The best CAPM prep book

Michael Pollick

In order to qualify for the CAPM exam, a candidate must have a high school diploma or GED, along with 1,500 hours of project management experience or 35 hours of project management instruction.

In the competitive field of project management, it can be a challenge for a newcomer to stand out. One way to get an advantage is to pass the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam. The best CAPM prep books on the market all provide sample questions, test-taking strategies, and a diagnostic pre-test. The ones we recommend, however, go beyond the academics and delve into the thought processes of the test's creators and the exam's real-life applications. We especially recommend Rita Mulcahy's comprehensive and accessible CAPM prep book. Our guide has everything you need to consider when shopping for a CAPM prep book to help you ace the exam.

Considerations when choosing CAPM prep books

The CAPM exam is a pass/fail, multiple-choice exam with a three-hour time limit. Passing the CAPM exam does not always translate to a salary raise or job promotion, but it does demonstrate a candidate's project management skill set.


All of the CAPM exam's material is derived from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), which can be a very dry read. When searching for a good CAPM prep book, consider the overall tone that works best for your studying style. Some prep books take a very academic approach, while others offer a more accessible, conversational tone with real-life applications.

Test simulation

The better CAPM study guides offer a generous number of practice questions and detailed answers. Some also offer diagnostic pre-tests that show candidates where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Some study guides include material intended for the PMP, a more advanced project management exam. Be sure to buy the latest edition of any prep book because CAPM study material can quickly become outdated.


Supplemental materials

Because the CAPM exam requires candidates to apply standard formulas as well as demonstrate critical thinking skills, there is no single study approach that is 100% effective. Look for prep books that provide additional study materials, such as online instructional videos, flashcards, and general test-taking strategies.


You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $75 for the latest edition of most CAPM prep books. The most comprehensive CAPM study guides will cost at least $50, but they should contain enough material to cover all aspects of the exam. Prep books that are under $50 are often ebooks, with basic supplements or access to online instructional videos. We don't recommend buying used CAPM prep books because they will likely be out of date.


Q. Do I need to read the PMBOK before I take the CAPM exam?

A. The questions on both the CAPM and PMP exams are based on information found in the PMBOK. However, the book itself can be dry and academic, which is why most CAPM candidates use prep books instead. Good CAPM prep books distill what's in the PMBOK and present the information in a more approachable way.

Q. How many questions are on the CAPM exam, and what is a passing score?

A. There are a total of 150 multiple-choice questions on the CAPM exam, which must be completed in three hours or less. Fifteen of these questions have no effect on scoring but are used to evaluate future exam material. The CAPM is a pass/fail exam. PMI, the test's creator, no longer releases information on passing scores, but 61% used to be the standard.

CAPM prep books we recommend

Best of the best: Rita Mulcahy's CAPM Exam Prep, 4th Edition

Our take: This CAPM prep book contains useful insights from an experienced author, but supplemental materials may be required for the best results.

What we like: The guide's text is in-depth, not just bullet points or summaries. Includes sections on test-taking strategies. Works well with flashcards.

What we dislike: Does not include actual exam questions, only end-of-chapter summaries.

Best bang for your buck: Aileen Ellis's CAPM Exam Simplified, 5th Edition (Kindle Edition)

Our take: This economical CAPM prep book is ideal for those seeking a simplified approach to studying.

What we like: First-time test takers report successful results. Affordable ebook contains useful charts and graphics.

What we dislike: Study material does not always match actual exam questions. Minimal number of math questions included.

Choice 3: CAPM Exam Secrets Test Prep Team Flashcard Study System

Our take: These flashcards work well for those candidates with good memorization skills, but the information itself can be overly dense and academic in tone.

What we like: Flashcards make memorizing complicated formulas easier. Works well with other CAPM study materials. High success rate for first-time test takers.

What we dislike: Includes material for other exams. Wordy cards could be easily condensed.

Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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