I am ready to start preparation for the PMP and wanted to get your opinion on the resources you've used (outside of the PMBOK to prepare).

I am really interested in a self paced online course, and one or two books.

The books seem fairly straight forward based on Amazon reviews:

Online courses seem to be a dime a dozen. Definitely want a reputable company that you all might have some experience with. Also, this is more of an opinion question, what is a good length of time to set aside for studying for the exam? 6 weeks, etc? The latter might not be a good question for this forum, but thought I'd pose it.

  • Here's a great post from Paper Cut PM on how he went about studying for and passing the PMP. Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 17:35
  • 4
    Questions asking us to recommend or find tools, books, study materials, or other off-site resources are off-topic as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, please ask targeted questions about a specific project management knowledge domain.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 17:20

9 Answers 9


Head First PMP - By far the best book, and one of the best series as well. It might seem a bit silly at the beginning, but the hands on approach and explenation with images is really great in these books.

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Head First PMP: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Passing the Project Management Professional Exam

Head First PMP offers 100% coverage of The PMBOK® Guide principles and certification objectives in a way that's engaging, not tedious. This book helps you prepare for the PMP certification exam with a unique method that goes beyond answers to specific questions and makes you think about the big picture of project management. By putting project management concepts into context, you will be able to understand, remember, and apply them-not just on the exam, but also on the job.

  • Head first and the PMBoK were the only books I needed to pass the PMP
    – SBWorks
    Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 8:47
  • Yeah!! same here... and about 12 mock papers Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 6:38
  • I prepared for the PMP exam doing self-study, just using the PMBOK plus Kerzner's book Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling (the PMBOK is light in that area).
  • When it comes to resources for PMP preparation, it's very much down to your individual learning style: if you have experience as a PM and are disciplined at self-study, you don't actually need any courses.
  • One thing that I found very useful however is using exam simulators. There are a lot out there, and I used whizlabs which I found very close to the real exam.
  • Timing-wise, I gave myself 3 months to study: I actually booked the exam before I started to study so I had a hard deadline to work towards. The first couple of months I studied a couple of times a week (say 6 hours per week) then ramped up in the last couple of weeks with more intensive study sessions (my last week-end before the exam was dedicated to it). In total I estimate around 70-80 hours (as a comparison, instructor-led trainings usually take 5 working days so say 40 hours). I spent a lot of time at the beginning in working out how the PMBOK was structured, how the exam worked and how to prepare for it, which I would think is covered in a very short time when you do an online or instructor-led course.
  • I would advise you to do a sample exam to see where you're at before starting your study as this will help you identify any weak areas and determine what resources you need. You can just google for terms like "PMP sample questions" or "PMP free exam" - just be careful that the questions are for the current version of the PMBOK, not an old one.

Welcome to the club then, Aaron! I'm following such a path myself. 

These questions have a lot of viable answers out there. Let me propose a few sources:

And here is a more direct answer...

Personally, I am reading the PMBOK guide first (please note there's a free PDF copy for PMI members on the pmi.org site).

As the language of this book is rather dry, there's a lot of highlighting and notes in my case. While adding notes, I relate to my personal work experience and known theory (PRINCE2). This helps.

My second resource is the PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide by Kim Heldman.

Why? Because it had many positive reviews and was available for the Kindle. I needed a more practical (lively ;-) ) companion to the PMBOK too.

My third resource is the PM PrepCast.

Why? Because I needed something to listen to (or watch, for that matter) while commuting. The price is reasonable and I respect Cornelius Fichtner for what he does.

In all cases, make sure you choose the 4th edition of the framework.

Regarding the study time required... Some insight can be found at the locations mentioned above, but I'd say... "it depends." Depends on whether you currently have a daytime job, whether you have kids (judging from the picture - you do :-) ). I aim for at least 30 pages a day for the primary material. Have in mind that the application process might take some time as well.

And while we are at it, planning the learning (chunks), and crossing out whatever is done, really helps. Nothing new, but a friendly reminder. One useful resource might be the Pomodoro Technique (free book and cheat sheet here).

Good luck and let's keep in touch! 


Rita's books (your second choice) are excellent and a valuable resource. Read the PMBOK twice, read one of her prep books, and you'll be all set.


PMBOK Guide 5th Edition is released now. Even though new edition of the book is out, PMI is still following the PMBOK Guide 4th edition for the PMP exam until July 31, 2013. All PMP training and study guide providers are in the process of updating their materials for upcoming change. If you are preparing now, make sure you take the exam BEFORE July 31. If not, plan on taking it after August. Because, August will be the month when the new version of the book will be used for the exam and you won;t have enough training and support materials for your preparation. Use the month of August to find some lessons learned etc which will allow you to better prepare for the exam.


You should adopt a strategy of reading and studying different topics of project management to become a better project manager. Passing the PMP test becomes a positive side effect.

  • 1
    I completely agree that the certification does not make the manager. Thank you for this often overlooked point.. Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 13:19

A bit late for the original asker, but others might find the following useful.

This is my 'proven' method (8 or 12 weeks), which I have applied several times, once for myself and as a study coach for others.


  • The PMBOK edition you're going to take the exam on
  • Rita Mulcahy's PMP studybook (or any other, but I found this the best one, by far)
  • Some more example questions, preferably listed by PMBOK chapter. You can search around on the net, but they're often the same and of poor quality. There used to be a PMI question book available - its cheap if you divide the costs among participants. Even cheaper if the company pays :-)
  • a bunch of enthousiastic students
  • (optional) a friendly PMP, at least one who remembers the book or who wants to dig into it again (to give him a reason to check out the latest version, for instance.)

All participants study (or at least read) one or more PMBOK chapters each week, and the appropriate sections in Rita's book. The study-group comes together each week for 1,5 to 2,5 hours

For each chapter (except 1, 2 en 3), you have

  • 30 min Q&A
  • 20 min test-questions
  • 20 min review & discussion of answers/results

A possible schedule could look like this:

Week 1: Introduction PMBOK and PMP exam; how to apply, ...

Week 2: Chapters 1, 2 en 3

Week 3: Integration & Scope

Week 4: Time & Cost

Week 5: Quality & HR

Week 6: Risk

Week 7: Procurement & Communication

Week 8: General review & practice exam

You can also follow a 12 week schedule like I did: each week one chapter (except for 1,2 & 3); after the Q&A, test and review time, the friendly PMP could give an intro on the next chapter (it helps when you hear it before reading the material). Ofcourse, this is also possible with the 8-week schedule, but then you'll get long sessions.

Some final notes on new PMBOK versions

  • Make sure to register for the exam when you start, because the slots just before the "exam-switch" to the new version, tend to fill up pretty quickly
  • Be careful with ordering study and example question books around the time of the version switch; they often claim on the cover they're adapted to the latest version, while they're still the previous book inside and you have to download an addtional paper with 'changes' ...

Good luck!


Something I don't see mentioned is leveraging the membership to PMI that you're paying good money and spending good time studying for. Put another way, use your PMI membership access to free ebooks to help you study instead of buying more stuff.

Namely, after you sign up for PMI membership, something you're required to do to schedule your exam, you get access to the "eReads & Reference" section at PMI.org located here

There are a number of the latest edition of exam study books there, including one of my personal favorites "PMP Exam Prep: Questions, Answers & Explanations, 2013 Edition".

In lieu of paying additional money for someone else's exam questions, leverage your membership and the professional organization you're actively pursuing to help get you there.

Note- those links require you to be a PMI.org member to access.


I have written a post that describes 15 reasons why aspirants Failed PMP Exam. You should read this and imbibe all the points written in the post. This will help you in determining what you should do and what you should avoid. Let’s talk about specific things that you should do.

1. Attend a Formal 35 contact hours training

You should attend a formal training followed by self study. This approach has many benefits. A formal training * can reduce your effort (and save time) by helping you to do a targeted study. * would clarify your doubts and make your self-study easier. * would motivate you do finish exam quickly. * would give you study material and tips for passing the exam. Usually the classroom training is the best. But it is more expensive also. If you are worried about the cost or if the classroom training is not available in your region then you can go for online classroom. You can read this article for review & comparison of 6 courses - PMP Live Online Training Course.

As an alternative, you can go for an online training that costs much less. You can read this article for review & comparison of 7 courses - Best PMP Online Training Course.

2. Must Study PMBOK Guide You should not skip the PMBOK Guide even if you have 2–3 reference books. It is important to understand Guide’s terminology, concepts and language directly from the source.

3. Get a Good Study Guide

PMP reference book is important part of the preparation. A book would be your constant study companion so you should choose it well. You can read this for review & comparison of 4 best selling books - Best PMP Study Guide.

This article will tell you which is the best book for you. Different people have different learning styles. So what may be good for others, may not be suitable for you.

4. Prepare & Follow a Schedule

Discipline is very important for anything in life, including PMP exam. You should prepare a schedule that your style of learning and follow it. You should study everyday and should not have gaps in-between your studies.

5. Invest in a Good Simulator

You would need a good exam simulator to get ready for the exam. A simulator provides many benefits is is essential part of exam prep. To understand its benefits you can read - 13 Reasons to Invest in a Paid PMP Practice Exam. You can also check if you are ready for the exam or not by reading this article - PMP Exam Passing Score.

To buy a good simulator, you can this article for review & comparison of 6 popular simulators - PMP Exam Simulator.

All the best.

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