The PMP Topper's Toolkit

Aspiring Project Management Professionals will have to take the PMP online test and as is the case with any online test there will be a preparation methodology that involves months of preparation work using numerous resources such as official exam guides, books, and blogs. In the entire universe of resources available to the test-taker, it is important to shortlist which resources are the best tools for the job of preparing for this challenging test. In this blog, I will hopefully alleviate the usual selection headache associated with picking the best publications to help with studying for the test.

A must-have resource and a good starting point for the preparation process is the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide fifth edition (for exams post-2013) which is a publication that represents a standard set of terminology and standards used for project management. PMBOK is an extremely useful tool in preparation for this exam as it forms a standard system of practices that are followed by project managers regardless of company or industry and these practices are overseen by the Project Management Institute (PMI) which is the worldwide membership association for project management profession. That being said, it is a bible of sorts for project managers and is a mandatory read.

Moving on, all your internet searches and blog findings will have agreed on one thing: PMP Exam Prep 7th and 8th edition by Rita Mulcahy is undeniably the best book for preparing for the PMP exam. The aforementioned PMBOK study guide is undoubtedly important but does not reflect everything that is tested on the PMP exam; this limitation is not seen in Mulcahy’s book which is divided into chapters where each knowledge area to study is its own chapter. Each chapter is followed by 30-40 mock exam questions making the format of this book a lesson in practicality. The highlight of the book, however, is ‘Rita’s process chart’ which is a logical way of remembering the chronology of processes and helps assimilate the information better. Once again, this book is rated a must-have and should be the first name on the shopping-list for exam guides.

The next item on the list would be the ground-breaking ‘Headfirst PMP’ book written by Jennifer Greene and Andrew Stellman: What makes this book different from the others is its ability to make the PMP exam content interesting and not as dour as some of the other guides make it seem. It employs a unique perspective that makes the reader take notice of the bigger picture of project management as not just the information you need to pass an exam, but an understanding of the role you will be performing in future project management jobs. Along with the usual chapters and practice questions, Head first PMP employs a wide range of cognitive learning mechanisms such as visuals, diagrams, puzzles, games, and problems which makes studying an engaging activity rather than a tedious task. 

The third most popular study guide among PMP applicants is the PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide written by Kim Heldman: It is a comprehensive study guide with chapters that delve in-depth into various concepts followed by discussions of those chapters. Tests in the book employ real-world scenarios and the book comes with a CD featuring a question bank, electronic flashcards and over two hours of audio. What makes Heldman’s book so popular is probably how cheap it is; one can find a copy selling on Amazon as low as INR 600 which makes it a steal! 

Honorable mentions for other great books on the market go out to ‘The PMP exam: How to pass on your first try 5th edition’ by Andy Crowe, ‘The Q&A’s for the PMBOK guide’ by Frank T. Anbari and ‘Successful project management’ by Jack Gido and James P. Clements. These are very helpful publications as well if you decide to purchase them. All books that I have mentioned come highly recommended and along with numerous blogs, discussions, and forums.

Hope this was helpful and good luck!

Author: Lisa Findlay

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Lisa Findlay