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PMP Exam Content Outline 2021 Changes & Exam Update

pmp exam content outline (ECO)

PMP certification exam is based on Exam Content Outline (ECO). It is like syllabus for the PMP exam. The latest ECO was published in January 2021. PMI is using it for holding 2022 PMP Exam.

The current ECO was first introduced in June 2019. The PMP exam was supposed to change on December 16, 2019 based on this ECO but that update never happened. PMI postponed the exam changes for July 2020, which too was postponed.

The exam couldn’t be updated in July 2020 because of the general lock-down all over the World due to Covid pandemic. PMI finally changed the exam on January 01, 2021.

The ECO is updated every 3-5 years. ECO is revised based on the findings of a survey of project managers. The survey is called Role Delineation Study (RDS) and it is done to determine the role performed by the project managers in the industry.

You will find answers to a few frequently asked questions about the PMP exam changes of 2021, ECO, and RDS in this post.

PMP Exam Content Outline of 2021


As per PMI, Project Management profession and role of the Project Manager has evolved over the last few years. As the profession continues to evolve further, the Role and Responsibilities of Project Manager keep on changing. The Role of a Project Manager is described by the RDS. In order to stay relevant, the new PMP exam would reflect the current practices of the Project Management Profession.

​RDS is an acronym for Role Delineation Study. It is a research done by PMI for all its certifications. It is carried out every 3-5 years. According to PMI, RDS provides an updated description of the project management professional role. The study includes a large-scale survey of global Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification holders to validate updates to domains, tasks, knowledge, and skills. The RDS captures perspectives of project management practitioners from all industries, work settings, and regions. It serves as the foundation for the PMP exam and ensures its validity and relevance.

RDS gives indication of following things for a Project Manager:
Role and Responsibilities
Key competency areas
Domains of Practice
Tasks to be performed
Required Knowledge & skillsThe RDS is validated by Project Management Practitioners and Subject Matter Experts from various different Countries/Industries. The research results are compiled in the Exam Content Outline.The previous RDS was done in the year 2015. Subsequently, the ECO was revised to reflect updated role of project managers.

Exam Content Outline is the blueprint for the PMP exam. The exam questions are tied to the Domains, Tasks and Knowledge and Skills described in the ECO. You can click here to refer to the latest Exam Content Outline on PMI’s Website.

There was no change in the number of Domains. The exam takes are still evaluated on 5 domains viz. Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing.

However, the breakdown of the percentage of questions from each Domain has changed. The weight of Executing has increased by 1%, while that of Closing has decreased by 1%. Executing and Closing have a coverage of 31% and 7% respectively. This has changed from from 30% and 8% earlier.

A few new tasks have also been added in 4 of the 5 domains.


A total of 8 new tasks has been added to the 4 of the 5 domains.
3 tasks have been added to Initiating
1 task has been added to Planning
2 Tasks have been added to Executing
2 Tasks have been added to Monitoring & Controlling

There are minor changes in some other tasks. The modified tasks have the same essence as the previous tasks, but there are some changes to the terminology and the language.

Some tasks have also been removed from the ECO.

You should also refer to my other article for complete details of new tasks.


No.

Usually, PMI releases a new edition of PMBOK Guide every 4 years. The current edition of the Guide (7th edition) was released in 2021 but the exam is currently not using 7th edition as the primary reference. The previous edition (6th edition) was released in the year 2017. The exam change for the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide and Agile Practice Guide happened in 2018.

Historically, PMI has not changed the certification eligibility requirements along with the changes in ECO but this time they have modified the eligibility criteria.
You need 36 /60 months of project management experience in leading and directing the projects and 35 contact hours of formal project management education before you can apply for the PMP exam.

​Historically, PMI has not changed exam pattern along with the changes in ECO but this time they have tweaked the exam pattern a bit. Earlier the exam had 200 multiple choice questions with 25 pilot questions but now the exam has 180 questions with 5 pre-test questions. The type of questions too have changed.

The PMP exam is likely to be changed in later part of 2022 but PMI has not specified any date. The changes will be based on the PMBOK Guide 7th edition.

​Yes. You should. It is advisable to take the exam before new version comes in. After the last revision of ECO, PMI suggested that 50% of the exam content would come from new topics, which were not tested earlier. So, in order to avoid any surprises, it is better to take Exam before it changes.

Historically, sometimes, PMI delays releasing the exam results after new version of the exam is introduced. But, PMI has not declared anything this time. You can expect to receive the exam score immediately after the test.

Final Thoughts

PMI might not release a new ECO for another 2 years. It might be released in 2024.

However, the exam will change this year because of transition from 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide to 7th edition. The extent of change is still unknown.

There is no point in waiting around and understanding how the exam will change. PMP is a hard exam to crack. The difficulty increases whenever change are introduced. New version of the exam brings in a more uncertainty. It is better to take the exam before the change.

Moreover, the sooner you take the exam, the better it is for your career. You can potentially get 20% more salary with PMP credential.

You can download my free exam prep guide to kick-start your preparation. It will help you to pass the exam in first try.

Over To You

When are you planning to take the exam? Is there anything stopping you to take the exam soon?

I welcome your comments below.

2 thoughts on “PMP Exam Content Outline 2021 Changes & Exam Update”

  1. Hi, Praveen Malik,

    I would like to take the PMP exam within 2022, so I am confusing that I need to study 6th edition or both ? Any suggestion ?

    Many Thanks
    Marco

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