pmp exam passing score

How PMP Exam Passing Score Is Calculated? [2021]

Every PMP aspirant wants to know what the PMP exam passing score is and how it is calculated. You too would wondering about the PMI’s criteria awarding the PMP certification?

A very long time ago passing score for the PMP exam used to be 61% but no one knows if there is a concrete score today. There may or may not be a fixed passing rate or percentage today. PMI may have determined some minimum marks to pass the students but they have not disclosed it to anyone or they might be using a percentile mechanism.

Nowadays, PMI follows a grading system. In the current system it gives a grade on a four point scale across five different domains of the PMP exam. Again, no one knows how this grading is done.

In this article, we have jotted some important aspects of cracking the exam that are generally believed to be true. you will also find some historical facts related to passing the exam in this article. They will help you understand the current scenario much better.

PMP Exam Score In 2020

The passing score of PMP is not disclosed by the PMI (Project Management Institute). Yet PMI says “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.

What the quoted sentence above means is that no two candidates can have the same score and hence no two candidates will have the same sets of questions. So if no two candidates can have the same set of questions then it will be very unfair (for those who got difficult questions) to set a finite clearing score. Hence the psychometric analysis helps the PMI to evaluate the final score for each candidate and ensures the difficulty to clear the exam is the same for all.

In the examination, there are different sets of questions that come from different domains of the project management which you might have come across and learned in your project management experience and training. They are :

Domain Name


i. Initiation


ii. Planning


iii. Executing


iv. Monitoring and Controlling


v. Closing




So here as seen above the percentage distribution of questions from different domains. These questions are based on the PMBOK specification and PMP Code of Ethics.

This distribution will help you in your preparation and you will get an idea about the score.

Currently, the PMP exam results categorise the individuals on 4 points called performance rating categories. Each topic domain has 4 performance ratings — above target, target, below target, needs improvement, each of which is explained below:

  1. Above Target: Performance outpaces the minimum requirements.
  2. Target: Performance collides the minimum requirements.
  3. Below Target: Performance slightly below target and fails to meet minimum requirements. Additional preparation is required.
  4. Needs Improvement: Performance is below target and additional preparation is strongly recommended before re-examination.

PMP Exam Grading System Till 2018

Till 2018, the grading system was based on proficiency levels. Each domain (explained earlier) was assigned one of three levels of proficiency — Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient. PMI has defined the levels of proficiency as follows:

  1. Proficient – indicates performance is above the average level of knowledge in this chapter.
  2. Moderately Proficient – indicates performance that is at the average level of knowledge in this chapter.
  3. Below Proficient – indicates performance is below the average level of knowledge in this chapter.

Proficiency Levels and Performance Rating Categories are the rating categories or method of evaluation used by PMI. Till 2018, the focus was more on Proficiency, which involved three levels of rating. While the new grading system involves performance rating categories, categorized under 4 target heads.

Both the rating categories are the same, it just that proficiency rating category have 3 levels while the performance rating category has 4 levels of evaluation.

PMP Exam Marks Till 2007

Since the start till 2005, PMI has always set the passing score at 68.5%age or you must get 137 right answers out of a total 200(175 regular questions and 25 pilot questions)to get the PMP certification.

After a while, PMI increased the passing criteria from 68.5% to 80.57%. That means a candidate should clear the exam with 141 correct questions out of 175. Due to this major change in assessment, the number of candidates who could clear the exam dropped drastically.

This led to resetting the qualification score back to 60.5% which means 106 correct questions out of 175 regular questions. This was the passing criteria until 2007.

Later in 2007, PMI again changed the passing criteria by not disclosing the percentage a candidate obtained. They started a new term called proficiency level mentioned for each domain in the final result.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is PMP Score 61%?

No, PMI does not disclose the passing percentage. The score of 61% was the passing percentage in 2005. Since then the PMI has been changing the pattern of evaluation.

2. Is there a fixed score for passing the PMP exam?

Many individuals have a belief that the score for the PMP exam is fixed for everyone. No one except the PMI. There could be a fixed score or percentile. It could be based on some complex statistics.

3. Can I pass the exam if I score below target in one or more domains?

Yes, you can pass the PMP exam if you have a below target in one or more 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 200 questions carry equal weight in the PMP exam?

This is the most popular asked question. No one knows it other than PMI.  In the PMP exam, an easier question will have fewer points than a difficult question.

How to Pass the PMP Exam?

PMP exam is one of the most prestigious certificates present across the globe. Professionals with good work experience in project management are eligible to take the certification exam.

PMP certification is highly recommended and it has its worth in the real world too. Such a high demanded certification examination is difficult to pass but it is not impossible to clear the exam.

PMI has also set some requirements to clear the exam. i.e; a candidate must have 35 contact hours to appear for the exam. This requirement can be completed when you join good classroom training.

Joining good classroom training will alone not solve your problem. For best preparation, candidates must take a good simulator to clear the exam with confidence.


If you have done your preparation well and your score in the practice exam is good then you are all set to take the exam. Instead of focusing on a particular score prepare yourself and build your base strong to crack the questions which you will get in the exam.

Don’t hurry and don’t panics about how the scoring will be calculated. Just remember the points mentioned above.

Over To You

What is your strategy to score in the PMP exam? Do you get a clear idea about the scoring pattern of PMI? Did you have any tips to share? Please let us know in the comment section below.

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