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476 of 505 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An almost necessary evil, August 13, 2009
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This review is from: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (Paperback)
Starting off, I'm a certified PMP. I went through the process, memorized everything PMI wanted me to memorize, and passed the test. That said, this book isn't worth the paper it's written on.

The good:
- You have to memorize the PMI project management process step by step, as a lot of the test questions involve what comes next, what comes first in this phase, etc. This book does go through all the steps one at a time, with some description.
- It makes a good paperweight or looks impressive on a bookshelf.

The bad:
- It must have been written by aliens, come to earth to mess with aspiring project managers through developing the most unreadable reference book ever.
- Many of the charts and graphs just aren't that high quality - as if they were done by a child in crayon then translated to digital
- It is very expensive, and doesn't help you actually pass the exam.
- Minor changes from the third edition - but you'll be tested on the most recent edition. This is like a college textbook money grab.

Buy another book. I used the Rita Mulcay book and found it very helpful, as it had hints on the types of questions that will be used, as well as helpful exercises to study, and questions at the end of each chapter. It was also written by someone with faculties in any human spoken language.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 16, 2010 5:09:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 16, 2010 5:11:59 PM PDT
The Maestro says:
Invalid comment on a book linked to a qualification one claims to hold. Granted some say "The PMBOK Guide is hard to read", but if a PMP cannot read the PMBOK guide without moaning then what good are we as PMPs? No wonder PMPs are a dime a dozen. Some are so spoilt they want it all so easy without reading the book.

Contribute to the PMBOK Guide Fifth edition if you can. With 4500 hours+ of PM experience or the requirements needed for the exam, there is nothing so abstract in the PMBOK that a bit of dedication will not take care of. Many could have read this book in high school! Come on, Legal practitioners read worse books. The PMI is a NON PROFIT organization. WE NEED anyone who cares to help. The comment is also misleading as there is a lot of information other books do not cover and people actually fail the exam due to ignorance of this fact.

Posted on Apr 14, 2010 6:49:13 PM PDT
azphil says:
Well said. The book is necessary in order to pass the exam, but it, and it's predecessors, are all but unreadable. Obviously written by a committee of aliens.

There's much more to project management than you find in the turgid ranks of PMI books. To paraphrase Robert Kennedy "they cover everything except that which is of value".

I fear that maestro, the other commentary, is a PMI's spokesperson working undercover. Unfortunately for project managers their institute falls into the category defined by George Bernard Shaw: "The professions are a fraud perpetrated on the laity".

Posted on Jul 21, 2010 1:39:20 PM PDT
V. Kumar says:
This book is not very helpful for the PMP exam.

Posted on Oct 15, 2010 11:33:18 PM PDT
You really made me laugh!!!
How true!

Posted on Mar 8, 2011 9:10:03 AM PST
Herb Hunter says:
I'm confused - you started by saying one must memorize the PMI project management process step by step; a lot of test questions come from this and the book goes through all steps one at a time. But then you said it doesn't help you actually pass the exam. Which is it - do we need this book or not?

Most people say the PMBOK is a necessary evil in spite of great prep guides like Mulcay. I might have to bite the bullet on this one and get the PMBOK anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2011 6:56:45 PM PDT
Jason Stokes says:
Herb, thanks for your comment.

While this does have them listed step by step; the descriptions, details, and further information on each step are completely lacking. It's as if I wrote a book on cooking a great french meal:

1. Buy ingredients
2. Prepare ingredients
3. Put them in the oven
4. Eat the delicious food

While the PMBOK lists them, it doesn't give any context or reason why they are that way. The other books, especially the Rita Mulcahy one, go into detail and help you learn WHY the steps are the way they are.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2011 7:49:03 PM PDT
Herb Hunter says:
Thanks, I'm using Mulcahys book right now and see exactly what you mean. Not sure how anyone could pass with just the PMBOK unless they enjoy reading things like phone books.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2011 1:23:58 PM PDT
mommy_2_mia says:
I took the PMP exam recently by only reading the PMBOK. I failed! ALL my friends ONLY read the Rita Mulcahy book and passed. They all said the same thing: the PMBOK is a good reference, BUT doesn't help you to understand how to take the test. I expected the test to be straight forward. I read the PMBOK diligently, memorized all 42 processes (inputs, tools, outputs), and the questions are not straight-forward. Also, PMBOK doesn't help with the ethics questions to help answer it the way PMI wants you to answer it. A chunk of the questions dealt with ethics questions that should be easy to answer, but they're subjecive. I ended up buying the Rita Mulcahy book and I can see that she does help you to understand HOW to take the test. I expect to pass it the next go-round.

Posted on Jun 7, 2011 10:07:36 PM PDT
G. Richie says:
I too am a certified PMP and been doing this for over 30 years. This is a totally inappropriate and unsubstantiated claim by another person who wants to change the project management world by attacking the PMBOK! The PMBOK processes are real world project management - for most projects in most industries. For years, I created activity summary sheets, on literally hundreds of projects, but other project managers (in and out of my own industry) never knew what I was talking about. The PMBOK Guide serves one of its main purposes here by creating a common language that all of us can revert back to. Little did I know (back then) that I was creating a WBS dictionary. Now when I speak about a WBS dictionary with other certified PMPs, we all know what we are talking about.
If the reviewer would have taken the time to look at the cover and notice two distinct items (and understand what they mean) they may have had a different tone regarding "readability". The first item is the first four words in the title, "A GUIDE TO THE..." This means that this is not an exhaustive book on project is a GUIDE. It is not a methodology for performing project management - it is a framework from which a methodology can be developed. The second item on the cover is in the lower right hand corner. it is an ANSI symbol. This means that it has been accepted by the American National Standards Institute, i.e. it is a standard. It is written like a standard. I found this very easy to translate from my exposure to and work with other standards such as the National Electrical Code. If you are not familiar with how to use a standard it will make you feel inadequate, as I suspect the reviewer felt.
I find it also intriguing that the reviewer states that it is "very expensive", yet he uses a book that is more expensive than the PMBOK (at retail price) and covers the same material.
The reviewer is certainly entitled to his uneducated opinion, but I would say to the rest of the community reading his review (and my response as well) is to consider why someone who claims to have has a PMP certification would so staunchly chastise the primary document from the organization that provides the certification.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 22, 2011 3:38:30 PM PDT
Jason Stokes says:
Hi G. Richie -

Thanks for your comments. I can see where you're coming from, but I maintain this is an expensive reference book that is of little use to most people, especially those trying to gain their certification. While other books cover the same material, as I said in my original review, they've made it more usable, more understandable, and more straightforward.

As far as claiming to have PMP certification - please check my credentials at the PMI website: - Jason Stokes, St. Louis, MO.
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