What is the Passing Score of PMP Exam?


passing score for the PMP Exam

Is there a passing score for PMP® exams? The short answer is: NO. The long answer is: PMI would determine your passing score based on the difficulties of the set of PMP® exam questions you have answered. The time-tested way of ensuring a pass in the PMP® Exam is to get at least 75% in quality PMP® Exam Sample Questions (click here for some quality ones).

Perhaps you are worrying about the fact that the PMP® Exam is adopting a NEW syllabus from 12 Jan 2016?
Rest assured that the PMP® Exam changes are considered to be minor and the level of difficulty is about the same. PMP® aspirants are safe to begin the PMP® Exam prep journey now.
Lessons learned from recent PMP® candidates taking the NEW PMP® Exam 2016 have attested to this.  

Someone Stated that the PMP® Exam Passing Score is 61%. Right?

Yes and no. In the past, 61% was published by PMI as the passing score for the PMP® Exam (which means that PMP® aspirants need to correctly answer 106 or more PMP® questions out of the 175 real questions). In fact, PMI played around with the passing score several times. It once set the passing score to 81% in 2005 and the number of candidates who could make it dropped dramatically, leading PMI to reset it to 61% in just a few months. At that time, PMP® candidates would get a report card with score (in percentage) for correctly answering questions in each domain.

But no more now. From December 2005, PMI ceased to publish the passing score as it has adopted a more “scientific” approach to judge whether a PMP® aspirant is eligible for the PMP® title. Later, the PMP® Exam report card was revised in 2007 to give only the proficiency levels (i.e. Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient).

Latest update: the PMP® report card now shown the “Target” level: Above Target, Target, Below Target and Needs Improvement (basically very similar to the proficiency level with “Above Target”=”Proficient” and “Target”=”Moderately Proficient”).

Actually, PMI has made this clear in the PMP® Handbook:

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.

Basically, the above paragraph states that the passing score for every candidate is different. As no two PMP® aspirants receive the same set of PMP® exam questions, setting a definite passing score for the PMP® exam is not fair to the candidate who, unfortunately, receive more the “difficult” questions. The statistic model, termed as psychometric analysis, is used to calculate the passing score of each individual set of PMP® exam questions to make sure the “difficulty to pass the PMP® exam” is similar for each individual candidate.

Further reading: I got 4 Proficient and 1 Moderately Proficiency in my PMP® Exam, here is my study plan, materials, tips and more.

Do I Need to Get Above Target and Target in All Domains to Pass?

One or two “Below Target” would not automatically declare a fail to the PMP® Exam. In fact, whether a candidate will pass or fail the PMP® Exam is judged on the overall performance of the exam. I have personally know some candidates who got two “Below Target” and yet pass the exam. As PMI has put it, the proficiency levels for the domains are intended as a guidance for PMP® candidates to understand their strengths and weaknesses so that they will know which area(s) to focus on for their PDU activities or re-exam.

But as the number of questions for the five domains is different (according to the PMP® Examination Content Outline):

Domain Percentage of
Questions
Initiation 13%
Planning 24%
Executing 30%
Monitoring and Controlling 25%
Closing 8%
TOTAL 100%

You will surely want to get “Above Target” (previously “Proficient) or “Target” (previously “Moderately Proficient”) in the heavy weights (i.e. Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, Planning) to assure a pass in the PMP® Exam.

And the “Above Target”, “Target”, “Below Target”, etc. will only be shown on the exam report card, these proficiency levels will NO shown in the PMP® Certificate and others cannot gain access to this information without your permission.

So, How Many PMP® Exam Question Should I Answer Correctly?

As the passing score of PMP® Exam is now based on “psychometric analysis”, candidates would get a higher score if they can answer the harder questions correctly and a lower score for the easier questions. This means that the harder questions are worth more than the easier questions. So, the minimum number of correct answers needed to pass the PMP® Exam is determined by the overall difficultly of the exam.

Therefore, when preparing for your PMP® Exam, do not just rely on a single provider of PMP® practice exams / exam simulator. It is more advisable to try questions from different providers in order to understand your strengths and weaknesses.

It is also advisable to make use of the old “61% passing score” for the PMP® Exam as your starting point and add 15%-20% more to account for the fluctuation in difficulties. That is, if you could get over 75%-80% for each new set of PMP® sample exams you have answered, you can almost be assured of a pass in the real PMP® exam provided that you perform normally during the exam.

Look here for a list of suggest free/paid PMP® sample exams that are time-tested and of high qualities. I have personally relied on these practice exams to help me pass the real PMP® Exam.

Wish you PMP® success!

 

 

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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14 Responses

  1. Priyanka says:

    Hi Edward,

    I am planning to appear for PMP exam in March 2018. Is there any latest guide on exam pattern and passing percentage?
    Thanks.

    • Edward Chung says:

      The PMP Exam is essentially unchanged but quite a few PMP Exam takers are getting 5 Above Targets, it seems the exam is getting a bit easier now than before. Wish you PMP success!

  2. Ranveer says:

    Hi Edward, thanks for all this valuable information. I am following your blogs along with my preparation of pmp certification. Could you please answer me the following.

    These grades like proficient and moderately proficient are these listed on pmp passing certificate? Or do employers check these grades when giving job offer?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Rest assured that a pass is a pass in the PMP Exam and the PMP Certificate will NOT show these “target”/”proficiency” levels. And employers will not be able to retrieve these information themselves.

      Wish you PMP success!

  3. Shabir Jameel says:

    Hi Edward,
    This is Shabir here from India. Nice to know about you.
    I have got trained for PMP Certification and have been completely involved in solving PMP Fastrack different versions for many months and now that i’m getting around 70 to 80% in the sample exams.

    I came across a blog where i learnt that PMP exam format will be changed soon and i would like to ask about the pass % involved in currently if it is 61% or got changed.

    Could you please share your thoughts on this when it is feasible and any more latest links for sample PMP exams?

    Thanq in Advance,

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Shabir,

      Nice to meet you here.

      For the passing %, PMI does not set a fixed percentage as each individual exam paper is different. PMI will judge the difficulties of the set of the questions and adjust the passing rate individually. It is therefore recommended that you can get over 75% in sample questions in order to ensure you can get a pass in the real exam.

      And the PMP Exam will be based on a new PMBOK Guide (6th edition) from 1st quarter of 2018. That means if you are preparing for the exam now, do try to take the exam in Nov or Dec the latest.

      Wish you PMP success!

  4. Rajan Iyer says:

    I think it depends on domain in which you get Moderate i.e. in case of Planning, Executing & Monitoring & Controlling section you got Moderate/Below Proficient there are like chances of failure as those section carries high value 79% of total exam.

  5. HUI QIAN says:

    Anybody know the passing line ? I got 4M1B, shows failed, I am contact customer care to re-score, still remain the old score failed.

    • Edward Chung says:

      Sorry to learn about that. With 4 Moderately Proficient and 1 Below Proficient, I am sure you are very close to passing the PMP Exam. Just keep up and try a second attempt to clear the PMP Exam!

      Wish you PMP success!

  6. Miguel says:

    Hello,

    I’ve got 4 MPs and 1 P (Initiate) but they are said I’m FAILED 🙁
    Has it sense to you? I’m asking to the Customer Center for more info…

    Thanks in advance
    BR