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Book review: PMP: Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide

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I recently got a copy of the 5th edition of PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide, which is the partner text to the Review Guide and has been fully updated for the 4th edition of the PMBoK.

Kim Heldman’s book is a weighty text, coming in at over 600 pages and with another two hours of audio on the included CD. It needs to be, as it covers the whole PMP syllabus in massive amounts of detail, with exam tips thrown in along the way.

I really like the way that Heldman writes, and she does a good job of describing the rather boring concepts that form the project management processes in a way that makes it interesting for the reader. Of course, you need to be at least vaguely interested in project management to find the book interesting, and it does help to be a PMP candidate, but it isn’t as dry as the Review Guide – this book is aimed at the beginner who needs to learn the concepts from scratch.

The book covers the basics of the project environment and the project charter before spending a fair amount of time discussing scope and requirements gathering. Chapters 4 and 5 cover scheduling and budgeting. With those out the way, Heldman goes on to write about risk management, resource planning, running a team, monitoring and controlling work and how to close down a project. There are also sections on procurement management and professional responsibility, which is a hot topic in the PMP exam.

Each section includes real world scenarios, exam hints and a final section on how the theory applies to the next project (or your current project, I suppose).

Heldman writes articulately about team management, which is unsurprising given that she says these topics are some of her favourites.

Although rewards and recognition help build a team, she writes, they can also kill morale if you don’t have an established method or criteria for handing them out. Track who is receiving awards throughout the project… Consider individual preferences and cultural differences when using rewards and recognitions. Some people don’t like to be recognized in front of a group; others thrive on it. Some people appreciate an honest thank-you with minimal fanfare, and others just won’t accept individual rewards as their culture doesn’t allow it. Keep this in mind when devising your reward system.

If this book was smaller and lighter I would seriously consider carrying it around with me, but unfortunately that isn’t practical. However, the entire book is available as a .pdf file on the CD, so you could print off a couple of pages to review on the train, or carry the thing around with you on your laptop if you wanted to study while you are on the road.

Overall, if you are after an interesting, comprehensive book and CD package to help you study for the PMP exam, this is it.

This review first appeared on

About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK and the award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.


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