pmp exam and pmbok

There has always been a debate over the PMP Exam, and the use of the PMBOK among the Project Management Community.

The professionals have totally different viewpoint and approach towards using the PMBOK for the PMP Exam.

So, I tried to collect all these approaches and divide these professionals:
Who either passed the PMP Exam,
or are preaching and teaching the PMP Exam,
Into three different school of thoughts and the debate or argument is:


IS PMBOK Guide Necessary To Pass the PMP Exam or not?

importance of pmbok for pmp exam

Although, I cover some of the key elements that I discovered before and after appearing and passing the PMP Exam: Lessons Learned from PMP Exam.

But, in this article we will take a closer look at the argument presented by these school of thoughts and will come to our own conclusion and also put a small quiz at the end to see which school of thought has the most following.

Let’s first look at the argument presented:


School 1: You do not need to read PMBOK for PMP Exam.
You must have seen, and I personally heard from alot of people saying:
“We didn’t even touch the PMBOK and still we pass the PMP Exam”.


School 2: You cannot pass the PMP Exam without reading the PMBOK.
Again, you will see a lot of people stressing that PMBOK is indispensable for the exam.
Not only, they argue to read PMBOK again and again but also stress that each term, topic and word should be memorize.


School 3: You should use the PMBOK for consultation only.
Now, there is a school of thought that has a different view point and approach towards PMBOK usage for PMP Exam.
They emphasize on using PMBOK as a bible, as a reference guide.


For the PMP aspirants, these are totally distinct and different remarks, opinions and views.

And there must be many questions that should pop up in their mind.

like, which school should be followed?
or what is the middle way?
as almost every professional is standing at the extreme end.

I will definitely agree with the aspirants and if I myself would be in that situations, It would be a very tough decision to be made to follow who, because they are all professionals and certified and they are choosing these schools based on their personal experience and lessons learned.


Which School of thought to follow:

pmbok to read for pmp exam or not

So for the aspirants, before you join any school, we should have to closely analyze the arguments and points that are presented by each schools of thoughts.

But before we do that we have to answer some of the questions by our self and compare the results with the school and based upon that result judge which school is close to reality.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded”]Question 1: Do PMI advocate on the memorization of the PMBOK guide for the PMP Exam?.[/box]
Answer: No.
The PMP Exam is not based on memorization of the PMBOK.
The PMBOK is a reference book and should be used as a reference material.


[box type=”note” style=”rounded”]Question 2: Do PMP Exam based on PMBOK or any other Project Management Books or Concepts or General Project Management?.[/box]
Answer: This is a huge question and concept and is the reason we have divided professionals in different schools.
The answer is Yes and No.

I know this seems to be a very diplomatic answer but the PMP Exam is a bit different compare to other exams.
For this concept we should first know What the PMBOK Project Management Body Of Knowledge is.?

We already know that the PMBOK is a standard, and a gateway to the Project Management Profession, and is used as a reference point for other Project Management concepts, and accordingly the processes and procedures are adopted to organizations needs.

With that said, the PMBOK guide is the only material PMP Exam is based upon, but as i mentioned previously that the PMP Exam is a bit different than the rest of the exams.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded”]Question 3: How much % is the PMP Exam dependent on the PMBOK?.[/box]

Answer: The questions on the exam are almost 90% situational and almost 60 to 70% of the questions are from the PMBOK.

But the questions may not be directly asked with in the PMBOK but would rather be based on the concepts defined or described in the PMBOK and accordingly your knowledge will be tested by putting you in a situation.

pmbok6 updated 2018

Whatever school of thought you follow, it’s best to have a copy of PMBOK in your library.

Get it from Amazon:




Although the debate can go on and on, and different point of views can be put forward and analyzed and I will update this post whenever I receive an email or comment that are worth to be put in the discussion.


In a nutshell the PMP exam is dependent on the PMBOK Guide.

But the PMBOK should be only use as a reference material and not considered a text guide.

A good PMP text book should be used beside PMBOK in order to pass the certification.

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ow it’s your turn:

What are your views, opinion, suggestions?
What School you follow ?




  1. Well, an awesome piece of information this one is.. i hope others also take advantage of this stuff.. can you please ellaborate a bit about the last point like how can we be tested by being in a situation?

  2. Thanks Obaid for the comment and wellcome to PMB.

    well almost 90% of the PMP questions are situational. With that said it means that you will not be asked a direct question on either from the PMBOK or any other Project Management related term.

    e.g: You will not be asked : What is WBS (Work Break Down Structure) but may be rather asked in a situational way, Creating a scenario. e.g: This same WBS question can be asked like this way, This is just an example that pop up right now in my mind.

    i.e: The deliverable were send to customer for verification or validation or what ever you use it in here, the customer demanded that we will not verify the deliverable because so and so items are missing.

    Now you will be asked what should you do with four choices?

    You might be wondering this has nothing to do with WBS.

    But in fact it is, The Project Manager will first look into his WBS, where so and so items were part of the deliverable or not. If it’s not in the WBS, then it means it was not part of the deliverable. If it was part of the WBS, then the PM should provide it accordingly.

    I hope this has been clear to you now. If still not satisfied, you can always ask again.


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