Eight PMP® Exam Prep Books You Need to Know About

Given the continuing explosion in interest in the Project Management Professional® credential, it should come as no surprise that there is a rapidly growing collection of books designed to assist you in exam preparation. Of course, what they do is help you understand the PMBOK® Guide and round out areas that the standard doesn’t go into depth about. Many exam-prep courses are in fact based on these books.

Can You Use an Older Exam Prep Book?

Sort of, but not really. The PMBOK Guide is in its Fifth Edition in 2013. The number of Knowledge Areas has changed, some terminology was adjusted and the number of processes changed slightly. So studying an older edition of a prep book could cause you trouble. We mention this, because some particularly interesting prep publications may not yet bet available for the Fifth Edition. In those cases, you must either make careful note of where they are currently wrong or wait for a new book edition.

With so many choices, this article intends to allow a more direct comparison of several of the more well-received choices. By no means is it an exhaustive review of the available books.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide

Ah yes, the standard or should we say “The Standard.” You’ll need it. If you’re comfortable with a totally electronic version and you are a member of the Project Management Institute, your copy is free. Otherwise, it’s in most online mainstream bookstores. It’s indispensable, so get it.

PMP Exam Prep, Eighth Edition: Rita’s Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam

The late Rita Mulcahy’s company keeps on cranking out well-received project management training materials. This edition is quite practical, focusing on more than “sunny day” scenarios (the exam certainly will). It lacks a “final exam” so you will need to find that outside of this book. If purchasing, use caution to assure that you get the eighth edition.

Head First PMP: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Passing the Project Management Professional Exam

This book has a novel, highly graphic, conversational and understandable approach to the subject matter. When the edition for the Fifth Edition PMBOK Guide comes out, it’s a worthy candidate for your study.

PMP Practice Makes Perfect: Over 1000 PMP Practice Questions and Answers

As we’ve discussed, having lots and lots of practice questions is an indispensable part of your exam preparation regardless of whether you self-study or not. There is some controversy concerning how well the questions match the exam questions meaning the number of “what do we do next” type questions. This is not an expensive book considering the number of questions. These questions are “paper based” rather than software based, another consideration.

CAPM/PMP Project Management Certification All-in-One Exam Guide with CD-ROM

Like the Andy Crowe exam-prep guide, this book segments the CAPM® and PMP portions to serve as a guide for either the more recall-oriented CAPM or the more situational PMP exam. While opinions differ, on balance readers appreciate this book for its exam questions.

The Portable PMP Exam Prep: Conversations on Passing the PMP Exam, Fourth Edition

Two long-time and revered trainers and authors team up for this very pricey and very well-received work that unfortunately is geared to the Fourth Edition of the PMBOK Guide. Beyond those reasons, it’s mentioned here because audio-based training materials are perfect for drive-time use, making good use of otherwise wasted hours sitting in traffic. Let’s hope the work is updated. Also, keep your eyes open for other audio-based materials.

Achieve PMP Exam Success, 5th Edition: A Concise Study Guide for the Busy Project Manager

This book is well received. One particularly valuable aspect is the fact that the exam questions rate your answers for accuracy by Knowledge Areas and Process Groups. This capability is valuable for anyone preparing for the exam, but indispensable as a practical matter for those who are preparing to retake it.

PMP Exam Prep Questions, Answers & Explanations

With over 800 questions, this book is a good resource. Although the editing could be better, the questions are realistic relative to the actual examination. Rather than a complete four-hour test, it includes mini-exams focused on particular areas, giving you immediate gauges of your areas of weakness.