PMP Passing Score analysis based on PMP results of real PMP candidates (Part 2): Let me start by asking you a question. How much do you know about the passing score on the PMP exam? So far, we have heard rumors and unconfirmed information about what the passing score is. This is the second article in the series of articles on the PMP Passing Score. In this article, I’m going to share the best kept secret of the PMP exam. In fact, as I was compiling the PMP results data for this post, I was surprised looking at the results myself. I’m really excited to share this information with you today. I guarantee that you are going to love this post. Are you curious to know more? Of course you are. So let’s get to the point now.
If you have read the previous two articles of this series, you understand that 61% is not the passing score for the PMP exam. You also know that starting Jan 2008, PMI moved to a qualitative scoring system. It means that they no longer provide a numeric score for the exam, and rather give you a proficiency level (Above Target, Target, Below Target, Needs Improvement) for each domain. Therefore, many PMP aspirants want to know the proficiency levels that equate to a “pass” result on the PMP exam.
Disclaimer: Please use the information in this post at your own discretion. I claim no responsibility of the accuracy of the data or the interpretation of it.
What is the PMP exam passing score?
In order to find the answer, I started collecting the qualitative passing scores from the PMP result reports of several successful and unsuccessful candidates through various sources. I narrowed the results down to unique scores. The resulting data brought out some very interesting and important details about the PMP exam passing score. Click on the image below to see a set of 23 unique exam results.
PMP Results from real PMP exam candidates
Before I delve further, let me put forth some basic facts.
Total Question on the exam = 200 Scored Questions = 175 Pre-test Questions = 25
Table 1 provides the PMP exam results of successful candidates. Table 2 provides the PMP results of unsuccessful candidates. Table 3 shows the domain-wise distribution of 175 questions on the exam.
Interpretations based on Real PMP Results
After analyzing the PMP exam results, following are my interpretations:
- Overall score matters. You can have any combination of Proficient (P), Moderately Proficient (MP) and Below Proficient (BP) scores across the 6 domains, and still pass (or fail) the exam. What matters is the overall score. If your overall score is above a certain percentage (which may vary for each exam), you will pass the exam. Refer to the results in Table 1 (Pass). You'll find various combinations of P, MP and BP scores there.
- You can be BP in one, two or more domains and still pass the exam (though I've not seen anyone pass the exam with three BP scores). The overall score, as mentioned in point 1, matters. Refer to columns 14-17 in Table 1 for confirmation.
- If you score MP in all domains, you'll pass. Refer to column 15 in Table 1.
- If you score MP in five domains and BP in one, you may still pass. For example, if you score on the higher end of MP in those five domains, and barely slip below BP level on one domain, you may still achieve the overall passing score, and hence pass. Refer to columns 16 and 17 in Table 1.
- In contrast to the above point, even if you score P in one or two domains, you may fail. For example, if you score P in 2 low-weightage domains (like Closing and Professional Responsibility) and score well poorly in a high-weightage domain (like Executing), you may slip below the overall passing score, and hence fail. Refer to column 2 in Table 2.
The data seems to indicate that the qualitative score on any particular domain does not determine the final PMP result (pass/fail). What is important is the average score across all six domains. I hope this article helps settle some (unwanted) anxiety that you may be facing about the PMP exam passing score and allows you to focus your effort on the preparation. Do let me know what you think of this article. If you like it, share it with your friends and colleagues who may benefit from it.
- 5 Popular Myths about PMP Exam Passing Score
- The Best Kept Secret of the PMP Certification Exam (Passing Score) (you are here)
Image credit: Flickr / takomabibelot