pmp exam passing rate

Some time back, I conducted a survey of the PMP trainers to determine the PMP exam passing rate. My survey revealed that the passing rate is somewhere between 50-70%. It means that 30-50 out of every 100 people (30-50% failure rate), who take the exam, fail in their first try.

I have written this post to share the details of my survey. You will also find why failure rate is so high and what you can do about it.

PMP Exam Passing Rate

You might think that the 50-70% passing rate is quite low. It is actually low but PMP is a difficult exam and many aspirant fail the exam in their first attempt.

PMI does not release any statistics related to passing or failure rates of its credential exams so we do not know for sure what percentage of people pass the PMP exam.

However, there is an anecdotal evidence that supports such a low passing rate.

Consider this – PMP credential has been in existence for 30+ years. Even after so many years, there are only 1.2m active PMPs in the world. This means that about 40,000 aspirants pass each year. Last year, about 60,000 professionals cracked the PMP exam.

These figures are abysmal considering that employers will need to fill nearly 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027.

Since PMI does not share any figures, so the next best thing to do was to seek opinion from PMP trainers and experts.

Survey of PMP Trainers

There is a Project Management Trainers group on the LinkedIn. At one point of time I used to be a moderator of the group but I left the management responsibilities due to my personal time constraints.

I posed a question on this group. I asked the following question – In your opinion, what percentage of people pass the exam in their first try?

The result of my survey was not surprising.

Percentage of Experts PMP Passing Rate (Percentage of people who pass the exam)
40% <50%
20% 50-60%
20% 60-70%
20% >70%

40% of the surveyed project management experts opined that passing rate for PMP exam is less than 50%.

I must say that, strictly speaking, my survey was not completely scientific. But it gives us an indication of how difficult the PMP exam is.

In my personal opinion, passing rate could be somewhere near 70%. It means that 30% candidates fail in their first attempt.

Why is PMP Certification Failure Rate so High?

PMP is a tough and difficult exam so it is not surprising that failure rate has is high. I think there are three main reasons for such a high failure percentage:

  1. PMP requires serious study, hard work, discipline, and perseverance. Many aspirants do not use good study sources and eventually fail the PMP exam.
  2. Most people attempt the PMP exam in English language. Many of these candidates are are non-English speakers. They don’t take the exam in their native language because of dearth of good non-English study material.
    Candidates, whose native language is not English, are not able to interpret the English idioms and phrases correctly. The exam becomes extra difficult for them. There There is a general opinion that the failure rate of people from non- English speaking countries is very high.
  3. PMI wants the passing rate to be low. And, you would also want it to be low. Otherwise, if the exam was made easy, reputation and credibility of the certification would go down. And, PMP’s value in the job market would decrease.

Why do PMP Training Companies Claim a High Passing Percentage?

Many training companies claim a very high passing percentage. Some of them tout that 99% of their students pass the exam in their first attempt.

In my experience, 99% or anything close to it is just absurd. It is nothing but the marketing speak. Someone should go and ask them how they arrived at such a high figure because many people just attend a 35 contact hour training and they never take the exam.

If the passing rate was so high everyone who enrolled into their training would be PMP certified by now. Simple commonsense suggests that is not case since these companies also claim to have trained thousands of people in their short existence.

How to Pass the PMP Exam in First Try?

We already know that the PMP exam is not easy. Every year many people fail the exam. This thing demotivates many candidates even before they start preparing for the exam but it should not demotivate you.

PMP is a difficult exam but it not impossible to crack. You should not worry about the passing or failure rate. If you prepare well, you will definitely pass the exam in your first try.

Here is a small video that will help you to prepare a PMP exam study strategy.

Here are 7 steps to crack the exam in your first try.

  1. Prepare a proper study schedule.
  2. Use only English language study material and take the exam in English. Take a English class if you have to. Learning English can help you in your career.
  3. Study from a good reference guide.
  4. Enroll into a reputed 35 contact hours training course.
  5. Practice a lot of mock questions.
  6. Invest in other study material like tools for ITTO learning.
  7. Practice full-length mock tests from a good PMP simulator.

Final Words

PMP is a prestigious and reputed certification. It can open new job opportunities for your and give you a bump up in your career. You should not worry about the passing rate of the exam and just concentrate on your preparation. If you prepare well, you will definitely pass the exam.

I would suggest you not to delay the exam. PMP is worth every penny and each drop of sweat that you will put in for its preparation.

Over To You

Why do you think PMP exam passing rate is so low? Do you know of anyone who failed the exam? What are you doing differently to pass the exam in your first try?

I would love to hear from you.

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