2021 PMP certification: what you should refer to when preparing for the exam

With the launch of the new 2021 PMP certification exam, candidates planning to pursue the credential should be acquainted with the latest updates on both the exam content outline and reference list. The exam content outline exhibits the certification’s main layout while the exam reference list represents a number of book recommendations for the exam preparation.

We’re going to delve into the specifics of the 2021 PMP exam content outline as well as its reference list, giving you an insight into the new updates and changes to ensure you are conducting an accurate, meticulous exam preparation.

2021 PMP exam content outline updates

The Exam content outline serves as a blueprint for the PMP certification. As of the 2nd of January 2021, the Professional Management Institute (PMI) has made some changes to the PMP Exam Content Outline, making it easier to grasp and interpret.

The updated format has been simplified to include three domains replacing the previously designated five domains that represented the project lifecycle phases; initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and controlling.

The introduced three domains are:

  • People (42%): focuses on the skills and activities required to effectively lead a project team. 
  • Process (50%): addresses the technical aspects of project management.
  • Business Environment (8%): highlights the connection between projects and organizational strategy.

Another key change in the PMP content outline is that the exam is no longer limited to predictive project management methods. The 2021 PMP Exam is now 50% focused on Predictive Approaches, 50% on Agile/Hybrid Approaches across all three domains.

PMP Exam reference list

PMP exam is not only based on the PMBOK guide

There is a majorly common misconception that PMP is mainly based on the PMBOK (Project Management Body Of Knowledge). Many people believe that they’ll only have to rely on the PMBOK Guide to prepare for the PMP exam. However, upon taking the exam, candidates are usually puzzled when they face ambiguous, unrehearsed questions.

PMP aspirants should be aware that the PMP exam is not based on a single source. The PMBOK Guide is an excellent reference that covers the majority of the material required to pass the PMP Exam. Yet, it falls short of covering everything incorporated in the new exam format, thus it is deemed insufficient for thorough encompassing exam preparation.

What you should refer to according to PMI

Even though PMI states that it does not endorse any particular references, resources, courses, or any other preparation materials, they do provide an Exam reference list.

Along with the PMBOK 6th Edition, this reference list also proposes:

However, the above list is not inclusive of all the resources a PMP candidate should use during their exam preparation. As we previously mentioned in our 60 Day PMP preparation plan blog post, your choice of exam study materials fully depends on your personal preferences, learning pattern, and budget.

To ensure you are well-prepared and ace your PMP exam on your first attempt, you can include additional supplemental references and educational resources, such as onsite or online training or courses, preparation books, mock tests or exam simulators, etc.