Do I absolutely need to read the PMBOK Guide for the PMP Exam?


Perhaps, this is the question every PMP® aspirants would probably have during their course of PMP® Exam preparation, especially while they are reading the PMBOK® Guide. Most PMP® candidates would agree that the PMBOK® Guide is way too boring for reading or studying. But since the PMBOK® Guide is published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) which is the authority behind the PMP® Exam, it is logical to consider the PMBOK® Guide as one of the most important reference book for the PMP® Exam.

It would be a great help if some authoritative voices would assure that they can pass the PMP® Exam in first try without having to even read the PMBOK® Guide once. Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question.

A survey of 100 PMP® Exam candidates (who successfully pass the PMP® Exam) has found out that only 5% of them did not read the PMBOK® Guide during their study. That means 95% of the PMP® candidates did read the PMBOK® Guide at least once during their PMP® exam prep. Though it can be safely said that all of the most popular PMP® Exam reference books (like Andy Crowe, Headfirst and Rita) do cover most of the materials in the PMBOK® Guide, the emphases and organisation of the material would be quite different. In particular, since the PMP® Exam tests not about your project management knowledge, experience nor skills but how deep you understand project management from PMI’s perspectives, the PMBOK® Guide is the only place where you can fully understand PMI’s viewpoint in an organised and systematic way. All other PMP® Exam prep books would include the personal viewpoints of the authors.

In order to fully prepare for the PMP® Exam, it can be said that the PMBOK® Guide is indispensable. If you have the time, do read through the PMBOK® Guide at least once. There is no need to read it from cover to cover in one attempt. You can read the PMBOK® Guide together with your PMP® Exam prep book chapter by chapter. Most PMP® Exam prep book would organise the materials according to the sequence as used in the PMBOK® Guide. By reading the PMBOK® Guide and your PMP® Exam prep book in parallel, you can compare the two literatures to understand what are the differences between them in order to have a more comprehensive coverage of the materials required for the PMP® Exam.

Though the PMBOK® Guide is boring (according to most PMP® aspirants), it is a worthwhile read for the PMP® Exam!

FAQ Category: PMP Certification Exam, PMP Exam Prep

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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