How Difficult is the PMP Exam?

The Project Management Professional(PMP) exam has a set of eligibility criteria that must be completed first to earn the designation. As an aspirant, the very first thought is, "How Difficult is the PMP Exam?". And more important than the exam format is the eligibility criteria. Eligibility criteria itself is one of the toughest for most people. So, if you have cleared the eligibility criteria, you have already completed the most challenging hurdle for the PMP certification exam. The Eligibility criteria can be either of the two scenarios:

  • A candidate will require a 4-year degree with a minimum of 36 months of project management experience. Additionally, there will be 35 hours of project management training/education requirement or CAPM certification.
  • a candidate will require a diploma or associate degree with a minimum of 60 months of project management experience. Additionally, 35 hours of project management training/education or CAPM certification.

If the candidate is eligible for either of these two scenarios, they can appear for the PMP certification exam. The PMP certification exam is considered difficult because of the complex structure of the exam format. The vast project management concepts and comparatively larger study areas have also affected the pass percentage of the candidates appearing for the exam for the first time.

PMP Exam Format

The PMP exam format consists of 200 multiple choice questions in a closed book setting, which must be answered within a 4 hour time duration. The questions consist of five domains: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing.

Each of the domains has a specific weightage of questions that will be asked. For initiating, the weightage is 13%, and 24% and 31% for planning and executing, respectively. The monitoring and control domain has a 25% weightage, and closing has a 7% weightage in the end.

Other areas that are tested in the examination are the tasks and skills associated with each of the domains and several knowledge areas that apply to almost all domains. Even though the pass percentage among the first-timers falls under 50-60 percent, PMP certification can be cracked on the first attempt. There has to be a structured learning path, along with proper guidance, to achieve this goal.

How To Prepare For The PMP Exam?

If we consider the certification exam’s difficulty, there must be a proper learning path to earn the certification. There are mainly two difficulties that a candidate may face while preparing for the PMP exam.

  • Complex Exam Format
  • Lengthy Study Material

To overcome the above challenges, a candidate should dedicate a certain amount of time to prepare because the passing percentage is lower for the first-timers because most of them cannot make time for the preparation or take it too lightly. Another course of action for a planned preparation can be an online preparation course offered by PMI Authorized Training Providers. Additionally, this can make up for the 35 hours of the project management training.

PMP Exam Changes

Every 3-5 years, PMI revises the exam format based on how the professionals have evolved. It focuses on the project manager’s roles and responsibilities and how the current trends change over time. From 2nd January 2021, the new PMP exam format will be released. There are mainly three significant changes to be seen.

  • The domains are reduced to 3
  • The tasks are reduced, and enablers have been introduced.
  • Fifty percent of the questions will be based on the agile or hybrid approach, and the rest on the predictive project management approach.

The last date to appear for the current examination format is 31st December 2020.


PMP certification is an essential boost in a project management career. And, the growth isn’t limited to the financial aspect alone. It enables enhanced project management skills. Enroll in Invensis’s PMP Certification Training Program and give the exam before 31st December 2020. Since the new exam format is considerably new, and half of the questions will be based on agile approaches, the exam’s complexity can grow.

FAQs on PMP Certification

For how long does the PMP certification stay valid?

The PMP Certification is valid for three years, starting from the day the candidate clears the exam. In this period, the candidate must earn 60 PDUs to maintain the PMP credential after the completion of 3 years.

The PMP Certification Exam cost is USD 405 for members and USD 555 for non-members.

The project management experience is any work that is spent planning and executing projects. This may include any work related to initial planning, time management, execution, budget allocation, risk management, etc.

Job roles that can benefit from the PMP Exam Prep Course include, but are not limited to:

  • Associate Project Managers
  • IT Project Managers
  • Project Coordinators
  • Project Analysts
  • Project Leaders
  • Product Managers
  • Program Managers
  • Project Sponsors
  • Project Team Members

After completing your PMP Exam Prep training, you will gain an in-depth understanding of:

  • Initiating a project
  • Planning project work
  • Developing Project schedules, cost estimates, and budgets
  • Planning project staffing and communication
  • Analyze projects risks
  • Plan and manage project procurement
  • Monitoring and controlling of project work, and more

There are a set of minimum requirements to be met for PMP certification. The prerequisites to take the PMP certification exam are:

Scenario 1

  • Educational Background: Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent)
  • Project Management Experience: 60 months leading and directing projects
  • Project Management Education: 35 hours of project management education or CAPM certification

Scenario 2

  • Educational Background: Four-year degree
  • Project Management Education: 36 months hours leading and directing projects
  • Project Management Education: 35 hours of project management education or CAPM certification

  • Exam Type: Multiple choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot, etc.
  • No Of Questions: 180 questions per paper, 175 scored
  • Exam duration: 230 Minutes
  • Type: Closed book exam

Result: The passing score is determined through psychometric analysis

The most challenging part is clearing the eligibility criteria for the PMP Certification. Once you have done that, half the job is done. The other half is the examination and maintaining the credential. A structured learning path and dedicated preparation are needed to get PMP certified.

After clearing the necessary eligibility requirements for the PMP Certification, including the 35 hours of training/learning, the application process can be started. Where the audit will take place, and a candidate has to pay the exam fee. This could take anywhere between 5 days to 3 months. In short, getting a PMP certification can take up to 8-10 weeks, including the preparation and PMP Certification training.

The eligibility criteria clearly state that a candidate must have project management experience. So, unfortunately, a candidate cannot get a PMP Certification without experience. But a little relaxation in qualifications is overwhelming. A high school diploma holder can also appear for the certification after completing the other eligibility requirements.

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