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PMP Exam Pass Rate

PMP Exam Pass Rate – Is 61% PMP Passing Score Correct?9 min. read

Before going into the details of the PMP Exam pass rate, let’s briefly define what PMP is. PMP is one of the most important and valuable certifications for the project management profession. It is an industry-recognized certification for people working in the project management field. PMP certification may give you a higher salary than those without the PMP certification. Thanks to the PMP certification, you can understand and communicate the global language of project management with the other professionals. It gives you the opportunity to connect with the community of professionals, organizations and expert worldwide.

PMI seeks some PMP eligibility requirements from PMP candidates. PMP candidates should satisfy PMI’s PMP certification requirements. Once you satisfied the PMP exam requirements, you can apply for the PMP exam. Compared to other certifications, PMP is harder to obtain and to pass the exam you have to be more prepared. In this blog, we will describe all the aspects of the PMP Exam Pass Rate.

PMP Exam Pass Rate


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Various Aspects of the PMP Exam Pass Rate

Before answering the question about the aspects of the PMP pass rate, one thing must be kept in mind: PMI doesn’t include much information about PMP exam pass rate. Here is a list of things that PMI never disclose about PMP exam pass rate:

  1. The criteria related to PMP exam pass rate.
  2.  The details of people passing the exam in the first attempt.
  3. How many questions will you get from which PMBOK knowledge areas
  4. If the exam questions are random or get selected according to your answers.

PMI does not disclose any data or information on the PMP exam pass rate for attempting the exam for the first time / first try. You can only make informed guesses from the statistics of PMP training organizations and study groups.

What is the PMP passing score?

Here is what the PMI says about the PMP passing score:

“The PMP passing score for all PMI credential examinations 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. Each scored question in 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 in the report.”

In short, there is no official exact answer related to PMP passing score from PMI. It is not possible to state a fixed PMP passing score that will help you pass the PMP exam. The difficulty level of the questions you get will make a change. Two candidates won’t get the same set of questions. Hence, it makes sense that the PMP passing score also varies. An exam with easy questions will have a higher PMP passing score than an exam with relatively more difficult questions. Furthermore, each question does not carry equal weight. Hence, it becomes even more difficult to estimate how much you need to score to reach the PMP passing score.

PMP Exam Pattern vs PMP Exam Pass Rate

There is a total of 200 multiple choice questions in the PMP exam.  You can get a score for only 175 questions. The 25 questions are pretest questions, which will not add to your PMP exam pass rate. These questions are experimental in nature, which are tested to check the validity in the future examinations. They are scattered across the examination. Therefore, it is not possible to identify which questions are experimental and which are not. You will have to handle all the questions with equal importance.

As we mentioned, PMP exam has 200 questions, however, 25 of these are not scored and used for quality improvement purposes by PMI. Since you do not know which these 25 unscored questions are, you must answer each question seriously during your PMP exam. We recommend each PMP aspirant to schedule their PMP exam if they can score over 70% with PMP sample questions or from a PMP exam simulator.

The exam schedule is 4 hours. There are no scheduled breaks during the exam. You can still take breaks, but this break time will be deducted from the 4 hours. The exam begins with a tutorial and it is followed by a survey. You might take about 15 minutes to complete. However, this time excludes from the total 4 hours.

These questions come from the PMBOK specification and PMP Code of Ethics. There are 5 project management process groups in which you have to show your proficiency.

PMP passing score

As per PMI, the table below shows the percentage of questions from each of the domain areas:

Domain % of Questions
Initiation 13
Planning 24
Executing 31
Monitoring and Controlling 25
Closing 7
Total 100

History of PMP Exam Passing Rate

  1. PMBOK Guide, 3rd Edition was introduced in 2004. In July 2005, PMP exam was changed in order to be aligned with PMBOK Guide, the 3rd Edition. PMI increased the passing percentage to a staggering 81% during the same period. With the increase in the PMP exam passing rate, the percentage of candidates clearing the exam in the first attempt decreased dramatically. PMI reacted quickly and dropped the PMP exam passing rate to a more reachable 61% in December 2005.
  2. Until 2006, the PMP Handbook clearly specified 61% as the PMP exam passing rate, but afterwards, PMI stopped revealing the exact PMP exam passing rate, even though, they continued to provide the domain-wise percentage on their score reports.
  3. The next big change happened at the end of 2007. This was the time when PMI changed the diagnostic results presented in the PMP exam score reports. Instead of percentages related to the domains, PMI started using global best practices in examination administration by using proficiency levels. So now PMI provides proficiency levels like Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient by domain, instead of a numerical PMP exam pass rate percentage scored in each domain.

Below are some top myths regarding the PMP exam pass rate:

1.  Is the PMP exam pass rate 61 %?

There is no information regarding this. As we have mentioned, the last time PMI published a PMP exam pass rate was in 2005. Since PMP is a psychometric test, the PMP exam pass rate depends on the kind of questions you get. If you get easier questions, then the PMP exam pass rate will likely be higher. On the other hand, if you get more difficult ones, the PMP exam pass score could be lower.

2. Can someone fail if they get ‘Below proficient’ level in any domain? 

This is not true. PMP looks at someone’s overall PMP exam performance on the test for all domains not at one single area. Also, the weighting of questions in each of these areas might vary greatly. Hence, even if you get a below proficient level in one domain, it doesn’t automatically mean you failed. But, if you do poorly in those sections which have a higher weightage in questions, there is a bigger chance you might not reach the PMP exam pass rate.

3. Is the same weighting applicable to all the questions?

The weighting for all the questions is not the same. As the PMP exam pass rate differs based on the kind of questions you get, the difficult questions will have more weightage than the easier ones. The best way to build your sense of understanding about what is difficult and what is easy is through practicing a lot of sample questions.

4. Is there only one single PMP exam pass rate score for everybody?

There is no clear information regarding this. It is similar to the myth of the PMP exam pass rate score being 61%. As such, this is also not true. As the difficulty level of the questions will vary and as different questions will carry unequal weighting, a single PMP exam pass rate doesn’t apply to all the candidates. Some students may get 55% percentage and pass. Some others may score 65% and still not be able to reach the PMP exam pass rate.

PMP Exam Pass Rate

When do you know the PMP Examination Report?

For the Computer-Based Test, you will know the result once you complete the exam. The Prometric test center where you took the exam will give you an “official” sealed copy (computer print-out) of your test result. In addition to the overall pass or fail status, important diagnostic information on your performance is provided for each domain.

For the Paper-Based Test, You will not receive the exam report the day of the exam. It will take six or eight weeks before you get the result. You will be able to access your exam report on the online certification system approximately six to eight weeks after completion of the exam.

The information mentioned in the PMP Exam Score Report

The PMP Exam Score Report contains:

  • Overall Test Result: Pass or Fail.
  • The performance information domain-wise :
    • Proficient
    • Moderately Proficient
    • Below Proficient

Note: The PMP Exam Report does not show your actual score or even percentage score.

How can we analyze overall pass result based on proficiency levels?

There is no clear information on what combination of proficiency levels can lead to an overall pass result. However, we can derive the below observations based on analysis of various test result reports:

  • When you get proficient in five domains, there is no doubt you have reached the PMP exam pass rate.
  • If you get moderately proficient in all domains, you may have reached the PMP exam pass rate.
  • When you get proficient in three domains, and below proficient in two domains, it is a big probability that you will pass the exam.
  • When you get moderately proficient in four domains and below proficient in one domain, then most probably that you will pass.
  • If you get below proficient in three domains, regardless of your result in the other three domains, the most likely result will be that you won’t be able to reach the PMP exam pass rate.
  • When 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, you will not reach the PMP exam pass rate most likely.
PMP Exam Pass Rate
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