Changes Are Coming to the 2021 Project Management Certification Exam

The Project Management Institute (PMI) issues the field’s most widely recognized, highly respected credential. Ambitious project managers everywhere know that obtaining this certificate is a surefire way to climb higher on the corporate ladder. For 2021, a number of changes will need to be accounted for by everyone preparing to take the exam required to obtain this Project Mangement Certification.

A Drastic Overhaul for the PMI’s Exam Outline

For a number of years, the test administered to professionals hoping to obtain PMI certificates has followed the same basic outline. Since 2015, the basics have remained the same, with test prep courses and materials sticking to the same points of emphasis.

Starting in 2021, a thoroughly different approach will see the existing outline’s first three sections being replaced. Even though much of the included material will remain the same, this new distribution of focuses will require different sorts of preparation. Test-takers will need to become familiar with how the following three topics pertain to project management:

  • People. In the past, the initial three sections of the PMI exam outline embodied a process-oriented approach to project management. The first part of the exam focused on how best to initiate a project in a given situation. For 2021, the test will begin by posing questions about how project managers can best work with and leverage the potential of people. The people-oriented problems the exam will present will potentially cover any stage of the project management process.
  • Process. All of the process-focused elements of the existing test will be collected under a new, discrete heading. PMI predicts that breaking process-oriented questions out into a separate section will help project managers better contextualize their preparation efforts. Although a process-centered perspective no longer governs the exam outline itself, related questions will still be weighted heavily.
  • Environment. Finally, project managers will need to be able to detail how their decision-making and activities can be impacted by particular environmental influences. Increasing recognition of the importance of business environments on project management has made the need for this heightened emphasis clear.

The More Things Change

This major rethinking of the PMI exam’s structure will certainly concern many project management professionals. In practice, though, it should be viewed more as a restructuring of existing material than as a replacement of the existing content.