What You Need to Know About the New PMP Exam

Last updated: Feb 3, 2020

Update: PMP®️ Exam Change Delayed

The Project Management Institute recently announced that the PMP®️ exam changes will now take place on July 1, 2020. This article has been updated to reflect the new date. 

Project Management Professional is one of eight certifications available through the Project Management Institute (PMI), which identifies itself as “the leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project management profession.” There are two things you should know: 1) PMP certification is a lucrative career enhancer, 2) The test you must pass to earn the PMP certification is now set to get harder on July 1, 2020. Here’s what you need to know about the new PMP exam.

PMP Certification Exam’s Evolution – the Basics

Project management is as old as business, but its recognition as a discrete profession roughly coincides with the founding of PMI in 1969. PMI has spent half a century helping the business world define project management. Here are some basic facts about the certification test and why it is changing:

  • Changes to the PMP exam were announced in June 2019.
  • The update of the test was spurred by and based on research initiated in 2015 to assess and guide the profession.
  • The old exam focuses on five areas of performance. The new exam keys on three: people, process, and business environment.
  • PMI says the new test’s content is a “‘radical’ but extremely valuable departure from all previous exam content outlines.”
  • The new test is scheduled to launch July 1, 2020.

Changes in PMP Exam Raise Questions

Two of the keys to survival in business are the ability to adapt and willingness to learn. The evolution of the PMP test reflects PMI’s embrace of the profession’s evolving skill sets and knowledge. OSP International, a PMI-registered education provider, gives a big-picture view of the exam’s transformation and answers fundamental questions:

What Is the Essence of the Exam’s Transformation?

The old test addresses five project performance domains or groups: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. The new test addresses just three domains.

  • Process: About 70 percent of the old test’s content survives in this domain, which accounts for 50 percent of the new test.
  • People and business environment: These new domains largely feature new content and account, respectively, for 42 percent and 8 percent of the test.

On a more granular level, the exam is said to be harder and longer, and “half of the questions on the new exam will be about agile and hybrid approaches. Therefore, you must have both knowledge and experience of what it’s like to work in these environments.”

What’s the Last Day for Taking the Old Exam?

People preparing for the old test have until June 30, 2020, to take it.

Professional man studying for the PMP exam.

What If I’m Studying to Take the Exam Before It Changes?

According to OSP International, people involved in test prep prior to the change should:

  • Continue their current study program.
  • Use the exam content outline from 2015 as a study guide, along with the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide.
  • Try to schedule the exam soon to avoid the deadline crunch and to give yourself enough time to take it again if need be.

What If I’m Studying Now to Take the Test After It Changes?

  • Use the material your training program provides. Valuable study tools include the content outline of the new exam, the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide, and The Agile Practice Guide.
  • Ensure that your PMP exam preparation program is using updated material.

When Will the PMBOK Guide Be Updated?

PMI’s seventh edition of the PMBOK Guide is scheduled for release in 2023, and the sixth edition will remain the primary study tool until then.

Should I Try to Beat the June 30 Cutoff for Taking the Old Test?

Yes, unless you want to face a greater challenge. The new test will be longer and harder and include a lot of new material. Test prep programs usually take eight to 12 weeks, so plan accordingly.

If you want to complete the test this year, USF St. Petersburg has a PMP Exam Preparation course beginning Sept. 7 and ending Oct. 5. USF Tampa has an exam prep course beginning Oct. 19 and ending Nov. 16. Time frames similar to those would allow you to take the test and pass it or retake it before the end of the year if you fail on the first try.

If you’re hoping to achieve certification before the new test is in place, PMI recommends:

Meeting with employees talking around a conference table.

What Can PMP Certification Mean for Me?

USF’s PMP exam prep course “is intended for project managers, project leads, subject matter experts, team members, business analysts, technical specialists and others interested in the PMP credential, no matter where they are in the process.”

Earning the certificate is proof that you have the professional skill sets and knowledge to succeed in project management.

Beyond the satisfaction of advancing your career, there’s the financial reward. Certification can mean a 25 percent bump in salary. That’s the median range and depends on tenure of PMP certification.

PMP Exam Prep Is Just Part of How USF Helps Professionals and Businesses

USF’s Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education has programs designed to help professionals advance their careers and businesses reach their full potential through training and services tailor-made for them. Contact us if you want to know more about what we can do for you.

As for PMP Exam Preparation, our classes at USF’s Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses keep up with changes in certification programs and are designed for working professionals.

Ready for details about PMP Exam Preparation at USF? See your course options here.