Whats new in PMP 2021


PMPProject Management Institute stands by its responsibility of creating Project Managers who stay ahead of the time and to achieve that they conduct a thorough research every three to five years to understand the changing aspects of the project management profession and evolving responsibilities of the nextgeneration project managers. From one such research, a new PMP Examination Content Outline was publicized in June 2019 and based on that, the new PMP exam format will be applicable for 2021.

Few important changes are applied to the PMP certification examination, on the 2021 exam format. There is a major revamp of content and structure of the exam. As mentioned in the new PMP exam content outline (aka ECO), Project Management Institute conducted a research study into emerging trends for the project management certification online professions called as Global Practice Analysis. The major objective was to understand various job tasks and associated methodologies recurrently, extensively used by the people in the industry. The report of this study resulted in knowledge and some additional focused skills required to practice as project management professional. Hence the PMP exam is getting changed to reflect these practices.

Based on the research of PMI through the current project management jobs, today’s project management practitioners work in a variety of project environments and utilize different project approaches. Accordingly, the PMP certification will be reflective of this and will incorporate approaches across the value delivery spectrum.

PMP 2020 Vs 2021

New Exam Content Outline

The revised Examination Content Outline (aka ECO) is the basis for the PMP exam from 2021. As the revised ECO is covering agile and hybrid approaches, it is important to have real-world experience in managing such projects.

NEW EXAM CONTENT OUTLINEIn order to maintain this relevance, Project Management Institute uses effective processes such as Role Delineation Study (RDS) or Job Task Analysis (JTA) as the basis for the creation of the examination. This guarantees that the PMP examination effectively measures all dimensions, or the skills and experiences required to succeed as a project manager in a real-world setup.

If you happen to be a project manager, then you must have the real-world experience in managing agile and hybrid projects. About 50% of the questions will come from predictive (same as in current version) project management and the other half will come from agile and hybrid practices (Will be elaborated later in this article).

Number of Questions

The new exam consists of 180 questions (the previous exam was 200), but the same number of questions will be scored (Around 175). The candidate has 230 minutes to complete the exam.One additional break for a total of two 10-minute breaks for computer-based tests. No scheduled breaks for paper-based exams.

Exam Format

Question types

With the 2021 format of the PMIPMP examination some new question types gotintroduced which are different from the existing MCQ (multiple choice questions) format having four options and candidates selecting the most correct answer.

The new design of questions includes drag-and-drop and selecting correct matching graphical representation (hotspot/graph or chart) to the given scenario or vice versa. This addition is for analysing the interpretation and representation technique, the capability of the professional.



Based on theirstudy and analysis, PMI published a revised Examination Content Outline in June 2019. It is important to note that this new outline is NOT based on the PMBOK Guide 6th edition. Instead, it is based on the critical tasks and activities involved in leading and directing the projects in the current industry context.

In this new revision, PMI has introduced quite a large number of changes to the PMP examination content. In the 2015 revision of ECO, there were five domains. These were also called process groups. In the 2019 revision of ECO, there are three domains.

Project Management Professional exam is moving ahead from the existing domains of ‘initiating, planning, executing, monitoring&controlling and closing to the new exam content outline based on three new domains namely People, Process, and Business environment. You canobservethat these new domains are aligned more closely with the PMI Talent Triangle sections namely: Technical Project Management, Leadership, and Business and Strategic work.

PMI is moving away from alignment of the exam with the PMBOK process groups and will be moving to alignment with the more generic People, Process and Business Environment domain categories.

Summary of changes

Content that spans the value spectrum, including predictive, agile and hybrid approaches, will be included across the three exam domains.At the first level, there are three domains. Each domain has several Tasks and each Task and multiple enablers.

Within these domains, the questions will be based on Tasks (what Project Managers do) and Enablers (actions needed to accomplish the tasks). Different industry requires different flavours of project management practices. The business environment realm tests common concepts and does not get into any particulars around project types. The new ECO simplifies the format and makes it easier to understand and interpret.

Domain Weightage

Domain Weightage

Here are pie charts comparing the domains and their weightage in the old and new PMP exam formats.

Predictive Vs. Adaptive

From a high-level view, you see the number of domains and tasks got reduced when compared to the earlier version of the Exam Content Outline. However, it is not about the number reduction. The fact is, PMI has increased the scope of the examination with this revision by covering the aspects beyond traditional boundaries. In recent years project management environment has evolved and new approaches such as agile are more commonly used.

MethodologyPMI’s Global Practice Analysis identified that agile as well as hybrid (Predictive +Agile) life cycle approach is increasingly used in the industry. Tocover this, the new exam content covers the complete value delivery spectrum: Predictive, Hybrid, and Agile approaches. The consideration of agile concepts and increased focus on the people domain of projects represent a significant change. Standard approaches towards conflict management, servant leadership, and periodical reviews like retrospectives etc. will now be a regular part of the PMP exam which were previously part of the PMI-ACP certification exam.

About half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches. Predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches will be found throughout the three-domain areas listed above and are not isolated to any domain or task.


On 31 December 2020, the PMI Authorized Training Partner Program replaced the Register Education Provider (R.E.P.) Program in all regions except China.However, PMI changed this program, and the new name for the program is ATP. Education providers who are offering training for PMI certification exams apply for being an ATP (Authorized Training Provider). There are certain requirements for being a PMI ATP.

PMI reviews the ATP applications and conducts continuous reviews for the upcoming years when the renewal time comes. Courses of PMI ATP training providers are defined on PMI database so that during your certification exam application, you can select which training you enrolled in easily.


To conclude, there is no question that the new PMP 2021 exam, will be more challenging than the previous PMP exam because of more scope and more question types covered in the new exam.

The candidate not only you haveto prepare processes like the previous exam, but also there is a much greater emphasis on agile and people skills as well as how your project should adapt to environmental changes.

The current PMBOK 6 Guide is focused primarily on the processes, and not enough coverage on the people and environment domain areas for the new Exam Content Outline.  You will need to read the Agile Practice Guide and supplement your study with a quality exam simulator will become crucial in passing the new exam.


Techcanvass is an IT certifications training Organization. It is a PMI Authorized Training Provider (ATP) and IIBA Endorsed Education Provider (EEP).

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