PMP candidate is to simply purchase and use the right study materials that cover all the concepts you need for your exam. Focus your energy on your studies and don’t worry about the update.
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM