As a PMP certification exam aspirant, your dream is to pass it on the first attempt. And for that, you aspire to know the exam’s passing score and how it is calculated. You want to equip yourself with PMI’s method of marking to prepare accordingly.
Currently, PMI has not officially declared what the passing score of the PMP exam would be. However, it used to be around 61% a long time back. So, whether PMI has chosen to award a certificate based on minimum passing marks or percentage is not disclosed.
A grading system is followed where candidates are graded on a four-point scale for three PMP exam domains. But how this grading system works is still a mystery.
Despite this suspense, there are a few key aspects that I will cover here depending on the historical data that will assist you in understanding how the passing score might be calculated in the current scenario.
What is the PMP Exam Passing Score?
It is one of the most widely asked questions by PMP exam aspirants online. No one can give the exact answer to this question except PMI. A few years back, it was known to everyone, but now PMP exam passing score is not disclosed by PMI.
There are 180 questions in the exam, out of which 5 are pretests whose score is not added to your final score. However, you should attempt each question ideally.
Earlier before 2021, only multiple-choice questions were asked in the examination. However, since January 2021, the PMI has included more question types.
- Multiple-choice questions with more than one correct answer
- Fill in the blanks
- Answer selection
In other words, the exam is getting tougher day by day.
A Brief History of PMP Passing Score Changes
PMP Exam Passing Score in 2022
PMI (Project Management Institute) has not disclosed the exact passing score for the PMP exam.
A quote from PMP Handbook:
“The passing score for all PMI exams is determined by sound psychometric analysis. PMI uses subject matter experts – project professionals from around the world and many different disciplines – to help determine how many questions you must answer correctly to pass the exam. Each scored question on the exam is worth one point; and your final score is calculated by totalling the points you have earned on the exam.”
What does this quote mean?
It means every candidate will get a different set of questions and therefore cannot have the same score.
You must have understood why there is no standard passing score for the exam. As every candidate receives a different question set, some might get more straightforward questions than others. So, it will be unfair to set the same passing score for everyone. Hence, PMI uses psychometric analysis to calculate each candidate’s final score to ensure fairness while declaring passing exam scores.
The 180 questions in the exam fall across three different domains:
- People (42%)
- Process (50%)
- Business environment (8%)
Grading System for PMP Exam Results
PMP exam results are given on a score report that grades you across three exam domains. The grading is done on a four-point scale and is referred to as performance rating categories.
These categories are:
Above Target: You score above the minimum requirements for the exam.
Target: Your score meets the minimum requirements for the exam.
Below Target: Your score is a little below target and does not meet the passing criterion for the exam. You need to put in more effort before you appear for re-examination.
Needs Improvement: Your score is far below target and does not meet the minimum passing requirements for the exam. You need to put in a lot of effort if you wish to appear for re-examination.
PMP Exam Passing Score in 2020
It was similar to the present scoring system. The only difference was that there were five exam domains, namely:
- Initiation (13%)
- Planning (24%)
- Executing (30%)
- Monitoring and controlling (25%)
- Closing (8%)
PMP Exam Score till 2007
Till 2007 the passing score was well-defined by the PMI.
In 2005, it was 68.5%. There were 175 total questions, out of which you have to get 120 answers right.
After that, the pass percentage increased from 68.5% to 80.57%. You have to answer 141 questions correctly out of 175 to pass the exam.
In the early half of 2007, the passing score was 60.5%. You need to answer 106 questions correctly to clear the exam.
By the end of 2007, PMI removed the passing score details. Now there was no definite score for passing. Instead, the markings were done based on the proficiency level system.
The proficiency level system consisted of three levels:
Proficient: Indicates above-average performance.
Moderately proficient: Indicates average level performance.
Below proficient: Indicates below-average level performance. This grading system continues till 2018, with more focus on proficiency out of the three rating categories. Also, a 3 point scale was used for evaluation compared to the 4 point scale used now.
What Score Percentage is enough to pass the PMP exam?
If you want to pass the PMP exam, you should aim to score at least more than 70% or 126 correct questions out of 180. In 2021 new exam outline has been introduced by PMI that includes Agile and adoptive project management. Several candidates have shared their exam experiences, according to which they found the exam to be a bit difficult. The reason can be any, PMI might have increased the difficulty level, or the PMP exam passing score has gone up.
Also, do not ever try to differentiate between the pretest and the real questions. Try to answer as many questions correctly as if all 180 questions were marked.
Myths about the PMP Exam Passing Score
PMP is an in-demand certification aimed at project management professionals. Also, the passing score has been kept a secret by PMI. So, rumors about it are bound to circulate.
Let us now look at some of the myths associated with this exam.
Myth #1: PMP Exam Passing Score is Fixed
There has been an assumption that the passing score is the same. However, it is not valid. All the professionals who take the exam are marked differently. This theory is based on psychometric analysis.
According to the PMI: “The passing score for all PMI exams is determined by sound psychometric analysis. PMI uses subject matter experts – project professionals from around the world and many different disciplines – to determine how many questions you must answer correctly to pass the exam.”
The above statement by PMI proves that your passing score will be determined by the kind of questions you receive.
Myth #2: Every Question Carries a Different Weight
In the past, many assumed that each question carries a different weightage. But, according to the latest PMP handbook, all doubts have been cleared. It clearly states that every question carries a single mark.
According to the PMI, “Each scored question on the exam is worth one point, and your final score is calculated by totalling the points you have earned on the exam. The number of questions you answer correctly places you within one of the performance rating categories you see on this report.”
Myth #3: Failing to Score in one Domain will Result in Overall Failure
It is another misconception associated with the PMP exam passing score. Several test results show one domain score below the target, yet the candidate passed the exam.
You might pass the PMP exam if you score ‘above target’ in the remaining two domains. However, if you score ‘below target’ for one domain and ‘on target’ for another, you might not clear the exam.
The Final Words You must have understood thorough preparation is the only key to a good score in the PMP exam. Only PMI knows about the scoring mechanism as it depends on the kind of questions each candidate gets during the exam. So you should not worry about PMP exam passing score but practice regularly to clear your concepts and build a solid foundation.
However, you should aim for more than a 70% mark to increase your chances of passing the exam.
Here I have shared information from my opinion. It is always advised to check the latest trends forecasted by PMI by visiting their official site.
So if you have attempted the PMP exam or are planning to do so, share your thoughts in the comments below.