How Difficult is the PMP Certification?

PMP Certification is the advanced-level Project Management certification credential offered by the Project Management Institute. It is inevitably a very difficult challenge for any professional seeking to get certified. Be it the PMP exam format, the PMP certification syllabus, or the extended PMP certification eligibility requirements, everything requires a very structured approach starting from the very beginning until the day you get certified. Even then the hustle only pauses for a while because the candidates have to put up hard work and learning to maintain the PMP certification credential through PMI® PDUs. Let’s try to understand How difficult is PMP certification, and how you can pass PMP certification in your first attempt.

Why is PMP Certification Difficult To Do?

There are several reasons for the entire campaign to be challenging enough for the candidates. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

PMP Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for the PMP certification is quite elaborate and tests the candidate’s proficiency on three different levels. The first being the educational qualifications, then comes the Project Management experience and in the end the mandatory 35 hours of Project Management education. While the educational qualifications and mandatory 35 hours of Project Management education is not really a challenge in itself. The educational qualification has a requirement of either a 4-year degree or a high-school diploma. The 35 hours are acquired by a PMI authorized training partner, PMP Certification training like Invensis Learning. The challenge comes with proving the 36 months of Project Management experience in case of a 4-year degree and 60 months of Project Management experience, in case of a high school diploma. The candidates often fail to prove the experience or are not able to document the experience with correct timelines in case of an audit in the application process.

Note: Check if you are eligible for the PMP certification exam or not - PMP Certification Eligibility

PMP Exam Format

The PMP exam format is also a challenging feat to achieve in recent times. The updated exam format has 180 multiple-choice, hotspot, fill-in-the-blanks questions in a closed book setting. The time duration of 230 minutes and a reasonably great deal of pressure to clear the exam in the first attempt takes a toll on the candidates. This is why many people are not able to clear their PMP certification on the first attempt. The misconception is that PMP is easy, which is quite opposite. One needs a lot of practice and dedication to clear the exam in one attempt.

Note: Learn more about the PMP Certification exam format - PMP Exam Format in 2023.

PMP Syllabus

After the changes to the PMP certification exam earlier in January 2021, the domains have been reduced from 5 to 3 i.e people, process, and business environment. Each of the domains holds 42%, 50%, and 8% weightage of questions in the PMP certification exam. The introduction of the agile or hybrid approach of Project Management in the PMP certification exam also poses a great challenge for the aspirants who now will have to familiarize themselves with the agile methodology in Project Management. To top that, the tasks have been reduced to 35 from 42 and a concept of enablers has been introduced in the PMP certification exam. Therefore, the syllabus automatically became more challenging yet rewarding since the candidate will come out well aware of the agile principles and methodology at the end of the certification.

Note: Here are the changes that were introduced to the PMP certification in 2023 - PMP Exam Changes in 2023.

Lack of Learning Resources

While the PMBOK Guide is sufficient for exam preparation, the PMP certification exam preparation still requires a lot of other credible learning resources like case studies, mock tests, etc. Most people miss out on the opportunity to be prepared for the exam beforehand and fail miserably.

Lack of Planning And Execution

One of the many reasons why candidates fail in the PMP certification exam despite taking care of all of the above is the lack of planning and execution. And, it is more or less the most important reason that makes PMP certification difficult to achieve. PMP certification requires the candidate to plan their preparation beforehand and abide by it religiously to be able to reap the benefits of the whole process. It includes analyzing self, analyzing performance, performance improvement and dedicatedly working towards the goal.

Maintaining The PMP Credential

The struggle doesn’t stop at the finish line. For most certifications in any field, once you have cleared the exam it’s over. But, PMI makes sure that the candidate remains up to date with the trends and developments in the field of Project Management. Therefore, for the next 3 years, the candidate will have to maintain 60 PDUs to be able to retain the credential. Failing to do so results in losing the credential and applying through the same process all over again.

Note: Learn about how you can maintain PDUs for PMP certification - Maintaining PMI PDUs for PMP certification.

Now, that we are familiar with the challenges a candidate has to face, let’s figure out how to deal with them to get it right.

How to Pass PMP Certification in 2023?

While the PMP certification poses a great challenge for the candidates, one can always take good measures to clear the certification exam in one go. Let’s take a look at various proven ways to get your PMP certification in 2023.

PMP Certification Training

The certification training will take care of most of the challenges that the candidate faces for the PMP certification preparation. Some of the key features of the PMP certification training are listed down below:

  1. PMI authorized training partners will provide an updated PMP certification syllabus and solve the shortcomings of the learning resources.
  2. The PMP certification training will also come with other learning resources like mock tests, case studies for an enriching learning experience.
  3. The PMI ATP instructors are vetted through a rigorous process, which means the instructors are coming from experience and have tremendous project Management knowledge.
  4. You will be granted the 35 hours of Project Management Education certificate in the end which will fulfill the eligibility requirements. And, by taking the PMP certification you will be able to utilize the 35 hours properly instead of doing it just for the sake of eligibility requirements.

Note: Check out the training dates for Invensis Learning’s PMP certification training.

Learning Resources

Apart from the PMP certification training, the candidates must not limit themselves on the learning part. They can explore other options to familiarize themselves with the agile or hybrid approach of Project Management. And since almost 50% of the questions will have questions based on agile methodology, it is better to explore other options and prepare thoroughly.

PMI Local Chapters

Another option is to grow your network and understand the terminologies and other practices that are being used by the community members. PMI chapters are one such way to interact and network with fellow Project Management professionals/aspirants/members. Look at the bright side - you may find people in your PMI local chapter who have already cleared the new PMP certification exam. And it doesn’t take a genius to tell how much help that can be for someone who is planning to take up PMP certification.

Note: Here are a few more details about the PMI Chapters - PMI Chapters.


All in all, "How difficult is PMP certification" depends on individuals, and with the new introduction of Agile and Hybrid approaches of Project Management in the PMP certification exam, it's only going to get more and more difficult. There is a silver lining to all the struggles that will be endured during the exam preparation process, the candidates will gain financial well-being, professional expertise, and many more advanced Project Management skills at the end of the certification. So, take your journey of Project Management to a new level and enroll in Invensis Learning’s PMP certification training program.

FAQs on How Difficult is the PMP Exam?

What is the pass rate for the PMP certification?

It is not exactly clear as to how many questions must be answered to clear the PMP certification exam. But based on previous developments by the PMI, it is safe to assume that the candidate must aim for at least 80% of questions to be answered correctly.

How long does it take to prepare for the PMP certification?

If you have already secured the Project Management experience required for the PMP certification eligibility, you will need 2-4 days to complete 35 hours of Project Management education and then 2 - 8 weeks to complete the exam preparation depending on how much time you can spare for the PMP certification exam prep.

Why is the PMP certification exam so difficult?

Since it is a globally recognized credential, the PMP certification has to hold a certain standard in the market. What it means for the candidates is that, if you clear the PMP certification exam, you are officially certified to have undergone a very structured and advanced level of Project Management certification. It entitles you to the best of the rewards in the industry because you possess the best skills and knowledge in the field of Project Management.

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.

The most important thing to consider with the PMBOK® Guide - 7th edition is that it does not make any impact on the PMP Exam Prep Training material. The training material is solely based to cater the PMP exam content outline which was reconstructed in January 2021, and covers the new domains i.e people, processes, and business environment along with the tasks and enablers in respective domains.

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