Global Project Management League

8 Things You Need To Know About The PMP Exam

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If you’re planning to take the PMP exam soon, you might be wondering about the PMP Exam Changes that will take effect next year. 

Some changes are the result of the recent role delineation study conducted by PMI every three to five years, and some are because of the health crisis we currently face. 

We answer what you need to know about the PMP exam changes in 2020.

This depends on your goals. Does getting certified this year affect your career in some way? If yes, take the exam. If not, wait. 

You can still apply and schedule your PMP exam until December 31, 2020 if you want to take the current PMP exam content outline. 

But if you prefer to take the new one, you can schedule your exam starting on January 2, 2021 onwards.

The PMP exam changes will massively affect your study materials and what the actual exam looks like. Before scheduling your exam, make sure you’ve decided whether you want to take the current PMP exam outline or wait for the new one to take effect.


July 1, 2020 is the original date of the release of the new PMP exam outline. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PMI moved it to January 2, 2021 instead.

This means that the candidates who already scheduled their exam must study the current PMP exam content outline and answer practice questions based on the five domains. This postponement also allows candidates to have additional time and access to training materials to help them prepare for the PMP exam.

PMI also announced that exam candidates can still access the current PMP Exam version until December 31, 2020.

It’s best if you set your plans based on these dates if you wish to get your certification before the exam content changes.This gives you ample time to submit your application and prepare for the exam before the exam changes take effect.

The PMP exam changes every three to five years based on the PMI leadership conducted by experts around the world to understand how the profession progresses. The last research was conducted last 2015 which resulted in the current PMP exam content outline.

This change will impact PMP exam question distribution on the actual certification exam. The question distribution pattern will change–from five domains, the questions will be categorized in three new domains.

The current exam content outline

The last role delineation study conducted in 2015 resulted in 25% of the exam content outline changes. From then, the PMP exam questions are based on five domains.

  • Initiating (13%) – Processes to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project.
  • Planning (24%) – Processes to establish the scope of the project, refine objectives and determine steps to achieve them.
  • Executing (31%) – Processes to complete the work defined in the project management plan.
  • Monitoring and Controlling (25%) – Processes to track, review and control the progress of the project.
  • Closing (7%) – Processes to finalize all activities across all phases of the project.

The current PMP Exam content focuses on the stages of a project lifecycle and there are several tasks under each domain. This is to utilize the candidate’s knowledge, competence, and the ability to determine the level of salience and critical thinking required to perform the role of a project manager.


The new PMP exam content outline

A new PMP exam content outline was published last June 30, 2019. PMI is currently updating the PMP exam to match the new syllabus. This new exam content outline will be effective starting on January 2, 2021.

The current PMP exam content outline focuses on five domains. This time, it was reduced to three domains. The new outline is extremely valuable compared to the previous exam content outline.

This will require candidates to answer PMP exam questions based on the three domains:

  • People (42%) – Highlights the skills and activities related to effectively lead projects.
  • Process (50%) – Reinforces the technical aspects of managing a project.
  • Business Environment (8%) – Highlights the connection of project to organization strategy.

All these three domain areas are focused on predictive, agile and hybrid approaches.

The new PMP Exam content will still have tasks under each domain, just like the current one. However, there’s a new term, “enablers”  in the new PMP Exam content, which are the actions you take to complete the tasks.

Each domain in the new PMP exam content outline has a set of tasks and enablers. There will be 35 tasks spread across the three domains and 133 enablers for those 35 tasks.

The PMBOK Guide is one of the resources PMI uses to outline PMP exams. PMP candidates use this to familiarize themselves with how the actual exam looks like. In this way, they can tailor their study routines and materials based on the structure of the exam itself.


Usually, PMI releases a new edition of the PMBOK Guide every four years. The current edition (6th edition) was released in 2017. The exam change based on the 6th edition was released last 2018. So PMBOK Guide’s 7th edition was expected to be released in 2021.


But just this January 2020, PMI announced that the PMBOK Guide 7th Edition will be released in the fourth quarter of 2020. Therefore, you must use the PMBOK Guide 7th edition whether you’re taking the exam before or after December 31.

The PMP exam will consist of 200 multiple choice questions, including complex situations, short situational, knowledge based and interpretive questions.

There will also be 25 pretest items–these will not affect your exam score. These items will be placed randomly in the exam and you can’t distinguish which among the 200 PMP exam questions belong to the pretest items.

If you plan to take the PMP certification before 2020 ends

Since the new PMBOK Guide will be released in the fourth quarter of 2020, the PMBOK Guide 6th edition can no longer be your primary reference and general guide for the PMP exam.


You can start preparing for the PMP exam using the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition. But if you want to take the PMP exam before the content outline changes, try to finish your application, settle your PMP exam fee and schedule your exam as early as you can–if possible, before October 30, 2020. PMP aspirants are expected to apply for the PMP certification in November and December to take the exam before the outline change.

If you plan to take the PMP certification on or after January 2, 2021

By this time, the new PMP exam content outline is released. Download and read it cover to cover to understand the topics you need to know before you sit for the exam.

As mentioned above, the new PMP exam content outline will focus on predictive, agile and hybrid approaches. Study the Agile Practice Guide and learn more about agile approach.

You can also contact your training provider to ask for any comparison between the old and new PMP exam content outline and if they will update your study materials. Start with your study routine once you’ve given access to any additional training materials.

Because of the health crisis, PMI has alternatives so PMP candidates can still take the exam in the comfort and safety of their home or office.

Online-Proctored Testing (OPT)

You will schedule and take the exam through the Pearson VUE online proctored testing software. Just like the center-based testing, you will be monitored by a proctor. The only difference is that you will be proctored through your device’s microphone and webcam with the assistance of artificial intelligence.

You’ll still need to schedule your exam. But the advantage is that appointments are offered 24/7. This means you can schedule your exam in a time convenient to your schedule.

How to take your PMP exam online

You will take your online PMP exam using your internet-connected PC or tablet. You need a computer with a webcam for your online proctor, a reliable internet connection, and a quiet room.

But before we hop in to the exam proper, you’ll need to follow this guidelines first:

  1. Pay for the PMP exam fee.
  2. Wait for PMI’s email confirmation.
  3. Schedule your online PMP exam through the Pearson VUE website.
  4. After scheduling your exam, the online exam link will be available 30 minutes before the date and time you scheduled.

There will be a live proctor monitoring you throughout the exam. You will go through a check-in process first before starting the exam. Your photo, a picture of your ID and a recording of your surroundings will be taken. This is to make sure there’s nobody else inside the room.

You’re not allowed to leave the proctor’s view. So, it’s best to prepare yourself to sit for the exam for a few hours without any interruptions. Some additional notes about the online-proctored PMP exam are as follows:

  • You can’t use scratch paper, but PMI has a built-in whiteboard and calculator that you can use instead.
  • You can cancel your scheduled exam and schedule a new date if you want to switch to an online exam.

Since testing centers are currently closed due to the pandemic, PMI has also waived its rescheduling fees. You can easily reschedule your exam and take it online instead. When rescheduling, keep in mind that the center-based testing option will still be available. In this case, you will have two options:

  1. If testing centers have been restored, you can schedule your center-based PMP exam.
  2. If testing centers are still closed, center-based testing option will still be available, but you will see in the next step that there are no seats available.

If you encountered the latter, the safest is to schedule online-proctored testing instead. This is also to make sure you’re in a good state.

Even with the mandatory shelter-in-place policy, you can still prepare for your upcoming PMP exam. You can look up for online boot camps and training courses that can help you with your study routine.

Try Online PMP exam workshops

Online boot camps are now available due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, you can now prepare for your PMP exam without having to enroll in a physical classroom setup. Also, these online training courses are a little less expensive than in-person boot camps.

Choose the one that best suits your study habits. You can research first and compare your options to see which among them is better.

Answer PMP exam sample questions depending on when you’re planning to take the exam

Answering PMP exam sample questions is also an effective way to improve your confidence before you take the actual exam. In this case, you need to assess the date you’re planning to take your PMP exam.

If you’re planning to sit for the PMP exam this year, you’ll probably take the current PMP exam content outline. When preparing for the exam, answer sample questions based on the five domains:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

However, if you’re planning to sit for the exam next year, you’ll take the new PMP exam content outline. Answer PMP exam questions based on the three domains:

  • People
  • Process
  • Business Environment

PMI does not specify the score you must obtain to pass the exam. Some people assume the passing score is 62%, but you can never be sure. Also, there are 25 pretest items scattered in the actual exam.

To be safe, keep in mind that you have to answer at least 85% of the PMP exam questions correctly. Continue to answer practice questions until you achieve that 85%. Once you did, you can now consider yourself ready to sit confidently for the exam.

Are you ready to be PMP certified soon? Keep these points in mind and incorporate them into your PMP exam preparation to make sure you’re geared up for application and for the exam.

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