What is the PMP Passing Score?
To understand the PMP PAssing score, we need to look at the PMP exam format, the recent changes, PMP Reference Material, PMP ECO and the way PMI evaluates the PMP exam results, and lastly, the new announcement by PMI on the PMP Exam process change. Let us start:
The PMP Exam Format
- Computer-Based Testing (CBT): The PMP exam is administered in a computer-based testing format, meaning that candidates take the exam on a computer at a Pearson VUE testing center or through online proctored testing.
- Number of Questions: The PMP exam typically consists of 180 questions. Among these, 175 questions are scored, and 5 are pre-test questions used for research purposes. Pre-test questions are not scored, and candidates do not know which questions are pre-test questions.
- Question Types: The exam includes a mix of question types, including multiple-choice questions (choose one correct answer from multiple options) and situational questions that require candidates to apply their project management knowledge and experience to real-world scenarios.
- Duration: Candidates are given a total of 230 minutes (3 hours and 50 minutes) to complete the exam.
- Testing Centers: If taken at a Pearson VUE testing center, the exam is typically administered in a controlled and proctored environment. Candidates need to schedule their exam in advance and take it at the designated test center.
- Online Proctored Testing: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PMI introduced the option for online proctored testing. Candidates can take the PMP exam from the comfort of their own homes, provided they meet the technical and environmental requirements and adhere to specific rules and regulations.
- Passing Score: PMI does not publicly disclose the passing score or percentage for the PMP exam. Instead, the pass/fail result is determined by comparing a candidate’s performance to a predetermined standard. The specific passing score may vary depending on the difficulty of the questions presented to each candidate. We discuss more on this later in this article.
- Content Domains: The PMP exam content is organized into a set of domains that correspond to the Project Management Professional Examination Content Outline. The domains represent the key areas of project management knowledge and practice, and questions on the exam are distributed across these domains. The PMP exam is divided into three domains:
- Domain 1: People (42%)
- Domain 2: Process (50%)
- Domain 3: Business Environment (8%)
Understanding the PMP Exam Format
The PMP exam consists of 180 questions, 15 of which are pre-test questions whose results are not added to your final score.
What are the Pre-Test questions in the PMP exam?
These PMP exam questions are included to validate the exam pattern for future tests.
What types of questions are in the PMP exam?
Before 2021, the PMP exam used to have multiple-choice questions with a single response.
After January 2, 2021, the PMI added many other question types like:
- Multiple choice with multiple responses,
- Fill in the blanks, and
- Mix and Match and
- Hotspot questions.
The PMP exam is more diverse now.
What is the Passing Score of the PMP exam?
The passing score for the PMP exam is not disclosed by PMI. PMI publishes some of the exam guidelines. We know that each PMP question is rated on difficulty level.
If you get more difficult questions, your passing percentage requirement bar will decrease – since you have many difficult questions.
If you get a set with easier questions, you need to score higher as the questions are easy to answer.
Still – I want to know how many questions should I get right to pass the PMP Exam
Let’s do the math. 180 – 15 questions are 165 questions (Taking the pre-test question out of the calculation as these 15 pre-test questions do not get added in the final PMP results).
Out of 165 questions, you should get around 80% of the questions right to pass. That would lead us to the following conclusion:
You should get at least 132 questions right out of a total of 180 questions. This translate to roughly a passing percentage of 70%
A Brief History of PMP Passing Score Changes
- 2014: PMI introduced changes to the PMP exam content outline with alterations in the domains tested. The PMBOK version used was the 5th Edition, and the pass percentage was not disclosed. Scoring was based on three categories: Proficient, Moderately Proficient, and Below Proficient. The exam consisted of 200 questions and had a time limit of 4 hours. The number of pre-test questions was not disclosed, and the rating system used these categories.
- 2015: PMI introduced the PMI Talent Triangle, which emphasized a balanced combination of technical, leadership, and business skills. The PMBOK version remained the 5th Edition, and the pass percentage was not disclosed. Scoring followed the same method as in 2014. The exam format and time limits remained the same.
- 2018: Major changes occurred in the PMP exam, transitioning to a domain structure: Initiating, Planning, and Executing; Monitoring and Controlling; and Closing. The PMBOK version was updated to the 6th Edition, and the pass percentage remained undisclosed. The number of pre-test questions was 25 Pre-Test questions, and the rating system continued to use proficiency levels.
- 2020: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PMI introduced online proctored testing, allowing candidates to take the exam from the comfort of their own homes. The PMBOK version remained the 6th Edition, and the pass percentage was not disclosed. Scoring and exam format remained the same as in 2018.
The Current PMP Exam format
2021 marked a major update to the PMP exam content outline. PMI aligned the PMP exam with Hybrid and Agile Methodologies. The PMBOK version version changed to 7th Edition, However this time PMI released a statement that the PMBOK would not be the only reference material for the PMP exam. The reference material included Agile standard and other Project Management books. and the pass percentage was not disclosed. what made this change more complex was that PMI changed their PMP ATP policy and started distributing their own compiled material for the PMP exam through a platform called lochoice. Only PMI authorised ATP could get that student reference material for the PMP exam. The exam is based on 2021 ECO and you are tested on three domains – People, Process and Business Environment.
The rating used by PMI to assess the domain knowledge is as follows:
You know more than required to do your job as a Project Manager. (Pass)
You know sufficient – (Pass)
You need to learn (Fail)
You really need to start afresh (Fail)
A combination of domain wise rating will determine if you have passed the PMP exam or failed in it.
The 3 PMP Domain as per ECO
- People 42%
- Process 50%
- Business Environment 8%
So by looking at the percentages of the questions from each domain, you would know that if someone gets below target in Process Domain that may mean that person may fail in the PMP exam.
On the other hand if someone scores Above Target in People and Process and scores Below Target in Business Environment, May Pass the PMP Exam
Below target and Needs improvement in more than two domains may result in failing the PMP exam.
Nowadays PMI publishes a very comprehensive result sheet to all exam takers so that they can evaluate their competency in domain, tasks, and enablers.
You can download PMP ECO here:
Below target and Needs improvement in more than two domains may result in failing the PMP exam. Ensure that you get Above Target in People and Process – that should help you pass the PMP exam.
The PMP results are comprehensive, and the user can see their competency in domain, tasks, and enablers.
You can download PMP ECO here:
So, what are we saying?
Summary – What are we saying?
Prepare well for the PMP exam. Understand all their domains – People, Process, and Business Environment. Do more practice tests. In full-length practice tests – try and get more than 80%. Focus more on People and Processes – Get Clarity – do many questions.
With all this – you should be able to pass the PMP exam in the current scenario.
Yes – You can do it. Pass PMP in 21 Days with PMP Test Prep Kit. This contains Study capsules – to help you understand the concepts and day wise tests with topics and reference materials links. You can also buy the PMI-authorized student material if needed for any ATP.
Lastly, the PMP Test Prep Kit contains a 21-day Prep Plan, which can be customized as per your availability, and 7 full-length simulation tests. These tests are updated regularly and contain PMI-cloned questions.
What is PMI-cloned questions?
PMI released These practice questions for its premier ATPs so their students can practice the authorized tests and pass the exam.
The New PMP Exam Process Change
Each PMP attempt is now physiologically evaluated by experts to see if someone is cheating. The physio evaluation is a process where various checks are done to:
- Candidates will be notified that their responses have been sent to PMI, and they will receive exam results via email within five (5) business days.
- Enhanced data forensics will classify misconduct as a security failure, leading to score cancellation.
- Candidates with security failures can only retake the exam in person (CBT) at their own expense.
- Security failures will count as one of the candidate’s three PMP® exam attempts allowed within a single eligibility period.
- Why is this happening?
The Context for this change
PMI has found that many people are involved in a scam to give 100% pass guarantees to participants, and they are offering illegitimate services like:
You cheated, or someone else attempted the exam on your behalf.
To catch such types of occurrences and ensure that PMP credential holders have the authenticity of knowing their domain, it was very important for PMI to take some actions, and hence, you saw the new Sept 2023 PMP exam process change announcement by PMI.
See more on this here in my earlier post: