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Posted by on Jul 1, 2015

The PMP® Exam Is Changing – Update

The PMP® Exam Is Changing – Update

PMP ExamIn May, we told you about how the PMP Exam is changing effective November 2, 2015 to align with the annual PMP® Role Delineation Study (RDS) conducted in March 2015, which updated the description of the project management professional role. As a result of the study, exam content and qualification criteria is being updated to reflect the current status of the profession. Previously I focused primarily on describing the changes to the performance domains and the domain tasks which have now been finalized in the PMI® PMP® Examination Content Outline, dated June 2015.

This update will address the percentage of exam questions that will come from each domain, and provide you with the domain-specific and cross-cutting knowledge and skills required to perform the tasks associated with the five domains.

Domain Question Percentages

The table below provides the percentage of questions from each domain area. The percentages are consistent with other exams. The content has changed, but the exam format stays the same – 200 questions, of which 175 questions are scored and 25 are not. The 25 non-scored questions are randomly dispersed through the exam.


Domain Percentage of Items on 2015/New Exam Percentage of Items on 2011/Current Exam
I. Initiating 13% 13%
II. Planning 24% 24%
III. Executing 31% 30%
IV. Monitoring and Controlling 25% 25%
V. Closing 7% 8%
Total 100% 100%


Domain and Task Knowledge and Skills

There have been significant changes in the knowledge and skills for five of the domains. Below I’ve noted the current knowledge and skills for each domain with those tested in the revised exam. There are some new knowledge and skills and some of the current ones have been deleted. In addition, the RDS also lists several cross-cutting knowledge and skills that are applicable to all domains.

Some of the key changes in the domain areas are below. For a side-by-side comparison of the content outline changes click here.

Domain 1: Initiating the Project – The new exam has five domain-specific knowledge and skills compared to the six in the current exam. The change appears to be focusing more on understanding the overall benefits and strategic importance of projects and less on more generally applied areas such as stakeholder and risk management. Two of the five are new or modified, and three from the current exam (2011) were deleted.

Domain 2: Planning the Project – The new exam has 17 domain-specific knowledge and skills compared to the 13 in the current exam. Much of this has remained the same. Besides common planning practices, there is an emphasis on a generalized approach to cost and schedule planning, regulations and the environment, as well as lean/efficiency planning, and a reduced emphasis on organizational structures. Six of the 17 in the new exam are new or modified, and two from the current exam were deleted.

Domain 3: Executing the Project – The new exam has seven domain-specific knowledge and skills, compared to the five in the current exam. The biggest change is around contract/vendor management and interdependence among all the project elements, not just the WBS and schedule. Three of the seven are new or modified, and one from the current exam was deleted.

Domain 4: Monitoring and Controlling the Project – The new exam has 10 domain-specific knowledge and skills, compared to the 13 in the current exam. Changes in this domain focus primarily on increased emphasis on quality and process improvement, as well as financial controls. There seems to be a reduced focus on project reporting. Six of the 10 are different, and seven from the 2011 exam were deleted.

Domain 5: Closing – No change in the number of domain-specific knowledge and skills. No significant changes in the overall focus and intent of content. One of the eight is different, and one from the 2011 exam was deleted.

Cross-Cutting Knowledge and Skills – Significant changes have occurred in this area. The new 2015 exam has 39 cross-cutting knowledge and skills; while the current exam has 20. Of these 39, 24 are new and 15 are the same. Five knowledge and skills on the current exam have been deleted; however, several of the deleted ones have been combined and incorporated in to a broader area.

Many of skills related to communication, team management, business acumen, and stakeholder management were moved from specific domains to this cross-cutting area. A couple of interesting items were added this time – the addition of “generational sensitivity and diversity” and the incorporation of “applicable laws and regulations.”

A good thing to remember is that even though the exam content outline has changed and some items have been removed from the outline, they are not likely to be totally removed from the exam. Some of these items have most likely been incorporated into other knowledge and skills or into the broader cross-cutting knowledge and skills.

For example, organizational structures have been removed as a specific knowledge and skill, but are still important from a project management perspective. As a result, this is something that you are likely to find related to PM framework, a general planning concept, or human resources. While any deleted items are not in the exam content outline, they are in the PMBOK® Guide and project management in general.

Don’t Wait to Take the Exam!

Remember, the new exam becomes effective on November 2, 2015. Until then, the current PMP® exam is still in effect. Because of these changes, additional study and preparation may be required, and is certainly suggested, for the new exam. If you have already been studying and preparing to take the exam this year, you still have time to sit for the current exam, and it’s a good idea to try and accelerate your exam preparation and planning to take the exam before November 2. Now is the time to take our renowned PMP® Exam Prep Boot Camp – either in person or virtually. We’re also already working to update the course to align with these new requirements and expect to have it ready to go in a couple of months. Stay tuned!

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