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Your Complete Guide to the PMP® Exam (2021)

Published, September 2021

As you may already know, a new exam for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential came into effect in January 2021.

You can read more about what has changed in the new exam in our article, “PMP® Exam Changes”.

This article is designed as your step-by-step guide to the current PMP® Exam.

We Cover:


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You can download our handy PDF version of the information in this article. This guide also includes more detail about getting started on your PMP® certification.

If you don’t find all the answers you need in our guide, we would love to hear from you. Use the “Ask a Question” button below to get in touch.

Applying for your PMP exam

How do I get PMP® contact hours?

One of the PMP® exam eligibility requirements is that you must have at least 35 contact hours of formal project management education unless you are an active CAPM® certification holder.

You can acquire contact hours through completion of training courses or programmes with established education providers.

Tip: Our PMP® Exam Preparation Course satisfies the full requirement for 35 contact hours.

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What are the eligibility requirements for PMP® certification?

As PMP® is a credential for experienced project managers, there are a number of criteria for those who wish to get certified.

You can read the full breakdown of eligibility requirements in our PDF Guide or in the article, “A Clear Guide to the PMP® Exam Requirements”.

What is the PMP® application process?

In order to be eligible to sit the PMP® exam, you will need to complete the PMI’s application process.

The application confirms your eligibility and documents your project management experience.

Our Tip

Don’t Worry:


During our PMP® Exam Preparation Course, we will give you tips and guidance on completing your PMP® application successfully.

Once you have completed and submitted your application, it will be reviewed by the PMI®. This can take up to 5 days.

Exam Fees

Your exam fees are payable directly to the PMI® once they indicate you have qualified to move forward.

Examination fees are $405 (USD) for PMI® members and $555 (USD) for non-members. This is an indicative cost, correct as of September 2021. Please check www.pmi.org for current details.

Our Tip

Our Tip:


You don’t have to become a member of the PMI® to complete the PMP® Exam.

However, the reduced exam fee plus the fact that membership includes PDF versions of both A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and the Agile Practice Guide, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2017 makes it well worth considering.

breaking down the PMP exam

Questions

How many questions are on the new PMP® exam?


  • There are 180 questions in total.
  • Of those questions, 175 are scored (5 are pilot or “pre-test” questions that do not affect your score).

What kinds of questions are on the new PMP® exam?


Questions will be a combination of the following styles:

  • multiple-choice
  • multiple responses
  • matching
  • limited fill-in-the-gap

Weighting

The new PMP® exam is divided between the three domains: people, processes, and business environment.

The weighting of questions is divided as follows:

  1. People – 42%
  2. Processes – 50%
  3. Business Environment – 8%
Question Weighting

Approximately half of the exam will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches.

These approaches are represented across the three domains and not isolated to a particular area or task.

Duration

The exam is 230 minutes in total. During this time, you will have two 10-minute breaks.

The exam is divided into 3 sections:

  • Section 1: Questions 1 - 60
    Break one occurs after you complete question 60 and review your answers.
  • Section 2: Questions 61 – 120
    Break two occurs after you complete question 120 and review your answers.
  • Section 3: Questions 121 – 180
    Note: Once you review your responses and start your break you will not be able to return to the questions from the previous section of the exam.
  • Tutorial

    Before you begin your exam, you have the option to complete an optional tutorial, which takes between 5 and 15 minutes to review.

    The time taken to complete the tutorial is not included in your 230-minute examination time.

    Although this is optional, we recommend allowing time to complete this tutorial so that you feel completely comfortable using the exam portal.

passing the PMP exam

What score do you need to pass the PMP® Exam?

This is one of the most frequently asked PMP® questions online and it’s one of the most difficult-to-define answers.

The traditional answer was always “61%”. As the PMI® no longer disclose the marks needed to pass the PMP® exam, we can no longer take this as true.

The PMI® now follow a grading system that uses “sound psychometric analysis” to determine the passing score (source: The PMP Handbook).

Our Recommendation: Exam Simulator

Our Recommendation:


The only way to build confidence in your ability to pass the PMP® Exam is to practice with a quality, up to date PMP® exam simulator.

Our PMP® Exam Preparation Course includes 90 days of unlimited access to a premium PMP® exam simulator. Learn more...

Exam Retakes

If you do not pass your PMP® exam on the first try, you can re-sit it up to two more times within your 1-year eligibility period.

Given the work you have done to get to the PMP® Exam stage, re-sitting the exam in this situation is a wise move. It is likely you will simply need more preparation time before your second attempt.

Note: your 1-year eligibility period begins from the date that the PMI® approve your PMP® exam application.

Tools for Success

Exam Preparation


As well as 35 contact hours of project management education being a requirement for PMP® exam applicants, attending a PMP® Course is a crucial part of setting yourself up for exam success.

Our 5-day PMP® Course is designed as an intensive exam preparation programme. You can get full details by downloading a brochure or visiting the course page, but here are a few programme highlights:

  • Delivered in real time by PMP® Experts

    Our PMP® courses are always delivered as live virtual training, never pre-recorded. This makes a huge difference as you will be able to ask questions and receive advice and feedback in real-time from your tutor.

  • Fully Aligned with PMP Exam ECO 2021

    Our exam preparation course is completely geared towards the new PMP® exam and aligned with the PMI® Exam Content Outline (ECO) 2021.

  • Includes 90-day Premium Exam Simulator Access

    When you attend our PMP® exam preparation course, you will gain 90 days of unlimited access to a premium, online exam simulator. Continue reading to find out why this is so important…

Exam Simulator

A PMP® exam simulator is essential for helping you to develop the right mindset, become confident with the style of questioning in the PMP® exam, and build up the mental stamina for this 230-minute exam.

Recommended Reading

The PMI® has published has list of 10 reference textbooks that are beneficial in preparation for the PMP® Exam.

We provide a full list as part of the support information on our PMP® Course. However, the two best-known resources that we draw upon in our PMP® Exam Preparation Course are:

  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide), Project Management Institute, Inc., 2017

  • Agile Practice Guide, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2017
Our Tip

PMBOK® Guide 6th or 7th edition?


With the introduction of the PMBOK® Guide - 7th Edition, many are wondering which edition to use for their studies.

Our top tip is to become a member of the PMI®, which will give you access to both the 6th and 7th editions and reduced exam rates.

Advice and Guidance on PMP® Certification

If you have any other questions about PMP® or would like guidance from an expert, get in touch with our team. Our training consultants can offer insights and advice specific to your situation.

You can reach us by phone (Freephone 1800 910 810) or by using the buttons below to request a call / ask a question online.

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