✪ All The Books You MUST have to Pass The PMP® Exam ✪

The PMP® exam is not based on a single text. You are tested on a set of skills and knowledge covering a wide range of best practices and experiences. There is no single best PMP exam prep book to tell you what you need to know to pass! ...

By Markus

December 8, 2023 -   minutes read

December 8


The PMP® exam is not based on a single text.

You are tested on a set of skills and knowledge covering a wide range of best practices and experiences. There is no single best PMP exam prep book to tell you what you need to know to pass. 

Smart students use various books and resources to ensure their studies cover the topics in the PMPECO (PMP Exam Content Outline).

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

Then they test what they’ve learned using sample questions either from those books or, for a more robust test experience, a PMP exam simulator

PMI does not recommend any specific reference material (beyond their publications) for certification.
However, they do list 10 books on their website as possible references for students, saying they are one element of a broad set of educational resources you can use to prepare for the exam.

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 at 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 is  NOT testing the PMBoK Guide! 

As the PMP is a competency-based certification that 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 description and a direct link):

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

Author: Harold Kerzner
Publisher: Wiley

Now in its 12th edition, this truly is a workhorse of a book. Aimed at students and professionals, this text is a proven guide to what it takes to manage a project. It covers emerging topics and trends as well as the basics, so expect this one to become your go to desk reference!

Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Hybrid

Author: Robert K. Wysocki
Publisher: Wiley

Effective Project Management is also on the PMI-ACP recommended reading list, so if you think you might be taking that exam in the future, this book serves double duty. It comes with a companion website packed with case studies, exercises and more to help you review and revise the contents.

It covers a variety of different agile approaches including Kanban, Scrumban, and extreme project management, and more traditional approaches are included to, making it a very comprehensive guide to managing projects.

Information Technology Project Management, 7th Edition

Author: Kathy Schwalbe
Publisher: Cengage Learning

Another book that focuses on providing a strong understanding of project management in an IT environment, this is a guide to the latest tools and techniques in the field.

Fully aligned to the PMP and CAPM exams and reflective of the latest version of the PMBOK® Guide, this book provides additional context for core concepts. There are case studies, examples and templates available to help you put your learning into practice.

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

Author: Kenneth S. Rubin
Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Scrum is only one of the many Agile approaches, but it’s one of the most popular. As the PMP exam draws from agile methods, you’ll need a rounded understanding of how Scrum works. Plus, this book serves as a practical guide to putting Scrum to use in the workplace too. There are lots of ways to implement Scrum and this book will help you choose an approach that works for you.

It’s an accessible and easy to read book with plenty of illustrations to help you understand Scrum’s roles, activities and artifacts.

Agile Practice Guide

Author: Project Management Institute
Publisher: Project Management Institute

The Agile Practice Guide is one of the core texts from PMI. The questions for PMP certification are evenly split between iterative and predictive methodologies, so this is a must-read as it covers all aspects of agile project management. Written in collaboration with the Agile Alliance, it also talks about hybrid approaches.

Logged in PMI members can download a free electronic version of this book, but if you want a paper version you’ll need to buy one.

Fundamentals of Technology Project Management, 2nd Edition

Author: Colleen Garton with Erika McCulloch
Publisher: MC Press

This book is aimed at software engineers, students and IT professionals, so it is going to be best suited for people working in a technical environment. It’s a practical handbook to managing projects in the IT arena, written with a gentle sense of humour and aligned to the PMBOK® Guide in many ways.

There are examples, case studies, sample documents and templates to give you a head start in leading your own projects, as well as plenty of information on modern challenges like virtual work and social media use.

Project Managers Portable Handbook, 3rd Edition

Author David Cleland and Lewis Ireland
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

This book is designed to be a practical, hands-on guide to managing projects, packed with the concepts and practices you need to be successful. The authors come with expert credentials and their book is a compact yet detailed overview of the project management process.

It’s easy to use, with plenty of visual references like tables, charts and models to help you understand the key concepts.

Project Management: The Managerial Process

Author: Erik Larson
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

What we like about this book is that it covers the human aspects of managing projects: how to create a culture of delivery. There is also all the information you need on the tools and methods for leading successful projects, as well as detail on the skills to work collaboratively. There’s also a focus on why these concepts and skills work, which will help you remember and adapt them for use in your workplace.

It’s industry-agnostic, which means it’s applicable to wherever you work, making it a good all-round addition to your reading list.

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

Author: Tom Kendrick
Publisher: AMACOM

The Project Management Tool Kit is a book of solutions. There are 100 tips and techniques for dealing with the obstacles project managers face on a daily basis. Packed with step-by-step guidance, the book aims to help you out of tricky situations so you can get back to managing the project.

All areas of project management are covered, from cost estimating and scope planning to stakeholder engagement and risk monitoring. It’s aligned to the PMBOK® Guide too. Charts, checklists and examples mean you’ll find this an easy read and a good reference for the more challenging situations you might find yourself in!

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)*

Author: Project Management Institute
Publisher: Project Management Institute

This is a must-read book as part of your PMP exam prep. For years the PMBOK® Guide has been the main reference for test takers, considered ‘the’ PMP book, and today it’s no different. While we recommend reading widely and using other resources to enhance your studies, the PMBOK® Guide remains the staple text if you want to understand the PMI way of managing projects.

PMI members can download a free electronic version of this book from the PMI website (you need to be logged in first).

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.

Have you noticed that PMI just mentions " PMBoK Guide" in their reference list? Without mentioning a version number? That is not, cause they forgot it! Here is what PMI has to say about the current Edition: 

*The exam is based on the PMP certification exam content outline (ECO), not the (PMBOK® Guide) or other reference books. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – 7th Edition will now be a reference to inform the development of the exam items. However, before any validated exam item is added to the exam, there is a very rigorous and thorough review and field test cycle. This process takes multiple months."

So, as you can see this is the subject of change -  we will keep you posted.

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

And if you ask yourself right now, how that PMBoK Guide 7th Edition might change the PMP Exam and if there is again a new Exam Version in 2022 ... well, we got you covered:

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

"PMP Exam Prep(aration) 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 are enough to complement the PMBOK Guide.

Studying (not just reading!) 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. 

Meanwhile there are quite a few prep books for the current (2021) exam version available.

Here are our recommended prep books for the 2021 PMP Exam version (again in no particular order!):

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  

All-In-One PMP® EXAM PREP Kit,1300 Question, Answers, and Explanations, 240 Plus Flashcards, Templates and Pamphlet

von Darron Clarke  

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

You may consider joining our mailing list to get information when we update that list/article:

In addition there is a very new book which we would strongly recommend to utilize in your PMP Exam Preparation journey. Espacially when it comes to the practicing phase:

✪ Ace your PMP® Exam- Master the Hard Questions: The 50 PMP® Exam Prep Questions EVERYONE gets WRONG ✪

There are some topics everyone gets wrong on the PMP® exam. Being able to answer tricky questions can mean the difference between a pass and a fail. Using data from thousands of mock PMP exams and insights from experienced classroom trainers, this book will show you the project management concepts that most students struggle to grasp.

However, there is a way to prepare confidently for the test so you can breeze through even the hardest questions, and renowned PMP exam prep expert Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, can show you how.

This step-by-step guide to the trickiest concepts on the test teaches:

  • How to answer the different PMP question types
  • How to tackle the 10 most challenging exam topics
  • How to use a proven three-step approach for studying with sample questions
  • How to cope with vague and confusing questions on exam day

Don’t study harder: study smarter!

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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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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! 

✪ How to Ace Your PMP® Exam? - With The World’s Most Popular PMP® Training Course! - the NEW PMPrepCast - aligned to the 2021 PMP Exam! ✪

We are excited to announce that The PM PrepCast has been fully updated for the 2021 PMP® Exam! It now includes Agile and Hybrid concepts to prepare students for the exam (these subjects now make up 50% of the exam questions). 

The well-known, popular PM PrepCast is probably the best online learning tool you can get to assure your exam success within that short time!

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.


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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