Changes to the PMP Exam Effective for 2022

  • 04 March, 2022

The new PMP exam was released in January of 2021. The latest changes reflect the same type of exam which will be administered in 2022 and more accurately reflect real world situations that a project manager might face throughout a project's life. The newest edition of the exam was noted to be one of the most drastic updates to occur since the PMP's inception, but the PMP has been changing and evolving since the exam was first designed. As someone who passed the new exam this year, I will give you firsthand knowledge of the changes you must be aware of. Awareness of these changes is the first step to passing the exam on your first attempt. Here are the key things that you absolutely must know to pass the new exam.

Changes to the PMP Exam Effective for 2022

  1. New Competencies: People, Process, Business Environment

    The new exam prioritizes three competencies of project management: People, Process, and Business Environment (42%, 50%, and 8% of each of the questions, respectively). This replaces the previous structure of the exam, where questions would be selected from each of the phases of the project lifecycle.

    The most important thing to remember here is that the PMP exam has not eliminated the idea of the project life cycle! In fact, you are still expected to know how to manage each phase of a project - initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing. So, what does the change in structure mean for you?

    This new question structure takes a more wholistic approach to project management. PMP no longer assumes that each phase of a project will end cleanly before you enter a gateway into the next phase. Rather, you must now assume that a project can and will reenter a phase of the life cycle depending on the needs of the project. A project may even be in multiple phases at once if the project is complex enough. This is an effort for PMI to tailor the exam in a way that emphasizes practical solutions over theoretical ones.

  2. 50% Agile or Hybrid Methodology Questions

    On the new PMP exam, at least 50% of the questions will focus on agile or hybrid approaches to project management. This is a drastic change from the previous exams. In the past, the PMP focused primarily on traditional, or waterfall, methodologies of project management. Another exam that the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers is PMI-ACP, or Agile Certified Practitioner - before 2021, this is where you were expected to find more agile focused questions, but now, you may find that some questions on the PMP are questions that you may expect to find on the PMI-ACP.

    These changes to the PMP offer the opportunity for project managers to demonstrate their knowledge of agile methodologies, which is an increasingly necessary skill. Agile project management is becoming more common for types of projects which require some flexibility in planning. In incorporating more agile and hybrid project management approaches into the PMP exam, the PMI is acknowledging that many projects in the present-day environment require a more flexible way of thinking. Hybrid methodologies may borrow from some concepts of agile and apply them to a traditional project management approach. For example, you may find that a project team benefits from the idea that team members should work in pairs so that they can check each other's work. This idea is borrowed from the idea of "pair programming" in XP, an agile methodology. The idea that some concepts of agile methodologies can be used in a project without necessarily transforming it into an agile project is important for answering questions on the new PMP exam.

  3. Official Exam Source Material

    I will keep this one brief. The PMBOK 7th Edition is the source material for traditional project management methodologies - there is no change here. However, the exam now uses the Agile Practice Guide in addition to the PMBOK for source material, so you will need to be familiar with both.

  4. Exam Format

    The format of the exam has changed, as you can see illustrated below:

    Previous Version 2021 / 2022 Version
    200 total questions, 175 scored 180 total questions, 175 scrored
    240 minutes 230 minutes
    One ten-minute break Two ten-minute break
    Multiple choice questions only Additional types of questions: multiple response, matching, and fill in the blank questions
    The exam is split into three sections, with an optional ten-minute break at the end of each section. You will not find a specific type of question concentrated within one section; all questions on your exam will be randomized. In addition, you will be allotted the same amount of time for each question. Once finished with a section, you will not be allowed to go back and look at the questions you have answered.

    Note that you will be able to review the answers to your question prior to finishing each section. Once you mark that you are finished with the section, however, you will not be able to go back.

  5. Virtual Exam Option

    The PMP is currently being offered virtually, an option which was not available prior to COVID-19. Because this was originally a pandemic driven change, there is no official word on whether this change is permanent. However, for the foreseeable future, note that you can take your exam through one of the following avenues:

    1. In person at a Pearson VUE testing center

    2. Online with a virtual proctor

    Note that there is no change to the way in which you will schedule your exam. The educational and experiential requirements for taking the exam are the same. In addition, you must schedule your exam in advance through PMI, and the fee will be the same ($405 for PMI members, $555 for non-members).

What does this mean for you?

The new PMP exam is not touted by PMI as being either harder or easier than the previous versions of the exam; rather, it is a reflection of the everchanging landscape of project management. However, you may find that the changes to the exam make preparing for the test less straightforward than it has been in the past. The changes to the exam require project managers to think in a scenario-based way, and simply memorizing information will not be enough to pass the exam. The new exam content more accurately reflects real-world situations that you may be faced with as a professional project manager.

Expect the questions to be asked on the exam to evaluate your ability to synthesize information and choose the best answer. You are not likely to be asked many "cut and dry" definition questions on the exam. Rather, you will be faced with complex situations where it may appear that there is no perfectly right answer. You must use your knowledge of the PMBOK, project management methodologies, and your own real-world experience to determine what the best response to the situation presented in the question will be. You may find yourself looking at a question and find that all the answers reflect something that a project manager could do to resolve the issue. This is normal and a reflection of the design of the exam. When you come across questions like this, always ask yourself "what should the project manager do first?"

Armed with this knowledge, you now have the basic information that you must know to pass the new PMP exam. The benefits of passing the new PMP exam should be evident; rather than passing an exam which focuses on memorizing project management methodologies, the PMP certification will highlight your ability to think on your feet and adapt to the needs of your project. Now that you know how the exam has evolved for this year, ensure that you have a study plan in place to prepare for the exam. You will still need to complete PMP certified training (offered through EduMind) and will want to use a variety of study materials to help you prepare for the exam. Good luck!
About the Author: Madison Florian

Madison Florian is a content writer for EduMind, certified PMP and PMI-ACP. She received her BA in Economics from the University of Colorado and has experience as a project manager for a wide range of corporations, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. In her spare time, she enjoys reading novels by the fire, baking for her family and friends, and traveling to new places in her converted van.

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