Changes in the new PMP 2021 examinations

After decades, the form, structure and content of PMP exams are changing!

The most popular and demanding certification of the Project Management Institute is changing. Read briefly what is going to happen from January 2, 2021 onwards.

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New Exam Content Outline for the PMP 2021 certification exams


In May 2020, Project Management Institute (PMI) changed the content of the Project Management Professional (PMP) examination creating a new Examination Content Outline (ECO) . The ECO is defines the syllabus of the PMP certification exam, and the changes were significant:


  • Content is now organized into 3 Domains: People, Process, Business Environment . 42% of the questions will be from People Domain, 50% of the questions will be from Process Domain and 8% of the questions will be from Business Environment Domain.

  • For each Domain, a number of Tasks are defined for which the project manager will be responsible. There are 14 tasks for People domain, 17 tasks for Process domain and 4 tasks for Business Environment Domain.

  • Each Task is supported by a number of Enablers (activities) . The Exam Content Outline describes some activities for each task, but emphasizes that what it describes is only indicative and that many more can be used for the needs of each project!

As an example of the above we can mention that one of the tasks of the People domain is "Manage Conflict", which is supported by 3 enablers: "interpret the source and stage of the conflict", "analyze the context for the conflict "," evaluate / recommend / reconcile the appropriate conflict resolution solution ". Of course, the project manager can use any other enabler to help them complete the corresponding task!


Also, although the Exam Content Outline does not mention them, for each enabler the project manager must know the appropriate tools, have the appropriate knowledge and know which deliverables to create!


Finally, it is important to note that approximately 50% of the questions will refer to the agile approach to projects , which means that candidates should have a full understanding of the concepts and mentality of agile!


New questions format for the PMP 2021 certifiaction exams

Apart from the material itself, there are big changes in the form of the exam! More specifically:


  • There will be 180 questions instead of the current 200 . But again, 175 questions will be graded, since the rest will be pre-test ones (although the candidate will not know which are the ones that don't count!).

  • You will have 230 minutes to complete the exam. The examination currently lasts 4 hours.

  • You can take up to two 10-minute breaks.

  • The most important change in the exam is that the questions will not only be multiple choice ones with 4 options as they are now, but there will be a combination of multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot and limited fill- in-the-blank!

    • multiple choice : one correct answer from a number of options (usually 4)

    • multiple response : from none to all correct answers from a number of options

    • matching : each selection from a column is combined with a choice from a second column. Can be done via drag-and-drop

    • hotspot : participants calculate specific data and update it interactively on a chart

    • fill-in the blank : participants fill in the blank on the corresponding diagram

It is clear that these are particularly important changes, after decades in which the only form of examination was multiple choice!


The changes, along with some examples from the new question format, are listed in the corresponding update page for changes in the PMP 2021 exams, on the PMI site.