The PMP Exam® is Changing. Significantly!

So you have been thinking about writing the PMP Exam® but were not sure when would be a good time. PMI may have just assisted you in making the decision for you. The following is an overview of the key things you need to know about the upcoming exam changes.

Why the change?

As you grow and evolve as a project manager, so too does the discipline of project management. While many of the core fundamentals stay the same, how we approach project management and actively manage projects shifts over time. 

Roughly every 4 years, PMI conducts what is called a role delineation study. This study contacts and surveys hundreds of project managers just like you from around the world to understand how they manage projects, to understand emerging trends and to examine how the profession has changed.


What is changing?

The most significant change are in the domains that will be tested. In the past, you were tested on your knowledge of initiation, planning, execution, monitoring & control and closeout. With this change, you will now be tested on 3 domains:


  • People. This area emphasizes the skills and activities associated with effectively leading people (42% of exam)

  • Processes. These are the technical (and traditional) activities of project management (50% of exam)

  • Business Environment. This area focuses on your understanding of the connection between projects and organization strategy (8% of exam)

PMI has chosen to shift the exam from purely the IPECC processes to something that better reflects the world of project management today. 

Moreover, with recent update to the PMBOK® Guide at the end of 2018, there will be changes on the exam the reflect that additional content. 

Key amongst these is the addition of material on both adaptive (i.e. agile and hybrid) and predictive approaches (i.e. waterfall) to project management. Half of all questions will be on the predictive approach while the remaining 50% will draw from the adaptive approach.

How will this impact me?

If you are planning to write before Dec 31, 2020, then there will be no impact: The exam will contain questions on the material you are currently studying. 

However, if you will be writing your exam after Jan 1, 2020, then you are in line for a big change. More than anything, this reconfigures what you are probably already learning.  For example, instead of absorbing conflict management, leadership, motivation, etc. across the 5 IPECC domains, they will now call them out specifically under the domain of "People." Traditional project management practices and task will be found under "Processes."

In the end, this also reinforces the fact that the PMBOK® Guide is not the sole source of content for the PMP Exam. There is a host of additional content that you need to be aware of. Some of it is touched on in the PMBOK® Guide while others material is not. 

It is estimated that the exam will contain 25-50% new content. 

What now?

This is a lot to take in and can be the source of real concern, boarding on panic. If you thought you had time to write in the New Year, your plans may have just changed and now you need to study in the fall. For some of you that were not planning to write until 2021, all those materials you have amassed from friends and colleagues may need to go out the window. 

I understand. I have worked through 4 of these exam changes over the last almost 20 years and I understand your concerns. 

Here is what I propose: 

  • If you want to write in 2020. Now is the time to develop your plan. First, apply for the exam (if you haven’t already), pick a date when you want to write and register for a PMP Exam® prep workshop. There are a host of resources out there. Feel free to contact us and we would be happy to review your options.



  • If you want to write in 2021. Don't rush into the exam and look to take it right after it goes live on Jan 2, 2021. It is best to wait a few months to let any exam challenges settle themselves out and let the marketplace catch up on the study and support materials. 

But don't stand still. The core material will still be valid. You will need to know critical path. You will need to understand earned value.  You will need to understand the concept of leadership, conflict management and motivation. So, you can start to review the PMBOK® Guide today. Most importantly, you can start to put your application together because if you don't apply, you will never get a chance to get your PMP®.

The panic you may be feeling is real. Don't let it paralyze you. 

By taking steps now in 2020, you will be able to obtain your PMP® and move your career forward in 2021. 



Additional resources can be found here:

1. Register in our upcoming PMP course, click here


2. View PMI's PMP® Exam Content Outline for 2020, click here​


3. View the PMI's PMP® Handbook that walks you through the PMP exam application process, click here

4. Contact us! We would be happy to discuss your options