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Buying guide for shopping guide for best capm exam prep books

The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification is a great way for those with little professional project management experience to stand out in a sea of job applicants. It can also be a useful stepping stone on your way to the more prestigious Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. But before you can obtain CAPM certification, you have to pass a rigorous exam covering the fundamentals of project management. It takes a lot of study, but a good CAPM exam prep book can get you up to speed quickly.

Some CAPM exam prep books are clearly a cut above the rest. They provide a good overview of the exam and give you a chance to test your knowledge with realistic practice questions and tests. But with so many prep books on the market, how do you find the best one for your studying needs?

At BestReviews, we dig deep into product research to answer all your shopping questions. If you’re ready to purchase a CAPM exam prep book, check out our favorites. Or keep reading for everything you need to know about preparing for the CAPM exam.

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For the best results, study for shorter intervals every day instead of studying for longer periods only one or two days a week.

What is the CAPM exam?

The CAPM exam is one of the requirements, along with education and professional work experience, required to obtain CAPM certification. CAPM is one of many certifications offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) to help project managers distinguish themselves from their peers and advance further in their careers.

Once you pass the CAPM exam and fulfill the other requirements, your certification is valid for five years. Unlike most other PMI certifications, there is no option to take continuing education courses in order to hold onto your CAPM certification. Instead, you must retake the exam.

What does the CAPM exam test?

The CAPM exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that you must answer within three hours. The exam tests your knowledge of 13 key areas of project management. The questions are mixed on each exam, but you can expect the same approximate number of questions about each topic on every version of the exam.

Here’s a quick overview of what the CAPM exam looks like:

  • Introduction to Project Management (9 questions)

  • Project Environment (9 questions)

  • Role of the Project Manager (10 to 11 questions)

  • Project Integration Management (13 to 14 questions)

  • Project Scope Management (13 to 14 questions)

  • Project Schedule Management (13 to 14 questions)

  • Project Cost Management (12 questions)

  • Project Quality Management (10 to 11 questions)

  • Project Resource Management (12 questions)

  • Project Communication Management (15 questions)

  • Project Risk Management (12 questions)

  • Project Procurement Management (6 questions)

  • Project Stakeholder Management (13 to 14 questions)

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Did you know?
You can take the CAPM exam in the comfort of your own home with a virtual proctor.

How is the CAPM exam scored?

There are 150 questions on the CAPM exam, but only 135 of those are scored. The remaining 15 are pretest questions, which may be included on future versions of the exam as graded items. There’s no way to know which questions are the pretest questions, though, so you should treat all of them as though they count.

The CAPM exam is a pass/fail test, but PMI doesn’t reveal how many questions you must answer correctly in order to pass. This is because that number varies slightly from one version of the exam to the next. Subject matter experts evaluate each question and assign it a degree of difficulty. You get more points for answering a difficult question correctly than an easy one. So, while on one version of the exam you may pass with only 100 questions correct, you might need to answer 105 questions correctly on the next version if the exam is a little easier.

This can make it difficult to know what score you should aim for when studying for the CAPM exam. The goal is always to do as well as you can, but most experts agree that 70% is a good benchmark.

"You must fulfill all the education and work experience requirements and pay the testing fee before you can register to take the CAPM exam."

CAPM exam prep books

Here are a few things you should look for when choosing a CAPM exam prep book.

Diagnostic test

The best CAPM exam prep books will start you off with a diagnostic assessment. You should take this under timed conditions, just like you would the real exam. It’s a good way to see which areas you’re strong in and which ones you may want to spend some extra time on while you’re studying. Plus, it can serve as a benchmark to help you track your progress as you move forward.

Section reviews

CAPM exam prep books should cover all the key topics that will appear on the exam. Because the exam isn’t broken down into sections, usually the information will be broken down by subject, much like a textbook. A good prep book should provide a detailed explanation of all key terms and concepts, and it may offer guidance on where you can learn more about a topic if you’re having trouble understanding it.

Practice questions

Some CAPM exam prep books include practice questions at the end of each chapter to test your comprehension and reinforce the concepts you just reviewed. It’s important that the questions in the prep book are of a similar degree of difficulty as the ones on the real test. Otherwise, they could lull you into a false sense of security.

It’s also crucial that the prep book provides detailed explanations as to why a certain answer is right or wrong. This can help clarify any misunderstandings and will save you time so you don’t have to hunt back through the text to find the information.

Practice tests

It’s a good idea to take several full-length practice tests throughout your study. This will help familiarize you with the exam format, and practice tests are a great way to track your progress. A good CAPM exam prep book will provide several full-length exams that you can take as you proceed through the material in the book.

Test-taking strategies

Some CAPM exam prep books teach you how to approach various types of questions so that you don’t waste too much time trying to figure them out. All the strategies may not work for you, but they can be helpful if you’re struggling on a specific type of question.

Supplemental resources

Everyone learns in his or her own way, and the best CAPM exam prep books provide additional resources to help students choose how they want to learn. These may include flashcards for on-the-go review or a CD with extra practice questions and tests. Some companies even offer an online portal with video lessons covering key topics.

CAPM exam prep book prices

CAPM exam prep books range in price from around $30 to around $75. The amount you pay depends on the quality of the instruction, the number of practice questions and tests, the book’s format, and whether or not it includes any supplemental study tools.

Price isn’t necessarily an indication of quality when it comes to CAPM exam prep books, but most of the top-rated books cost $50 or more. Many are now available in ebook versions as well, and opting for one of these will shave a little off the price.

You can also get supplemental materials for under $50, like flashcards or sample questions, but these probably won’t be enough on their own to get you up to speed for the exam. They can be useful ways to reinforce what you’ve learned, though.


  • Even if the CAPM exam prep book doesn’t include a designated diagnostic exam, it’s best to take a practice test before you begin studying so you can gauge what you know.

  • Use your results from your diagnostic exam as a guide, and make sure you spend extra time working on the areas where you struggled.

  • Set up a study schedule to keep yourself on track when studying for the CAPM exam.

  • If you know someone who is also studying for the CAPM exam, consider studying together. This can help keep you accountable, and your partner may be able to explain concepts that you find confusing and vice versa.

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Whenever you take a practice test from your CAPM exam prep book, you should do so under conditions that are as similar to the real exam as possible. Put away your phone, and time yourself to make sure that you’re managing your time wisely.


Q. When should I begin studying for the CAPM exam?

A. It depends on how much you already know. You can take the CAPM exam at any time, and most people spend at least a few months studying for it beforehand. We recommend setting aside two to three months for studying. If you feel like you’re still not ready to take the test at that point, study a little longer.

Q. Is a CAPM exam prep book the same as taking a CAPM exam prep course?

A. While a CAPM exam prep book will likely cover the same topics as a prep course, the two are not the same. In a class, you have the benefit of a live instructor who can answer any questions you have about the material. However, these courses are often more expensive than prep books, and they are only held at set times. A CAPM exam prep book is a much better fit for independent learners who already have a pretty good grasp of the material.

Q. Can I use an old CAPM exam prep book to study for the test?
A. This is not recommended. The CAPM exam’s outline and best practices in project management often change. If you study from an older book, you may learn outdated information that will cause you to get more questions wrong on the exam.

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