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July 1, 2020’s PMP® Exam Changes

The Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam has changed several times in the past twenty-five years, and it is making another – far more dramatic – change soon. Anyone who has been thinking of taking the exam might want to act now, while the target is clear and exam prep resources are abundant.

The new exam, which goes live on July 1, 2020, contains the biggest changes the exam has ever experienced. Traditionally, candidates for the exam could look to the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide, or PMBOK) as the primary source for topics that would appear on the exam. This is no longer the case.

The revised exam, according to PMI, “is evolving, just like the profession.” The biggest change is a greater emphasis on Agile. In fact, approximately 50% of the exam content covers Agile topics. That’s a major reason why the current PMBOK is insufficient as the only source of study for the exam.

What drives these changes?

Before any exam change, PMI sponsors a role delineation study, an analysis of the typical responsibilities of a project manager. This is the method for keeping the PMP a relevant certification. In the most recent study, apparently, a large group of the project managers surveyed were using Agile principles and frameworks. Enough so, that the exam moved to cover Agile topics even more than it has in the past.


How should you respond to these changes?

For current PMP’s, there are no announced changes. For project leaders with sufficient experience (4500 hours of project management responsibility over three years*), this might be the time to dig in, study, and pass the exam. Why? Every author and training firm that provides PMP® Exam Preparation resources is dialed in on the current exam. While many of these firms are using the new Exam Content Outline to update their resources, they are responding to the biggest change in the exam’s history, so it will be more difficult to get it right.


What if you wait?

Eventually the exam preparation resources will catch up to the new exam. PMI has already listed some exam study resources that address the new exam content. Find out for yourself about the changes to the exam by referring to the PMI website.

*Read about the requirements to apply to sit for the examination.


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Written by Eric Verzuh

Eric Verzuh, PMP, earned his PMP in 1992. He is the author of the bestselling Fast Forward MBA in Project Management and the PMP® Deep Dive, a better, faster, and more fun exam prep program. You can contact Eric via email at EVerzuh@VersatileCompany.com.

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1 Comment
  1. PMI is swinging the pendulum to its extremity with adding 50% of content to PMBOK (incl. its Agile Practice Guide) and exam, because their own PMI research has found that only 30% of ALL projects are Agile in nature (falling in the ‘adaptive project management’ category): 70% are in the ‘predictive project management’ category and will always stay predictive. For example a cloud scraper will NEVER be built in an Agile way: “Do we have the finances/commitment for another sprint to built the next floor?”

    When will the pendulum come back to its middle ground? When is PMI going to come to its senses?

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