Upcoming PMP® certification changes jan 11

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has posted a new examination outline for the PMP® exam. These changes will take effect on January 11, 2016. To learn more, watch the video below:

What is not changing?

The good news is that the PMBOK® guide will not be changing on January 11, and since the exam is based on the PMBOK® guide, the changes to the exam will be insignificant. All of your current study materials will still be applicable after January 11. (Side note: the PMBOK® 6th edition will be coming out mid 2017).

The application criteria and exam structure are also not changing. You still need 3-5 years of project management experience PLUS high school or college degree PLUS 35 education training in order to qualify for the exam. The exam is still 200 questions with 25 ungraded questions and no penalties for the wrong answer.

So what is changing?

PMI is changing some of the questions in their question bank. When you take the PMP® exam, 200 questions are drawn at random from a question bank. PMI is removing some of these questions and adding some new ones.

Why do they need to do this?

PMI conducts a Role Delineation Study (RDS) every 3-5 years. The organization will surveys thousands of project managers to understand their roles and responsibilities. The PMP® exam will be updated based on the outcome of the RDS.

The PMP® exam is not meant to be an academic study of the project management profession, which is why most of the questions on the exam are situational. The questions are updated regularly to reflect changes in the current environment. PMI aims for the PMP® certification to stay relevant in industry.

What do these changes mean for you?

The changes to the PMP® exam are insignificant. You can continue to use the same study material and study plan. You will still be well prepared for your exam.

What is being added to the exam?

1. The PMP® exam will be putting more emphasis on stakeholder management and engagement. Building stakeholder relationships is a two-way street. The old view was that the project manager will have a one-way dialogue to inform stakeholders of the project’s progress.

2. The total number of tasks increases from 34 to 42. Please see below for the new tasks that are being added separated by their respective process groups.

Initiating the Project [3 new tasks]
– Identify key deliverables based on the business requirements, in order to manage customer expectations and direct the achievement of project goals.
– Conduct benefit analysis with stakeholders (including sponsor, customer, subject matter experts), in order to validate project alignment with organizational strategy and expected business value.
– Inform stakeholders of the approved project charter, in order to ensure common understanding of the key deliverables, milestones, and their roles and responsibilities.

Planning the Project [1 new tasks]
– Develop the stakeholder management plan by analyzing needs, interests, and potential impact, in order to effectively manage stakeholders’ expectations and engage them in project decisions.

Executing the Project [2 new tasks]
– Manage the flow of information by following the communications plan, in order to keep stakeholders engaged and informed.
– Maintain stakeholder relationships by following the stakeholder management plan, in order to receive continued support and manage expectations.

Monitoring and controlling the Project [2 new tasks]
– Archive project documents and materials using generally accepted practices, in order to comply with statutory requirements and for potential use in future projects and audits.
– Obtain feedback from relevant stakeholders, using appropriate tools and techniques and based on the stakeholder management plan, in order to evaluate their satisfaction.

Closing the Project [no new tasks]

3. Focus on Business Strategy and Benefits Realization – project managers are being pulled on projects earlier, and thus, they need to understand how their project aligns with the overall organizational strategy.

4. Lessons Learned – more emphasis is placed on lessons learned throughout the entire lifecycle of the project instead of solely in the closing phase.

5. Project Charter – the project sponsor or customer is responsible for creating and approving the charter, whereas the project manager is a contributor to the document. The project manager is also responsible for informing the team member and other stakeholders about its contents.

7. The weightings given to each process group is also changing, but not significantly. Here is the new breakdown of questions by process groups:

pmp exam breakdown by process groups


Recall that 25 out of the 200 questions from your PMP® exam are not graded. These are test questions that PMI may or may not release into future exams. The new questions to be released on January 11th have already undergone this testing, which means current test takers have all seen them.

Read lessons learned from successful test takers – their conclusions are all the same. The changes are not “revolutionary.” Most did not even “feel” the change. The new questions are similar to the old ones. Thus, you do not have to worry about the changes so much.

However, there’s about 2 more months before the changes officially take place – that is enough time for you to prepare for your exam. If you still have apprehension about the exam update, make a plan, study hard, and get certified before January 11.

So keep calm and study on!

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