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PMP Exam Changes: Updated Exam Pattern, Duration, Breaks

19th Feb, 2024
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    PMP Exam Changes: Updated Exam Pattern, Duration, Breaks

    There are over 14,000,000 PMP holders worldwide, and I am proud to be one of them. PMP certification is a significant achievement in my professional journey. With new technologies being adopted by organizations every day, it is also essential to keep our skills updated. Therefore, PMI assesses and validates the competencies the project managers need and does PMI PMP exam changes.  

    The preparation process for the PMP certification is only complete once one has updated themselves with the new PMP exam changes. In this article, I will discuss my experience with the PMP changes and provide updates on the upcoming 2024 PMP exam changes. I will share my preparation process as a tip to tackle the challenges of PMP exam updates.

    What’s New in PMP 2024?

    The following are the notable new points in PMP 2023:

    • PMBOK Guide, 7th edition: Performance domains have taken the place of the old Knowledge Areas. In the 7th version of the PMBOK, there are eight performance domains instead of 10 Knowledge Areas. This makes the organization more flexible. Throughout the PMBOK Guide – Seventh Edition, new agile methods and practices have been incorporated.  
    • Updates to the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR): PMI has introduced the concept of the "Talent Triangle" to emphasize the importance of a blend of technical, leadership, strategy, and business management skills. Professional Development Units (PDUs) are required by those who hold the PMP certification to maintain their credentials up to date.
    • Hybrid and Agile Methodologies: PMI added agile and mixed methods to the PMP test to align with the industry's adaptable and fluid project management practices.
    • Increased focus on Leadership skills: The new exam validates the importance of leadership skills for project managers and teams to achieve their goals.

    Why is The PMP So Important?

    Studying for an exam is generally a very stressful event. Regardless of how big or small the examination is, you often struggle not to buckle under the pressure. There’s anxiety and nervousness about several things, often from having a large syllabus to cover, or having too little time to study everything. There’s also the fear of failure in case it’s a competitive exam you’ve been preparing for from a long time. Now, just consider the following scenario for a moment. Amidst all the stress, what if someone were to tell you that the exam outline and content were going to change? It would certainly throw you in for a loop, right? Well, all Project Management Professional (PMP) aspirants know exactly what it feels like.

    For anyone looking to accelerate their project management career, or switch to a career in project management, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a very big deal. Let’s say your best friend has been preparing to be a project manager for the past few years, and you still don’t know what PMP, or PMI is. In that case, they might consider cutting you off, because you’re clearly absent-minded, forgetful, or just a bad friend. They would’ve mentioned the PMP exam several times to you, and it’s likely that they’ve also signed up for a PMP exam prep course to study better.

    The PMP is a prized certification. It’s considered the qualification to pursue to become a qualified project manager. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), who offers and manages the certification, there are about 1,000,000 holders of this globally recognized certification in the word.

    Now, to help you understand just how tough the PMP exam is, here’s a statistic for you. For every million people in the USA, there are only 1,126 certified PMP holders. And for a total population of 331 million, there are only around 372,726 active PMP certification holders. Now that you know how tough the exam is, imagine how anxious, or frustrated your best friend might’ve been when the PMP exam changed in January 2021. But what are these PMP exam changes? Is there enough need for worry or frustration? Let’s find out.

    Get to know more about importance of project charter.

    Changes in The PMP Exam Questions & Duration 

    Before we explore the changes that have been made to the PMP exam, let’s address one question: why did the exam change in the first place? Simply put, it’s because the role of a project manager is completely evolving. The changes in the exam are a result of two things – the release of the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition in January 2021, and recommendations based on research that has been going on since 2019. 

    However, let’s get one thing straight. Just because the seventh edition of the PMBOK Guide has come out, it doesn’t render all your past efforts useless. The Guide was never intended to be any candidate’s sole reference material. If you’re a PMI member, you also get free access to the PMBOK Guide, so you needn’t worry. Now for the PMP exam changes.    

    The first change is in the Exam Content Outline (ECO). Before January 2, 2021, there were five domains under the Exam Content Outline, closely mirroring the five process groups. These were: Initiating (13%), Planning (24%), Executing (31%), Monitoring and Controlling (25%) and Closing (7%). The percentages represent how much weightage each of these domains had in the old PMP exam. However, in the new ECO, there are only three domains: People (42%), Process (50%), and Business Environment (8%). The approach behind the old PMP ECO was testing the candidate’s knowledge of the five process groups, and the various tasks therein. The new ECO has been designed keeping in mind that project managers today work in a variety of project environments and utilize different approaches per project. As a result, predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches will be spread throughout the three domain areas listed under the new ECO.  

    Then comes the number of questions and the time allotted. The old exam format had 200 questions (including 25 unscored questions) which had to be answered in 240 minutes.  In the new exam, you must answer 180 questions (including 5 unscored questions) in 230 minutes.

    What about breaks? You’ll get two of them. The first break will happen after you’ve answered and reviewed questions 1-60. The second break will happen after you’ve answered question 120 and reviewed all 120 questions. Each break will be ten minutes each.

    Let’s now talk about the modes of the exam. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, PMI has also rolled out online proctored exams in collaboration with Pearson Vue. This way, there’s no more wasting time for scheduling your PMI exam date. You can take it from the comfort of home. However, there are center-based examinations as well, for those who’d like the environmental stimulation of an actual exam. Compared to only MCQs in the old exam, you will now face a combination of questions: multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot, and fill-in-the-blanks.

    If you’re already overwhelmed with the PMP exam changes, I’m afraid that you can’t go back to the old exam pattern. After January 2, 2021, the PMP exam will follow the new pattern. So, my advice to you would be to start preparing. There are a ton of project management skills course to help you on your prep journey if you’re feeling stuck.

    Three Main Domains & Weight For The New PMP Exam 

    As discussed earlier, while the PMP exam earlier focused on five domains, the new version will concentrate on only three of them. These three domains are new and completely different, to accommodate for predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches of project management. This is how the weightage for the new exam will be distributed amongst the three domains:

    DomainPercentage of Items on Test
    Business Environment8%

    PMP Exam Content

    As you can see in the previous section, the PMP exam changes reflect modifications to the exam content as well. If you’re an aspiring PMP candidate, you will have to answer a variety of questions spanning the value delivery spectrum. Predictive, agile, and hybrid project management approaches will be the three main exam domains. 

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    PMP Exam Format

    A part of the PMP exam changes include the exam format as well. Since I’ve already covered that in detail earlier, here is a quick snapshot to help you remember and prepare well for the exam:

    No: of questions
    180, but 175 questions will be scored
    Time given
    230 minutes
    Paper-based tests: No
    Computer-based tests: 2 breaks of 10 minutes each
    Types of questions
    Multiple responses  

    Study Tips for the New PMP Exam

    Project Management Professional (PMP) exam preparation needs attention and discipline. Prepare for the PMP exam with these study tips:

    Go for the PMBOK Guide:

    PMBOK guide was my foundation step for the PMP exam preparation. I have started the preparation well in advance and created a detailed study plan. The PMBOK Guide covers project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure.  

    The latest version is PMP edition 7. It has been updated to meet the challenges in present projects. It will help you be more prominent creative, and quick on the job. PMP 7th edition release date was in August 2021.  

    Get Yourself a Good PMP Prep Book:

    Not only PMP, but any exam needs a preparation book, which is crucial. Before selecting the best Preparation book for PMP, I have taken reviews and recommendations from PMP holders. As authors with good backgrounds in project management provide credibility to the content, choose such best author’s book.

    The best PMP preparation book will be updated with the PMP new exam pattern. Based on my experience, I recommend selecting a book that contains a substantial number of practice questions and, ideally, complete practice exams. Additionally, it should be written in language that is effortless to understand.

    Take PMP Exam Prep Online Workshops:

    To maximize the impact of online workshops for PMP exam preparation, I consider the following:

    • It is selecting the online workshop that aligns with PMBOK 7th edition PMI and also covers if there is any PMP certification syllabus change.
    • Participate in the workshop by contributing to presentations, asking questions, and sharing your thinking.
    • Take Notes of the primary concepts, key points, and any other information the instructor teaches you.  
    • Attend the online workshops without miss, and make a schedule accordingly.

    Use Online PMP Simulators:

    I utilized online PMP simulators extensively at the start of my preparation. These simulators helped me identify my weak areas and gave me an idea of where I stood in the preparation process. It is crucial to use PMP simulators in an exam-like environment, with a timer set and no distractions, to adhere to the exam timing. I have taken the maximum use of online PMP simulators at the beginning of preparation. It validated my weak areas and made me understand where I am in the preparation process. While using the PMP simulator ensure that the environment resembles actual exam conditions like setting the timer, with no sound around, and adhering to timing.

    Use Flashcards:

    During my PMP exam preparation, I prepared my flashcards by writing down key concepts, formulas, terms, etc., These flashcards are also available online and can be downloaded and taken printouts to use. Whenever  I find difficult concepts to understand and memorize, I create flashcards specifically targeting those concepts.

    PMI Local Chapters:

    PMI local chapters organize gatherings to connect with professionals and team leaders from organizations. This networking opportunity helps in broaden my professional circle, share experiences, and learn the best industrial practices.

    Structured Timeline:

    A well-organized timetable guarantees that you cover all relevant topics, have time for revision, and can successfully assess your progress. So, I made a structured timeline for my PMP exam preparation. Be updated with the PMP exam date as PMI may change PMP exam date due to several reasons. Set deadlines and equally distribute adequate time for the simulation, online workshops, and revision.

    Project Management Boot Camp:

    Self-motivation and self-preparation are not everyone’s cup of tea. Personally project management boot camp helped me in focusing key concepts for the exam. Choosing the best boot camp with experienced faculty gives us a quality program. Boot camp instructors are usually experts and may offer advice. I used to clarify any doubts and ask for answers.

    What Skills Does PMP Cover?

    As per the latest update, the PMP exam is built on the Exam Content Outline (ECO), which is split into three performance areas. The skills that fall under these areas are listed below:

    1. People:

    • Team Collaboration and Development: Establishing and Sustaining an Effective Project Group. Building teamwork, understanding and respecting individual and cultural differences, and encouraging partnership are all parts of this.
    • Leadership: One of the most important skills covered in PMP is leadership, which inspires, guides, and influences team members to achieve the project goals. This includes communication skills and a motivational nature.

    2. Process domain:

    • Project Management Life Cycle: It involves understanding and implementing project management procedures from project initiation to conclusion.
    • Business environment:  It includes considering external factors that may affect the project, such as cultural, legal, and regulatory effects.
    • Planning: Planning involves creating plans for various aspects of the project, including scope, time, cost, quality, communication, risk, and procurement, as well as a project management plan and its subsidiary plans.
    • Executing: It involves carrying out the project management plan to achieve the project's goals. This includes managing stakeholder interaction, coordinating and supervising project activity, conducting quality assurance, and obtaining resources.  
    • Monitoring and controlling: It involves managing changes, addressing problems and hazards, monitoring project performance, and reviewing and regulating it.
    • Closing: It involves completing all outstanding tasks to bring the project or phase to an official end.

    3. Business Improvement Domain:

    • Compliance: Ensuring project compliance with laws, regulations, and organizational rules.
    • Value-based decision making: Considering stakeholder values and ethics.

    New PMP Exam Prep Materials?

    Be prepared for the exam by keeping in mind the possible PMP exam date change. There are various PMP exam preparation materials available to help candidates prepare for the PMP exam. But here I am going to share the best and latest exam preparation materials:

    • PMP Exam Prep Books: Choose books that are written by experienced project management professionals and include content, examples, and sample questions & answers. Ensure that preparation books are updated with PMP syllabus changes.
    • Online Courses: There are numerous online courses and e-learning platforms that offer PMP exam preparation. But I suggest KnowledgeHut, an authorized training partner of PMI stands best in the field of training professionals. There are more than 450,000 professionals trained with KnowledgeHut.  
    • PMP Simulators: PMI itself offers its members the practice exam that simulates the actual PMP exam.
    • Study materials and Flashcards: Study guides and flashcards can help you remember crucial information and repeat essential topics. They give a quick and easy approach to reviewing important content.
    • Mobile Apps: New mobile apps are designed specially for the preparation of PMP exam with sample questions, simulations, and study materials.
    • PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge): The PMBOK Guide 7th edition is a PMP new edition, it is considered to be one of the most vital resources for preparing for the PMP exam. It provides a comprehensive understanding of project management methods, knowledge areas, and best practices. The guide is published by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

    What Are The Consequences of The PMP Exam Change? 

    The first thing I’d like to tell you is not to panic. While it’s natural to feel concerned that such a prestigious exam has gotten a few tweaks, it’s important to remember that they are just that – tweaks. It’s typical for most important and competitive exams to undergo changes in order to keep up with the times and stay relevant. And just because the seventh version of the PMBOK guide has come out, you should know that it doesn’t automatically mean that all your exam questions will only come from there.

    Numerous candidates across the world have been studying and passing the PMP exam for years now, so what if January 2021 brought with it a few PMP exam changes?  As long as you study hard, have good preparatory resources (like the ones offered by KnowledgeHut’s PMP exam prep course), and take practice exams regularly, you should be fine. 

    In terms of consequences, it does seem like the PMP exam pattern change will make things more difficult, but that shouldn’t make you more worried. The PMP exam was always one of the world’s toughest exams, so stop worrying and get studying!

    When is The PMP Exam Likely To Change Next? 

    As per the PMI, there aren’t any more changes to the PMP exam coming anytime soon. The 2021 release of the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition will not change what you need to study. It does change what you must focus on, rather, your approach to the exam prep, and your awareness of the fundamental concepts of project management.

    Change is The only Constant

    Through this article, I hope I’ve given you a comprehensive guide of all the changes that have occurred in the PMP universe. While they might seem like a lot right now, and you might feel like you have to start from scratch all over again, there is no real cause for concern. Just do what you’d anyway do – build your confidence through mock exams until you feel truly ready. I wish you all the best for the new exam and am confident that you’ll do well. Good luck!

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    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

    1. Is the new PMP exam harder? 

    No, the new PMP exam is not harder. It is just in a new format, so if you’re a stickler for formats, that might be a small bump in your journey. The PMP exam tests your knowledge and understanding of project management concepts, approaches, and capability to deal with the issues using a predictive, adaptive, hybrid agile methodologies and environments as well.  

    2. Is there any change in PMP exam? 

    Yes, the new PMP exam format focuses on three domains instead of five earlier. These domains are people, processes, and business environment. These domains carry a weightage of 42% for people, 8% for business environment, and 50% for processes – meaning that the focus has shifted on processes more than before.  

    3. When may the PMP exam change next? 

    There is no certainty of when the exam might be updated again. It is advisable to follow the PMI blog and social media handles to keep track of updates to the PMP Exam.


    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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