Should you read the 6th or the 7th edition of the PMBOK for the 2022 PMP Exam preparation?

A majority of PMP aspirants wonder whether to use the 6th or 7th edition of the PMBOK guide for their PMP exam preparation. This question was raised after the release of the significantly updated 7th edition of the reference guide in August 2021.

If you have the same query, keep on reading this blog post to get a clear answer to your question and get the logic behind PMI’s updates to the PMBOK guide.

First and foremost, let’s start by clearing a huge misconception: The PMP exam is NOT based on the PMBOK Guide; it’s rather based on the Exam Content Outline (ECO). The ECO represents an outline of the exam’s topics and the percentage of questions related to each domain. The PMBOK is one of the recommended exam preparation resources by the PMI in its Exam Reference List.

Given the constant growth of the project management profession, PMI conducts significant changes and updates to the PMBOK every three to five years to maintain its relevance as a valuable guide for project management professionals. After receiving feedback on the 6th edition, PMI discovered that, despite being a well-acclaimed project management reference, the guide was deemed dry, difficult to comprehend, and hard to apply in real life.

Consequently, the Project Management Institution has retired or “sunsetted” the 6th Edition of the PMBOK since March 31, 2022, meaning that the PMI will no longer provide a printed version of this edition. This indicates that the 7th Edition can now be officially utilized as a reference for developing the PMP exam questions. 

Compared to its earlier editions, PMBOK 7 is a short read with fewer redundant details. Plus, it is value-based, which means it does not address specific tools, methodologies, and practices in depth. Instead, it focuses on broad guidelines or standards that project managers should follow in order to determine how to best manage a project. 

So, to answer your question on whether to refer to the 6th or 7th edition of the PMBOK guide, I recommend reading PMBOK 7. However, this does not mean that you should limit your preparation to only reading the 7th edition of the PMBOK guide as it won’t be sufficient to pass the exam. You should also consider reading the Agile Practice Guide and using plenty of practice tests and mock questions. You can also rely on preparation books to hit two birds with one rock. For instance, the Essential PMP Preparation guide, which is fully aligned with the PMBOK 7th edition, is a comprehensive preparation book, including project management concepts, domains, and approaches as well as mock exams.