2021 PMP Exam: 7 things you need to know 

Are you preparing for your PMP Exam and would like to know what the exam is REALLY like? Here are top 7 things you need to know.

What to expect on the current PMP exam? How important is the PMP exam content outline (ECO) for your studies? How much percentage of agile and hybrid questions to expect? What question formats are in use? And what to consider when you take the exam from home? Application process became much simpler, exam time got cut, … wait, wait, let me not spoil the news, here is a short list of bullet points to tell you the details.  #pmi #pmpexam #pmpexamprep #pmpcertification #agile #agileinpmp 

January 2021, PMI rolled out an updated PMP exam 

1: Three top PMI publication references 

  • PMP Exam Content Outline (ECO) 
    • Exam is based on this content outline (blue prints). ECO tasks will become the exam questions
    • The questions are based on expert’s experience in the jobs, and they need to find references that support that scenario
    • Other references are used (total of 20 references, see entire list HERE) to check and support those questions
    • Tricky questions will be reviewed by the writer team. PMP exam is to test your experience as a solid project manager
  • Current exam PMBOK guide 6, PMBOK 7 (August, 2021) will remain being used in the current PMP exam
  • Agile Practice Guide 

2: Exam details

  • Total 180 questions, among which 175 will be scored, 5 unscored 
  • 80 questions are predictive, 30 – 40 are in agile scope, others are hybrid-based questions 
  • Three domain areas: 
    • People: 42% 
    • Process: 50% 
    • Business Environment: 8% 
  • Passing score is not disclosed publicly 

3: Exam duration and breaks 

  • Pearson VUE online. Some international markets are still hosting in-person exams when possible 
  • 230 minutes (3 hour 50 minutes), plus two 10 minutes breaks 
  • Start with the first unit of 60 questions (70 min)/10 min break, followed by the next unit of 60 questions (70 min)/10 min break, then the final unit of 60 questions (70 min). You CAN NOT go backward or skip forward in the 60 questions in a unit
  • Digital white board is available online for the exam (no more white paper) 

4: Exam question styles 

  • Text-based questions will still be used as before 
  • Limited fill in the blank questions
  • No partial credit given (all or nothing)
  • Graphic rich items (drag and drop, point and click) 

5: Special Accommodations 

  • Additional time allowed for special needs, please ask in advance when you register for the exam
  • Online exam, you can take it on your couch, laying on your bed, as long as you comply with the confidentiality requirements 

6: ITTO and Formulas (Inputs tools techniques and Outputs) 

  • ITTO and formulas are appearing less, more on people’s responses to various scenarios, when compared to previous exams 
  • Less calculation and more evaluation 

7: Simplified applications (Since summer of 2020) 

  • Smart application process with fill-in and drop-down choices 
  • If you have your experience timeline handy, you may only need 1 hour to finish the application process 
  • Document your leading and directing project experience in advance
    • College degree: Three years of leading and directing project 
    • High school diploma: Five years of leading and directing project
  • 35 hours of commercial training (classroom, online instructor, online self-study)
  • The application will possibly be audited by random selection. 

Reference: https://www.pmi.org/certifications/project-management-pmp/earn-the-pmp/pmp-exam-preparation/pmp-exam-updates 


Helen Fleming, MBA, PMP, SPC5, ICP-ACC

Helen Fleming is an Agile coach, entrepreneur, and educator. She’s experienced at building and leading PMOs and Agile enterprise transformations. She believes in starting with “the why” and “the mindset” and her personal why is to empower others to achieve their goals. Read more of Helen’s work on LinkedIn.


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