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Episode 336: The PMP® Exam is Changing on January 11, 2016 (Free)

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Simona Fallavollita, PMI Product Manager
Cornelius Fichtner and Simona Fallavollita

Are you studying for your PMP Exam, and did you know that the exam is changing soon? And maybe you are wondering about one of the following questions:

  • Why is the PMP exam changing in 2016?
  • Wait... wasn't it supposed to change in 2015?!
  • So when exactly is the PMP exam changing?
  • What exactly is changing with the PMP exam?
  • Do I have to study new topics?
  • Is there a new PMBOK® Guide?
  • Are my study materials still OK after the PMP exam changes?

We have the answers to these and many more questions about the upcoming changes.

This interview with Simona Fallavollita (Program Manager, PMI) was recorded at the 2015 Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We review the upcoming PMP exam changes, how this affects training companies, what PMP students can do to prepare for this change, and look at some of the detailed changes that are coming to the PMP exam early next year.

Spoiler alert: The PMP exam changes were originally scheduled to go into effect in 2015 but were later moved to early 2016 for scheduling reasons, and no there is NO new PMBOK Guide.

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello everyone! Welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at Once again, we are coming to you live from Disney World in Orlando, Florida from the 2015 PMI® Global Congress.

I'm sitting here at the PMI booth and with me is Simona Fallavollita. Hello Simona!

Simona Fallavollita: Hello, Cornelius!

Cornelius Fichtner: What do you do for PMI exactly? I see on your business card, it says "Product Manager Credentials". What does that mean?

Simona Fallavollita: So yes, I'm a product manager within our certification department and I manage the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification, as well as our CCR Program. So basically what that means is I oversee the certification and the CCR Program with the marketing, the development of the certifications making sure that the whole life cycle of the product is being handled. That's usually what I'm responsible for.

Cornelius Fichtner: I spoke to Victor Carter-Bey yesterday. How do you fit in to that organization?

Simona Fallavollita: So yes, I am part of Victor's organization and we are broken up in 2 areas - the Exam Development side of it and the Product side of it. So I handle the product side managing the certifications from a business context. That's my role within the Victor's organization.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So the PMP® Exam is changing over the next few months. Actually, the exact date is January 11, 2016, right?

Simona Fallavollita: Correct!

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, got that one right. We want to talk a little bit about the changes, why the changes, what the change is, how the change is. So that's the focus of our presentation or our discussion here today.

First of all, what was the driver behind the upcoming changes? Why are we changing?

Simona Fallavollita: So we go through a process in the certification world in general and it's called the role delineation study and basically every 3 to 5 years, we go through this process to ensure that the certifications are reflective of current practice. So that the exam that was created and certification created 10 years ago might not necessarily reflect what project managers are doing today. So this role delineation study process was the main driver behind the changes and updates to the PMP® Exam that is occurring in January.

Cornelius Fichtner: And simply put, role delineation means you go out there and you determine what exactly does a project manager do in his or her role? What are the tasks? What are the actions? Is that what we're talking about?

Simona Fallavollita: Exactly! So we work with a group of volunteer subject matter experts. We do surveys with the larger industry in field to get feedback on exactly what you are doing and validating as project managers, what are your responsibilities? What's critical for project managers to know to exceed and success in their role?

Cornelius Fichtner: How long does something like this takes? On January 11th, the results of all of these is going into action, when was the role delineation study started? That seems to be the kickoff point, right?

Simona Fallavollita: Correct! The role delineation study is the start of the process and it is the fairly lengthy process. We originally began this at the end of 2014 is when we started the process so when we brought together the core group of SMEs we worked with, they start to discuss the current exam, see what needs to be updated, what needs to be changed. They talked about their profession, what's happening in the profession that might influence the exam and then over a series of months and various meetings, we'll make refinements to the exam content outline is what most people are familiar with. And then we send out their work to the larger industry for validation and then after that point once we get the finalized exam content outline, we then have to go to the process of actually developing questions that relate to those new tasks or the changes that had been made to the former exam content outline.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right! So end of 2014, beginning of 2016, so that's like 14, 15 months duration?

Simona Fallavollita: Yup!

Cornelius Fichtner: That's quite a lengthy project.

Simona Fallavollita: It is.

Cornelius Fichtner: And at this point, we probably also want to make it absolutely clear that the PMP® Exam is not based on The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)® Guide. The PMP® Exam is based on the exam content outline. However, the PMBOK® Guide is something that if you want to pass the exam, you definitely have to read it because it outlines the framework for project management.

Simona Fallavollita: Absolutely! And that's probably one of the top misconceptions about the PMP® Exam is that people believe it's a test of the PMBOK® Guide.

Cornelius Fichtner: That's the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®.

Simona Fallavollita: Correct! The CAPM is a test of the PMBOK® Guide. The PMP, certainly as you said, incorporates the PMBOK® Guide. It is an invaluable resource that we use in developing exam questions and using it as a reference for the exam. But there is certainly much more that we use in developing the PMP® Exam because it's the role of the project manager. It's experiential based. It's not necessarily; do you know this term or this process? It's how to apply those things in a practical setting.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yes and I always tell my students: "Yes, you can read the PMBOK® Guide but be prepared that on the exam, you're going to get a question that you go: I never saw this in the PMBOK® Guide" and you never will because there are also resources from outside of the PMBOK® Guide that are used for question development.

Simona Fallavollita: Absolutely and that's why it's so important to focus on the exam content outline as you're studying and preparing for the examination. And really, certainly the PMBOK covers many of those areas. But if there are specific areas that we don’t go into much detail in the PMBOK® Guide, that's where you want to turn to other resources that might have more detail on those areas.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right! PMI is currently very focused on the talent triangle. How is the new exam content outline and the talent triangle, are they matching up? Are they meeting anywhere?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

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