Passing Score for the PMP Examination c

Today we will talk about the PMP passing score.

Every aspirant preparing for the PMP exam has wondered about the PMP exam passing score. I was there and can understand the curiosity of a PMP aspirant. 

Attaining the PMP certification is not an easy process. You have to pass through many processes and finally, attempt the computer-based test. Once you pass this test, you can use the “PMP” title with your name and signature.

In this blog post, we will discuss the PMP exam passing score in 2022, including its history, some myths, and then the current situation.

What is the PMP Exam Passing Score?

This is the most frequently asked question 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 180 questions, 5 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.

Before 2021, the PMP exam used to have multiple-choice questions with a single response, but after January 2, 2021, the PMI has added three more question types:

  1. Multiple choice with multiple responses
  2. Fill in the blanks
  3. Answer selection

Put simply, the exam is tougher now.

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 your 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. Still, many sites and forums claim that 61% is still the PMP exam passing score.

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 have been many changes to the PMP exam report format, and it is clear that no one knows the current passing score.

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

If you want to pass the exam, I suggest you aim for more than 70% or 126 questions out of 180. Additionally, in January 2021, the PMI migrated the exam to the new exam content outline, including Agile and Adoptive project management methodologies. The candidates are complaining that the test is 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 126 questions correctly because you cannot differentiate the pretest questions from the real ones. Therefore, assume all 180 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 rumors here.

Rumor #1: The PMP Passing Score is Fixed

Many professionals assume the PMP passing score is the same for everyone.

This is not true. The passing score for the PMP exam is different for every professional who takes the test, and a psychometric analysis determines this.

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 paragraph shows that the passing score depends on the set of questions received.

Rumor #2: Every Question Carries a Different Weight

Many experts believed this in the past, including me. However, in the latest version of the PMP Handbook, PMI has clarified that each 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 totaling 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.

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

This is another misconception. I have seen many test result reports with one below target, and the exam takers passed.

If you are above target in the other two domains, you will likely pass the PMP exam. But, if you get “on target” for one domain and “below target” for one domain, you may fail the test.

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 we don’t know the passing percentage for the PMP exam, I advise you to aim for over 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 do you feel about your PMP exam score? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

I have given you my observations based on my knowledge. I do not take responsibility for the correctness of any information given in this blog post. Do your due diligence before reaching any conclusion.