Passing Score for the PMP Examination c

The PMP certification is widely recognized in project management and most professionals have or wish to earn it.

Attaining the PMP certification is not an easy process. You have to accomplish many other tasks before you can take a computer-based test.

Once you pass this test, you can start using the “PMP” title with your name and signature.

This blog post we will discuss, in detail, the PMP exam passing score, including the history of it, some myths around it, and then the current situation.

What is the passing score for the PMP exam?

Since you are going to attempt the PMP exam, you must be thinking about the passing score.

In fact, this is one of the most frequently asked questions by PMP aspirants on blogs and forums. Everybody has his or her own idea of what a passing score is. However, if you are asking me, my answer is: nobody knows except the PMI.

At one time, the PMP passing score was open knowledge but now it is a closely guarded secret.

Before we proceed further, please note that the exam consists of 200 questions, 25 of which are pretest questions whose results are not added to your final score. These questions are included to validate the exam pattern for future tests.

A Brief History of PMP Passing Score Changes

The PMP passing score was 61% until November 30, 2005, meaning 106 correct answers out of 175 scorable questions got you certification.

The PMI changed the passing score to 81% in July 2005. Consequently, the number of professionals succeeding dropped drastically. After a few days, the PMI reverted the passing percentage to 61% and showed scores for each domain in the exam result reports.

However, after 2005, the PMI stopped publishing the passing percentage, so no one knows what the new number is. That has not stopped many forums and sites from posting 61% as if it is still the confirmed number.

The PMI changed the format of the exam results again in 2007. The percentage was removed, and replaced with proficiency levels for each domain: proficient, moderately proficient, or below proficient.

Again, in August 2017, the report card format was changed. It now shows the target level for each domain: Above Target, Target, Below Target and Needs Improvement.

However, they still do not reveal the passing score for the PMP exam.

As you can see, there were many changes to the PMP exam report format, and it is clear that no one knows the current passing score.

Passing Score for the PMP Exam

Now, what should you aim for on your PMP exam?

If you want to pass the exam, I suggest you to aim for more than 70% or140 questions out of 200. Additionally, in March 2018, the PMI migrated the exam to the PMBOK Guide, sixth edition, and candidates came out of the test complaining that it was too hard. It seems to me that either the passing score or the difficulty level might have gone up.

Also, don’t be distracted by the pretest questions. You should try to answer more than 140 questions correctly, because you do not know which questions are pre-test and which are not. Therefore, assume all 200 questions are scorable.

A Few Rumors About the PMP Exam Passing Score

Since the PMP certification is highly in-demand for project professionals and the passing score is secret, naturally, there will be many rumors about the passing score.

Let’s clear up some of those rumors here.

Rumor #1: The PMP Passing Score is Fixed

Many professional think that the passing score for the PMP exam is fixed for everyone.

This is not true. The passing score for the PMP exam is different for every professional who takes the test, and it 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 evident that the passing score depends on the set of questions received.

Rumor #2: Every Question Carries the Same Weight

Harder questions are worth more than easier questions. Therefore, if a candidate receives a more difficult set of questions; their passing score may be lower than the candidate who receives an easier set.

Each question is weighted on its level of toughness.

Rumor #3:  Getting the Below Target Level in any Domain Means you Will Fail Overall

This is another misconception. I have seen many tests result reports with even two Below Target and the exam takers passed.

Please read the next section for more details on this.

Target Level Required to Pass the PMP Exam

Current test result reports show four performance levels: Above Target, Target, Below Target, and Needs Improvement.

There is no clear answer on what combination of performance levels results in an overall pass. However, these are my observations based on my review of several reports.

  • If you get Above Target in five domains, there is no doubt you have passed.
  • If you get Target in all domains, you have passed.
  • If you get any combination of Above Target and Target, you have passed.
  • If you get Needs Improvement or Below Target in all domains, you have failed.
  • If you get any combination of Below Target and Needs Improvement, you have most likely failed.
  • If you have two Above Target, two Target and one Below Target or Needs Improvement, you will most likely pass the exam.

I do not have enough data to make any further conclusions. However, if you have more than two Needs Improvement and one Below Target or two Below Target and one Needs Improvement, there is a low chance that you will pass the exam.

The above observations are based on my interactions with a few PMP exam takers and do not represent all cases. If you know of any exceptions, please let me know so I can update this information.

Summary

The PMP passing score is a mystery and only the PMI knows it. Therefore, you should not worry too much about the exact percentage. A passing score depends on the questions received during the exam. Although there is no way to know the passing percentage for the PMP exam, I advise you aim for more than 70%. I believe, if you can cross this threshold, you are most likely to see a congratulatory message.

Prepare well before you attempt the exam.

Have you attempted the PMP exam? What was your score and what do you feel your passing score might have been? Please share in the comments section.

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 provided in this blog post. Do your due diligence before reaching any conclusion.

PMP Question Bank

This is the most popular Question Bank for the PMP Exam. To date, this PMP Question Bank has helped over 10,000 PMP aspirants pass the PMP exam. 

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Speak Your Mind

  • Hello,
    I took my PMP exam on 5/16/20, I studied hard, I studied Rita book two times and practice it questions, but I fail the exam, I got two Target one below target and two needs improvement, I think that I answered up to 70% correct , what is your advice in for next time exam.
    Thanks

  • Hi,
    I have been working in the industry for 4 years now. I work in a PPM tool as a developer but would like to move into project planning.
    I am still trying to understand if I shall go for CAPM or PMP, any suggestions are heartily welcome.

    Best Regards

  • I am scheduled for my 3rd opportunity to pass the PMP Exam. I wish I had sought this encouragement on the first two tries. I feel like my “test anxiety” gets the best of me and I completely overthink the situational questions. Do you think it would help if I request an audio aid?

    • To solve situation based question, think you are working in a very big project and everything should be done as PMI says.

      Reading at least two PMP exam reference books will help you understand the PMP concepts.

  • Hi Fahad,

    I am writing PMP exam next week, can you please share some sample questions for me to practise and also if there is any formula guide which i can look at

    Thanks

    • Focus on whatever you have studied. Regarding the formula based questions, you can refer my blog posts on evm concepts.

  • Hi, Fahad –
    I have taken the exam and not passed with the following results:
    Initiating – MP
    Planning – BP
    Executing – BP
    Monitoring and Controlling – BP
    Closing – MP
    I have been studying the following: PMP exam guide by Joseph Phillips and taken the practice exam the book offers as well as several practice tests such as PMP Genius, the free ones online such as Head First Labs from O’Reilly, PM Exam Simulator, and Oliver Lehmann. I have already signed up to retake the end of April and wanted some advice on other formats of study or to just focus on what I’m already studying. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

  • How correctly to prepare to the CAPM exam? I fail my first attempt, now I’m feeling stressed about passing again. Who has an experience in it? May be someone can give tricks of required guides?
    Thanks!

    • Sorry to know that you have failed in the CAPM exam.

      Please post in details about your preparation so I can analyze it and advice you accordingly.

  • Dear Mr. Fahad,
    Yesterday, I cleared my PMP exam in first attempt with following
    Initiation: Moderately Proficient
    Planning: Moderately Proficient
    Execution: Moderately Proficient
    M&C: Moderately Proficient
    Close: Moderately Proficient
    Thanks for your on line notes. I went through you EVM, Formula Guides and Question Banks. All helped.

    Regards,
    Rupam

  • Hello Fahad,
    i have scheduled my PMP exam on 2/11. I am reading and taking mock test as much as 200 Questions a day from various sources.My indicator is stuck between 74 and 80 , no matter what i read or get ready with cannot cross 80. What will be your last tips for 5 days left to exam.
    Latest was PM study where i got 74, before that was the exam-wizard where average was 80.
    appreciate for suggestions in advance.

    • 1) Don’t look for any new resource.

      2) Revise whatever you have studied.

      3) Take enough rest before the exam.

      4) Reach center at least half hour before the schedule time.

      Good luck.

      • Whoohooo i just cleared the PMP exam today. Below are my score
        Initiation – Moderately Proficient
        Planning – Proficient
        Execution – Moderately Proficient
        M&C- Moderately Proficient
        Close – Moderately Proficient
        Passed the exam.

        To be honest i will say that you have be absolutely understanding the fundamentals for all the 47 processes and not only memorize the ITTO but also understand in what situation you will use which tool.
        About half way down i was like will i make it or not, but i took a small break, and refreshed my mind and built confidence.
        You need to back your self with the study you have done and not get into the wordy game of the long questions.

        For long questions , i tried the trick that read the last line of the question before you start reading the full question, and then start reading the options from the bottom. Helped me a lot.

        In the last week, all i read was an overview of Rita’s guide. The incorrect question answers that i wrote down while i was taking several of the online mock tests.

        and Yes Fahad, i didn’t tried to give me brain to load extra in the last week , which actually helped me focus on the preparation and notes i prepared along.

        Happy to pass on the first trail.

  • Hello All,

    I am preparing for my PMP from PMBOK 5th Edition. Please let me know whether it will be sufficient to pass the exam with good score. I have 8 years of experience in the IT field.

    Thanks!

  • I gave my 1st attempt recently and I failed with results shown below:

    Initiating: MP
    Planning: MP
    Executing: BP
    M&C: BP
    Closing: BP

    I read Rita Mulchay once fully and have practice tests from her book and practiced more question from a question bank book that I bought from amazon. Revised and reviewed the concepts again from Rita. I am now worried and seeking for right guidance and advise!

    Please share resources and suggest other ways that worked out well.

  • I passed with self study! I read the book twice, practiced mapping out the knowledge area inputs & outputs, and took around 10 practice exams. I was very surprised at how many situational questions there were. 3-5 sentence contextual paragraph with the question of “What would be the next step for the PM to solve this scenario?”. My advice would be to take as many practice exams as possible and study the logic on why the answers were correct.

    Initiating – Moderately Proficient
    Planning -Proficient
    Execution -Moderately Proficient
    Monitoring and Control -Proficient
    Close -Below Proficient

    • I passed the exam 1st try myself yesterday, but it wasn’t pretty. My situation was somewhat unique, in that I’ve developed some commercial real estate, and in fact “managed” those projects from start to finish, but did it backwards without any formal PM training or education. A bit later in life, I’ve gone back to school to pursue a graduate degree in Construction Mgmt. Part of our curriculum last semester was an Advanced Project Management Course. And, although the course was not designed to prepare one for the PMP Exam, it was quite robust. That said, after the end of the semester, I studied intensely for 2 weeks daily (probably not enough), and my profile looked like this:

      My graduate course in PM included the PmBok 5th Edition, as well as two other texts. I obviously ready all of that, but did not focus on the PmBok, as I had no intention of sitting for the PMP, initially, until our instructor encouraged us towards the end. There were weekly PmBok Quizzes to familiarize us with the platform, but they were woefully inadequate to prepare us for the PMP. Don’t get me wrong – the course was great, it simply was designed to teach Advanced PM, not prepare students for the PMP. All of that said, my exam prep looked like this after completing the graduate course:

      Andy Crowe’s Exam Prep Book. Read through it thoroughly, created flash cards for ITTO’s, took all chapter end quizzes, including the 200 Question Practice Test at the end. Score: 82. Reviewed all incorrect answers in book in Crowe and cross-referenced/reviewed in PmBok.

      I took Oliver Lehmann’s 75 Q freebie after completing Crowe Book (scored 77.3), and took the PMStudy’s 200 Q online freebie exam and scored exactly 75 (per their readiness recommendation). That’s it. Now the hard truth: I barely passed with a BP in Initiating and MP in all other Process Groups.

      I don’t write this post to encourage others to study so minimally, although it didn’t feel minimal to me…..I literally studied for 8 hrs/day for two weeks. However, I’m here to tell you that’s not quite enough to be confidently prepared. Since I had a break from school and work, I was able to attack a daily grind, which I think helped with flow and retention, but most other folks don’t have that luxury and it simply takes longer to prepare adequately. While I would have loved to score higher, as I have higher academic expectations than “the minimum pass” for myself, I only had so much time to prepare after the semester during a short break (we have a screwy 12 week semester system), and had to work with what I had. Preparing for this exam once back in grad school full-time was not an option.

      Now for the exam itself. While I’ve seen one or two guys online boast of its easiness, most others have said it’s tough. It IS tough. The questions are long, obscure, and in many cases, boil down to two “correct” answers; you have to search the questions carefully for key words that will help you lean towards the correct answer, but in the end, understanding ITTO’s is what will guide you most.

      There was very little math and calculations, but knowing all of the formulas and doing the brain dump was key for me. There was nothing on PAT on my exam, but several calcs on communication channels (easy), one tricky one on EMV, several fairly easy Critical Path/Float scenarios, and quite a few on straight-forward questions on Earned Value. There were a few PERT questions, Standard Deviation Calcs, Variance calcs, etc., but if you memorize the formulas and dump them, that part’s a breeze.

      So the rest of it was just tough….the math part was easiest for me. Formulas are simple and easy to remember, and questions are easy except the one on Expected Monetary Value. While the formula there is simple, the question was worded so ridiculously that you had no flippin’ idea what they were asking and I was forced to make a WAG.

      Now to the big question, ITTO’s. Some say you don’t need to memorize them, which is true, cause I didn’t. However, a strong working knowledge of them, especially in the heavily weighted ares of planning, executing and control, is essential. About 90% of the exam required you to know processes, inputs, outputs, tools/techniques to be able to answer the questions – period. While I think it’s a stretch to say that one “should” memorize ITTO’s to be prepared, to not focus heavily on them, or at least have a sound understanding of how things flow will spell difficulty.

      I passed by the skin of my teeth, but would have ideally had at least 2 more weeks to re-read/study the PmBok again at least once, and then reviewed Crowe again, along with a few more practice exams, which are in fact very helpful. My .02.

  • Hi,
    I have taken PMP exam yesterday, my score is initiation -Proficient
    Planning -Moderately Proficient
    Execution -Moderately Proficient
    Monitoring and Control -Proficient
    Close -Proficient
    Passed the exam.

    I have used only pmbok 5 th edition book and PM Prepcast course and PM Prepcast simulators for my exam preparation as reference.

    Thanks
    John

  • Hi just took PMP exam and passed. Wanted to share results for informational purposes.

    Initiating – below proficient
    Planning – below proficient
    Executing – moderately proficient
    Monitor/control – moderately proficient
    Closing – below proficient

    Was surprised (but very happy) I passed. Maybe this will be helpful for others that will take the test or have taken it and come close.

    • Congratulations Mark on passing the PMP exam.

      This is the first time I am seeing some passing with three below proficient grade.

  • Hi, I just passed the test a couple of days ago. It is Sept and I started studying in May with two online PMP prep courses through the local college. Then, I ordered Rita Mulcahy’s book and went through it once. Then went through again and took all the exercises and tests again. She really prepares you how to read the questions carefully in order to answer right. THEN I downloaded PMP pocket prep and did those tests. I also did Oliver Lehmann’s free online test. I basically went crazy the last month studying at least 3 hours every day. I did not reread the PMBOK again since I had covered those during the PM Prep classes.

    I worried and worried (since I couldn’t break 75% on any of the practice question mock tests – Online and on my App) But what I can say is to make sure you are confident on the “what would you do best/next” scenarios.

    I passed with
    Initiation: MP
    Planning: P
    Executing: MP
    MC: P
    Closing: MP

  • Hi Fahad..I am planning for PMP this year. Can you please share the required study material which you think will be sufficient to take the exam.

  • Thank you for the explainations and practical examples. I am studying PMP from an online course.Hope to be ready to take the exam in February 2016.

  • Hi,

    I had taken my exam for PMP in 2012 but unfortunately not cleared it. My application was accepted without any audit.

    Now I want to retake the exam. I’ve paid the membership fees and renewed it.

    Do i again need to refill the application form to take the exam or would paying the fees and selecting the date suffice?

    Also do i need to take care that the form that I fill is actually containing the same data that I filled in the last time.

    Your comments would be of much help as I was not able to get clear information in the PMP Handbook.

    Thanks,

    Dev

    • Since it is more than one year, you need to apply for the exam again. Your new data should be consistence with the old information supplied to PMI.

  • Hi All,

    I have scheduled my PMP exam on 28th June, 2013. When I log in to the PMI website, the current status is shown as schedule for exam.
    I have already scheduled the exam. Is there anything else that I should do? Can I go and give the exam on 28th June.

  • PMI is the most respected, and recognized management standards institute in the world.

    If you are ready to be PMP then enter the exam…

  • Dear All,
    If you are trusting PMI then it’s your mistake, PMI is the most respected, and recognized management standards institute in the world.
    But I belive that most of the people who would like to get the PMP are not meeting the eligibility requirements and trying to pass the exam in any way.
    To get the PMP you must be professional project manager and have experince in project management field.
    pass Score is not an issue, the most important is to be ready for the PMP Exam
    So ARE YOU READY FOR PMP?
    If yes go ahead, if no DO NOT TRY

  • i am planning to appear within 3 weeks time for the PMP exam. I have been using Rita's book and also PMbok for my study. For Q&A, i am using free exam simulation sites. My question is – purely from a 'difficulty' scale, where you would like to place real PMP exam questions ? Are they at par with what we see in exam simulation websites OR they are at par with questions in Rita's book OR they are even more difficult ? Can you please respond.
    thanks

    • As per 'difficulty' scale, I think Rita's simulation software and uCertify's simulation software are very close to the real exam. If you try any of these then I don't think you'll have any problem in passing the PMP Exam. Exam is not as tough as many people think.
      Hope it helps.

    • chiran, i just passed on 28th may, blv u me, its very very difficult so prepare accordingly or you are back to square one for the 2nd attempt!

      • Congratulations!It will be great if you post your lesson learned at lesson learned section so that others could get help from your experience.Thank you and welcome to the family.Sent from my iPhone

        • I think you have to understand the PMP
          contend and be able to apply it in real world. The exam is 4 hours and 30 minutes which seems like a lot of time, but given the complexity and length of the questions it is not a lot of time.
          Take your time to prepare for the exam and do the exam simulations. I passed my PMP at first attempt and this was my recipe for success.

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