Best PMP Study Guides for 2016-2017

There are quite a few “Best PMP Study Guides” lists out there. Most of them aren’t great. So we’ve put together a better list.

Getting your PMP certification is important.  And because you’ll be spending a good chunk of time studying (35+ hours) it’s critical you get the right advice.

The following is a chart of the best PMP Study Guides. Keep reading for a short review of them all.

RankBook TitlePagesPrice
1Official PMBOK Guide589$45
2Rita's PMP Exam Prep624$90
3Head First PMP894$55
4The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try516$75
5PMP Exam Simplified486$35
6McGraw-Hill Education PMP Project Management Professional Exam368$35

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

The PMBOK Guide is akin to a PMP bible.

No list of the best PMP books can can omit this resource. It’s published by the official PMP test makers, PMI. And as such it is the official text-book for project management.

In many ways the PMBOK is the backbone of the PMP exam. The book goes over all the important items you’ll need to know about project management. It sets the basis for theory and approach. Giving information on process groups, knowledge areas, inputs and outputs. The text’s arranged in a traditional manner. Meaning it’s a dry read. But it’s content is gold.

If you’re preparing for the PMP exam this is definitely a book to look through. But understand it’s not designed to prepare you for the exam. There are no practice questions. This is the PMP reference bible.

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

Rita’s Course in a Book is one of the best and most popular PMP exam prep books out today. And for good reason.

It’s detailed, easy to follow and offers step by step instruction. It covers the concepts you need to know for the exam. There is plenty of discussion on how the PMI framework makes a project manager more effective.  This helps bring together and make more sense of the material.

We found the included sample questions to be in line with what you can expect on testing day. Some of the exercises we went through were even more difficult than needed. There are some extra games and activities included that aren’t available anywhere else.

We liked all the hints and tips throughout the book. They’re mixed with clean concept summaries and comparison tables. In fact, the whole content is well put together.

The study preparation Rita put together is top-notch. Used with the official PMBOK Guide, this study guide will lead to a successful outcome.

Head First PMP, Third Edition

We’re big fans of all the Head Start books out there. If you’re unfamiliar, Head Start publishes books around a multi sensory experience. The material’s designed to be fun and engaging. Not text heavy and sleep inducing like other dense prep books.

The book’s language, visual aids, puzzles, games, and attention grabbing tactics ensure you’re engaged. Which makes for easier learning and memory retention.

This book does a wonderful job at keeping with that theme. And by doing so, it makes the review material stick. It contrast to Rita’s PMP Exam Prep, you’ll find a much more graphic and less text-intensive read. Question quality will be similar but Rita’s tended to be a bit more challenging in scope. That said, Head First has unique exercises like matching, crossword puzzles, and short answers.

If you’re looking for something out of the box, consider Head First. It’s a logical, engaging PMP study guide that make retaining processes easier.

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

Andy Crowe’s the founder of Velociteach. A company that provides project management and certification training. His experiences and knowledge  shine through in this study guide. This unique perspective making it one of the best PMP study guides.

The fifth edition is a well rounded study guide designed to supplement the PMBOK guide. Andy does a strong job at reinforcing the primary content. Helping make better sense of the various formulas and processes discussed in the PMBOK.

In general, the material is easy to follow. There are plenty of quality practice questions to work through. The book’s also unique in how well it teaches you to handle PMP questions. You’re taught to dissect question types. And then how to best respond following PMBOK processes.

PMP Exam Simplified

Author, Aileen Ellis, is a PMP expert and leading authority on the PMP and CAPM . She’s helped thousands of professions get their PMP certifications.

Her book’s organized around process groups instead of knowledge areas. For many people, thinking with process groups is easier and more intuitive.

This guides designed to be used with the PMBOK guide. In fact, it tells you what section of the PMBOK to read as you progress through the book. Using two synergies well. After reading a PMBOK section, Aileen summaries the most important ideas. You’re also given a chance to test yourself against practice questions.

The book has around 1,000 sample questions in total. The detailed solutions explain how to derive every answer. Aileen’s a strong believe that practice is critical to success. And this study guide is full of practice opportunity.

If you’re willing to get both this guide and the PMBOK, they pair well together.

McGraw-Hill Education PMP Project Management Professional Exam

McGraw-Hill’s PMP Project Management Professional Exam is a reliable PMP prep book.

It’s written by Henrique Moura. An experienced project manager who has delivered project management training around the world. His writing style is direct. It’s easy to read and the book packs quite a lot into its package.

All essential processes are covered. And what’s great is everyday examples are used to explain these processes. Once you’re done reviewing there are 300 practice test questions for you to work on. There’s also a complete sample PMP exam included.

This guide offers a nice blend of review and practice. Some of the material doesn’t hit too much detail, but pairing it with the PMBOK guide will fill in any gaps.

The PMP Exam: Quick Reference Guide, Fifth Edition

If you don’t have much time to the study for the PMP exam, grab a reference guide.

The guide summarizes the key points you’ll need to know for the exam. It includes all 47 project management processes. Key formulas are also included for quick lookup.

It’s a useful resource to reference certain ITTO’s for the exam. Some of the material is outdated; in particular parts of the communication, cost, and HR sections. This isn’t a huge problem as the principles are still applicable.