As we’ve discussed in recent articles there are a variety of different ways to prepare for the PMP certification exam. There are a wide variety of study materials and tools available including online courses, audiobooks, PMP prep workbooks, in-person courses and more. In this Review of the Top PMP Exam Books article, we’ll discuss the best PMP books that will certainly help you feel fully prepared for completing the PMP certification exam.
Read the list of the best PMP exam books below and check out the additional information offered to determine which book will be the ultimate study resource for you to use to feel fully prepped and ready to ace the PMP exam.
Why is Studying for the PMP Certification Exam so Important?
If you are in the Project Management field, you likely understand that the PMI PMP certification is the most recognized project management certification worldwide. According to the PMI.org’s latest talent gap analysis commissioned by Anderson Economic Group (AEG), there continue to be outstanding opportunities for growth in the project management field. The analysis covered 11 countries, and projects that the project-management labor force will grow by 33 percent, which equates to nearly 22 million new jobs, through to the year 2027.
By 2027, the analysis expects nearly 88 million project managers will be needed for project-management related roles. All of this said, the project management field is one that is ever-growing and will continue to provide project managers steady work opportunities for years to come. If that is the case, you want to be as well prepared to succeed in this role as possible and the PMP exam.
Finally, even highly-seasoned project managers, who are well-known to be fantastic in their roles, have been known to fail the PMP exam. This is due to the fact that the PMP exam is based a great deal on theoretical knowledge that is combined with practical experience. As highly-decorated as you may be in the project management field, you need to be well versed in the specific terms, theories and principles utilized by the PMI Institute and the PMP exam.
All in all, the PMP certification will be a tremendous asset to your project management career, and it is highly important that you properly study for the exam in order to be prepared for the specific questions that will be asked and concepts that will be presented. In fact, some recommend up to 85 hours of studying time for professionals, which correlates to around 5-6 months of preparation for those working full-time while studying.
One of the key requirements of the PMP exam is that you must have a minimum of 35 education hours in project management. These hours must be completed before you send in your application to take the PMP exam.
What is the Best Way to Prepare for the PMP Certification Exam
As we mentioned before, there are a variety of ways to prepare for the PMP exam.
Classroom PMP Training (In-person or Virtual)
Classroom training can take place in person or virtually, but they are both led by a live instructor. The benefit of taking a virtual class is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home, without having to travel to a specific location. This might be a key factor for someone with young children or someone living outside of a large urban area. These days, the tools for running a live virtual class have improved tremendously, allowing for lots of interactivity between students and teachers.
Classroom training will both help you to prepare for taking the PMP certification exam, as well as help you meet the 35-hour PMP prerequisite. Classroom training can also provide an interactive learning environment that may be conducive to any learning style.
Classroom PMP training can be intensive. Often they have anywhere from a 5-day to an 8-day intense schedule. If you work full-time you may need to take time off at some point to complete this training or at the very least, take significant time out of your evenings or weekends to attend. Next, in-person training can be very costly. Prices can range anywhere from $1,50 – $3,000 depending on where you are taking the certification prep-course. Live virtual online classes tend to be a bit cheaper and range in price from $1,200 – $2,500. Keep in mind, it is also $555 to take the actual PMI exam, so that fee will need to be calculated into your overall expenses.
Online PMP Certification Training (Self-Paced)
There are a very limited number of online PMP certification prep courses that you can take at your own pace. These types of PMP exam prep courses will typically provide you with access for between 90 days to 1 year, depending on the provider. Pricing for these types of courses also tends to be lower than the classroom PMP training and ranges from $500 – $1,000 (or as low as $99/ month). Online self-paced PMP certification courses are a flexible and low cost approach to preparing for your exam.
Online PMP certification courses that are self-paced allow you to complete the course whenever you can fit it into your schedule, without committing to classes on specific days. These courses also typically include a large bank of practice questions or simulated exams with the ability to practice over and over again within your access period. Something that is critical for preparing for the exam. Self-paced online pmp exam prep courses can be taken anywhere, anytime and the ones from Brain Sensi may even be downloaded for off-line viewing, on the go, or streamed via Spotify or Apple Podcast. Finally, it is proven that listening, reading, and practicing new information in a variety of different styles and formats, helps you to better retain the information.
Be sure to check out the PMP Certification Training offered by Brain Sensei. Their PMP exam prep courses are offered both as a self-paced option and a live virtual instructor option. Their live virtual instructor course includes access for a year to their self-paced course, making it the best of both worlds for a lower price than most instructor-led PMP exam prep classes. Brain Sensei’s comprehensive programs will help you fully prepare for the PMI certification exam. They’ve also taken a unique story-based approach, with makes the learning more entertaining and effective. Studies have shown that using stories to teach helps your attention span, your memory and hence, your chances of passing the PMP exam.
Best yet, both the self-paced PMP exam prep course and the instructor-led online PMP exam prep courses do qualify you for the 35 education hours necessary to apply to the PMI to take the PMP exam.
If you’d prefer the feeling of a physical PMP book or need the help of a live instructor, you may prefer to purchase one in those formats (Brain Sensei has a live virtual instructor course too).
How To Best Use the PMBOK to Prepare for the PMP Exam?
Remember that the PMP exam content is heavily related to the fundamentals outlined in the PMBOK guide. The PMBOK guide is the Project Management Body of Knowledge. This resource is prepared and published by PMI. Depending on any new methods or emerging changes, the PMI tends to update the PMBOK and publish new versions every 2 or 3 years.
More Information About the PMBOK Guide
As we’ve pointed out, the PMBOK is an important tool to utilize when studying for the PMP exam, just make certain that you have the most recent version when studying it.
At the same time, it is well known that the PMBOK is not an ‘easy’ read. It can be difficult to understand the material covered in the book as it does not always correlate to their real-world applications, as most traditional educational materials would.
Therefore, while you need to be familiar with the PMBOK guide – additional resources are important to consult for rules of application, tips on how to study, what to study, what pitfalls and challenges to look out for, etc.
All of this supporting education can be found in PMP books, which we will now review.
#1 PMP “Book” | Brain Sensei’s Course Consumed as an Audiobook/Podcast
While, again, there are a large variety of ways to study for this, and any exam, a PMP exam prep book isn’t always the most comprehensive and complete resource. By using a PMP exam prep book, you’re also very much on your own.
In this instance, we’ll also give a nod to the convenience factor, as that tends to be a top concern for working project managers using their off hours to study for the exam. Therefore, while Brain Sensei does not have a physical prep book, i offer hands-off audio (and video) of their entire PMP Exam Prep course that can be used as an audio prep PMP book. This can be streamed via Spotify or Apple Podcast and can also be listened to off-line for Apple users. Along with their audio or video walkthrough of the PMP exam prep material, you’ll also have access to their interactive self-paced course and bank of 1,500 realistic practice questions and exam simulator. Well worth the minor additional cost over and above a typical PMP exam prep book.
If you are a manager on-the-go, squeezing studying into your off-hours, your lunch breaks and your commute, listening to a prep-course in the same format as a PMP Exam Training Audiobook or PMP Exam Training Podcast may be the perfect solution. You can check out the Brain Sensei PMP exam prep courses here.
#2 PMP Book | Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep Book
If you are looking for a physical book, rather than an audiobook or self-paced PMP exam prep course to help you study, this PMP Exam Prep book is one of the most popular on the market. Written by Rita, it may be the most well-known after the PMBOK Guide. The Rita PMP exam prep book was first published in the 1990’s and has since continued to be updated so that it continues to match the current PMP certification exam and all updates and changes that are made through the years.
This book is laid out in an easy-to-follow format and has the sections outlined to follow along with the PMBOK so that it is easy to match your learnings between the PMBOK guide and the chapters of this book. The book also contains quizzes to help you test your knowledge at the end of each chapter.
#3 PMP Book | The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try
The next PMP book on our list is by Andy Crowe and is a great resource, specifically for practice questions that are similar to ones you may find on the exam. In fact, some even claim that the questions spelled out in the PMP book can be harder than the ones on the real exam at times. Knowing this, you may feel that pushing yourself to study this comprehensive guide may get you feeling extra prepared and keep you from feeling nervous about any tough questions that may come your way when taking the actual PMP Exam.
#4 PMP Book | Head First PMP Book
Many reviews of the Head First PMP book by Jennifer Greene, PMP & Andrew Stellman, PMP, claim it to be one of the easiest books to read, understand and use when studying for the PMP exam.
In fact, it is said that this PMP book uses the same, Brain Sensei approach, the method of making the content fun, relatable and entertaining in order to help you comprehend and retain the information.
All of this said, it is important to note that this particular PMP book covers more than the PMP exam content. If the only resource you are looking for is one to help you study specifically for the exam, you may wish to go with a more direct training method.
#5 PMP Book | PMP Exam Simplified
This book, written by Aileen Ellis is another one that takes the approach of being a companion to the PMBOK. Like the PMBOK guide, this book also focuses on the inputs, outputs, tools and techniques (ITTOs) in order to help you better understand the PMOBK. It is also important to note that some reviews feel that the practice questions outlined in this book are not being overly similar to the ones on the actual exam.
What is the Best, Most Helpful PMP Book for Me to Use?
Ultimately, the answer to this question comes down to your preferences, your learning style and the areas you feel are your weakest when it comes to taking the PMP exam. If, for example, you want more of a soft lead-in to PMP exam concepts, perhaps a more overall approach taken in the Head First PMP book is for you. Alternatively, if you are looking for more step-by-step information, or are most concerned about the format of the information being easily accessible on-the-go, perhaps listening to a fully comprehensive course in an audio or video format is the best choice.
Think through your needs, your goals and your learning style before choosing which PMP Study resources are best for you!