Is PMP exam difficult?

By Melissa

Last updated on Sep 17 2020

Is PMP exam difficult?

How difficult is the PMP exam?


The question itself offers a vague judgment to consider. The aspects can be wide and far-reaching before we are set to analyze the difficulty level. One must consider its eligibility criteria and curriculum to have a strong understanding of how big the elephant is?

Although there are more than a 950000 active PMP certified individuals, these are the ones who practice their expertise in 300 chapters across 218 nations. Statistics of such a stature answer the prime question of ours. If it were a difficult examination, then probably we would not have such a base of practitioners.

Understanding the purpose of the examination makes us ponder about its applicability and prowess. The exam is carried out to measure professionals who share top or mid-level management. These professionals are responsible for leading the team as a manager. The implications of this certification give a certified professional a plethora of opportunities. Certainly, this certification allows exploiting and an unfair advantage over massive and high-risk projects. Basically, various Government organizations and big MNCs render such projects.

The examination is not at all difficult. We shall discuss the reasons below through credential value, items of considerations, and prerequisites.


PMP exam syllabus

The Project management Institute has researched and has made the syllabus according to the growing needs and trends. It has basically chosen five performance domains and the total 49 processes listed in the knowledge area of the PMBOK. While the domains are as follows:

  • Initiating the project
  • Planning the project
  • Executing the project
  • Monitoring and Controlling the project
  • Closure of the project.

The hearth here constitutes planning, execution, and monitoring and controlling of the project. The PMI mainly targets these domains. However, it doesn't focus wholeheartedly on the rest two domains. But that does not make it inferior to others. At the same time, the most difficult knowledge areas persist in quality management, integration management, and Time management.

The examination revolves around the PMBOK and the PMP code of ethics. You must know that 25 questions out of the 200 in the examination are facile. Twenty-five questions out 200 are basic and simple ones, while rest 175 questions are based on experience-based knowledge. These questions are going to range from a degree of difficulty level. The PMI is generous enough to do that for test-takers to set a temperament and zeal to achieve success.


PMP examination processes

It is the Pearson VUE test centers who conduct the computer-based test. As well as, they also offer paper-based tests for applicants who do not share proximity to the testing centres. One can also opt for the online proctored examination through their homes.

The PMI is lenient in its approach and has sought different methods for tests for the applicant’s preferences.

The boon with CBT examination is, the results are announced immediately after completion of the test. So there is no room for anxiety for any individual before the results.

The PMI has set the evaluation in proficiency levels, and they are as follows:

  • Above target
  • Below target
  • Target
  • Needs improvement

Typically it can address the candidate’s mettle and preparedness of the examination.

Now for the candidates who have opted the pen and paper mode of examination get their scores within four weeks of taking the test.

The PMI audit makes it credible every test result is audited by the PMI to enhance the standard of the test. This is ingrained to maintain the structure that shows the involvement of the PMI throughout the process.

Important concepts of project management are covered in PMP training that helps project management professionals get PMP certification from PMI – Project Management Institute, the governing body.


Get PMP Certification Training - Online, Live Online and Classroom Training 



PMP prerequisite for eligibility

The PMI addresses earlier that this certification exam is not for rookies with mandating the eligibility criteria. The criteria are stern and have formulated two groups to encompass professionals from lower to higher studies.

The first group demands a four year of a college degree and 35 hours of Project management training. If possible, a CAPM certification is also applicable. The catch here is with the experience. It is required for any applicant with a college degree to have 36 months of work experience in leading projects!

While the second group of prerequisites involves 35 hours of Project Management training or a CAPM certification, it is followed by an experience of 60 months in leading projects. Suppose the applicant does not fill the education ceiling of 4 years of a college degree. Then the applicant should produce their high school diploma or an associate degree to compensate.


Note that the most important factor remains with the degree of involvement in leading the projects.


PMP Applicability

The discipline of project management is growing meteorically. It is estimated that in the near future within 2025, the domain would cater 10 million job opportunities alone. While the domain has reached the ever high mark of the financial output of 7 trillion dollars!

The PMI conducts this certification exclusively for middle-level managers, rookies, and aspirants with zero experience in project leadership. Such applicants are advised to eke out experience at first. The cost of the certification is not cheap. A professional has to invest $555 if he is a non-member of the PMI just to attempt the examination.

While the cost is relatively low for PMI members and that stands around $405 for applying for the examination. Note that we have listed the price excluding the training program. Generally, the training program would cost in a bracket of $1800 to $2200. Your success rate is crucial to what program you choose. And which vendor you choose to train you for the examination.

Due to its popularity, innumerable training institutes offer training education of 35 hours in a different segment. Mostly they have theorized the program either in a single deployment course. They have also designed a bundle that includes attachments like mock tests, single trainer and trainee window, and exam simulators.

The experts of domain say that this exam is not a tough nut to crack. Rather they use the word tricky for the examination. The exam duration is of four hours, and in it, the PMI shoots scenario-based and performance-based questions that are largely based on psychometric assessments. They instruct applicants to have a cent per cent preparedness, as the examination success ratio lies between 57-63%. It concludes that halfhearted preparation and approach will always fail despite your years of experience and expertise in the project management discipline.


Some noteworthy PMP training institutes:


As we have already discussed the importance of the training institute and training program, there are few pioneers in the training aspect of the PMP, and they are:


Sprintzeal’s PMP certification prep course

Sprintzeal is the thought leader of e-learning. The institute has a holistic approach when it comes to training applicants for PMP. And they guarantee a 95% success rate through them. They offer self-paced learning with practice tests; this course includes on-demand learning with access to all necessary study material in this 35 hours long preparation course.

They also offer live virtual classroom course and in-person classroom sessions too.


PMP training preparation course by Sprintzeal offers a 35 hours training and the best advantage is it has global presence that covers more than 120 nations.


What should be the PMP exam preparation strategy?

Any applicant should consider the prowess of this certification with high spirit. And they must know all the benefits it brings along in the form of earning potential, increased knowledge in the subject, learning the variety of approaches to a certain setback. And above all being on time during the closure. You should understand that it is not compulsory for you to go through this exam. If you are looking forward to increasing your skills and knowledge, then you must appear for the exam.

Of course, there are a majority of professionals that stand 40% strong in the project management sphere with no certification. Well, the spell of a certified professional is known to everyone. Moreover, No one can deny the fact the effectiveness of PMP certified professionals. They not only understand the theory but actually proficiently apply those in their work. The standard work of a project manager involves communication, and that forms 95% of his daily job.


Chunking Approach

It is true that professionals with no PMP certification are an in-articulated communicator. They tend to linger the process so much that the other party from teams to clients, gets spooked concerning the proficiency of the project manager. And they land up introspecting sceptically about the project manager.

The preparation strategy as per the industry experts is a well-planned span of 8-12 weeks. They advise professionals to indulge in 3 hours of self-study of the PMBOK and PMI code of ethics in the weekdays. And 5 hours of comprehensive study at the weekends. However, you can plan to take training at the end of the self-study.

They emphasize more on practising questions and solving them and reflecting on them. The Pareto’s rule makes the behemoth syllabus easier by prioritizing the 20% of important modules from where 80% of questions come. They also encourage individuals to seek mentorship if they have any in their vicinity. If not then, they can be a PMI member for $140 and can get a plethora of knowledge coming directly from the industry experts.



The applicants should fill the form by the end of 8th week. The last three weeks are quintessential for applicants. In these three weeks, the applicants should appear for mock tests and revision tests to prepare for the D-day.

One must realize that this examination is not as tough as everyone suggests. You can certainly ace this exam with sheer preparedness and subject knowledge the goal is achievable. And the questions asked are not out of the league if you have prepared with wholeheartedness.

To get full details about the best project management certifications, chat with course expert


Suggested Read – Best Project Management Certifications in 2020



Most popular and high paying project management courses


PMP Certification Training

PRINCE2® Foundation

PRINCE2® Practitioner

PRINCE2® Foundation Practitioner

CAPM® Certified Associate Project Management

PgMP® Exam Prep training






About the Author

Sprintzeal   Melissa

Technical Content Writer with Experience in Creating Content for Quality Management and Other Popular Domains.

Recommended Courses

Recommended Resources

Is PMI ACP worth it?

Is PMI ACP worth it?


Well Explained : The IT Service Management and ITSM Design, Concepts and its Benefits

Well Explained : The IT Service Management and ITSM Design, Concepts and its Benefits


Top 5 Professional Career Courses to Consider after Graduation

Top 5 Professional Career Courses to Consider after Graduation