PMBOK® Guide is Difficult, How to Understand PMBOK® Guide?

Note: This is an extract from the report: 100+ Tips on PMI® PMP® Certification Training & Study by 100+ Recent PMP®s

PMBOK® Guide is Difficult, How to Understand PMBOK® Guide?

What is PMBOK® Guide Guide?

It is a common consensus that the PMBOK® Guide Guide is difficult to understand by reading it alone for the first time. Even seasoned project managers find it a hard time to read and understand PMBOK® Guide Guide on their own.

PMBOK® Guide Guide stands for A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, it is a guide published by the Project Management Institute (PMI®) to present a set of standard terminology and guidelines for the field project management. It intends to provide a framework and common language for project manager to advance the practice of project management. The PMBOK® Guide Guide is a standard published by PMI® for the field of project management intended to be used as the fundamental guide for project management practitioners to achieve best results in their projects.

The first Guide was published in 1996. The latest version of the PMBOK® Guide Guide is the 5th edition which was published in 2013. The exam for PMP® Certification (beginning 1st Aug, 2013) is now based on the 5th edition.

The PMBOK® Guide Guide describes a project in terms processes and their interaction following major management standards such as ISO 9000 and the Software Engineering Institute’s CMMI. Each process is analyzed in terms of inputs, tools and techniques and outputs (abbreviated as ITTO).

Why Is It So Difficult to Understand PMBOK® Guide?

Since the PMBOK® Guide Guide is solely a framework and standard for project management, it uses a formal language which is a far cry from day-to-day works. Therefore practicing project managers and newbies to project management alike will find it hard to relate to the actual work they are doing. Moreover, the PMBOK® Guide provides only the definition of processes but lacks everyday examples to illustrate the concepts and terms. It  is like reading the dictionary in the hope of becoming an accomplished author. Some PMP® aspirants even call the Guide a sleep pill.

The Question is: How to Understand PMBOK® Guide?

Many successful PMP®s would advise aspirants NOT to read the PMBOK® Guide Guide as their first step to study for the PMP® Certification exam. The Guide does a good well in discouraging and deterring aspiring PMP®s from getting certified.

It is best to seek help. The most popular ways to help one understand the PMBOK® Guide Guide is to:

How to Understand PMBOK® Guide with PMP® Prep Books?

In the survey with 100+ PMP®s, the PMP® Exam takers disagree on what’s the best way to study the PMBOK® Guide Guide with PMP® Prep books. The general advices are listed as follows. As always, since the best way to study varies from person to person, choose one which suits you:

  1. Read and study the PMP® Prep books first before trying to read PMBOK® Guide as it is difficult to understand. The PMP® Prep books will help you to remember the knowledge in the PMBOK® Guide Guide.
  2. Read or watch the exam prep books / PMP® online courses alongside with the PMBOK® Guide chapter by chapter or process by process, the prep books will provide you with the fundamental understanding of the subject matter while the PMBOK® Guide will give you what you need to know on the real PMP® exam. OR
  3. Read the PMBOK® Guide Guide as fast as one could for the first time to get an overview of the exam syllabus. Then you may forget about the PMBOK® Guide Guide and switch to the PMP® Prep books or courses for the study of the body of knowledge. After you have finished the prep books or courses, read the PMBOK® Guide the second time. You will marvel at how much you understand the Guide in the second reading.

Successful PMP® takers will tell you that the actual PMP® Certification exam is NOT that difficult – not as difficult as trying to understand the PMBOK® Guide Guide for the first time. Choose one of the three suggestions above to understand PMBOK® Guide Guide. Keep reading the PMBOK® Guide if you could not make sense of it the first time. With perseverance and determination, you can pass the PMP® Certification exam ultimately!

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