Predicting a Passing Score on the Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam

  • 03 July, 2020

The Project Management Professional exam is undeniably tough, and passing the exam requires dedicated attention and a focused study plan. But how do you know if you are ready to pass the exam? And can you predict a passing score? While a passing result cannot be guaranteed, there are some things that you can do to significantly increase the probability of success.

Let's start with understanding what it takes to pass the PMP exam, because it is not as simple as having a set score or percentage of questions correct. In the earlier years of the PMP exam, the Project Management Institute (PMI) assigned a passing score to the exam. This score was communicated to the candidates.

At one point, PMI decided to increase the passing percentage, making the exam much more difficult. There was an adverse public reaction to this, and it was shortly after this situation that PMI made the decision not to release the passing score. To make it even more of a mystery to candidates, PMI did away with a defined percent score and moved to a weighted model.

Today's PMP exam is scored based on a weighted model that is applied to each candidate's set of questions. There are hundreds of questions in PMI's question bank, and each question has been evaluated and assessed for difficulty. Questions that are deemed to be more difficult will have a higher weight and vice versa. Hypothetically, if your exam has more difficult questions, the required passing score will be lower. If your exam has more straightforward questions, the required passing score will be higher.

The best indicator of your success on the exam is going to be practice exams. But not just any practice exams. They must:

  1. Be based on the most current version of the exam. Verify that the questions are reflective of the current version and are not out of date. PMI changes the PMP exam every few years.
  2. Include lengthy and detailed questions. Get practice working through wordy questions, identifying the keywords and concepts.
  3. Ask scenario-based or sequencing questions, such as "what's the next thing / best thing / first thing you do?" or "how would you handle this situation?" This is an excellent reminder that the PMP exam is not a test of memorization, but rather an application of the concepts.
  4. Have a timed element that corresponds to the timing of the actual exam. The exam is a 4-hour, 200-question exam, meaning you have less than a minute and a half per question. Practice working under time pressure!
  5. Be provided by a reputable source. Using an unreliable set of questions can cause much more harm than good in your preparation. EduMind provides a comprehensive PMP exam review course taught by industry experts to help you prepare, practice, and pass your exam.
  6. Include at least 100 questions in one sitting. The PMP exam is a marathon, not a sprint. Practice with an extended set of questions to replicate the exam experience.

If the practice exams you are taking meet all of the above criteria, a score higher than 80% indicates that you are very well prepared and will most likely be successful on the actual exam. Now, even though you may have achieved a comfortable score, do not sabotage yourself on test day. To further improve your chances of success:

  1. Take your test within a short timeframe after achieving a good practice test score. If you don't use it, you'll lose it.
  2. Get a good night's sleep the night before your exam. Forfeiting sleep for some last-minute studying is counterproductive. You will function at a much higher level when you are well rested.
  3. Remember proper nutrition and hydration. Feed and hydrate your brain to tackle this 4-hour exam.
  4. Employ proven strategies for dealing with exam anxiety, arrive early at your test center, and remember-most importantly-to breathe.

With a focused and dedicated study plan, a wide variety of practice exams, and proper self-care, you can be successful on your PMP exam.

Project Management Professional (PMP) and "PMP" are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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