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

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.

Why Earn a Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification?

By Ed Lively, PMP, PRINCE2 Practitioner, MCITP   |   IIL Senior Consultant and Trainer

About the PMP® Certification

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most recognized and important industry certification for project managers. It doesn’t matter what organization you are currently employed with, PMPs can be found to be leading projects in virtually every industry and every country worldwide. The PMP certification is truly global.

According to the most current study on project management salaries from the Project Management Institute (PMI)®, Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Ninth Edition, the average annual salary for PMPs is $111,969. This is $20,000 or 22% more than non-certified Project Managers in the U.S.

Another PMI® study, Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017-2027, indicates that in the next decade there will be 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027. The analysis in 2012 found that the future demand for project management jobs would grow to 52.4 million by 2020, but by early 2017 the number of project management jobs had already reached 65.9 million.

Other than being a globally acknowledged certification and the potential to significantly increase salaries, the PMP certification also offers benefits like:

  • Expanding your market reach and scope
  • Job opportunities
  • Greater visibility to recruiters
  • Security even in economic downturns

For current employers, the benefits of PMP-certified Project Managers far outweighs the cost. In PMI’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession: Success Rates Rise…Transforming the high cost of low performance, the executive summary states:

[trx_quote style=”1″]For the first time in five years, more projects are meeting original goals and business intent and being completed within budget. There has also been a significant decline in dollars lost. Organizations are wasting an average of $97 million for every $1 billion invested, due to poor project performance—that’s a 20 percent decline from one year ago.[/trx_quote]

While this is a move in the right direction, organizations still have a long way to go. The percentage of organizations providing training and development has been stable for the past five years and this is encouraging. According to the 2017 Pulse of the Profession:

[trx_quote style=”1″]Three in five organizations provide training on project management tools and techniques, and just under half have a formal process to develop project manager competency and a defined career path for project managers.[/trx_quote]

Only one in three organizations reports high benefits realization maturity, the new measure of true project success.

In 1994, the Standish Group’s Chaos Report indicated that the number one reason for project failure was inaccurate requirements gathering (this report continues to be quoted partially because the 2015 Chaos report changed its definition of success and the factors that contributed to success.) In 2017, PMI looking at the problem globally, reported that the largest contributing factor in project failure was a change in an organization’s priorities.

However organizations view the reasons for project failure, it is clear that they still have a long way to go to improve project performance … well-trained and qualified Project Managers is the way forward.

How to get PMP certified

  1. Fulfill Eligibility PMP Requirements

Begin by downloading the Project Management Professional (PMP) Handbook from: .

This will provide you with the most current prerequisites for the certification. Currently, if you have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, you will need 3 years (36 months) of unique, non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project. In addition, you will have needed to complete 35 contact hours of formal project management education.

It is a good idea to take a training class that will prepare you for the certification exam. Some training companies offer this in a two to three day “boot camp” which may not be sufficient to adequately prepare you for the rigorous 4 hour, 200 question exam. I would suggest a minimum of a 5-day class and plan on about 40 hours of additional study to review the material before you attempt the exam.

  1. Complete the PMP Application

For purposes of ease and expediency, I suggest filling out the online application, as opposed to paper. The online application typically takes about five days to process. Once you start the application you cannot cancel it. You can save it unfinished, come back to it later, and edit any information you already entered. The application will remain active for 90 days. You will need to record your experience and education on the application. Be sure to record projects individually regardless of the number of projects you include.

One item to consider is whether you wish to join PMI as a member. The current cost of membership is $139 (USD). This will save you $150 (USD) on the exam. The current cost of taking the exam for members is $405 (USD) and for non-members it is $555 (USD). In addition to saving you on the PMP® exam cost you will receive the following benefits:

  1. You will receive a free digital copy of the PMBOK® Guide
  2. You will have access to tools and techniques
  3. You will have access to webinars and articles, and
  4. You will receive the following publications
    1. PM Network
    2. PMI Today
    3. Project Management Journal

Occasionally, an application is randomly selected to be audited. They may request copies of your diploma, signatures of supervisors attesting to your experience, copies of certificates, etc. PMI gives you 90 days to respond to their request.

Once submitted, your application remains active for one year from acceptance of the application (if audited this means once you have satisfied the audit requirements and have your application accepted.)

*In some cases, training companies will help you with the application process.

The online application can be found at:

  1. Payment

Make payment through PMI’s online certification system. Once you’ve made payment you’ll be emailed an eligibility number that you’ll use to schedule your test appointment. You will be eligible for one year and you may take the exam up to three times during that year.

  1. Schedule the Test Appointment

Go to to schedule your examination. You will need your eligibility number that PMI sends you. Choose the date and location you would like to take this computer-based test. Be sure to allow enough time to adequately prepare for the exam.

  1. Exam

On the day of the exam you will need to provide two forms of identification that match exactly with the name you registered under. One of these must be a government ID with a picture. The exam has 200 questions and you will have four hours to complete the exam. Of the 200 questions, only 175 will be scored, 25 of the questions are field tested to check the statistical validity of the question before they go “live.” You will not know which 25 will not be scored. There are no scheduled breaks, but you may take a break if you wish. The clock will NOT stop.

While challenging, passing the exam will be extremely gratifying and provide you with an entry into one of the most rewarding careers of your life with unlimited potential.

When you’re ready to get PMP certified, IIL can help.

Three ways to learn:
Self-paced online – 35 hours
Live Virtual Classroom – starts October 30
5-day-Day Traditional Classroom – scheduled around the world

Register with code SOCIAL for 10% off!

[trx_infobox style=”regular” closeable=”no” icon=”inherit”]

About the Author

Ed Lively brings a wealth of experience to the project management field as a practitioner, presenter, mentor, and author. His multidimensional skills allow him to teach 52 different classes in three core subject areas: negotiation and conflict resolution skills, all aspects of project management and team leadership.[/trx_infobox]

Suggested PMI Publications:
Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook
Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap | 2017-2027
Pulse of the Profession: Success Rates Rise, Transforming the high cost of low performance
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fifth Edition

*Note: The PMBOK® Guide—Sixth Edition will be released September 2017. The PMP exam is changing in the first quarter of 2018. Anyone taking the exam prior to Q1 2018 will receive the current version of the exam that references the PMBOK® Guide—Fifth Edition.

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