How vast is PMP examination content (aka syllabus)?

One of the common questions that PMP certification aspirants have is – “is it sufficient if I just read the PMBOK for the PMP exam?”


Let’s analyze the above statement:

  1. First of all, let us understand what “PMBOK” represents, other than the fact it is an acronym for “Project Management Body of Knowledge”. PMBOK represents the “sum collection of all project management practices”. Therefore, if one were to look at what PMI® publishes, the official nomenclature for the project management standard is termed as the “PMBOK Guide” rather than just the “PMBOK”. PMBOK Guide clearly states about itself (in the section 1.1) as (which) “identifies that subset of the project management body of knowledge that is generally recognized as good practice.”
  2. The PMBOK Guide (5th edition, section 1.1) states as follows
    Annex A1 is a foundational reference for PMI’s project management professional development programs. Annex A1 continues to evolve along with the profession, and is therefore not all-inclusive

    Let us see what the PMBOK Guide (4th edition, section 1.1) have to say:
    The Project Management Institute (PMI) views this standard as a foundational project management reference for its professional development programs and certifications. As a foundational reference, this standard is neither complete nor all-inclusive.

There, you have it!
The guide itself clearly states that it is only a “foundational reference…and that it is not all-inclusive”. Note the two phrases:

a. This is a reference book, not a text book or a study guide (and definitely not a novel  )
b. It also says it is “foundational” and hence not complete nor all-inclusive!

So, where does that leave the student?

  • The syllabus for the exam is not just the PMBOK Guide, but the PMBOK itself! Knowing this doesn’t really help much, does it?
  • The PMBOK guide is a primary reference, but NOT the only reference for your exam. Other reference sources, including your experience, play a major part in the exam.


Given that the syllabus is like the vast (open) ocean, our organization takes care to build training materials in line with the above understanding. We extensively cover the relevant subject matter and provide strategies that help candidates to understand the topics and help pass the exam. Through our own experiences, we have built sufficient life buoys for any PMP certification aspirant to navigate through the rough oceans.

If you are interested to learn more, do contact us.

Photo courtesy: http://freeimages.co.uk

Login to post comments
Go to top