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APM BoK 7 – What Does it Mean for me?

Michelle Greaves Michelle Greaves

Published: 6th March 2020

In May 2020 the Association for Project Management (APM) will be launching their revised Project Fundamentals Qualification (APM PFQ) and Project Management Qualification (APM PMQ) aligned to APM BoK 7 – the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition.

So what does this mean for you, as a project manager or organisation, looking to undertake the qualifications; and what are the changes?

What is the Body of Knowledge?

The body of knowledge is a resource, quite like a thesaurus, which outlines concepts and terms used within the project management community. The guide signposts readers to other useful publications and texts, including many publications by the APM’s specific interest groups (SIGs).

The body of knowledge also forms the basis for the qualifications awarded by the APM, including the Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ), Project Management Qualification (PMQ, formerly known as APMP), Project Professional Qualification (PPQ) and Chartered Project Professional (ChPP).

The APM revise the body of knowledge periodically in consultation with the project management community to maintain its relevance to how projects are run in industry. APM’s Body of Knowledge 7th Edition (APM BoK 7) was launched on 2nd May 2019. It is the first body of knowledge published since the APM gained chartered status in January 2017.

As the assessments are currently aligned to the 6th Edition of the Body of Knowledge, the APM are due to move from examining against the 6th Edition (BoK 6) to the 7th Edition (BoK 7) in May 2020.

What’s Changing – BoK 6 to BoK 7?

The structure of APM BoK 7 compare to BoK 6 is quite different – with greater emphasis on how projects sit within the organisation. Split into four sections, the first three focus on the bigger picture of P3M (project, programme and portfolio management); setting up and preparing for change whilst involving the people affected; with the fourth section focusing on planning and managing deployment.

There is a much greater focus on project shaping – getting the right structures for the project as well as recognition of flexibility in delivery, working with virtual teams, and workplace stress.

Whilst the structure may be different, the content is broadly the same – an outlined process for risk management, for example, is broadly unchanged barring some nuances in terminology. Some key areas where there is significant change from BoK 6 include:

  • Life cycles – the introduction of iterative and hybrid life cycles; that not all projects have a fully defined end product and may work using a more Agile approach
  • New roles – the addition of product owners and the project management office (PMO) including different ways in which they are organised
  • Critical chain analysis and its uses over critical path analysis
  • Definitions – whilst the APM still provide a separate glossary, the definitions at the start of each section are now gone, as are many simpler terms from the glossary in the back, which may have been useful to those starting out in their project management career.

What about the assessment?

The PFQ and PMQ assessments retain their current format:

  • PFQ 1 hour multiple choice exam, 60 questions, 60 marks, 60% pass mark
  • PMQ 3 hour written exam, must answer 10 from 16 questions, 50 marks per question, 55% pass mark

But there has been a lot of change in the command verbs. No calculations will now be required (removing the determine command verb) but candidates will be asked to interpret the results of a calculation (including earned value data). There are also two new command verbs on outline and differentiate.

Here are the differences between the command verbs in the APM BoK6 and BoK 7:

BoK 6 BoK 7
List & Describe Differentiate
State Describe
Explain Explain
Determine Interpret

Further information on how these command verbs will apply is available on the APM website, but the removal of list and describe does ultimately mean candidates will not be able to gain marks for a list, or for making a correct point, as they can currently under BoK 6.

So what does it mean for me?

I already have my APM PFQ or PMQ

It is still valid! The new qualification does not invalidate your previous qualification, though you may wish to sit the new qualification should the new content be relevant to you.

I have recently sat or am about to sit the APM PFQ/PMQ

You will continue to study towards BoK 6 and sit the BoK 6 exam, but please note if you are not successful you will not be able to re-sit a BoK 6 exam after 31 July 2020.

I am, or my organisation is, looking at studying the APM PFQ/PMQ in the near future

Currently you have some choices; book a public or in house PFQ/PMQ before 1 May to secure a BoK 6 exam and qualification, on the current tried and tested syllabus, or wait until 4 May to be one of the first to take the BoK 7 exam (and avoid the calculations in the exam!)

At Parallel Project Training we will run BoK 6 exams on our public courses until May 2020 – any courses after 4 May 2020 will be aligned to BoK 7. For those on distance learning, BoK 6 exam preparation sessions and exams will run throughout May, June and July, at which point no further exams or resists will be offered. Should you wish to continue studying, you will need to transfer onto a BoK 7 course – please contact us to discuss a transfer along with access to our new podcasts, e-learning and study guide.

For our corporate clients we will work closely with you to work out a transition programme which meets your training needs. If you have any queries on this or wish to book a course please do not hesitate to contact us on

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