You would know that it is very hard to pass the PMP exam but you might be thinking is it the toughest certification to crack.
Well! CBT nuggets ranks PMP as the second among the 10 most difficult certifications.
However ranking certification on toughness is academic. It doesn’t matter if the rank is #1 or #10 as PMP is the gold standard for project management credentials. And, it is very tough.
Some experts place the failure rate of PMP as high as 40-50% but there are no reliable statistics to confirm that. On the other hand, it is known fact that only about 80,000 professionals take the exam every year. This is a paltry figure considering 22 millions new project-oriented jobs are likely to created through 2027.
Let’s understand what makes this coveted certification so difficult. Let’s also understand why it is an advantage for you if you are willing to put in a little bit of extra effort.
Why is PMP Exam Hard and Difficult?
1. No Fixed Passing Score
PMI uses a psychometric analysis to find out if a particular candidate has passed or failed the exam. The criteria for psychometric analysis are kept a secret. So, you have to prepare extra to ensure that you are able to mark most questions correctly. It is generally believed that you should mark 75% questions correctly to pass the exam. 75%, by any standard, is a tough ask.
You can refer to our article on passing score for the PMP exam for more details.
2. Vastness of Syllabus
Many people believe that the PMP exam is based upon the PMBOK Guide. However, the credential exam is not based upon any book but rather follows the PMBOK Guide and Agile Practice Guide as the major reference material.
The PMP exam is based upon the Exam Content Outline (ECO). ECO is akin to the syllabus for the exam. It is revised every 4-5 years. The last revision happened in January 2021.
ECO contains a list of domains and tasks that are tested during the exam. The current ECO has three domains viz. People, Process, and Business Environment. Each of these domains have multiple tasks. Below is a table showing the percentage of questions that come from each domain.
Percentage of Items on Test
II. Business Environment
There are a total of 35 tasks in these three domains. These tasks are quite cumbersome and confusing to read. It sometimes becomes difficult to comprehend the vastness and depth of these tasks.
3. Exam is Long and Challenging
PMP is a very long and tiring exam. It is, in fact, one of the longest duration professional exams.
You have to complete 180 multiple choice questions in 230 minutes to finish the exam. In fact, if you count scheduled breaks, you will need to spend more than 4 hours to finish the exam. You get approximately 76 seconds to answer a question
The total time given is comfortable for 180 questions but it becomes difficult for a working professional to concentrate for such a long time while constantly staring at a computer screen.
You can refer to our article on PMP exam questions to understand structure of the exam.
4. Long List of Reference Books
PMI suggests you to read ten different books on project management to prepare for the exam. These books include PMBOK Guide and Agile Practice Guide. Reading 10 books to prepare for one exam is an almost impossible task for a working professional.
5. Exam Questions Change Regularly
Out of the total 180 questions that appear in the exam, 175 questions are scored while the remaining 5 are not scored. These 5 questions are called pre-test questions. These questions are randomly placed inside the exam so you cannot tell if a particular question is scored or not scored. You have to answer all the questions to the best of your ability.
The pre-test questions help PMI to constantly frame new questions and gauge their difficulty level by posing them to test-takers. PMI keeps on changing its question bank by using the qualified pre-test questions.
Due to the constant flow of new questions, you can never prepare enough for the exam. You cannot bank your preparation on old historical question banks.
6. Various Types of Questions
Various different types of questions in the PMP exam increase the difficulty of the exam. The exam has five different type of questions:
- Multiple choices: One correct answer from the given four options.
- Multiple answers: More than one correct answers among the given options.
- Matching: Match choices among the two columns.
- Hotspot: Choose a section of a diagram to mark the correct answer.
- Fill in the blanks: You have to insert the correct answer in the blank.
7. Questions are Difficult and Confusing
The PMP exam questions are really tough and challenging. You just can’t pass the exam by mugging up the formulas and terms. You need to have a deeper understanding of the underlying project management concepts.
PMP exam questions are very demanding because they require you to apply project management knowledge and skills to real-world practical problems. The questions have realistic scenarios for which you have to find the best solution from the choices offered.
There may be multiple correct answers in a question, so the “best” answer may not be the only answer. Finding the best answer may not be enough, You would need to find the “most correct” and “most logical” answers.
How to Pass the PMP Exam?
The PMP certificate is one of the most regarded credential in the world. You can take the exam only if you have a good experience of leading and directing the projects.
It is true that the PMP is a costly exam and there is a lot of uncertainty around it but that should not deter you to take a stab at the exam.
The easiest way to pass the exam is by enrolling in a quality training program like ours. A good training program will provide sound foundation to study for the exam.
Our training program includes the mandatory 35 hours certificate and a 1000+ question exam simulator. It includes all the required study material that will assist you in passing the exam on your first attempt. If you fail the exam, we will refund 100% of your training fee.
You can invest in lifetime access to our training program at a very affordable price. The price of our training program starts at USD 249 in USA.
Over to You
What is the difficulty level of PMP exam on a scale of 1 to 5? How many of friends have passed the exam easily? What has been your own preparation experience?
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.