2021 PMP Exam Changes

PMP Exam Changes – What Changed in PMP Exam Content?

9 min. read

The project management profession is evolving. For instance, agile methodologies were not in common in project management as it is nowadays. In order to be compliant with the changing industry dynamics, the PMP exam changes every 3-5 years based on the PMI leadership conducted by subject matter experts from leading organizations around the world.

Key takeaways from this post:

  • PMP exam changed by 2nd of Jan, 2021.
  • The new PMP exam focuses on People, Processes, and Business Environment domains
  • The new PMP exam content crossover mapping

Let us go through these details one by one now.

Note that, PMP exam changes do not mean that PMBOK will change as well. Latest PMBOK (6th edition) has been released by end of 2017 and the PMP exam changed in 2018 Q1 based on the PMBOK.

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In this post, we will cover when the project management professional PMP exam is changing, what PMP exam changes will bring to the PMP exam content, what you should do to be prepared for the PMP exam changes, and more.

Hint: Do you wonder when you can take the PMP exam? Read more about the PMP exam schedule, the next PMP exam date and how you can schedule, and more on the PMP exam schedule post.

PMP Exam Changed on Jan 2nd, 2021

Based on the calendar that Project Management Institute announced on its website, as of the 2nd of Jan 2021, PMP certification exam takers will sit for the new PMP exam content outline. So, the PMP exam has changed already.

After helping over 500,000 professionals in more than 180 countries with a 99.6% first attempt pass rate, we have prepared a seven-step PMP study plan. Read this PMP study plan and create your own PMP prep plan accordingly.

Changes in the PMP Exam Questions & Duration

PMP Exam contains 180 questions. There are 230 minutes to complete the exam. The PMP Exam Questions will be a combination of multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot, and limited fill-in-the-blank types of questions.

Three Main Domains & Weight for the New PMP Exam:

1- People (42%)

2- Process (50%)

3- Business Environment (8%)

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

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What was the old PMP exam content?

The Latest PMP exam changes occurred in 2015 and since then PMP exam content is based on the five domains. These domains are initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and controlling. The following figure describes the current PMP exam content and the percentage of each domain on the PMP exam.

PMP exam content

The PMP exam content was focusing on the stages of a project life cycle as a domain and in each domain, there are several tasks. This process utilizes knowledge and task-driven guidelines to assess the practitioner’s competence and determine the levels of salience, criticality, and frequency of each of the knowledge, tasks, and skills required to perform to the industry-wide standard in the role of a project manager. Following is a sample from the tasks of the closing domain.

Current PMP Exam Content

The PMP exam assesses the PMP exam candidate’s knowledge and project management experience based on these tasks, knowledge and skills for each domain.

2021 New PMP Exam Content Outline

While the current PMP exam content focuses on five domains as the stages of the project lifecycle, new PMP exam content will be based on three domains:

  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Business Environment

Based on the research of PMI through the current project management jobs, today’s project management practitioners work in a variety of project environments and utilize different project approaches. Accordingly, the PMP certification will be reflective of this and will incorporate approaches across the value delivery spectrum. About half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches. Predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches will be found throughout the three-domain areas listed above and are not isolated to any particular domain or task. The following figure describes the percentage of each domain on the PMP exam.

New PMP exam content

2021 New PMP exam content will have tasks under each domain as well as in the current PMP exam. However, there are new term “enablers” in the new PMP exam content. Now, let’s what is domain, tasks, and enablers are coming with PMP exam changes.

  • Domain: Defined as the high-level knowledge area that is essential to the practice of project management. There are five domains in the current PMP exam content (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and controlling, closing). However, there will be three domains in the new PMP exam content (people, process, and business environment).
  • Tasks: The underlying responsibilities of the project manager within each domain area. PMP exam assesses the knowledge and experience of each PMP exam candidate based on these tasks under each domain.
  • Enablers: Illustrative examples of the work associated with the task. Please note that enablers are not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather offer a few examples to help demonstrate what the task encompasses.

You can see an example of the new task structure and affiliation with the enablers.

PMP exam task structure

See the complete new PMP exam content that has been effective by Jan 2, 2021.

New PMP Exam Content Crossover Map

PMI has published a New PMP Exam Content Crossover map which will help the PMP aspirants to identify areas of content that will change in the new PMP exam content.

This document is a current mapping the PMI Certification team is using to determine what existing inventory can be reused in the new exam. There are sections that are brand new to the exam and will need to have content created. This mapping document is intended to help you get started to update PMP course content.

Along with the ECO, the mapping document will be one of many resources that PMI will provide in the upcoming months to help PMP training providers to update their coursework to help students prepare for the new PMP® Exam starting in Jan 2021.

Domain Content Location

People: current PMP course may have limited content to address this new domain. If there is content it would be woven throughout the PMP course. 42% of the exam questions will be based upon this domain.

Process: current PMP training materials may have a fair amount of content to address this new domain as this was the bulk of the exam previously. 50% of the exam will be based upon this domain.

Business Environment: current PMP certification course programs may have very limited content to address this new domain. If there is content it would be woven in small threads throughout your course. 8% of the exam questions will be based upon this domain.

Following is the full list of new enablers coming with the new PMP exam:

  • Value servant leadership (e.g., relate the tenets of servant leadership to the team)
  • Measure training outcomes
  • Maintain team and knowledge transfer
  • Assess behavior through the use of personality indicators
  • Analyze personality indicators and adjust to the emotional needs of key project stakeholders
  • Assess opportunities to deliver value incrementally
  • Support the team to subdivide project tasks as necessary to find the Minimum Viable Product
  • Coordinate with other projects and other operations
  • Recommend a project methodology/approach (i.e, predictive, agile, hybrid)
  • Use iterative, incremental practices throughout the project lifecycle (e.g., lessons learned, stakeholder engagement, risk)
  • Confirm approach for knowledge transfers
  • Classify compliance categories
  • Determine potential threats to compliance
  • Use methods to support compliance
  • Analyze the consequences of noncompliance
  • Determine the necessary approach and action to address compliance needs (e.g., risk, legal)
  • Measure the extent to which the project is in compliance
  • Verify measurement system is in place to track benefits
  • Evaluate delivery options to demonstrate the value
  • Assess and prioritize impact on project scope/backlog based on changes in an external business environment
  • Recommend options for scope/backlog changes (e.g. schedule, cost changes)
  • Continually review the external business environment for impacts on project scope/backlog
  • Support organizational change
  • Assess organizational culture
  • Evaluate the impact of organizational change to project and determine required actions
  • Evaluate the impact of the project on the organization and determine required actions

You can reach the full PMP exam content crossover map PDF file here.

PMP Exam Changes 2021 – 11 Minutes Video

Summary of the PMP Exam Changes 2019

We have gathered the PMP exam changes as a summary in the following table:

Current PMP Exam ContentNew PMP Exam Content
Number of Domains53
Number of Tasks4235

This table might mislead that the PMP exam content is shrinking after the PMP exam changes. However, it is not true. The bible of the PMP exam content, which is PMBOK, remains the same and the content does not change. Instead, how PMI will assess the students in the PMP exam will change.

While the current PMP exam focuses on project lifecycle stages as domains, new PMP exam content focuses on people, process, and business environment. PMP exam takers were seeing their exam results for each of the five domains as below. (This is the PMP exam result of our student Don Wheeler. You can read his PMP exam tips.)

pmp pass

pmp pass

After the PMP exam changes, We might see the PMP exam results over the new three domains. Note that, this is not announced by PMI and it is our forecast.

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