What PMP Aspirants should know about the New PMP Exam Syllabus [from 11 Jan 2016]

The good news is: if you own current editions of PMP Exam Prep book or courses, you will also be well prepared for the upcoming changes!

New PMP Exam Syllabus from 2 Nov 2015

PMI has just posted the new PMP Exam Content Outline (which is the equivalent of the exam syllabus for the exam) to be effective from 11 Jan 2016 online. It has included a few changes which will affect aspirants in their exam preparation if they plan to take the exam after 11 Jan 2016.

After an in-depth analysis of the changes, it can be concluded that the changes are considered just “minimal”. If you own current editions of exam prep book or courses, you will also be well prepared for the upcoming changes!

Major publishers of exam prep resources are trying to update their materials, but as seen in most cases, this would just be a few amendments (take the example of Rita’s book…… only 7 changes).

What have NOT been Changed?

  • The current edition of the PMBOK® Guide for the new exam is still the 5th edition meaning that most of the PMP exam reference books on the market (e.g. exam prep by Andy Crowe, Rita, etc.) will still be very useful.
  • There are still 5 domain groups for the PMP Exam:
    1. Initiating the Project
    2. Planning the Project
    3. Executing the Project
    4. Monitoring and Controlling the Project
    5. Closing the Project

The Changes of the New PMP Exam

  • The most notable changes to the PMP Exam are the new tasks added to the 5 domain groups of the exam by putting more emphasis on stakeholders (including managing, engaging and communicating with the stakeholders). The total number of tasks increases from 34 to 42.
    1. Initiating the Project [3 new tasks]
      • Identify key deliverables based on the business requirements, in order to manage customer expectations and direct the achievement of project goals.
      • Conduct benefit analysis with stakeholders (including sponsor, customer, subject matter experts), in order to validate project alignment with organizational strategy and expected business value.
      • Inform stakeholders of the approved project charter, in order to ensure common understanding of the key deliverables, milestones, and their roles and responsibilities.
    2. Planning the Project [1 new tasks]
      • Develop the stakeholder management plan by analyzing needs, interests, and potential impact, in order to effectively manage stakeholders’ expectations and engage them in project decisions.
    3. Executing the Project [2 new tasks]
      • Manage the flow of information by following the communications plan, in order to keep stakeholders engaged and informed.
      • Maintain stakeholder relationships by following the stakeholder management plan, in order to receive continued support and manage expectations.
    4. Monitoring and controlling the Project [2 new tasks]
      • Capture, analyze, and manage lessons learned using lessons learned management techniques, in order to enable continuous improvement.
      • Monitor procurement activities according to the procurement plan, in order to verify compliance with project objectives.
    5. Closing the Project [0 new tasks]


The changes made to the exam this time will not be as “revolutionary” as the PMBOK® Guide is still based on the 5th edition (unlike the PMI-ACP® Exam which will see a major change of its exam syllabus and organization from 15 July 2015). You can be assured that the popular PMP Exam prep materials in use now will stay relevant and useful for the new exam as all of these are based on PMBOK® Guide 5th edition. The changes are more like ‘enhancements’ to the current version of the PMP Exam.

The new questions for the exam is currently being tested by PMP exam takers in 2015 as the “pre-test” questions in their exam papers. It is therefore very useful to read new lessons learned of exam in order to understand the magnitude of the changes. However, from my reading of the lessons learned of many aspirants, the changes to the new exam are not “revolutionary”, aspirants do not find many “novel” questions in their exam paper.

The new PMP Exam will come into practice from 11 January 2016 onwards. Aspirants will be able to sit for the new exam from that day and get the results immediately if they are taking the CBT (computer based tests). Languages aids will also be provided for the new exam beginning from Day 1.

The average PMP aspirants takes around 2 to 3 months to prepare and pass the exam, there is still enough time to get your credential before the switch to the new exam syllabus!

To learn more about PMP Exam and how to prepare for it, please read my lessons learned to get more information and tips  (including FREE study resources).


Appendix: Presentation on new PMP Exam by PMI

Why is the PMP Changing?

  • The Project Management profession continues to evolve over time. In order to reflect the most current practices, the exam syllabus of the PMP Exam must be updated from time to time.
  • Every 3-5 years, PMI carries out  role delineation studies (RDS) for each PMI Certifications to ensure relevancy to the current environments.

What is an RDS?

  • The Role Delineation Study (RDS) examines the role of project managers to determine key competency areas (including domains, tasks, knowledge, skills, etc.)
  • It aims to allow the PMP certification to be validated by the industry.
  • The output of the RDS 2015 is the updated PMP Exam Content Outline which will also mean an updated exam paper.

What is the Exam Content Outline?

  • The Exam Content Outline for the exam can be considered as the syllabus for the exam (there is always a common misunderstanding here: the PMBOK® Guide 5th edition is NOT the syllabus of the PMP Exam, the PMBOK® Guide is just a key reference for the exam)

What was Updated as a Result of the RDS?

  • There are multiple updates for the 2015 Nov 2016 Jan exam:
    • Modification to existing project management tasks
    • A few obsolete tasks were removed
    • Weighting of different areas for the PMP exam has been changed
    • 8 new tasks were added
      • 3 tasks for Initiating Process Group
      • 1 task for Planning Process Group
      • 2 tasks for Executing Process Group
      • 2 tasks for Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

Why was this New Content Included?

  • The new content was added to the exam in order to:
    • focus on business strategy and benefits realization
    • pinpoint the value of lessons learned
    • make clear the responsibility of project charter
    • enhance stakeholder relationships

What do These Changes Really Mean?

  • According to PMI, there are new content topics from these 8 new tasks to be added to the exam.
  • Around 25% of all the exam questions to be found on each exam paper would be added from these new tasks and/or updated to align with the updated PMP content exam outline. (Though the “25%” is a daunting figure hinting that the PMP Exam will undergo great changes on 1 November 2015 January 2016, it can be rest assured that people preparing for the PMP Exam based on the current PMP exam prep materials will only need to “top up” their studies with knowledge of the new 8 tasks – some of which (e.g. stakeholder management plan) has already been included in most PMP Exam prep materials like the PM PrepCast™.)

What’s Not Changes in the PMP Exam?

  • PMP Exam eligibility requirements
    • 4,500 – 7,500 hours of project management working experience; and
    • 35 hours of formal project management education (i.e. 35 contact hours)
  • Overall structure of the PMP Exam
    • 200 questions (175 questions to be scored) in 4 hours
    • All questions are multiple-choice type questions with 1 correct answer
    • Many of the questions are “scenario based questions” (or aka situational questions)

What’s the Difference Between an RDS and PMBOK® Guide Update?

  • RDS Update:
    • Results in new/updated PMP exam content outline
    • Shifts the weighting of the exam
    • Introduces 8 new topics to the exam
  • PMOBK Guide Update:
    • May result in terminology changes (e.g. from PMBOK® Guide 4th edition to PMBOK® Guide 5th edition in 2013)
    • Process groups for project management framework may change
    • Notes: PMBOK® Guide in a reference for the PMP Exam, not the syllabus for the exam

Important Reminders for the New PMP Exam

  • The new exam will be available after 1 November 2015 11 January 2016.
  • The new exam will be based on the new PMP Exam Content Outline dated June 2015
  • All language aids will be available at the same time.
  • Aspirants taking the computer-based exam will be able to get their exam results immediately.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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23 Responses

  1. Sunny says:


    I’ve been preparing for PMP exam for the past few months. First I scheduled the exam in October but changed it to Dec now, my biggest hurdle is confidence to write the exam. I’ve read PMBOK and Rita multiple times. I always like your posts and knowledge you’ve shared with everyone. I took the PMP Training membership lately but found it too easy.. not sure if I’m ready or should I write more and more exams, could you please guide me?

  2. Vipashyana says:

    Hi there, I need some help urgently.

  3. Andrew says:

    Great overview, but I would like to point out that the “Changes to the PMP Exam” is not completely correct. There are 2 new changes to the Monitor and control the Project, while the Closing the Project has no new changes to the list of tasks. See the following as references:


    • Edward Chung says:

      Dear Andrew,

      Sorry for your comment not showing up previously as comments with lots of links would be treated automatically as spams. My bad. Thanks for clarifying the changes.


  4. Sean says:

    Hello Edward,

    Would you be able to answer something for me? I have been beginning to study for my PMP exam. I can see where the 42 tasks come from ( https://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Certifications/pmp-certification-exam-outline.ashx) but I am not sure where they are in the PMBOK(or any of the other books). There is nothing in there that shows the “previous 5 tasks” for Initiating a project. Is this supposed to be a guideline that you follow when managing a project and then you use the ITTO’s in the process groups (ie 4.1 to 13.4)? Are you supposed to look at Task 2, initiating the project and then go into 13.1 and Identify the stakeholders (ect ect that goes along with that).


    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Sean,

      That’s a good question and probably many PMP Aspirants do not know about this.

      The fact is the tasks contained in the PMP Exam Content Outline are not necessarily included in the PMBOK Guide. The PMP Exam is a test for the competency and knowledge of project managers. The Exam would include knowledge from the PMBOK Guide as well as other project management books. That’s why you could not get all the details of the “tasks” from PMBOK Guide.

      To make it simple, if you are “tested” about the sequence of tasks, you would need to follow the PMBOK Guide and not the PMP Exam Content Outline.

      You would ask how the other tasks fit into the Exam, right? Many PMP Exam prep courses / books authors have done the hard work for you. You are highly advised to purchase a PMP Exam prep course and a book to help you out. My choices for my PMP Exam are: the PM PrepCast and Andy Crowe’s PMP Book:

      Hope this helps.

      Wish you PMP success!

  5. George says:

    Hello Edward,

    Thank you for your updates. I have completed studying the exam and was going to do it next week but I remembered the changes and after revewing them, they seem a lot and there many new definitions (knowledge skills) !! Will you have new notes about the new material? And if so when will you publish them? Moreover, if I mainly depend on the studied material without focusing much on the changes what is the chance of passing?


    • Edward Chung says:

      As I learn from most PMP Exam prep materials, the “changes” indeed are just minor updates, e.g. Rita’s http://shop.rmcls.com/multisite_includes/pdfs/misc/PMP_8th_Ed_8th_printing_Updates_English.pdf

      Since the PMP Exam is still based on PMBOK Guide 5th edition, not much changes are indeed expected. I am confident that you can still rely on your study materials to pass the “updated” PMP Exam. As now, I don’t have any plans to update the study notes on my website as they are still very relevant to the new PMP Exam.

      Wait to hear your good news! Wish you PMP success!

      • George says:

        Thank you! But in regards to the new Knowledge and skills for each process, should I know them by searching what they mean on google or there is a link I can use for it?

        Because I am not sure which of them is new terminology and which are completely new editions.


  6. Neeru says:

    Hi Edward,
    Good Day!

    Thanks for the info provided in your blog. I completed my contact hours in March 2015. but could appear for PMP certification just now in Dec’15.
    I am afraid, whether one has to re-do the 35 hrs contact class for new pattern or we are eligible with the same, as acquired earlier.
    Further, may please suggest, if I registered into PMI in Nov’15, until when am I eligible for the re-test?
    Please guide.
    Thanks & Regards

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Neeru,

      Thanks for your message.

      There is absolutely NO need to re-take the contact hours as contact hours gained is valid for life. And the so-called “new” PMP Exam is very similar to the current one except with the additional of a few topics (which have already been included in many of the current PMP Exam prep courses / textbooks).

      You can take re-test up to two times within a year of Nov 15 at any time you like (if you fail the PMP Exam).

      Wish you PMP success!

  7. Cecil says:

    Hi Edward

    Thank you for the information update regarding the new exam. OK, we have to use the same PMBOK v5 but what about the additional subject matter on the new tasks. From where do we get that in order to prepare for the new exam?. I did not find anything on pmi.org. re they that late in providing the subject matter for the new tasks or dod they expect us to just figure out what the details are and how they will be tied to the exam. I am not able to understand how a person can sit on the the 12 for the exam when he/she has no clue about the details to study. Any ideas?

  8. Sumon says:

    Hi Edward! Nice post. Just one minor correction: The total number of tasks increases from 34 to 42 (not 37 to 42): 8 new tasks have been added.
    Now as we know, there are still 47 processes (based on PMBOK 5th edition), how these 42 tasks are related to 47 processes? any mapping? or how should a candidate consider this information for preparing for the exam?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Sumon,
      Thanks a lot for pointing out the typo which is amended.
      Your suggestion on process and task mapping is excellent. I haven’t thought about it before.
      And I personally did not consider the “tasks” during my PMP Exam prep. I based my prep primarily on the structure of the PMBOK Guide.

  9. Deb says:

    Hi Edward! Not sure when exactly this was announced, but it looks like the exam changes planned to take effect on 2 November 2015 have been moved to 11 January 2016 – http://www.pmi.org/certification/exam-changes/pmp.aspx

  10. Edward Chung says:

    Hi Steve,

    I am currently collecting information on the changes to the new PMP Exam and will update my PMP Exam notes to reflect the changes in due course. But be assured that since the PMBOK Guide 5th edition is still the current “core” reference for the PMP Exam, it is expected that most of the references in use nowadays will provide you with 90% or more materials for your PMP preparation.

    After all, the changes in the PMP Exam as outlined above is just minor ones. Thanks!

    Wish you PMP success!

  11. Srteve says:

    Hi Edward
    Any idea where the exam gets it information from for the new RDS changes? They say the PMBOK is only one of many references used…


  12. Sandra Palacios says:

    Hi Edward, thanks for adding all the great PMP EXAM info onto your website and BLOG! I’m hoping to obtain a copy of all the mindmaps, will you please send to me via email: [email protected]? thanks in advance.