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. It is also possible that they are using a percentile mechanism.

Nowadays, PMI follows a grading system. In the current system, exam takers are given a grade on a four point scale for three different domains of the PMP exam. Again, no one knows how this grading is done.

In this article, I 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 2021

The passing score of PMP is not disclosed by the PMI (Project Management Institute). 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. Each scored question on the exam is worth one point; and your final score is calculated by totaling the points you have earned on the exam.

The quoted sentence above means that no two candidates will have the same sets of questions and hence, even though they will have a score, their score may not be the same.

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.

The PMP exam is adjudicated on 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.

Domain Name

Percentage of Items on Test

I. People


II. Process


III. Business Environment




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:

  1. Above Target: Your performance exceeds the minimum requirements for this exam.
  2. Target: Your performance meets the minimum requirements for this exam.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Exam Score In 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.

Domain Name


i. Initiation


ii. Planning


iii. Executing


iv. Monitoring and Controlling


v. Closing




The domains and questions coming from these domains were mainly are based on the PMBOK Guide specification and PMI Code of Ethics.

PMP Exam 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:

  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 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 Exam 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. It is quite clear from the statement from the PMP handbook.

How to Pass the PMP Exam?

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.

PMP certification extremely valuable in the real world. Although, such a high demanded certificate exam is difficult to pass but it is not impossible.

You can easily crack the exam by enrolling into a good training program. Our 35 contact hours online training course is one such program that can help you in passing the exam successfully. It comes with a host of goodies and lifetime access at a very reasonable cost.


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.

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.

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