How Is PMP Exam Passing Score Calculated? 
A very long time ago PMP exam passing score was 61% but no one knows if there is a concrete score to pass the exam in 2023. There may not be a fixed passing percentage today. You should aim to score at least 75% in the practice tests in order to feel confident about succeeding in the actual exam.
Most probably PMI is using a percentile mechanism for awarding the certificate. However, it is also possible that there is some minimum percentage marks, which PMI has chosen not to disclose to anyone.
We just know that PMI follows a grading system but no one knows how this grading is done. In the current system, exam takers are given a grade on a four point scale for three different domains of the PMP exam.
Let us understand what this grading system is in this article. You will also find some historical facts related to passing score in this article.
PMP Exam Score In 2023 (Last Updated: 2021)
The passing score for the PMP exam is not disclosed by the PMI (Project Management Institute). After the last exam update that happened in January 2021, PMI tweaked the grading system to reflect the exam changes.
Here is a quote from PMP Handbook:
“The passing score for all PMI exams is determined by sound psychometric analysis. PMI uses subject matter experts – project professionals from around the world and many different disciplines – to help determine how many questions you must answer correctly to pass the exam.”
The quoted sentence above means that no two candidates will have the same sets of questions. Even if they same mark same number of questions correctly, they might not get the same grade.
Since two candidates have different set of questions, some candidates may get easier questions than others. So, it is not fair to set same passing score for everyone. Hence, the psychometric analysis helps the PMI to evaluate the final score for each candidate and ensures that their is a fair mechanism for passing the exam.
There are 180 questions in the PMP exam, which come from three different domains. These domains are described in detail in Exam Content Outline. The percentage of questions coming from each domain is mentioned in the table below.
Percentage of Items on Test
|III. Business Environment||
You can read our article on the syllabus of the new PMP exam to understand the utility of PMP Exam Content Outline.
The result of PMP exam is given on a score report. The score report grades the candidates for each of the three domains. It gives a grading on a 4 point scale called performance rating categories. These are:
- Above Target: Your performance exceeds the minimum requirements for this exam.
- Target: Your performance meets the minimum requirements for this exam.
- Below Target: Your performance is slightly below target and fails to meet the minimum requirements for this exam. Additional preparation is recommended before re-examination.
- Needs Improvement: Your performance is far below target and fails to meet the minimum requirements for this exam. Additional preparation is strongly recommended before re-examination.
PMP Passing Score Till 2020
The scoring mechanism in 2020 was similar to what we have now. Only thing is that, instead of three domains, the candidates were tested on five domains. The percentage of questions that used come from these five domains is mentioned in the table below.
|iv. Monitoring and Controlling||
The domains and questions coming from these domains were mainly are based on the PMBOK Guide 6th edition and PMI Code of Ethics.
PMP Certification Test Grading System Till 2018
Till 2018, the grading system was based on proficiency levels. Each domain (as explained in previous section) was assigned one of three levels of proficiency — Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient. PMI used to define these levels as:
- 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.
Proficiency Levels and Performance Rating Categories are the rating scales for evaluating the result of the PMP exam. Till 2018, the focus was more on Proficiency, which involved three levels of rating. The new grading system involves performance rating categories that are categorized under 4 target heads.
Both the rating categories are similar in nature; it just that proficiency rating categories have a 4 point scale while the proficiency levels have 3 point scale for the evaluation.
PMP Passing Percentage/Marks Till 2007
Since the start of the PMP exam till 2007, PMI always had a well-defined passing score.
In 2005 the passing score used to be 68.5% i.e. a candidate has to get 120 right answers out of a total 175 (175 regular questions and 25 pilot questions) to pass the exam.
After that, PMI increased the passing criteria from 68.5% to 80.57%. This meant that candidates had to correctly answer 141 questions out of 175 to pass the exam. Due to this major change in assessment, it is possible that passing rate of the exam would have dropped drastically.
A little later in 2007, PMI again changed the qualification score to 60.5%, which meant that a candidate had to score 106 questions correctly to pass the exam.
In the latter half of 2007, PMI again changed the passing criteria by removing a definite passing percentage for the exam. They migrated to proficiency levels system that is explained in the previous section.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does a score of 61% means that I will pass the exam?
No. PMI does not disclose any passing percentage. 61% is a historical score, which has long been removed. PMI has completely changed the pattern of evaluation.
2. Is there a fixed score for passing the PMP exam?
Many individuals believe that there is a fixed score for everyone. No one knows if there is one. There could be a fixed score or percentile. It could also be based on some complex statistics.
3. Can I pass the exam if I score below target in one domain?
Yes, you can pass the PMP exam even if you score below target in one of the domains.
Whether an individual will pass or fail the PMP exam is judged by their overall performance in the exam. Some people have passed with below target scores.
4. Do all questions in the PMP exam carry equal weight?
Yes. Although PMP exam tests your proficiency on different type of questions, all questions carry equal weight. This is quite clear from the statement from the PMP ECO.
How to Succeed in the PMP Credential Test?
PMP exam is one of the most prestigious certificates present across the globe. Only professionals with good work experience in project management are eligible to take the certification exam.
You must not delay your PMP certification because of the uncertainties. With each passing day you are potentially losing a 16% increase in your salary.
PMP certification extremely valuable in the professional world. There is a high demand for this credential in the industry.
On the flip side, PMP is a hard exam but you can easily crack the exam by enrolling into a good training program.
Our PMP training program contains a lot of study material that will help you to pass the exam in your first attempt. You can buy our training program at a very reasonable cost.
Our PMP program is priced as low as USD 149 in USA. Our training is unmatched in the industry. It will enable you to pass the PMP exam in your first attempt and, in case you are unsuccessful, we will refund 100% training fee.
If you have done your preparation well and your score in the practice tests is good then you are all set to take the exam. Instead of focusing on a particular score, you should build a strong base by doing regular exercises.
Don’t worry or panic about how the scoring is done. Just concentrate on your preparation and you will pass the exam.
You can invest in our PMP simulator to practice questions and feel confident about passing the exam.
Our simulator has very difficult PMP exam style mock questions. It will enable you to pass the exam in your first attempt. It comes with unlimited lifetime access so you can attempt the questions again and again till you fully understand the concepts.
Over To You
What is your strategy to study for the PMP exam? How are you going to ensure that you will be successful in the PMP exam?
Please let us know in the comment section below.