New PMP Exam Pilot Option Analysis Guide: Find Out If This Is For You!

New PMP Exam pilot option in 2020 - in-depth analysis guide to decide whether this is for youPMI announced the new PMP® exam pilot option – a chance for exam aspirants to taste the new flavor of the exam before it is served to the public mid 2020.

Earlier this year PMI made changes to exam syllabus, and then moved the implementation date from December 2019 to July 2020.

Main 2 changes, in a nutshell are –

  • About 50% syllabus covers Agile/Adaptive/Hybrid approach and 50% covers Predictive approach.
  • The exam is covered under 3 domains: People, Processes, and Business Environment, instead of earlier 5 domains fashioned along the Process groups.

Project Management Institute (PMI) has opened up it’s doors to the NEW exam BEFORE it becomes available to the general public from 1 July 2020.

Now, the question is – do you want to take the new PMP® exam pilot option?

By the end of this article you will have enough information to answer this question yourself.

I have a fun pop quiz for you at the end of this article, plus, a surprisingly easy way to get to your PMP goal.

Get a cuppa hot coffee and let’s get started.

And oh, please help a friend or colleague preparing for PMP® test: tweet below, or click a social share button for your favorite social network platform –

New PMP® Exam Pilot Option Analysis Guide: Determine If This Is For You! Click to Tweet

Here’s what we will cover in this in-depth PMP® exam pilot option offered by PMI –

Do you want the good news first and bad news?

I knew you’d like to hear the bad news first. 🙂

Bad news: This pilot exam option is open to just 600 people around the world, and is conducted in English language only.

With this pilot option the PMI is looking to get a good representation from all countries across the globe. Which means that there is certainly going to be a cap on how many they will accept from each region.

So, this also means that you can only show your interest to take up the pilot, and whether or not you are allowed to take it is determined by PMI’s team.

And the good news?

Good news: You get a discount on your exam fee AND you can take the exam again for FREE if you failed the pilot.

Yes, only one free retake attempt.

Moreover, you get a 20% discount on the exam fee.

Exam fee rebate (in USD) –

  • PMI members: $81 off on $405 exam fee.
  • Non-PMI members: $111 off on $555 exam fee.

And your results will be shared to you in May 2020, not before that.

If you are a Clint Eastwood movie fan, you know that after Good and Bad, there must be Ugly.

In this case, the ugly news is that –

There is no single place to find the new (Agile/Hybrid coverage) content – which makes for about 50% of exam syllabus. Instead there is a bunch of BOOKS that PMI suggests as reference material.

Essentially, you got to study PMBOK and 9 more books (more on this in a second)!

You might be thinking that current PMP® exam study book authors and course authors would have the content ready for this pilot exam.

Considering that new PMP® exam pilot is conducted from 9 March to 20 March 2020 – the chances of consolidated and comprehensive study material that truly serves the pilot exam being available, at least by January 2020, is very unlikely.

How do you opt in for new PMP® exam pilot?

You have the option to opt into pilot program while paying the examination fee –

how to opt into PMP new exam pilot option

Image courtesy: PMI FAQ page

Before we go ahead and analyze the facts that help you determine if you want to take up new PMP® exam pilot option….


Wow! I didn’t mean to scream (all caps). But I must draw your attention to something here that may have a bearing on your decision.

Going by PMI’s announcement, here is what I surmise, and let me say upfront that I could be wrong here.

  1. All pilot participants are eligible for a re-take of the exam at no cost.
  2. PMP® candidates can choose to participate in the pilot when they pay for their exam.
  3. Pilot participants will not receive a pass/fail score immediately after taking the exam but will receive their results in May 2020.

The above statements are from PMI’s pilot program announcement page.

The candidate will indicate her interest to take the pilot exam while paying the exam fee. PMI will choose 600 people from all the pilot applications it receives around the globe, based on some geographical representation logic (timeline for this is not clear yet). The FAQ page also says that PMI may discontinue pilot sign-up once 600 individuals have registered. Looks like first-in-first-serve, but then it is unclear how this ensures global representation.

Bottom line: if you want to opt in, apply ASAP.

This allocation and announcement could be done by PMI on a particular date or as and how the applications come in (which seems a likely scenario) – this is also not clear yet.

The lucky ones get to take the exam between 9 March and 20 March.

The candidate that takes the pilot exam will not know their result till May 2020 (about 2 months after the exam, give or take few days). As we know now, if she fails then she can retake the exam again for free.

Remember, the new exam goes live on 1 July 2020.

After the announcement of pilot test results the candidate has about 6 weeks of time before the new exam begins.

What is not clear as of now, is whether the failed candidate can retake the exam for free on the CURRENT syllabus (before 1 July 2020) or they must opt for the NEW syllabus (on or after 1 July 2020).

My guess is: the free retake is available only on the NEW exam.

Also, if there IS an option to retake exam on current syllabus, consider this fact: majority of the PMP® exam aspirants will be looking to pass the exam before the new syllabus kicks in. Hence the likelihood of a test slot availability at PearsonVUE could be thin during those 6 weeks.

Watch this space, I will update as things become clearer.

The Syllabus?

As you rightly guessed, the new version of ECO document – Examination Content Outline – written in June-2019, is the syllabus for the pilot exam.

‘Is this for me?’ – Let us analyze.

Let us see who might want to take up pilot, which should help you decide whether you want to opt for it.

There are 3 factors that majorly influence and impact the PMP (in no particular order of importance) –

  1. Study resources
  2. Time
  3. Cost

Let us see how pilot will impact each of these, and based on which of these factor(s) are of priority for you, you can decide whether or not to apply for the pilot.

Study resources –

The study resources available currently (used for the current exam format) makes for 50% of new PMP® exam content. There are a bunch of Agile & Hybrid based resources to study for the remaining 50%.

When it comes to mock tests, there may not be simulators (even if some trainers claim to have) that can truly predict the kind of questions PMI will have on the exam. PMI itself has been trying out these using the 25 non-scoring questions it includes in every PMP® test it administers.

Like we saw earlier, PMI suggests 10 reference books for the pilot test (2 of which are PMI published and available as a PMI member) –

  1. Agile Practice Guide
    Author: Project Management Institute
    Publisher: Project Management Institute
  2. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 6th Edition
    Author: Project Management Institute
    Publisher: Project Management Institute
  3. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling
    Author: Harold Kerzner
    Publisher: Wiley
  4. Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Hybrid
    Author: Robert K. Wysocki
    Publisher: Wiley
  5. Fundamentals of Technology Project Management, 2nd Edition
    Author: Colleen Garton with Erika McCulloch
    Publisher: MC Press
  6. Project Managers Portable Handbook, 3rd Edition
    Author: David Cleland and Lewis Ireland
    Publisher: McGraw-Hill
  7. Information Technology Project Management, 7th Edition
    Author: Kathy Schwalbe
    Publisher: Cengage Learning
  8. Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process
    Author: Kenneth S. Rubin
    Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  9. Project Management: The Managerial Process
    Author: Erik Larson
    Publisher: McGraw-Hill
  10. The Project Management Tool Kit: 100 Tips and Techniques for Getting the Job Done Right
    Author: Tom Kendrick
    Publisher: AMACOM

Which brings us to the second component,

Time –

Considering the pilot exam window begins 9 March and runs for 12 days, you need to start pretty much right away, even before PMI tells you whether or not you are selected for the pilot test.

Going over 10 reference books takes time, so you need lot of time to prepare for this pilot.

Essentially the new exam is about reading up TWICE the content for same result – passing the exam by answering 200 questions in 4 hrs.

As it is, people find it hard to pass PMP® with so many top class study resources. On top of it if you were to prepare for Agile/Hybrid methodology – that too from a bunch of books and not from a consolidated study resource – it is going to be quite a challenge.

I’m not discouraging you here, but putting the facts on the table. This could be an opportunity in guise of a challenge, if you are up to it. I know one of my students, Joe, is up for it!

Having said this, if you already are PMI-ACP certified or preparing for it, or if you have been an Agile practitioner – then you have a good chance of covering the ground faster.

Cost –

PMI recommends 10 books for the exam. Barring PMBOK guide (which you get by becoming PMI’s member), there are 8 books.

A rough back-of-the-google-envelop calculation comes to about $270-$300 for these books.

With this you can do the math now: membership fee + study resources fee + exam fee – rebate = about $800-$900.

Please help a friend or colleague preparing for PMP test, share this page.

In Essence,

PMP® exam pilot option is an exciting challenge but I’m sure you may still have some questions. PMI has put together a FAQ page to answer some.

As you can see the ECO document here is for the new exam. PMI is basically trying to get a feel of how the world is going to react to the new syllabus.

If you have been studying for PMP® Exam, here is a pop quiz for you – Which Risk Management strategy is PMI applying here?

Hint: It would be one of these 5 – Escalate, Avoid, Transfer, Mitigate, Accept

Let me know in the Comments below. 🙂

This also seems to be the first time PMP® is going to have some overlap with PMI-ACP® syllabus.

Now, PMP® exam pilot option seems to be suitable for those that are already working in Agile/Hybrid projects already, can dedicate at least 3-4 hours per day of study time from now till March second week, and can spend about $800 (including membership, exam fee, and study resources fee).

If you are up for a challenge, have time and aptitude to dwell in some uncertainty, at the possibility of an awesome victory at the end of roller coaster ride, this sure is a good opportunity to take up.

What do you think, are you going to take up the PMP® exam pilot test?

Let me  know your thoughts in the Comments below.

“Well, I don’t think the pilot is for me. In fact, I want to pass before the new exam kicks in.”

‘Smart Decision’, I would say.


Let us face it. New exam has 50% content covering Predictive approach, and 50% covering Agile/Hybrid. So technically it is close to twice the amount of material to study.

Well, little less than that actually, but you get the idea.

Here Is #PMPb4NewExam Challenge!

(Psst.. you are the first one to know this. I haven’t yet announced publicly yet.)

Here is how you and me work together to get you PMP® certification –

  1. Use my PM Exam Last Mile prep program – the complete brain-friendly course (gives you 35-hr contact education certificate as well), in addition to the PMBOK reference guide. Sign up today at a 50% Christmas & New Year discount!
  2. Connect me on LinkedIn and tell me you joined this course. You get to be part of my exclusive coaching group today.
  3. Join the Student Support group (you’ll get the link inside the course) that is focused to help you every day till you pass the exam.
  4. Use the two trackable plans from the Last Mile study program (pick the 7-week plan or 11-week plan) – flexible enough to adjust for any time frame you are planning for.
  5. Steadily work as per the study plan, keep talking to me, and get support from the group – 3 solid pillars needed for your exam success – and pass the exam!

PMP new exam pilot optionYes, If you haven’t yet applied for the exam, I will work with you for exam application preparation and submission on You will know how to collect raw data and prepare in a way that PMI expects so your application is not rejected.

The surefire strategy to pass PMP® exam is –

  1. Choose study resources that you enjoy learning from
  2. Come up with a good milestone-based study plan that suits your daily schedule
  3. Get a support group and/or mentor for bouncing off ideas, nudging, guidance, and course-correction
  4. Study every day hitting milestones till you reach the goal

You get all these aspects of the study strategy in PM Exam Last Mile Prep program.

Pass the PMP® exam in the current format and avoid some headache and possibly heartache, take this brain-friendly program and pass the exam with my help (this discount is for limited days) >>

Get 50% discount on PMP Last Mile Prep program.

Watch the video version of this article

Let us make 2020 a year to remember, for many successes.. starting with the day you get to add 3 letters after your name: PMP.

Happy studying!

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Dhandapani December 25, 2019, 8:17 am


    • Shiv Shenoy December 27, 2019, 7:12 pm

      Good try. 🙂
      ‘Escalate’ is a risk management strategy where the decision is passed up to a higher level to take action. Here students are taking the test and providing some feedback on the quality of questions (and more I guess) to PMI. So it has to be something other than Escalate. 🙂

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