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Which PMP prep book is best?

Project management is never an easy work assignment, regardless of your experience or educational background. There are any number of variables to consider and a lot of moving parts. However, managing a major project successfully may translate into a higher salary and promotion.

This is why many people interested in project management seek certification through the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. Passing the PMP exam demonstrates a mastery of the subject matter contained in the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), the all-encompassing guidelines for project managers everywhere.

Because the PMP exam is so challenging, many test candidates do not pass it on their first attempt. So a good PMP prep book is essential, and the best ones provide comprehensive overviews of the entire exam, not just selected subjects.

Our top pick, The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try, Sixth Edition, is thorough and straightforward.

What to know before you buy PMP prep books

Assessment of strengths and weaknesses

A comprehensive PMP prep book should have a pre-test evaluation section that will identify areas of academic strength or weakness. Test candidates may want to spend more study time on exam sections that are more challenging for them than others. Full-length practice tests may also be considered diagnostic tools.

In-depth subject domain reviews

Because the PMBOK source material itself does not provide additional analysis or insights, a comprehensive PMP prep book can be essential. The better PMP study guides take a deeper dive into the five subject domains covered in the PMP exam. Students often benefit from additional analysis not included in the official PMBOK chapters.

Test-taking insights and tips

The PMP exam can take four hours to complete, and time management is a very important consideration. Many PMP study guides include entire sections on general test-taking skills, from relaxation techniques to time management to memorization aids. The PMP exam itself is composed of 200 multiple choice questions and is scored on a pass/fail scale.

Sample questions and full-length practice tests

Although many test prep books avoid using direct questions from the actual exam, they should provide students with enough sample questions to show them what to expect on the test. The more thorough PMP prep books also include full-length practice tests, often culled from previous PMP tests administered over the years.

How much you can expect to spend on a PMP prep book

The price of a PMP prep book will vary according to the depth of study a test candidate wants to pursue. An e-book version of a basic study guide can cost less than $10, while a print version of a comprehensive PMP study guide may cost $80-$100.

PMP prep book FAQ

How soon should you start studying for a PMP exam?

A. Generally speaking, a test candidate should set aside at least two months of study time before taking the PMP exam. The PMBOK source material for the exam can be very academic in tone and there are a number of different sections to master.

Do you have to use the latest edition of a PMP prep book to pass the PMP exam?

A. While some basic material may remain the same from year to year, we highly recommend using a PMP study guide/prep book that matches the material included in the latest version of the PMBOK.

What’s the best PMP prep book to buy?

Top PMP prep book

The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try, Sixth Edition

The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try, Sixth Edition

What you need to know: This straightforward PMP prep book is easy to follow and breaks down all of the testing elements thoroughly.

What you’ll love: Concepts and test elements are explained in a very straightforward manner. Practice test material is in line with real test material.

What you should consider: There have been some complaints that the sample questions are not as difficult as the actual test questions.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top PMP prep book for the money

Head First PMP: A Learner's Companion to Passing the Project-Management Professional Exam, Fourth Edition

Head First PMP: A Learner’s Companion to Passing the Project-Management Professional Exam, Fourth Edition

What you need to know: This entry-level study guide walks testers through the PMP exam without the complex academic challenge of the traditional PMBOK material.

What you’ll love: The overall tone is not dry or academic and it explains complex concepts in a very straightforward way. It is a very quick read.

What you should consider: Sample questions may not be challenging enough to prepare users for the actual PMP exam.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

PMP Exam Study Guide: Belinda's Program for Exam Success, Sixth Edition

PMP Exam Study Guide: Belinda’s Program for Exam Success, Sixth Edition

What you need to know:  Author Belinda Goodrich’s personal experiences with the PMP exam will help students taking it for the first time.

What you’ll love: It includes numerous test questions, study tips and practice exams. It has an easy-to-follow writing style.

What you should consider: Some study guide features are connected to a separate online subscription-based account.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon


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