PMP Exam Changes 2021

3. January 2021

On January 2nd, 2021, the Project Management Institute (PMI) launched a new Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. In the following article, we will answer the questions we are most frequently asked.

Why did PMI change the PMP® exam?

Every 3 to 5 years PMI conducts a global market research study.  The last study was carried out in 2015 and produced several trends in the profession previously unaddressed in the PMP® exam. The conclusions were reflected in the new PMP® Examination Content Outline (ECO), which contains the main description and content of the exam questions.

In addition to changing the exam, PMI has also changed their Registered Education Provider (REP) Program. Moving forward, this program is now called Authorized Training Partner (ATP) Program and only ATPs can deliver the Authorized PMP® Exam Prep to prepare individuals to sit for the new PMP® exam.


What changed on the PMP® exam?

The new PMP® Exam Content Outline (ECO) includes two changes that have significantly impacted the exam.

  1. PMP Exam Format
  2. PMP Exam Content

Let’s take a closer look at how these changes will impact learners looking to attain their PMP certification in 2021 and beyond.

PMP Exam Format

The 2015 version of the exam consisted of 200 multiple choice questions. The questions were formula based, situational, and knowledge based. The new PMP® exam version contains 180 questions combining multiple choice, multiple response, matching, hotspot, and fill in the blank.

About 50% of the examination questions will represent predictive project management approaches and the other 50% will consider agile or hybrid approaches.

While studying for the PMP exam, be sure to review the Agile Practice guide to prepare for questions about both agile and hybrid approaches.

PMP Exam Content

The biggest changes that learners can expect when studying for the exam lies within the exam’s content.

While the previous exam’s content focused on the specific stages of managing a project — initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing — the new exam focuses on broader topics such as people, process, and business environment.

Within each of the three domains, the exam content lists “Tasks” and “Enablers”.

Domain - a knowledge area (not to be confused with the knowledge areas of the PMBOK® Guide!)
Tasks - list of tasks that project leaders should master in this area
Enablers - examples of the work associated with the task

Enablers were added in this current version and provide a good orientation of the new content.

A project manager’s job is forever progressing.

The new PMP exam is a clear reflection of the changing occupational demands and will focus on three primary domains.

  • People - emphasizing the skills and activities associated with effectively leading a project team
  • Process - reinforcing the technical aspects of managing a project
  • Business Environment - highlighting the connection between projects and organization strategy


Learn more about the new exam by reviewing the updated exam content outline (ECO) below—available in different languages.

A project manager’s job is forever progressing.

Will there be a new version of the PMBOK® Guide for the exam?

First, the exam will still be based upon PMBOK® Guide - 6th Edition. However, the PMP® Exam is not a PMBOK® Guide only exam, there are several differences between the new PMP® ECO and the current PMBOK® Guide meaning that you need to review other references as well.

PMI provides a list of the main references online. Click here to view the complete PMP Exam reference list.

Second, the PMBOK® Guide - 7th Edition will be available in 2021 (no defined release date yet), but the new exam will start on January 2021 with the PMBOK® Guide - Sixth Edition as a reference.