pass pmp without pmbok guide

Pass PMP Without Reading PMBOK Guide: Frequently Asked Questions

Many people think they can pass the PMP exam without reading the PMBOK guide. This might be the most frequent question which may cross your mind especially when you are preparing for the PMP exam alongside your job. This thought haunts you when you start the preparations until you pass the PMP exam.

There may be many reasons why people don’t read the PMBOK guide. Many aspirants will agree that the PMBOK Guide is really hard to read. Many people also find it boring and some may think the book alone is not sufficient. But it is a book published by PMI, which holds the PMP and CAPM exams.

The reason for the guide to be boring is that it is not easy to understand the concepts as there are very few examples.

In this article, I shall try to cover some popular FAQs and will answer the major questions here, so you can have a clear understanding and the necessity of the PMBOK Guide.

Can You Pass The PMP Exam Without Reading The PMBOK Guide?

Yes, it is possible to pass the PMP exam without reading the PMBOK Guide. There are many such cases in the past, but appearing for the PMP exam without reading the guide is really not recommended.

Why so? It is because one must not leave any stone unturned if they want to clear the PMP exam in the very first attempt.

No doubt reading the PMBOK Guide is not an easy task, there are several reasons for it. I have mentioned some of the reasons, let us understand them more properly :

Reason 1: Many of the aspirants may skip the difficult topics while it is advisable to read the guide thoroughly. Skipping difficult topics or processes might become big trouble during the exam.

Reason 2: There might be some aspirants who will take more time than required and read the guide very thoroughly. Such readers might not require another round of reading.

Reason 3: A lot of aspirants set a target of completing the guide well before the time. By doing so, they might end up not reading the guide properly. Hence they have to read the guide more than twice.

Reason 4: Many people might target the most difficult topics from the PMBOK guide and thus ignore less difficult topics. This way they would need to read the guide at least 2 – 3 times more.

You might have come across one or more than one reasons in your mind or you might have altogether different reasons from the above. But the essence of mentioning such reasons is that reading the PMBOK guide will help you clear your concepts and pass the PMP exam more confidently.

Is PMBOK Guide Essential?

“No.” Yes, you read it right. PMBOK guide is not a must-read book neither it is mandatory. Since the PMP exam is way more than PMBOK guide but once read will improve your chances of passing the PMP exam.

Along with the PMBOK guide, PMI has also published the PMP Exam Content Outline. Both share how different domain of project management knowledge is grouped. 5 major domains include:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and Controlling
  5. Closing

Thus, the following table includes the percentage weightage of questions from each of the above 5 domains.


  • Initiating


  • Planning


  • Executing


  • Monitoring and Controlling


  • Closing




The terminology differs both in PMP Exam Content Outline and the PMBOK guide. PMP Exam Content Outline has termed domain as “tasks” whereas PMBOK guide has named domain as “process groups”. The PMP exam follows those terminologies that are mentioned in its standard guide and book. Many other reference books have different jargons and thus aspirants get confused. So reading the PMBOK guide and understanding its terms will help you till the end.

How To Study The PMBOK Guide?

Indeed, a good question for new aspirants. When you are just about to start preparing for the PMP exam, many aspirants start reading the PMBOK guide. Some of the aspirants tend to skip some topics just in order to complete the guide.

So, if this is your approach or you are thinking of adopting this while preparing, then stop, you need to analyse your approach to reading the PMBOK guide. So here I have listed some important points before you start reading the guide.

  1. Understand and not memorize

You must follow this technique right from chapter one until you finish all the chapters. This way you will understand and can answer the questions if it is a conceptual one.

  1. Read Process Group-wise

Since the PMBOK guide follows the knowledge area methodology and many of us have the misconception that it is the best way to prepare. But it is NOT because the real-life project follows the Process Group.

Thus, following the Process Group will help you in a must greater extent.

  1. Read it along with a reference book

Of course, referring to other books is equally important. You should also refer to other sources along with the guide. This way you will have others perspective to a particular task. Hence by doing this PMBOK guide will become an easy read.

Meanwhile, who would want to clear the PMP exam in their first attempt with confidence? Right!

  1. Determine the relationships between processes

By far we all know that there are 5 process groups and 49 sub-processes. So, each process has input and output. Now,  these inputs and outputs are inter-related in such a manner that output from one process becomes the input for another.

So, all the processes are interlinked and are in a relationship with other processes.

  1. Relate it to your projects

This point will turn out to be a win-win situation for you. How? I will explain it to you. When you start reading the PMBOK guide, relate the guide to your current project or the projects from your past.

This way you will have a good understanding of PMBOK guide which will help you to clear the exam and it will also help you in your project.

Till now, I am sure you have had enough understanding of how to read the PMBOK guide. Let us further go and understand how many times one must read the guide.

How Many Times Should The PMBOK Guide Be Read?

Will I pass the exam if I read the PMBOK Guide for 3 times or 5 times?

Actually, no one can answer this question for you except you. Yes, the statement is true because you can judge yourself and the level of your grasping power. You can also judge the percentage of the correct questions in the mock tests.

PMP exam is not about reading PMBOK Guide or reading it so many times. There are so many other things that you need to do.


If you want to be fully prepared for your PMP exam it is advisable to read PMBOK guide also. Yes, definitely you can use other handbooks. But with them reading PMBOK guide is a plus. It is introduced by PMI so it has a systematic approach to every project management technique. Rather than other handbooks which somewhere and somehow depicts the author’s perspective.

So, decide your plan of study and go for it. All the best with your preparation.

Over To You

What is your point of view is it necessary to read PMBOK guide or not? Does it really help in your preparation? Let us know in the comment section.

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4 thoughts on “Pass PMP Without Reading PMBOK Guide: Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. Two full thumbs up for this magnificent article of yours. I’ve really enjoyed reading this article today and I think this might be one of the best articles that I’ve read yet. Please, keep this work going on in the same quality.

  2. I would recommend studying from the PMBOK Guide latest edition. You will have to make a study plan to cover each chapter. Of course, it is not easy. However, I would also advise referring to books like Andy Crowe’s The PMP Exam and Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep. These books are helpful while preparing for the PMP exam.

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