What You Need to Know About the PMP® Exam Changes

Ana Aranda Diaz

Ana Aranda Diaz

What You Need to Know About the PMP® Exam Changes
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Did you know that PMP® Exam will change in January 2, 2021*? PMI’s “2020 Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline” explains that the reality of our profession as Project Managers has significantly changed since the exam was last updated. The work of today’s project management practitioners is done in a wide variety of project environments and requires the use of many different projects approaches. The PMP exam will be updated to reflect this reality by incorporating the approaches now needed across the value delivery spectrum.

The primary exam change is that about half of the examination will represent predictive project management approach and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approach.

Altogether three approaches will be found and recognized throughout the three new domain areas:

  1. PEOPLE – emphasizing the skills and activities associated with effectively leading a project team
  2. PROCESS – reinforcing the technical aspects of managing a project
  3. BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT – highlighting the connection between projects and organization strategy

PMI has also reported the percentage of questions from each domain that will appear on the examination.

  • Domain I. People 42%
  • Domain II. Process 50%
  • Domain III. Business Environment 8%

This is a big change. In comparison, the current test is based on 5 Domains which are the 5 Process Groups (Project Management Processes) and very much related with the Predictive project management approach, these domains are:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring
  • Controlling, and Closing

Some of you might think that this change its associated to a new version of the PMBOK® Guide (A Guide to The Project Management Body of Knowledge), but that’s not the case. The PMBOK® Sixth Edition remains as it is and the current version is still valid.

How can PMBOK® Sixth Edition still be valid if the approach has been significantly changed?

It’s a common mistake to think that you only need to “study” PMBOK® when preparing for the PMP exam. This is the book to be used when you need references about the processes, but the knowledge detailed in the PMBOK should be complemented with other Project Management knowledge. This understanding is especially relevant to the new PMP Examination Content Outline.

It’s important to understand and recognize that Agile and Hybrid methodologies as they relate to Project Management are here to stay and project management practitioners are expected to have the proper knowledge. Companies and enterprises will demand Predictive, Agile, and Hybrid experience before hiring us for managing their projects.

If you want to learn more about the dimension of this change directly from PMI®, please see this page.

If PMBOK is not enough, how do we know that areas to cover when preparing the certification exam?

PMI detailed this content in the PMP Examination Content Outline that was released in June 2019.

The document contains a lists of Tasks included in each domain, and within each task we will get information about the Enablers. These enablers represents the actions needed in order to complete the different tasks for each domain.

This document must be taken into consideration when preparing for the new exam content.

When will these changes be reflected in the PMP Certification Exam?

The last day for candidates to take the current version of the PMP exam is December 31, 2020. Starting January 2, 2021*, the PMP exam will reflect this new exam content.

Important dates:

  • June 30, 2019 – PMI published the new PMP Exam Content Outline
  • December 31, 2020 – Last day to take the current version of the PMP Exam
  • January 2, 2021* – First day to take the new version of the PMP Exam.

What if I’m already preparing for the exam?

We strongly recommend to take the exam before January 2* and to schedule your exam ASAP. By scheduling now, you can ensure that there will be free seats to take the exam on your preferred location. Considering that  people typically reserve their exam date 3 months in advance in times when there isn’t an update, seats will fill up.

Good luck in your preparation!

– Ana Aranda


Due to the COVID-19 crisis, PMI postponed the launch of the new exam to January 2, 2021. It was originally scheduled for July 1, 2020.

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About the Author

Ana Aranda Diaz

Ana Aranda Diaz

Ana Aranda, PMP®, PMI-ACP®, SAFe® SPC, AgilePM® and PRINCE2® Instructor, is a Lead Expert and Operations Manager for Netmind's US office. With more than 25 years' experience in Product Management, Project Management, and business development , she is comfortable helping others overcome challenges and manage cultural diversity. Ana has worked as a business consultant as well as an instructor in various multinational companies across the globe. She is passionate about fostering an organization's Project Management culture and improving their human skills aspect. Ana telecommunication engineer with an executive Master's Degree in Human Resources Management. She has strong business and technical background that allows fast learning and enables immediate value generation. Connect with Ana on LinkedIn.

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