The Best PMP Exam Study Guides

Great resources for passing your PMP(R) Exam

Setting the page on fire with some hard work
Setting the page on fire with some hard work. PeopleImages.com/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Are you studying for your PMP® exams and looking for a guide to help you across the finish line? Or maybe you are already qualified but want to refresh your project management skills?

Either way, there are some really good guides out there which can meet your needs.

Worth mentioning, while these are all good guides, relying on only one of them (even number 5, the PMBOK® itself) is not a guarantee of passing your exam.

So I would recommend using a blend of materials and books during your studies.

Here I list seven guides I find the best for me, but I haven’t read everyone out there and everyone studies and learns in different ways. If I have missed any, you highly recommend, please let us know about it in the comments section (and feel free to explain why you recommend it too).

Ace the PMP exam

Apple iPad

This is in the iPad publishing app, so is not the traditional book format for a study guide, but don’t let that put you off.

The guide has interactivity built in through flashcards, questions and answers and interactive presentations. The layout is clean and easy to read, and it’s simple to navigate.

I felt it was realistic and well-presented. The app included real-world project challenges: like how to apply the processes to a multi-phase project, make it a practical in real-life as well as a test-taking guide.

If you are looking for a straightforward PMP exam prep book then this is a very good choice, as long as you have an Apple device to read it on. Find it on iTunes.

Head First PMP

Jennifer Greene and Andrew Stellman: O'Reilly Media, 2013. ISBN: 978-1449364915

The book is said (by the publishers) to be structured in the way your mind works.

Now I do like to think I am a unique individual, but this book does seem to be structured in a way which made a lot of sense to me, so perhaps I have the mindset of a project manager?

There is an emphasis on graphical representation of the information as well as interactivity, which you may find useful if you find you learn better from those types of study aids, rather than mainly text.

If you do use this guide, make sure you do all the exercises as you go through as it really aids your learning process.

PMP Exam Prep: Accelerated Learning to Pass PMI's PMP Exam

Rita Mulchay: RMC Publications Inc, 2013. ISBN: 978-1932735659

This is a well-structured guide, which leads you logically through what you need to know to pass the exam. There are good sample questions and useful hints and tips throughout.

It is easy to read, which helps and includes some well-explained definitions, which can be a real bonus, as sometimes glossary terms can be written in a dry inaccessible way. So when you are approaching the exam and get the inevitable mental block, a simple explanation to remind you about a concept can be a life saver.

The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try

Andy Crowe, Velociteach Press 2013. ISBN: 978-0982760857

Simple explanations of the complex concepts required to pass the PMP® exam are contained within this book, including the project management knowledge areas.

It covers the rationales behind the courses of action required to take depending on what situation you face in the exam (and in the real world) and a really good glossary of terms.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – 5th Edition

Project Management Institute, 2013. ISBN: 978-1935589679

The latest edition expands on the chapters available in previous versions and has added in some invaluable details about the examinations.

This book sets the standard for what you need to know to pass the exam, which makes it an essential, if bulky, tome. It's also relevant if you are taking the CAPM® qualification.

Please note: Unlike most of the other titles in the list, this isn’t a true study guide but it’s the official reference text and you must know it to pass the exam. It seemed wrong to exclude this core text from a list of recommendations for those studying for the exam.

PM Prepcast

OSP International LLC, available as a downloadable product from their website.

First of all, this is also not a book but a series of podcasts, but it can be a useful study guide, particularly if you have a busy schedule so that you can study for your exam on the go across any of your devices.

The visual presentation is straight forward, and I find it a user-friendly way of accessing what can be a complicated set of information.

As well as being for people who are on the move a lot, it could also appeal to anyone who finds they learn more effectively from visual sources rather than solely reading text books. Podcasts are a good way of fitting your learning into the day. Find more ways to study for the exam here.

PMI’s Code of Ethics

This is available as a PDF download from the PMI website.

Ethics relates to how we best use resources (human and other) to achieve our goals. PMI has a focus on honesty, responsibility, respect and fairness in the work its members carry out. The Code of Ethics sets out how we can all meet these standards.

Your PMP® exam will include questions that reference the Code of Ethics, so don’t make the mistake of thinking everything you need to know is included in the PMBOK Guide - Fifth Edition.

These are the project management study guides I have found useful – but as I said I haven’t read every book out there. Which other books, apps, and podcasts (study guides of whatever format) would you recommend and why?