PMBOK 7th Edition and the PMP Exam: Is there change coming? 

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The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is considered by most organizations to be the premiere certification for proving your knowledge of proper project management skills and understanding of project management methodology. As a project manager and project management instructor for almost 20 years, I can tell you that having the PMP is an incredible boost to your career and helps to open doors to many opportunities worldwide. 

The PMP certification has gone through a continuous evolution over the last 37 years. Typically changes occur when PMI releases a new version of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), considering it’s one of the certification exam’s main reference guides.  

With the upcoming release of thePMBOK 7th edition many people are asking “will the PMP exam be updated as a result of the changes made on the PMBOK?” 

 Will the PMP exam change? 

With the release of The PMBOK guide 7th Edition in August 2021, PMP aspirants were wondering if it’ll have any impact on the certification exam. Something that will help put your concerns to rest is to reiterate an important fact: The PMP exam is not based on the PMBOK. Yes, that’s right, the PMBOK is not the sole source of all project management knowledge. It is merely a “guide”. The PMP exam follows the Examination Content Outline (ECO). Plus, the PMBOK guide is only one input to preparing for the PMP certification along with 10 other recommended reference books that PMI recommends.  

So, will it change at all? The short answer is no, the PMP exam will not be immediately changed after the release of the PMBOK 7th edition. PMI has backed up this point by repeatedly stating that the release of a new PMBOK Guide does not mean changing the PMP exam. Additionally, the PMP exam was already updated not a long time ago in January 2021. So, another edition for the exam will not be released — at least not for now. *insert dramatic music* 

What should I do if I want to earn my PMP? 

I recommend that prospective PMP exam test taker refer to the PMP exam ECO and use the recommendedreference titlesfor their preparation. So surprisingly (as of writing this in November 2021) you will need to refer to the PMBOK 6th Edition as one of the reference titles. 

So, You’re Saying There Won’t Be Any Changes? 

Not exactly. In May 2020, the ECO did witness some alterations followed by a newly adjusted edition of the PMP exam in January 2021 while keeping the PMBOK 6th edition untouched. That’s why I stated (and added dramatic music) that there aren’t going to be any immediate changes to the PMP.  That’s not to say that there isn’t going to be a change coming to the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).  

PMI is ‘advertising’ that the CAPM is going to change in 2022, and that there will be six months’ notice from when the changes are announced to the exam change. As far as I’m aware, they have not done the same (yet) for PMP – there is nothing on the corresponding PMP page. With that in mind, and knowing that there is likely to be a 6-month window from the announcement of exact changes to exam changes, if you are already studying for the PMP or CAPM, I would just finish up and take the test before the changes, assuming they come. Otherwise, you could be waiting around for some time and I’m not sure there will be any noticeable benefit in taking any new version when that is released. 

 Will There Be An Update Soon? 

Check out this chart of past and current PMBOK, ECO, and PMP Exam updates. This gives us a pattern from almost a decade of updates that PMI has done for these artifacts. 

Notice the pattern of the Exam Content Outline previous releases? PMI tends to update the ECO every 5 years or after a period of 2 to 3 years following a newly released edition of the PMBOK guide. If they follow their standard pattern and process we can estimate that the next ECO will be launched around 2024-2025. 

However, there is always a chance that the PMP exam will be updated earlier. Historically, the certification exam goes through changes every two years or after 6 months of presenting an upgraded version of the ECO or of the PMBOK. Because of that, we can assume that PMI will update the exam either in 2022 or 2023, to include the new terminologies and concepts introduced in the PMBOK 7th edition. 

In summary: 

  • No, the PMBOK 7th Edition Update will not affect the current PMP Exam that was updated in January 2021 in the near future 
  • Even when that update occurs, the PMBOK is not the sole source of material for the exam and students need to refer to PMI’s handbook for PMP certification to see all the cool additional materials to purchase or borrow. 
  • It’s ALWAYS a good idea to take a course on preparing for the PMP. Check out ITPro.TV and enjoy Zach and I’s course on PMP Exam prep. 

If you’re ready to start training to earn your PMP certification, check out the PMP course on ITProTV with Zach Memos and myself. You can check out the course overview for free here