March 30, 2021

The Books You Need to Pass The NEW PMP® Certification Exam! [2021 Version]

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by Markus

March 30, 2021


In general there are two types of Books you need for your preparation for the PMP Exam:

1. The official PMP reference books accordingly to PMI's reference List

2. The PMP preparation Books like Rita's; Head First PMP and others

So, let's first have a closer look on the official Reference List.

Most PMP aspirants still believe that the PMP Exam is based on the PMBoK Guide. ... It is NOT!

To make this perfectly clear:

"The PMP Exam is based on the current PMP Exam Contest Outline!"

and NOT on the current PMBoK Guide!

Candidates should be aware that the PMP exam is not written after a single text or supported by a special reference. 

PMI does not endorse specific review courses, resources, references or other materials for certification preparation. The references listed here are not inclusive of all resources that may be utilized and should not be interpreted as a guaranteed means of passing the exam.

As the PMP is a competency-based certification which assesses the integrated set of knowledge, skills and abilities as gained from both practical and learned experiences, it should also be noted that the references identified herewith are but one element of a broader set of educational resources and texts that might possibly be utilized for exam and study preparation. 

The official PMP Exam reference books as per the list by PMI are (in no particular order; click on the headline for a direct link!):

Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling

Author: Harold Kerzner
Publisher: Wiley

Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Hybrid

Author: Robert K. Wysocki
Publisher: Wiley

Information Technology Project Management, 7th Edition

Author: Kathy Schwalbe
Publisher: Cengage Learning

Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process

Author: Kenneth S. Rubin
Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Agile Practice Guide

Author: Project Management Institute
Publisher: Project Management Institute

Fundamentals of Technology Project Management, 2nd Edition

Author: Colleen Garton with Erika McCulloch
Publisher: MC Press

Project Managers Portable Handbook, 3rd Edition

Author David Cleland and Lewis Ireland
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Project Management: The Managerial Process

Author: Erik Larson
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

The Project Management Tool Kit: 100 Tips and Techniques for Getting the Job Done Right

Author: Tom Kendrick
Publisher: AMACOM

PMBOK® Guide – 6th Edition

Author: Project Management Institute
Publisher: Project Management Institute

This is PMI's official reference books list!

Did you know that, for example, professional question authors must always refer to at least two sources. Usually one of the sources is the PMBoK Guide and then they need at least one more source and that is one (or more) of these reference books.

We will take a closer look at and analyze each of these books in further articles.

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The second type of Book you will need for PMP Exam preparation is a so called Prep Book:

What usually happens is that students preparing for the PMP exam try to go through too many PMP Exam Prep books or other resources thinking that they will be able to absorb everything that they watch and read.

That is far from the truth. Too many books will in fact confuse you. Usually, one good exam prep book and one course is enough to complement the PMBOK Guide. Studying the PMBOK Guide is of course a must for any PMP student and no exam prep book is a substitute for it. And don't forget to study the PMBOK Guide Glossary. As boring as that may seem, you'll really get to know and understand the terminology you need for the exam.

So instead of muddling your brains with too many prep books, choose the one you like best to complement your PMBOK studies to ensure a successful exam. 

Currently (April, 2021) there are just a few prep books for the new exam version avalable. We will expand that list as soon as other books are released. To not miss any update you should join our newsletter down below. 

Here are the currently available prep books for the 2021 PMP Exam version:

PMP Exam Prep - 10th Edition (Rita's) 

von Rita Mulcahy  

PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide: 2021 Exam Update 

von Kim Heldman  (Autor)

The PMP Exam: How To Pass On Your First Try: How to Pass on Your First Try: 6th Edition + Agile

von Andy Crowe  

Achieve PMP Exam Success, 6th Edition: A Concise Study Guide for the Busy Project Manager, Updated January 2021

von Diane White  

PMP Exam Prep Simplified: Covers the Current PMP Exam and Includes a 35 Hours of Project Management E-Learning Course

von Andrew Ramdayal  

This are the two types of books you do need for the PMP Exam preparation. But there are some more artifacts you should utilize.

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Read on to learn which seven essential things you need in your PMP Exam preparation process:

1. PMP® Credential Handbook

The  PMP® Credential Handbook  should be the first stop for anyone who consider becoming a PMP.

Including everything from an overview of the PMI® certification program to exam policies and procedures, the PMP® Credential Handbook is available for free online.

The first 20 pages of the handbook cover many exam basics and are a must-read for every potential examinee. Becoming familiar with the application process, payment policy, and examination administration rules will go a long way to making the actual exam day less stressful.

"The  PMP® Credential Handbook  should be the first stop for anyone who intends to become a PMP."

2. Time

Most of us are probably already full-time project managers or are currently pursuing another profession. The time spent on the job and other obligations is usually rather short anyway.

This time must be used sensibly, because the material on the PMP® Exam is vast and detailed. This is not an examination you can “cram” for in a couple of weekends. Plan to take the exam after spending at least 10-12 weeks of studying for an hour or two nearly every day.

Naturally, this schedule will have to be flexible enough to fit in with the rest of your responsibilities and commitments.

3. A Study Plan And Schedule

The topic before leads directly to this one here: As project managers, we are well aware of the importance of a plan and schedule.

Create a study schedule over 10-12 weeks that fits with the rest of your responsibilities. Depending on your job and household commitments, you may need more or less time.

Take a practice exam to evaluate your weaknesses and consider spending more time on those areas. Be realistic in how much material you can cover each day and set weekly goals to track your progress. Don’t forget to include time for refreshing breaks and activities that you enjoy.

If you need inspiration or just do not want to create a study plan on your own, you may use our ready-to-use "PMP prepartion guidance programm". This works like your very own "Out-of-the-box-study-plan" but is fully flexibel and customizable to your personal needs. 

Please have a look here; it is totally FREE (headover by clicking on the Image below:

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LinkedIn Group

Our supportive online community is the best place to connect with others just like you.

4. The "PMP Exam Content Outline (PMPECO)" and "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)"

PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition

Most people are thinking that the PMP® 
Exam is based on the most current version of the PMBOK® Guide (currently 6th Edition). That is NOT true!

The PMP Exam is based on the "PMP Exam Content Outline (PMPECO)". While the content of the PMBOK® Guide with its Knowledge Areas including communication, cost management, human resources, integration, procurement, quality, risk, scope, and time management is foundational as a learning source, the PMPECO with its Domains and Tasks is the guideline for what will be tested in the PMP Exam.

So, you need both of them anyway and it is essential to understand each of the topics individually and how they work together for overall project management success.

If you like to learn more about the PMBOK® Guide, how it is structured and its content, you should head over to this article here: ✪ PMBOK® Guide 6th Ed. Knowledge Areas, Process Groups and Processes ✪ 

The current "PMP Exam Content Outline" can be downloaded here:

"The  PMP® Exam is based on the current Exam Content Outline

5. A prep Course

It bears repeating: The PMP® Exam covers a large amount of material in a relatively short period of time. Don’t be discouraged! 

Before the 2021 PMP Exam Change you could choose between a variety of so called self-study or online courses.
This has changed now that PMI has also changed its ATP (authorized Training Provider) policy.
Now no third party provider is allowed to declare and offer an online course as a PMP preparation course.

Instead, you now have the choice between the official (and very expensive) PMI On-Demand Course, which is unfortunately not recommended in terms of quality, or a Life (virtual) Instructor Led Course, which usually lasts for 5 days (and thus also meets the requirements of the 35 Contact Hours!).
Since these courses require a trainer and are quite complex in terms of preparation and implementation, they are also much more expensive than the previously permitted on-demand courses.

This makes a careful selection of both reputable providers and high quality offers even more important than before.

This is our clear recommendation:

✪ PMP® Exam Prep With PMI's Official Course in 2021! ✪  

Book your appointment now or get on the waitlist for the official PMI PMP Prep Course for the 2021 exam.

Streamline your studies.

Focus on what matters.

Get exam ready with our proven approach.

You want to be PMP certified. We have the PMI-approved PMP training program to get you there. Wherever you are in the world, you can join our live online classes and accelerate your PMP journey.

  • Be exam ready with the official PMI PMP Certification Training
  • Learn from fully PMI-certified instructors
  • Know what's on the test ahead of time thanks to over 2,000 sample questions

Cick on the Image/Button below to be directed to the Course Page and learn more about the details: 

6. PMP® Exam Prep Book

There are a wide variety of PMP® Exam prep books available. Some people call them “study guides”.

They complement and explain the dry concepts from the PMBOK® Guide and having one at hand in your studies is an absolute must. Go to your favorite bookstore and select one that fits with your style of learning and covers a variety of high- and low-yield topics.

We do provide detailed Reviews for most of the books within our "Project Managers PMP Exam Prep Guidance" program, we mentioned in Topic 3 above!

Or you may have a look at our artcile 

The 12 Most Popular PMP Study Materials for your PMP Exam Preparation

Within that article we give you an overview about the most popular PMP Exam prep books out there (with recommendations). 

PMP Exam Prep - 10th Edition (Rita's) 

von Rita Mulcahy  

PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide: 2021 Exam Update 

von Kim Heldman  (Autor)

The PMP Exam: How To Pass On Your First Try: How to Pass on Your First Try: 6th Edition + Agile

von Andy Crowe  

Achieve PMP Exam Success, 6th Edition: A Concise Study Guide for the Busy Project Manager, Updated January 2021

von Diane White  

PMP Exam Prep Simplified: Covers the Current PMP Exam and Includes a 35 Hours of Project Management E-Learning Course

von Andrew Ramdayal  

7. Practice! Practice! Practice!

A large number of free PMP® Exam sample questions are available from hundreds of resources on the internet.

These free mock exams are a good start, but because they are free they will only go so far for you. You will also want to subscribe to an online PMP® Exam Simulator to have access to the highest possible quality of samples.

Your study plan must include answering as many practice questions as possible including at least three to four complete 200-question practice exams.

This type of preparation will help gauge your study progress and prepare you for the format of the real thing. You will be nervous on exam day, but becoming intimately familiar with types and formats of questions will help reduce anxiety and prepare you for success.

And again  - thanks to Cornelius - we do have the pleasure to provide an exclusive discounted offer, if you prefer to go for a simulator only (you already got it, click on the Image ... 😉 ): 


To sum up, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure you are prepared for the PMP® Exam.

Including these 7 items in your studies will reduce anxiety and eliminate stress associated with the exam day.

Study hard and good luck!

If you like, please let us a comment here down below. We would be really exited to hear from you how you find this article.

All the best to your preparations and until next time, 


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Click here to get your Ebook immediately and kick start your PMP preparation! For instance you will learn which study materials you "must have" and which are optional.
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About Markus

Markus Kopko, PMP

20+ Years of Relevant Experience

Markus has more than 20 years of management and leadership experience, including more than 18 years in Project and Program Management.


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One of Markus's central objectives and motivations is to implement and deploy the PMI project philosophy and a PMI-based project management methodology in his company.

Social Media Thought Leader

Markus set up a few PMI certification related LinkedIn groups and is co-administrator of the biggest and most active PMP related LinkedIn group:'I want to be a PMP'. Markus is also one of the most viewed contributors in PMP and PMI related content/questions at Quora. He also founded his own Project Management related website at

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