Home Project Management General Training So you want to be a PMP? Part 3
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So you want to be a PMP? Part 3 Print
Last month we looked at the development of a study plan, and gave you some advice on what might go into one, and what to consider when putting one together. This month we'll look at the resources available on the commercial market. One big issue I found with exam focussed resources was how up to date they were. Given that PMI change the exam periodically, you need to check the date of resources to make sure that they are recent. I found older resources to be increasingly less useful the older they got.

Hence my first piece of advice about resources: buy yourself one recent resource. Even if you buy second hand, make sure that your primary resource is the latest version still in print. I recommended last month that you obtain one key resource. Your key resources should also be up to date.

Note that if you are having to fund your own costs, having a recent manual will permit you the best opportunity to recoup some of that not insignificant investment.

Note that the following is not intended to be a complete list. The following is based on what I used, and my experiences from using them.

Which PMBOK?

Strangely this question is relevant. PMI have recently released the 2000 edition of the PMBOK. However the present exam is based on the 1996 PMBOK. PMI have indicated that the exam will change to the new PMBOK in 2002.

The closer we get to 2002, the more important the question of which PMBOK will become. If you are thinking about going for PMP certification this fact alone makes me advise you - go for it right now. Do not wait.
Not only will there be an updated version of the PMBOK, but the exam will have undergone a review, which means that study material may not be fully aligned to the exam.

If you are not ready to go for it now - maybe you do not have enough experience, or are on a year long project meaning you do not think you will have the study time to pass the exam then I have two more pieces of advice:

Get the PMBOK Version 2000 now, and start reading it in your spare time, and you will find yourself thinking about how it applies to your present project. This 'framework' that the PMBOK gives is essential knowledge for the exam.

Start recording information about your present projects, and recent ones, while the information is still fresh. Then pulling your CV together will be a cinch.

PMP Study & Study Lite Package

If you search the PMI web site for material to help you study, you will find two study packages.
These are outlined below:

PMP Resource Package-Lite includes 8 books and costs from US$230.95 plus shipping (assuming you are a PMI member). It includes only books published by PMI.

The PMP Resource Package includes 14 books and costs from US$409.95 plus shipping (again assuming you are a PMI member). It includes PMI and other publisher's books.

I managed to find a number of these references at my local library. I bought none of them. I have one problem with these resources. They are all excellent books on some or all of project management. Read them and apply the principles, and they will make you a better project manager.

However, if I go back to the point that I made about your objective, they will not help you pass the exam, unless you memorise all 8 or 14 books! And even doing that will be more than you have to do.
Good project management is about doing just what is required - no more and no less.

My point: these are excellent resources, and will help you understand any of the terms you need for the exam, if you need further research. However, they will not prepare you for the exam in and of themselves.

Try and find them at the library as I managed to, or borrow them. Failing that, only buy one book at a time if you know you are weak in a particular area.

Exam Resources

There are a number of these resources available. The ones I have seen follow the format of the PMBOK. That is there is a section on each knowledge area, which includes study notes and questions with answers.

The three resources I have seen or used are:

PMP Exam Prep by: Rita Mulcahy US$84.55
168 Pages.

This was my main resource. It includes 200 questions, but more importantly distils the important things that you have to study into a concise easy to study document. It does not just tell you what to study, it tells you about the subject. If you have limited access to other resources, then this is an excellent resource. If you are close to a good project management library, then the extra cost might put you off.

PMP Exam: Practice Test and Study Guide by J. LeRoy Ward, Ed. US$28.45
218 Pages

This is a comprehensive and value for money resource. It discusses key things to study, and has good, well phrased questions. Its one significant difference with Rita Mulcahy's resource (the last book) is it does not have stuff to learn in it (e.g. Rita's book defines Maslow's hierarchy of needs, whereas this book only tells you it is a major topic). You have to decide if the difference in price is worth it, and whether you can find out the definitions elsewhere.

PMBOK Q&A by Project Management Institute US$19.95
176 Pages

This is a small book which has 170 questions on different areas of the PMBOK. It is a little pricey when compared to the next resource, which has more questions, includes study notes and covers non-PMBOK questions as well, but as a small book to take with you on a bus or train (if you travel such ways), then it has its value.

Please note that the prices above are direct from the PMI Bookshop, and assume that you are a member (yet another reason to join!).

Certify - Computer based set of questions. US$29.00

This is a set of questions that you can purchase. The system runs on your PC, and the complete version is a database of 600 questions. At that price it's cheap when compared to the PMBOK Q&A. Lots of PMPs I have talked to recommend it. However, I found a number of the questions of a type different to that in other sources. It still uses an old format of questions. While I did not buy it, I found a number of people have.

The best thing is you can check out what you think for free - there is a downloadable version of the test, with a stripped down set of questions at their web site.
The site is here: http://pminfo.com/certdown.htm
Editor's Note: 03.01.03: Unfortunately this link doesn't work anymore.

Next month, I will examine some other resources, including some free ones.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please e-mail me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and I will respond to the best questions in a later article.

2001 © Brian Simpson

About the Author:

Brian passed his PMP in February 2001. He is married to Tina and the father of Daniel. Brian has been managing IT projects for over 11 years both in the UK and New Zealand. He is in the process of returning with his family to the UK. Brian can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 

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