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PMP exam content changes – Know the changes

With the PMP exam content changing from January 2021, the question most aspirants are asking is what are the changes. How different would it be.

I listened to an interview recently on the PMP exam content changes. The interview was with Sierra Hampton-Simmons’s; the (Portfolio leader and head of certification products at PMI). She is responsible for the entire Portfolio of PMI certifications including the PMP exam.

Here are my notes from the interview on what to expect when the exam changes

Most of the current content is on the process domains because it is outlined with sections of the PMBOK. 
There are currently 5 domains:

  1. IN – Initiation,
  2. PL – Planning,
  3. EX – Execution,
  4. MC – Monitoring & Controlling
  5. CL – Closing

However, the new content would have 3 domains and they are:

  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Business environment

PMI is also adding two new question types

  1. They would include more drop down options to pick from. Drag and drop questions so that they can ask definition questions 
  2. Integrating animation (scenario based animation questions); you watch the scenario to experience it and then say what you would do in such scenario or how you would respond in such situation.

What does that imply?

This means that the current exam content when compared with the new content would only be contained in the Process domain. That is, the 5 domains we are used to currently would all be contained in just 1 domain (the process domain) in the new exam.

The 200 PMP exam questions we are used to would make up just 1 domain.

This could also mean that the questions in the current exam content is less than 35% of questions expected in the new content. That is; topics were questions are picked from in the new content would be at least 65% different. That’s a huge change.

Also, more than 50% of the questions in the new exam content would be related to Agile and Hybrid. Currently the questions are mainly related to waterfall/traditional method.

There would be more questions on topics such as soft skills, leading a team, integrating virtual team members into your team and using Emotional Intelligence to lead a team in a project. 

How can you prepare and pass the PMP exam after the content changes?

PMI has published 10 references that can be helpful to pass the new exam.

Currently, by reading just the PMBOK you can successfully pass the exam. Once the change is implemented, you would have to read more references; it may not be all 10 but at least reading the PMBOK 6th edition alone won’t be sufficient.

However, if the PMBOK is updated to include these new topics, it might become sufficient. See the new PMP exam topics in PMI’s PMP Examination Content Outline.

Changes to the PMP application

For the application, you don’t have to break the project description into the 5 domains since the exam is changing to 3 new domains. You just give a brief high level description of your project experience. This change has already been implemented.

Get more information on how to write project descriptions for the PMP application.

Should you write the PMP exam before the content changes?

If you can, Yes.

The earlier, you get PMP certified, the earlier you start enjoying the benefits of being certified.

However, you have to ensure you prepare and study very well so that you can pass it before the change.


If you fail the exam before it changes and you don’t pass before the exam changes, you would need to study again based on the new domains, references and exam topics.

To effectively prepare, study and pass the PMP exam before December, click here.

Wondering how to pass the PMP Exam? Get my FREE PMP Exam Checklist. It contains the 6 powerful tips that I used to prepare, study and pass the PMP Exam with an above target in all domains at my first attempt. It has been updated to align with the new version of the PMP exam.

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