What is the passing score for the PMP exam?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by PMP aspirants on blogs and forums. Everybody has their own answer; however, if you are asking me what the passing score for the PMP certification exam is, then my answer is: nobody knows except the PMI.
Until November 30th, 2005, the passing score for the PMP exam was 61%. This means one had to answer at least 106 questions out of 175 scorable questions correctly to pass the exam.
Please note that the exam consists of 200 questions, of which 25 questions are pretest questions whose results are not added to the score. These questions are tested to validate the exam pattern for future tests.
However, after November 30th, 2005, the PMI stopped publishing the passing percentage; therefore, now nobody knows what the passing percentage is. However, I still see on many forums and sites that the passing percentage is 61%. It seems that they are still dreaming of 2005.
Don’t trust them, as this information is outdated and should be updated to reflect the current status.
In fact, the PMI has introduced many changes to the way it decide to pass a candidate. In July 2005, the PMI changed the passing score to 81%; consequently the passing percentage of the professionals dropped drastically. So they changed it back to 61%. Moreover, in the exam test result report, professionals were able to see their percentage in each domain.
Then in 2007, PMI again changed the format of the exam results. They removed the percentage and started giving the proficiency level for each domain; i.e. whether you are proficient, moderately proficient or below proficient.
However, the percentage for passing the exam was not made clear.
So if you want to pass the exam, I suggest you aim for more than 70% (140 questions out of 200), because 81% is too high. Additionally, since August 2011 the PMI has made little changes to the PMP examination and people coming out from the exam think that it was quite hard. It seems to me that either the passing score or the difficulty level of the PMP certification exam might have gone up.
Note that I am saying that you should try and achieve more than140 questions out of 200 questions, because you do not know which question is a pretest question and which is not. So it would be better for you if you assume all 200 questions are scorable.
Also keep in mind that the passing score for every professional is different, which is determined by a psychometric analysis.
According to the PMI,
“The passing score for all PMI credential examinations is determined by sound psychometric analysis. PMI uses subject matter experts from across the globe to help establish a point at which each candidate should pass the examination(s) and the examination point of difficulty. Data that shows how candidates actually performed is cross referenced with the subject matter experts to ensure that the point of difficulty on each examination is healthy.”
From the above paragraph it is clear that the passing score for each professional is different and depends on the set of questions they receive. In other words, you can say that each aspirant will receive a unique set of questions and their passing score will depend on their responses to the questions.
You will get a higher score if you answer harder question and a lower mark for answering easier questions. Simply put, harder questions are worth more than the easier questions.
So if a candidate receives a difficult set of questions, their passing score may be lower than the candidate who receives a set of easier question. However, I believe that there will not be much difference in the difficulty levels of the exam for professionals.
Proficiency Level Required to Pass the Exam
As you know, now the PMI shows the performance in three levels: proficient, moderately proficient, and below proficient.
In this case as well there is no clear answer on what combination of proficiency levels can lead to an overall pass result. However, here I can give my observations which are based on a review of many test result reports.
- If you get proficient in five domains, there is no doubt you have passed.
- If you get moderately proficient in all domains, you have passed.
- If you get proficient in three domains and below proficient in two domains, it is very likely that you will pass the exam.
- If you get proficient in four domains and below proficient in one domain, it is very likely that you will pass the exam.
- If you get moderately proficient in four domains and below proficient in one domain, you may pass.
- If you get below proficient in three domains, regardless of the result in the other three domains, the most likely result will be a fail.
- If you get moderately proficient in three domains and below proficient in two domains, it is very likely that you will fail the exam.
- If you get below proficient in more than three domains, the most likely result will be a fail.
(Please note that the above points are just my observations and you can see exceptions to these cases. However, in that case please let me know so I can update it.)
Nobody knows the passing score for the PMP exam except the PMI. Additionally, the passing score for every PMP aspirant is not the same; it depends on the questions they received during the exam. The passing percentage may vary slightly due to this reason. Although there is no way to discover the passing percentage for the PMP exam, I would suggest you to prepare to achieve more than 70%. I believe if you cross this threshold, you will most likely see the congratulatory message once you complete the exam.
Please note again that the PMP passing score is a mystery and is known only to the PMI. In this blog post I have given you my observations based on my knowledge. I do not take responsibility for the correctness and reliability of the data and information given in this blog post. Do your own due diligence before reaching any conclusion.
PS: I request you post your PMP exam test results here in the comment box so that others can see and understand it better.