What is the PMP passing score? The short answer is: no one knows what the passing score for the PMP exam is anymore.
Okay… a select few who work for PMI does know, but this number is not publicly available.
Although we don’t know what the definitive PMP passing score is today, you can make an educated guess as to what the passing score may be and still successfully prepare for your PMP exam.
History of PMP Scores
Although PMI no longer release the passing score for the PMP exam today, they did in the past. If the past is an accurate predictor of the future, the current passing score should be around the same.
Even though we do not know the exact PMP passing score, here are 4 facts that we do know:
1. The passing score is NOT based on a bell curve
The PMP exam is not graded based on a bell curve system. When you write your PMP, you are not benchmarked against all other aspirants.
Some standardized exams (such as the CFA) grade candidates based on a bell curve, which means that the passing score of the exam depends upon the score of your peers. If everyone writing the exam scored high, the passing score will be higher, and vice versa.
The point of the bell curve is to pass a fixed percentage of the top applicants (e.g. the top 40% candidates who write this exam will receive a certificate).
2. The PMP Exam is Divided into 6 Sections
There are 6 sections in the PMP exam, and they are: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, Closing, and Professional Responsibilities.
3. The Exam Score Report provides a 3 point grading scale
When you receive your exam report, you will be told whether you are “proficient,” “moderately proficient,” or “below proficient” in each of the 6 sections mentioned above.
Your proficiency level in each section will depend upon how many questions you have answered correctly.
Here’s an excerpt from the PMI.org explaining this process:
Upon completion of the computer-based examination, you will receive a printed copy of your test results. In addition to the overall pass/fail status, important diagnostic information on your performance is provided for each domain. This information provides specific guidance for both passing and failing candidates.
Understanding Your Exam Report
Your test results are reported in two ways:
- A pass/fail result score is generated based on your overall performance on the examination.
- The second level of results is the assignment of one of three proficiency levels to each chapter.
Each topic domain is assigned one of three levels of proficiency — Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient — based on the number of questions answered correctly within the domain.
This provides direction about your strengths and weaknesses.
PMI defines the levels of “proficiency” as follows:
Proficient – indicates performance is above the average level of knowledge in this chapter.
Moderately Proficient – indicates performance that is at the average level of knowledge in this chapter.
Below Proficient – indicates performance is below the average level of knowledge in this chapter.
4) You can be below proficient in 1 or 2 domains and still pass the PMP
Many students believe that you need to score “moderately proficient” or higher on all domains to pass the PMP, but this isn’t true. (However, you should aim to score “moderately proficient” or higher across all domains on your practice exams to make sure that you are ready!)
Although we don’t know which combination of proficiency levels will get you a pass, some candidates have cleared the PMP with “below proficient” in 1 or 2 domains.
How do you know you are ready for the PMP exam?
A good rule of thumb to know that you are ready to take the PMP exam is if you are scoring 80% or more across all domains on your first try on timed practice exams.
Let’s break down this recommendation:
80% or higher
Although we don’t know what the passing score for the PMP is, we can speculate. The last published score was 61%, and before that, it was 68.5%.
Let’s assume the worst case scenario and say that the exam has gotten more competitive today. Thus, PMI added 5% to the highest passing score. This would mean the passing score today would be 68.5% + 5% = 73.5%.
By scoring 80% or higher on your practice exams, you will give yourself a margin for errors.
Across all domains
Because we don’t know which combination of proficiency levels would trigger a pass or a fail, it is best to aim to be proficient in all of them.
You should target 80% or higher across all 6 sections of the PMP exam.
On your first try
If you took a practice exam and scored 60%, looked at the correct answers, took the exact same exam again and then scored 85%, that does not count.
To truly test your understanding of the PMP material, your score on your first try is the most important and relevant one.
Timed practice exams
Not only do you have to be able to answer the questions correctly, but you also need to be able to do so under a strict time limit. Remember that you only have 4 hours to complete the 200 questions.
Here’s 200 FREE practice questions for you practice on:
Some Facts about the PMP Exam to Consider
There are 200 multiple choice questions on the exam that is randomly chosen from PMI’s database when your exam begins.
You can be sitting next to someone who is also writing his/her PMP at Prometrics and the two of you can get completely different exams since the questions are chosen at random.
There are 25 unmarked questions on your PMP. PMI uses these questions for testing purposes. Unfortunately, you will not know which these 25 questions are, so you have to treat every question as if they are marked.
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