The PMP® Exam is Changing: Here’s What You Need to Know


Please note that the launch of the new PMP Exam has been delayed until June 30, 2020


By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

In June 2019, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® announced that significant changes are coming to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. In this post, I will provide important information about the new PMP® Exam and answer the following questions:

  1. When is the PMP Exam changing?
  2. Why is the PMP Exam changing?
  3. What is changing in the new PMP Exam?
  4. How do I prepare for the new PMP Exam?

Having been active in PMP Exam prep for many years, the first question almost everyone has when they hear about PMP Exam changes is WHEN? So, let’s start with that one.

When is the PMP Exam changing?

The new PMP Exam will make its debut on December 16, 2019.

The last day to sit for the current version of the PMP Exam is December 15, 2019.

There is no overlapping period of time when both versions of the exam will be available. The current version is available through December 15th and the new version starts December 16th.

So, if you have already started preparing for the current exam, my suggestion is to complete and file your PMP application ASAP. Remember, if you file online (and most folks do), PMI® has five calendar days to review your application and notify you if you’re eligible to sit for the exam. The five days is moot if you’re selected for an audit (you have a very low chance of that happening).

By submitting your application ASAP and being notified that you’re eligible to sit for the exam, you will be able to immediately contact the Pearson VUE testing center of your choice and (hopefully) select the date and time when you prefer to take the exam.

Be advised that whenever the PMP Exam changes, there’s always a mad rush to take it which can cause problems securing the center, date and time you want. In any given month, there are roughly three thousand folks earning the PMP credential. In the months leading up to a change, that number can be much larger because people want to take the exam before it changes, AND SO DO YOU! Don’t delay — apply and sit for the exam ASAP.

Now that we know when it’s changing, let’s see why.

Why is the PMP Exam changing?

Many folks ask, why does PMI have to change the exam? Can’t they leave well-enough alone? The answer is it has to be changed because PMI has published a new PMP Examination Content Outline[i] (the “Outline”).

What’s the reason for the new outline? Well, PMI’s professional certification examination development process is accredited against the internationally recognized ISO 1704[ii] Standard, as well as other industry best practices. A key component of these standards is that PMI is directed to use a Role Delineation Study (RDS) as the basis for the creation of the examination. Basically, PMI identified, through a wide range of surveys, the knowledge, tasks and skills required to perform to the industry-wide standard in the role of project manager. That content is contained in the Outline which is used as a basis for, and validates the outcome of, the PMP Exam. Each question on the PMP Exam is tracked to at least two academic references (which PMI does not reveal) and to the Outline. This is why it is such an important document.

The current Outline[iii], published in June 2015, includes the five domains of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. PMI also identified forty-two tasks across all five domains that competent project managers perform. The Outline also provides a “blueprint” for the exam in that it identifies the percentage of questions in each domain that will appear on the PMP Exam. The June 2015 version is the one tested on the PMP Exam through December 15, 2019.

PMI updates the Outline every four to six years to determine what has changed in the world of work for project managers. After all, in this world of ours, things can change, and change rapidly, and project management is no different.

As a result of redoing the RDS, PMI identified significant changes and trends in our profession that are not addressed in the current PMP Exam. So, in order to ensure that the PMP credential remains relevant, accurate, and current, PMI had to make changes to the Outline, and many of these changes have notable differences with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition.

You see, the volunteer taskforce involved with the Outline were not bound by the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. This taskforce was charged with outlining critical job tasks of individuals who lead and direct projects based on their experience; information which can go beyond that which is covered in the PMBOK® Guide. Based on their work, the taskforce identified three domains and thirty-five tasks that competent project managers are performing today. It is the June 2019 version of the Outline that will be tested on the PMP Exam starting on December 16, 2019.

Now that we know the when and the why, let’s look at what is changing in the PMP Exam.

What is changing in the new PMP Exam?

The new PMP Exam will focus on the three NEW domains of People, Process, and Business Environment.

People: This domain is all about leading a team, including supporting, empowering, training, and building a team. Managing conflict and collaborating with stakeholders are also important components of this domain.

Process: Just think of the ten knowledge areas in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. That’s what this domain covers, as well as a few other topics.

Business Environment: Covering the link between projects and organizational strategy, this domain also includes compliance and organizational change management.

Below is the blueprint for the new PMP Exam that starts on December 16, 2019.

new pmp exam blueprint

But changing from five domains and forty-two tasks to three domains and thirty-five tasks represent only one aspect of the change. The new Outline also says about half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches.”[iv] You read that correctly: half the exam, 50% of the questions, will be on agile and hybrid approaches!

This is a major change not just to the PMP Exam, but to the PMP credential itself. PMI is making a major bet that agile is not just here to stay; it represents a significant shift in the way projects are, or should be, managed. And in order to earn the PMP credential, PMP candidates are expected to know all about agile.

But does a PMP candidate need to have experience using agile, as well? After all, the questions on the current PMP Exam are written such that one needs to have experience in managing projects to answer many, if not most, of them correctly according to PMI. If the PMP Exam is changing, will the PMP application change as well?

Here’s what PMI writes on its website:

“The PMP application will also change in December, but if you submit your application before then, please continue using the current application. We’ll share more information here as it becomes available.”


As of today, we will just have to wait and see how PMI will change the eligibility requirements for the new PMP Exam. Visit PMI’s website regularly to monitor any and all changes.

How to prepare for the new PMP Exam

As I recommend above, if you can sit for the current PMP Exam, do it. In this business, the known is always better than the unknown. However, if you can’t sit for the current exam, don’t worry. You simply have to develop an effective approach to learn the material you need to know to pass the exam.

If you’re a “do-it-yourself” kind of person, you need to obtain and study a minimum of three publications. They are:

  1. The new PMP Exam Content Outline
  2. The PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition
  3. The Agile Practice Guide

(You will receive the Agile Practice Guide when you purchase the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition.) You can also supplement your reading with online practice exams and other publications which you can find through a simple online search.

But if you’d like help using a more structured approach, which is what I’ve recommended for many years, we at IIL have developed a PMP Certification Prep course that will help get you ready. We offer this course in three modalities: instructor-led, virtual classroom, and on-demand (video based). The course includes:

  • 35 hours of education (required for the PMP application)
  • PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition and the Agile Practice Guide[vi]
  • Access to IIL’s Project Management IQ (1,000 PMP Exam practice questions)
  • IIL’s PMP Certification Prep course workbook
  • Access to IIL’s on-demand Agile and Hybrid Foundation course
  • Supplemental readings and reference materials

Regardless of your study approach, we stand ready to assist in helping you prepare for, and successfully pass, the PMP Exam.

Let us know how we can help. Email us at or visit our website at

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

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.


[i] Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2019

[ii] ISO 17024: Conformity Assessment-General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons.

[iii] Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2015

[iv] Project Management Professional (PMP)®< Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2019, p. 2

Project Management and Leadership Competencies: A Snapshot

By Dr. Willis H. Thomas, PMP, CPT 

The Project Management Institute (PMI)® Talent Triangle® has addressed the need for project leadership competencies.

Technical competencies can be thought of as the science or hard skills; whereas, behavioral competencies can be considered the art or the soft skills. It is important to have a balance of the hard and soft skills in the ongoing professional development of team members.

The PMI Talent Triangle

(1) Technical Project Management
(2) Strategic and Business Management
(3) Leadership

Below is a contrast between project management vs. project leadership competencies.


Project Management Technical
Project Management Behavioral
Leadership Technical Competency
Cost Track budget Resolve conflict when discussing project budget Oversee Return on Investment (ROI) analysis Direct financial management
Time Coordinate schedules Improve acceptance to schedule compression Synchronize schedules to strategic plans Refine KPIs and link CSFs
Scope Control scope Monitor perceptions of scope creep Revisit scope for potential growth Gain acceptance for related sub-projects
Quality Confirm requirements are met Exceed expectations through relationships Highlight benefits through Return on Quality (ROQ) Drive Quality initiatives through a quality system
Risk Identify uncertainties Reach consensus on risk mitigation Enhance risk approaches using guidelines Change risk averse attitudes to risk neutral
Resources Align resources, i.e., people, systems, equipment, facilities, materials Ensure ongoing effective utilization of resources Identify resource gaps and needs for sun-setting or replacement Optimize resource use through i.e.,  motivation and upgrades
Communication Hold meetings Promote active meeting engagement Analyze meeting effectiveness Improve virtual meeting facilitation
Stakeholder Create stakeholder register Increase stakeholder engagement Use tools such as Power and Influence Grid Re-focus challenging stakeholders
Integration Participate in a business case Show opportunity and sunk costs Research business cases for validity Defend a business case for approval
Procurement Select vendor based upon criteria Manage vendor relations Evaluate vendors using online tools Guide vendors for improved performance

Note: Items in italics represent the Competing Demands experienced in projects and items in bold italics represent the other four Knowledge Areas identified in the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

For a downloadable image of the table above, click here.

More on this topic of project leadership…

Formalized programs and academic infrastructure for project leadership has been established by PMI® to provide sound guidance on the recommended approach.

For example, The Global Accreditation Center (GAC) established in 2001 for Project Management Education Programs is an academic accreditation body with policies, procedures, and standards for project, program, portfolio management and related programs at the bachelor’s, postgraduate and doctoral degree levels that operate independently from PMI. GAC is also a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

The PMI website provides information about GAC and the 100+ degree programs that have promoted. Being educated in project management and leadership programs is an important research effort for those making an investment in project management and leadership certifications, credentials, and degrees.

Whether an individual decides to pursue project leadership through ongoing education or through a Post-Graduate degree option like a Master of Science in Project Leadership (such as available through the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, where I am an adjunct professor) will depend upon their career goals. The decision does require research whether a Master of Science or an MBA in Project Leadership will lead to the desired educational achievement.

The International Institute for Learning (IIL) is a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) and there is likely a path forward that will enable students to choose what path they decide to pursue if it involves a degree vs. certification. In other words, courses that you have taken at IIL can be part of your educational roadmap and long-term strategy, i.e., becoming a professor and teaching project management and leadership courses part-time during retirement.

Having a strategy for your project management and leadership education is important as one could expect to invest up to $50k to complete a post-graduate degree in project leadership.

To this end, IIL offers courses to enhance leadership competencies. Find out more by browsing our leadership courses or requesting a free consultation.

PMI, Talent Triangle, The PMI logo, and PMBOK Guide are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. 

About the Author

Willis H. Thomas, Ph.D., PMP, CPT has worked for large corporations and academic institutions in the areas of human resources, learning and development, quality assurance, project management, sales and marketing, measurement and evaluation, and operations.

He has been in senior management for life sciences companies for the past 15 years. Dr. Thomas is a member of adjunct faculty at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, International Institute for Learning and Institute of Validation Technology.

His publications have received global recognition from associations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) where he received the Cleland Award for “The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned.” This book was an 8-year effort that enhanced the framework for the evaluation of projects using the PMBOK® Guide.

He has been a featured speaker on an international basis and has received the Apex Publication Excellence Award for implementing useful tools for project management, evaluation, and training.

What is Project Management?

By J. LeRoy Ward,  PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, GWCPM, SCPM   |   Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

What do the Panama Canal and the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner have in common?

At first glance, you might say “absolutely nothing.” But, they have a lot in common. Both were the outcomes of projects. And although vastly different in every respect, the Panama Canal, and the Boeing 787 share two characteristics:

  1. Each is unique. There’s only one Boeing 787 Dreamliner and there’s only one Panama Canal.
  2. Each is the result of a temporary endeavor. In short, each had a definite beginning and an end.

Once completed, of course, the Panama Canal became operational, and once developed, the Boeing 787 went into service with many more being manufactured as I write this. In short, the design and construction of the Panama Canal, and the design and manufacture of the Boeing 787 were projects.

And these projects were led by competent and highly trained individuals, appropriately named Project Managers, who applied knowledge, skills, techniques, and tools, to all the project activities to produce the end result that met the requirements. That’s called Project Management.

Let’s get a bit more formal. According to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), project management is defined as “the application of knowledge skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.

Projects have been around for thousands of years. Ever see a picture of the Pyramids of Giza? That’s a project. How about the Great Wall of China? Yup, another project. What about the International Space Station? You guessed it…another project.

Projects come in all shapes and sizes. Have you planned a summer vacation lately? Well, that’s a project. And, how about all those home “projects” that take up our evenings and weekends? The name says it all, doesn’t it?

What are you doing at work these days? Are you working with a group of folks to get a particular product to market, developing a new app, or launching a marketing campaign? If you are, you’re working on a project. Projects are everywhere.

As projects become larger and more complex we break them down into various phases such as Initiating, Planning, Executing and so forth. Every industry has their project “life cycle” as it’s called. We do so because it’s a lot easier to estimate and control our work when we break it down into pieces, rather than trying to grapple with the whole thing at once.

We might even use certain sophisticated tools to help us schedule our project, or analyze risk to avoid trouble. All these activities are part of project management.

If the work you’re doing conforms to the two characteristics above, guess what, you’re working on a project, whether you call it that or not. And, the activities you’re engaged in to get the job done successfully is called project management. Finally, if you’re “leading the charge,” you’re the Project Manager.

So, welcome to the wonderful world of projects and project management. You’re in good company because there are millions more just like you – people who are working on projects every day, and may not have knowledge of formal project management methods. Take the next step by exploring our other blog posts on Project Management, and enrolling in introductory Project Management course from IIL.

New to Project Management? Start with a Project Management Fundamentals course from IIL

J. LeRoy Ward is a highly respected consultant and adviser to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs.

What is a Project Management Certification? And Why Do I Need It?

By Anselm Begley, PMP, PRINCE2, CBAP, CSM, APMG Managing Benefits

Project Management certification demonstrates an individual’s experience, knowledge, and skill in project management – and in many companies, it’s a requirement for new and current project managers. To achieve certification, candidates need to meet certain eligibility requirements and pass a certification exam developed by a governing body or professional association, such as the Project Management Institute (PMI)®, and the exam content corresponds to a global standard – such as PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

As a project management instructor, it would be terrific if I knew that every student who attended my Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification prep classes were enthusiastic, engaged, and motivated to learn the content and concepts necessary to succeed on the PMP® certification exam. However, when students attend a certification prep course, they quickly learn that additional time and effort will be required to become ready to sit the exam. At that point, their commitment wavers and they question their need. Occasionally there are attendees who are sent to the class by their management. Most of these draftees become enthusiastic while others are skeptical.

I detect the emotional shift in class and this sixth sense is essential Emotional Intelligence for any instructor. Questions increase the relevance and value of the certification. The most common questions are:

“I know what I’m doing, why do I have to do this?”

“In my area, there isn’t anyone who knows more than I do. How is this going to help me tomorrow? This does not have anything to do with what I do all day.”

To begin to answer these questions I need to depict the impact of not possessing a certification. I employ the following example: My brother, now retired, is a ‘board certified’ radiologist.  ‘Board certified’ are the keywords in his profile. When you and I are faced with selecting a family physician or specialist, we will review the list of the specialists on the insurance rolls and while perusing the name, specialty, and hospital affiliation as well as their board-certified status. In the absence of a personal reference, who are you likely to choose?

If there was a choice between two or more physicians, you, like myself, will probably choose the board certified one. Pursuing this line of thought, would you select an attorney with a JD but who was not a member of the state bar? Would you choose an accountant who has a CPA or one without?

So, how many times did an executive manager, manager, or director at your company pass you over for someone – perhaps less qualified – for an opportunity because they were a ‘board certified’ PM? Were you informed? Did anyone tell you the selection criteria? I think not. Why? Because for the corporation, there is too much risk for corporate liability if they do not assign a certified professional and you will never know.

So – what does certification do for you? Certification announces to your management, executives, customers, clients, hiring managers, steering committee, etc. that you are ‘board certified.’ As an instructor, I must possess certification to teach in each discipline. After working for 43 years, 35 as a professional, do you think I require a certification?

Truth be told, there are nurses who are better than the doctors they support and there are secretaries who are better executives than the managers they serve. Life isn’t fair and you will never know what opportunities you have missed. You could have been working on a different and more exciting project than the one you are on today or what you will be doing tomorrow. Likely, the absence of a certification has impacted you already.

In requisitions, hiring managers may stipulate “certification preferred” or “certification required.” Despite your history, it is less likely that your resume will be sent up for interview selection if the requisition has this requirement.  Government contracts will require a certified project manager. Companies propose to government contracts because they are large and lucrative so you won’t get to lead those. So, the absence of a certification will cause your resume to be excluded from the interview shortlist even if you are the most qualified. Some companies will not permit a project manager to join their PMO without a certification. The certification is the price of admission to a higher rank.

Get PMP® Certification training in three convenient delivery methods from IIL


The preceding material is negative motivation but I need to get your attention. Let’s continue discussion of “Why do I need project management certification?” from a more positive viewpoint.

Here I’d like to point out that a project management certification is more valuable to the individual lacking a college degree and in some organizations, a certification trumps a degree. Possession of a certification may permit hiring managers or HR to ignore the absence of a degree.

The presence of a certification demonstrates your commitment to enhancing your professional skills. It shows that you sacrificed your personal time to pursue the enhancement of your skill set. Individuals with initiative and continuous skill acquisition are what hiring managers seek because necessary skill sets are evolving.

Authentic project management training organizations supply exam training with professional skill enhancement. They make the instruction apply to the exam as well as to a professional’s activities. Following an exam, I enjoy learning from students that the training remained with them. All was not brain flushed upon certification receipt and they saw what initially appeared to be superfluous to be an activity they were performing already but differently.

Project managers have transferable skills. We all possess experience and expertise in a specific area. Likely you were selected to become a project manager because you displayed leadership capabilities as a subject matter expert. This usually occurred when you were in an operations area, where we all usually begin following college. I have found project managers who learned in banks and later worked in film production.

In recent years, I have observed that universities are now jumping on the project management bandwagon, delivering preparation for the PMP® certification exam and creating Master’s degree programs in project management. I recall working as a high school student on Wall Street where few traders and brokers had a degree. Now times have changed and today, a degree from a “big name” institution is required to work there. I advise while there is a window of opportunity for project management, jump through.

Certifications that are available include:

There are various project management certifications which have different requirements, different benefits and are recognized in different regions. None are a walk in the park to achieve and each has separate renewal requirements.

The PMP® was started by three industries: construction, manufacturing, and defense. Do you think you can learn something from those who developed the nuclear-powered vessels? Missiles? Computer operating systems? Assembly lines? Chemical plants? Or constructed the World Trade Center? Madison Square Garden? Your local school?

What do you take away from preparing for the certification exam?

I’ll answer this with another diversion. In class, it has been my experience that senior, experienced project managers state: “I wish I had taken this training years ago. I had to learn much of this myself through trial and error and it was painful. This training would have provided me a jump start. Most especially, I needed to know the tools, the processes and the sequence of processes. I would have been able to see how the project management process could be transitioned to other disciplines.” The senior professionals view this as a sabbatical that lets them examine their experience in a new setting.

I have taught classes worldwide, to professionals in industries from defense to retail. I can assure you that a project management certification is recognized everywhere and can open doors.


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

About the Author

Anselm E. Begley (MBA, PMP, CBAP, CSM, CSPO) has been teaching project management, business analysis, and general management for companies and government organizations worldwide since 2007. A retired business manager at HP, his career has spanned 30 years in systems analysis, network architecture, business support, business management and opportunity pursuit.  He was an adjunct professor at NYU, and he has lectured at City University of NY and Rutgers.

Preparing Youth for the 21st Century Labor Market

By Donna Weber, Project Management Institute Educational Foundation

Last month, I read an insightful blog entry by Betsy Brand, entitled Skills Needed for High Growth, High Wage Jobs, that appeared in Dr. Michael Kerst’s Stanford – The College Puzzle Blog. The entry focused on the skills students will need in seeking high growth, high wage jobs and noted that some of the skills needed by employers – coordination, social perceptiveness, decision making, negotiation and complex problem solving – are not often taught in conventional high school classrooms.

Ms. Brand notes: Learning many of these skills in the context of longer-term, interdisciplinary projects or as part of a career pathway or career and technical education program can give students time to test, try out, revise, and improve all sorts of skills and behaviors that take time to develop.

All of the skills mentioned are critical to the development of project management expertise. Expertise is important to the growing global demand for skilled employees in manufacturing, information technology, engineering, healthcare, aerospace/defense, construction, energy and finance (

As the charitable arm of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) – the world’s leading professional membership association for the project management profession – the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF) has been developing partnerships, professional development training for educators, and other no-cost educational resources to address this growing educational and labor market need.

To this end, over the last four years, PMIEF has led the development of the Project Learning Network (PLN). PLN is a collaboration among organizations that focus on the delivery of education through projects in schools and community programs, among them: National Academy Foundation, NapaLearns, Junior Achievement USA, George Lucas Foundation, Global SchoolNet, Center for Digital Inclusion, DiscoverE, Destination Imagination, Buck Institute for Education, Partnership for 21st Century Learning, and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

As a result of this relationship, DiscoverE and Destination Imagination have received grant funding from PMIEF to integrate project management education as the foundation of their annual student competitions. Additionally, PMIEF and ACTE have entered into a formal alliance to advance the national promotion of project management skills development in the CTE classroom.

PMIEF has also commissioned research identifying U.S. States that are interested in incorporating project management tools and curricula into their CTE programs. To date, nine project management modules have been created in three (finance, marketing, business) of the 16 U.S. CTE established career pathways. Seventy (70) U.S. secondary school CTE teachers piloted the curricula and evaluated their experience as highly valuable for use in their classrooms.

To find out more about PMIEF and our no-cost project management educational resources; or, to learn more about how we are impacting 21st Century global education, visit our website:

Donna Weber is the PMI Educational Foundation’s Corporate Engagement Manager. Over a 30-year career, she has held advancement leadership positions with a range of nonprofit organizations, including: an Ivy League university (University of Pennsylvania); a 67-year-old national civics organization (Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge); a presidential library (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation); a large public university (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey); and, a renowned philharmonic orchestra (The Philadelphia Orchestra).

She is the recipient of both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Temple University’s School of Social Administration where she majored in planning; and, completed  a post-graduate program of study in professional development and staff training in Temple University’s School of Education.