We asked certified project management professionals to tell us about the CAPM study guide resources that helped them pass the exam.
The CAPM test tests your knowledge of project management tools, techniques, concepts, and terminology. One of the CAPM exam benefits is that it’s a robust PMI certification program that evidences your ability to operate in a project environment.
However, it’s a tough test. It has to be, to maintain the high standards that PMI is known for. To get through the exam, most students use a range of study materials tailored for CAPM students.
We’ve sifted through hundreds of student testimonials to find the best CAPM study material for you. Save yourself some time and take a look at these tools: we guarantee they will help you pass your exam.
Here are the study materials that come up time and time again in student success stories and why you need them:
1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)
This is the core reference text for the assessment
2. CAPM Exam Simulator
Take the CAPM practice test in a realistic test environment and learn what the exam feels like
3. CAPM Exam Prep Book, by Rita Mulcahy
The most-recommended exam prep book to help you understand the concepts in the PMBOK® Guide
4. CAPM Training Course
Speed up your studies and get guidance on the materials from an expert trainer
The PMBOK® Guide is the core reference text for the CAPM certification exam. You can’t expect to pass the exam without at least a passing glance at what’s inside.
Brittany used it successfully for her studies when she passed with a score Above Target in all areas.
“I read each section of the PMBOK® Guide and took very thorough notes in my notebook,” she says, “because I knew I would do my really hard studying from my notebook”.
She also read the Standard for Project Management which forms part of the Guide, focusing on the core processes.
“I also read the Appendix on Agile/Iterative/Adaptive Project Environments,” she says, “the Summary of Key Concepts, and the Glossary Definitions. This material is gold - do not skip it!”
Brittany got a copy of the book from her library, which meant she had to take her own notes. She shares one of her top CAPM exam tips: “Even though you can get a free PDF of one if you join PMI as a paid member, I highly HIGHLY recommend you get your own physical PMBOK® Guide and simply highlight/underline/take notes in there. This would've saved me an insane amount of time instead of taking notes on a whole 1.5 inch thick textbook. I'm surprised my hand is still attached to my body!”
Prsni Patel passed the exam with a score of Above Target in all areas on the first attempt. After working as a Physical Therapist for 10 years she decided to switch career paths without much experience or knowledge about project management.
Changing career direction involved a lot of work, and she acknowledges that she did “horribly” in her first self-assessment exam. After studying, her mock exam results confirmed that she was ready for the test.
“I spent 3-4 weeks just taking the exams and quizzes from the CAPM Exam Simulator - all 650 of them!” Prsni says. “The most beneficial thing here was to read the descriptions of all the answer choices once the exam was done - not just the ones I got wrong - and also taking quizzes from the pool of questions that I answered wrong the first time. It really helps to cement the concepts that may be creating confusion. On average, I scored between 85% - 95% on the exams.”
An exam simulator is definitely on our essential list of CAPM study material because it helps you prepare for the test in a close-to-real environment. Mock exams help measure your improvement and give you confidence that you are gaining knowledge. You are able to take highly realistic questions under test conditions to get used to the feel of the pressure of a timed exam and also to understand how questions are likely to be worded when you see them on your test.
Many students report finding CAPM Exam Prep, a book by Rita Mulcahy, a useful resource to supplement both their training course and the PMBOK® Guide. It’s a far more accessible text and it breaks down the concepts in a way that is easy to understand.
“Having had ZERO prior exposure to Project Management, I found it hard to get through the PMBOK® Guide, which explains why my study journey spanned 7 months,” says Marsha Banton. “There were moments where after a few pages, I would fall asleep.”
Marsha passed with a score of Above Target in all areas.
“I would definitely also recommend purchasing Rita Mulcahy's CAPM Exam Prep book,” she adds. “I actually regretted not purchasing it sooner, because it truly breaks down the PMBOK® Guide in a more logical way.”
There are other prep books available, but Rita’s seems to come out top time and time again.
Can’t find Rita’s book? CAPM Exam Secrets Study Guide from Mometrix is another good read to look out for.
Finally, it’s essential to have access to a training course as part of your CAPM study plan. Whether you choose an online, self-paced course or a classroom experience with an instructor is up to you and your preferred learning style.
The exam content outline lends itself to a self-paced, online course, and many students opt for one of those as a cost effective option for professional learning.
Pierre-Alexandre Pascone works as a process engineer, and came to project management after being put in charge of leading big capital expenditure projects. “I had never considered project management before, but after reading about the PMI and PMBOK® Guide and ways to efficiently manage projects, I thought it would be something interesting to explore for my career,” he says. He spoke to his management team and they encouraged him to pursue a project management CAPM certification. “Having less than 2 years experience in managing projects, I thought I would start with the CAPM certification,” he explains. He chose to use the Project Management PrepCast for CAPM as his training course, after researching a number of providers.
Pierre-Alexandre used the downloadable lesson plan to structure his studies in the most efficient way, using the guidance to choose the lessons that would help him pass the exam quickly. “I did this to really get down to what I thought were the most important videos in the entire list to save me some time,” he says. “If you have ample time, I highly recommend you watch everything. I was fitting in studying time between working a full-time job and overtime and being a parent with two small kids, so the amount of time I could dedicate to watching the videos was limited.”
He took notes as he watched the training videos. “I personally found the videos were adequate for delivering material, but a bit slow at times. They still did the job of teaching me everything I needed to know about this brand new topic. Whenever I think about project management now, my inner monologue takes on the voice and cadence of Cornelius Fichtner.”
I think many of our students would agree: Cornelius’ voice lives in so many project managers’ heads around the world!
Now you’ve reviewed the best CAPM study material, your next step is to make the choice about which to invest in as you continue your journey towards becoming a certified project manager.
We encourage you to check out the resources discussed above and make your choice for the best CAPM practice exam tool to suit your needs, a prep course and a study book. Finally, be sure to download your electronic copy of the PMBOK® Guide from the PMI website or order a paper copy if you prefer.
With your study materials in hand, you’ll be ready to build out your study plan and book your exam date!
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