What Is the PMP Passing Score?

There is a huge confusion about the PMP Passing Score, some people believe that answering just 60% is the PMP passing score, others believe that PMI does not seem to follow an orthodox way of scoring PMP exams and the passing criteria is not constant, some believe that scoring Below Proficient in any area (domain) of the PMP test will result in failing the exam.

So what is really the PMP Passing Score?

The PMP test is split into 6 areas (domains):

  • Initiation (11% of the total questions)
  • Planning (23% of the total questions)
  • Executing (27% of the total questions)
  • Monitoring and Controlling (21% of the total questions)
  • Closing (9% of the total questions)
  • Professional and Social Responsibility (9% of the total questions)

The PMP examinee can be below proficient, moderately proficient, or proficient in any area (domain) of the above list.

Here are some real test results from examinees (all results are from 2008 and 2009)

  Ex. #1 Ex. #2 Ex. #3 Ex. #4 Ex. #5 Ex. #6
Initation MP BP MP MP MP MP
Planning MP MP MP MP MP BP
Executing P P MP MP MP MP
Monitoring/Controlling P P BP MP MP MP
Closing BP BP MP MP MP MP
Professional Responsibility MP MP MP MP MP MP
Result

P P F P P F

*Legend: BP: Below Proficient, MP: Moderately Proficient, P: Proficient

The above table proves that there is a strong relationship between the outcome of the PMP exam (pass/fail) and the percentage of the questions (hence the importance) in any of the domains. For example, examinee #2 was Below Proficient on both Initiation and Closing (both totaling 20% of the questions), yet Proficient in Executing and Monitoring and Controlling (48% of the questions). Examinee #3 was Below Proficient in Monitoring and Controlling (21% of the total questions) and failed the exam, the examinee was Moderately Proficient in all the other areas.

We deduce from the above table that passing the PMP exam is still based on the total percentage, scoring Proficient in 2 key areas (such as Planning and Executing) can salvage the whole exam (even if the examinee is Below Proficient in two non-key areas), while scoring Below Proficient in one key area can (such as Planning) can potentially result in a failure. Scoring Moderately Proficient in all areas seem to do the trick.

Conclusion: The PMP Passing Score is still a percentage that is around 60%, as there are 200 questions in the PMP exam, of which 25 questions do not affect the score. The examinee has to answer correctly on 106 questions of the remaining 175 questions.

© 2009 Project Management Learning – Reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited without the written consent of Project Management Learning.


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