PMP® exam changes on the 2nd of January 2021 – here is what you need to know now.

If you are thinking of pursuing the PMP® and becoming certified as a Project Manager, you need to know that the test is about to change radically.

PMI announced a few months ago that the content of the PMP test will change on 1 July 2020. However, due to the recent coronavirus circumstances, PMI will move this date to the 2nd of January 2021.

The current exam content will be valid for those who take the test until 31st December 2020.  Check here for PMI's coronavirus updates.

Ok, so what do I need to know?

First, let’s clarify that changing the exam content is a standard procedure for all professional certifications. 

The project management environment is evolving and so is the PMP.

As a certification developed for professionals, PMP must always be relevant to the industry’s best practices. The exam must provide assurance that the certified project manager is sufficiently equipped to manage projects in the real modern project environment.

So, according to PMI's certification process, these best practices are gathered through market research every 3 to 5 years and are incorporated into what is known as the “Examination Content Outline”.

This is the test’s syllabus and it is aligned with PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition.  No, PMBOK is not the exam syllabus. You need both the PMP Examination Content Outline and the PMBOK as your primary reference resources to prepare for the exam.

The main changes are as follows:

  • The new exam does not reference the PMBOK domains of Init, Plan, Exec, M&C, and Close.
  • The new exam will have only three domains, People, Process, and Business Environment (more like our Fundamentals).
  • The exam questions will be 42% People, 50% Process, and 8% Business Environment. Biggest change is: “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.”

We will probably get more updates from PMI as the time of the change approaches, but let's now take a closer look at what has been announced so far:


1. Domains are changing as follows:

a. Domain Names & % of questions

Currently there are 5 domains with a certain percentage proportion of questions for each domain


Next test version will test you on 3 domains:

Initiating, 13%


People, 42%

Planning, 24%


Process, 50%

Executing, 31%


Business Environment 8%

Monitoring and controlling 25%



Closing 7%




b. Tasks: Each domain has certain tasks assigned.  These tasks will also change in the new test content.

c. Enablers: This is new: According to PMI, enablers are illustrative examples of the work associated with the task.

So instead of a task definition you have enablers for each task. Enablers will help you better understand how to perform or handle a task; they are descriptive enough but they are not an exhaustive list.

For example:

Currently we have the

  • Domain “Initiating
  • with Task 1
  • to be described as “Perform project assessment based upon available information, lessons learned from previous projects, and meeting with relevant stakeholders in order to support the evaluation of the feasibility of new products or services within the given assumptions and/or constraints”

Changes to be expected in the new test version will be something like:

  • Domain “People”
  • with Task 1 “Manage Conflict”
  • and enablers (descriptions/examples) “Interpret the source and stage of the conflict, analyze the context of the conflict, evaluate/recommend/reconcile the appropriate conflict resolution solution”

So, what is changing here according to PMI’s information, is a major shift in questions testing you towards:

People – what you need to know to effectively lead a project team, covering almost half the questions you will be asked

Processes –the technical aspects of managing a project covering a a full 50% of the questions asked, and

Business environment –PMI will include a set of questions up to 8% of questions referring the connection between projects and organization strategy

In the current domain scheme it looks easier to remember the domains and corresponding tasks and processes as each domain appears to be mapped out according to the stages needed for a project to be executed.

In the new version domains do not come in a logical sequence so you may find it a bit harder to remember them.


2. Proportions and volumes of questions.



New version

Initiating, 13% with 26 Questions


People, 42%  - 84 questions

Planning, 24% with 48 Questions


Process, 50% - 100 questions

Executing, 31% with 62 Questions


Business Environment 8% - 16 questions

Monitoring and controlling 25% with 50 questions



Closing 7% - 14 questions



Comparing these proportions of questions, it seems that in the current version you have a better idea of what to expect on the volume of the questions asked per domain.


3. Questions reflecting predictive project management approaches and agile or hybrid approaches.  

PMI states that “about half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches”. In this way PMI reassures that the exam content reflects today’s project management practitioners' work across different project environments and utilizing different project approaches. This is another step towards incorporating current best practices.

For PMP candidates, that means that half of the questions from Processes, People and Business Environment domains will be based on Predictive environment context and the other half on Agile and Hybrid environment.

So, in summary, as of December 16, proportions of questions will be as follows:


Predictive knowledge Questions

Agile & Hybrid Knowledge Questions

People, 42%  - 84 questions



Process, 50% - 100 questions



Business Environment 8% - 16 questions





4. PMBOK® Guide - Sixth Edition vs PMP examination content Outline

Again both resources are essential for test takers.  They do not contradict, but complement one another. According to PMI “there are noticeable differences between this updated PMP Examination Content Outline and A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition”.  PMI states that the taskforce who developed the new content outline were not bound by the PMBOK Guide, meaning that they were free to incorporate critical job tasks which may not be defined or explained as tasks in the PMBOK.

This may be one of the reasons why more and more questions in the test are in a scenario format instead of typical theory/definitions/knowledge based questions.  Experience and critical thinking based on project management best practices seems to dominate the PMP exam.

There are still some issues to be clarified, most likely when the new test will be in effect.  For example, how will domains be mapped against knowledge areas or process groups and how will domains and process groups be mapped against Predictive Environment or Agile and Hybrid context?


5. Test centers:

PMI has made a huge change in test center services. As of July 1, PMI has moved from Prometric to Pearson Vue.  And that means more test centers available. 

In view of these changes we recommend that you try and take the PMP test before December 30, 2020

For obvious reasons and given the above changes, the PMP test will become harder. Why push yourself to a harder test?  Make your study plan now and schedule your exam date before the new test comes into effect.

One way to make a good plan is to count your efforts backwards from the date of the exam, in the following order:

  1. Allow one month (4 weeks) before the date of your exam to dedicate yourself to studying and doing as many sample questions as possible.
  2. Calculate 80 hours of studying within these intensive 4 weeks, spread into 2 hours per working day plus a minimum of 8 hours during weekends.
  3. Take a PMP Prep course before the last intensive 4 weeks.  A PMP prep course will give you guidance and working material to better handle your prep time and economize on time and effort.
  4. Before taking a PMP Prep course get familiar with the test and the content outline. There are a number of free sample questions available online, plus many prep resources.  You must definitely acquire the PMBOK, read it at least twice and get familiar with its content.
  5. Starting this plan in September will get you easily to the test center at the end of November. Try not to schedule your test after December 5. As we are getting closer to the end of this test format, test centers might not have availability.
  6. Schedule your exam slot as soon as you can, preferably right after taking a PMP prep course. Usually these courses give you sufficient guidance on how to fill in the application form and tackle the task of describing your project management experience.  However, this is not necessary since the registration process is easy and quick.

OK, you don’t have time to take the current exam.  What’s next?

Stay tuned with us for upcoming news and tips of how to conquer the PMP.  If you have any other questions feel free to contact us at


PMI, PMBOK, PMP  are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Last Update At: 2020/12/10 - 13:21:46


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