Changes in the PMP Exam – 2019

Sep 19, 2019 | PMP Exam Prep

The Project Management Institute has announced that they are changing the scope of the PMP exam starting from the 16th of December, 2019. There is still some time to prepare before submitting applications for the exam.

We take a look at the important changes and how it will affect applicants.

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Photographer: Hunters Race | Source: Unsplash

Reasons for the Change

The PMI has been planning to change the exam structure for some time. They felt that the current project management practices and modern workplaces have significantly changed in the last couple of decades and necessitate a change in the exam structure as well.

Project management experts from around the world have worked with the PMI to define and set up the future of PMP examinations. The result of the research was the publication of the new PMP Examination Content Outline, which came out in June of 2019. The proposed changes will take effect six months later.

Dates for the Proposed Changes

The scheduled changes for the PMP Examination will take place in three stages.

Stage 1 – 30 June 2019

In the first stage, the PMI published the guide and content outline for the PMP exam. The new outline is available online and being used as the central guide for exam preparation in the future.

Stage 2 – 15 December 2019

December 15th will mark the end of taking the PMP exam in its current version.

Stage 3 – 16 December 2019 onwards

The 16th of December will be the first day for taking the new PMP exam in its updated version. PMP exams after the 16th of December will be taken in the new format.

Major Changes in the Exam

The major changes in the exam outline can be seen in the PMP content outline. You can also read the current PMP exam content outline to compare the changes. The content outline was updated in June and will form the basis for exams after December 16th.

The previous outline required examinees to answer questions concerning five main domains. These included knowledge about;

  • ü Initiating projects
  • ü Planning projects
  • ü Executing projects
  • ü Monitoring and controlling projects
  • ü Closing projects

The changed plan has added three new domains where knowledge will be tested for

  • ü People on the project
  • ü Processes of a project
  • ü Business Environment of the project

For each of the new domains, the exam content outlines tasks and enablers that will be tested.

The new PMI guideline also states that about half of the examination will assess predictive project management approaches while the other half will examine agile and hybrid approaches to project management.

Effects of the Changes on Future PMI Exams

The changes that will be implemented from December will have three major effects on the exam. First, the new PMP exam will be bigger than the current exam and cover more knowledge areas for project management. A thorough analysis of the exam shows that 70% of the current exam domains will be part of the second section, ‘Processes of the project’. The sections on Project people and environment management will contain new material.

The second major change involves agile management. Previously, knowledge on agile project management was not compulsory and students could leave it as part of elective. In the future, knowledge and experience of working in agile projects will be a must as it will cover roughly half of the exam.

Since the exam is now going to be bigger and specialized knowledge on agile management will be compulsory, experts, lecturers and students believe that it is going to be more difficult than the current exam. This can cause a drop in the rate of successful candidates. This should not come as a surprise however as the passing ratio usually drops after a change in exam structure.

Will It Affect You?

“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted. Then they begin to count on it. Finally they reach a point where they can’t live without it.”Yuval Noah Harari, renowned historian and authorFrom his 2014 book, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.”What’s trapped you?
Photographer: Victoria Heath | Source: Unsplash

That largely depends on whether you are going to take the exam before or after the 16th of December. If you are going to take the exam before the 15th of December then;

  • You can continue your current studies without making any changes.
  • Continue to use the current PMP Exam Content Outline (published in 2015) as your exam guide.
  • Prepare for the exam using the Sixth Edition of PMBOK® Guide.
  • Try to get your exam scheduled before the 15th of November 2019. This will help you avoid the 'crazy rush' that is likely to occur in December when everyone will try to take the exam before the changes kick in.
  • If you schedule your exam early and do not pass, you can take it again before the changes are implemented.

Most PMP experts agree that it is better to take the exam before the proposed changes are applied because the exams will become harder. However, if you want to take the exam after 16th of December you will need to prepare with the right material;

  • You can download the new PMP Exam Content Outline (June 2019) from the PMI. Make sure you read it thoroughly so that you understand the changes in topics that you will be tested on.
  • The sixth edition of the PMBOK® Guide is still valid, so you can continue to use it.
  • Give more focus to Agile Practice Guide and learn the agile approaches to project management as they are going to become a compulsory part of the exam.
  • If you are using a training center to prepare for the exam, ask them if they have compared the old exam outline to the new one and updated their teaching class structure accordingly.
  • Ask your training provider when and how they will provide you with the new training material.
  • Try to get your exam scheduled a couple of months after the new guide is implemented. The first exam can be difficult to predict and prepare. Once the exam has been taken according to the new outline, you can get a better idea for preparation.

Should You Take the Exam Before or After the Changes in Outline?

The majority of experts recommend taking the exam before the changes take effect. As difficult as the PMP exam is right now, it is only going to get tougher with a lot more domains to cover and particular emphasis on agile management.

While we do not recommend rushing into the exam without preparation, if you can dedicate time to study, it would be better to try for the certification now then wait for the exam to become more difficult.

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