The PRINCE2® certification exam is tricky to pass because of the style of objective testing and the number of questions you have to answer.
But PRINCE2® itself is not a difficult method to learn – and the official manual is actually pretty easy to follow and understand. The latest manual, that came out in 2023 (you’ll hear this called PRINCE2 7) edition is even easier to read, and I feel like I can say that with some confidence as I was one of the reviewers for the text.
When I did my Foundation and Practitioner exams, I only used the two official PRINCE2® handbooks:
and the partner book:
To be honest, I didn’t think about buying any other books at the time, as those were enough alongside the course material from my training provider.
As an aside, the PRINCE2® training provider I recommend for is MPlaza. Their materials are great.
However, there were a wide range of books available to help you understand the core practices (these used to be called themes), principles and processes of PRINCE2®. At the time of writing (December 2023), there really aren’t that many guidebooks to PRINCE2 7th edition as it is so new, but there are some, which is more than I can say for when I first looked in September 2023 when there were zero.
The lack of choice shouldn’t be a problem for you as the manual is all that you need to pass the exam. It is readable, if a little dull, but it will give you everything you need to be exam-ready. I would supplement it with a PRINCE2 exam simulator to test your skills at test taking, but the knowledge is all in the book.
If you are studying for your exam and wondering what to read to supplement your learning, here are my recommendations. Keep scrolling, as my favorite study guide is the last one on the list.
1. Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2®
I think you should read the original guidance. It’s written in a very accessible way. If your training provider does not provide it, it is worth investing in. Not least because Practitioner is an open book exam and you can tab and annotate your manual to help you in the test.
Make sure you get the 2023 (latest) version, known as PRINCE2 7.
It is expensive – see if you can put it on your business expenses but is the best PRINCE2® book and you can pass the exam with just this one.
2. Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2®
Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2® is not an essential read for the exam, but it is super useful and provides a lot of background information about project context that is helpful.
This book is the partner book to Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2® (as the name suggests). It’s aimed at senior managers and senior project leaders. It covers the kinds of things that you need to know as a project sponsor working in a PRINCE2® environment.
The book approaches the project world from the perspective of someone in a leadership role, so it’s not directly relevant to project managers doing the day-to-day work. However, being able to see what the project process looks like on the exec side is very helpful and gives you a rounded view.
That background info is useful for improving your practice and filling in some of the gaps in how the whole thing is supposed to work.
If your manager is happy to fund this one, get it!
Note that this book is based on PRINCE2 2017 (6th edition) and we’re waiting for an updated version for PRINCE2 7.
Are you taking the
The book covers
The second part of the book is the guidance, tailoring and techniques that are core for the exam. It looks at how to apply the principles, themes and processes in an
Part 3 looks at areas of particular focus for PRINCE2
Keith Richards is one of the authors and that gives me immense confidence in the quality and applicability of the text. I’m sure the other authors are great too, but I don’t think I know any of them! I hadn’t realized that Keith was behind this book.
Agile®: An Implementation Pocket Guide
There are hardly any PRINCE2
This book by Jamie Lynn Cooke is available as an Audible ebook and on Kindle as well as in paperback format. However, it is not an exam prep book for the
It covers the important things to know for
It’s something to read before you take a training course, to give you a bit of background on the terminology and context, especially if you already sat the ‘vanilla’ Practitioner exam and are now adding
5. PRINCE2 7 Foundation Companion
This book by Beate Friedrich is a study guide for the Foundation exam. Normally, people do both the Foundation and the Practitioner exam quite close together — if you are going to make the effort to study for one, you may as well study for both, right? That’s what I did anyway.
This book is relatively straightforward to read, but for me it was very similar to the official manual. If you struggle with the language in the official manual, you might find this one easier to get your head around, but broadly the books are laid out in the same structure.
This book does have exam study advice at the back, which the official manual does not. It’s not an expensive book if you get the Kindle version, so worth a read if you feel like having someone else explain the concepts will get you through the materials more quickly.
6. Mastering PRINCE2 7: An In-depth guide to key terms and concepts
Mastering PRINCE2 7 by Charles Crawford is a huge book, coming in at 429 pages. I would say (although I haven’t got my PRINCE2 manual here to check) that it’s longer than the official guidance! Why would you need an extra, heavy read for your exam prep?
The benefit of this book is that it is full of real life examples and practical applications. If you are struggling to see how PRINCE2 comes to life, then this book will help you work out how to put the concepts into practice.
It’s a gigantic glossary of terms with best practices and implementation tips, but you have to be pretty dedicated to get through the whole thing. Best for dipping in and out when you need a refresher of the core concepts or vocab.
7. PRINCE2 7th Edition Exam Prep
PRINCE2 7th Edition Exam Prep by Charles Crawford is completely dedicated to helping you pass the exam. It’s simple, clear, easy to read and it steps you through the things you need to learn to pass the exam.
It also covers study strategies and key takeaways. As with the book above, it’s a huge read, but you wouldn’t need any other book (apart from the official manual, which I don’t think you can get away without looking at).
If you feel like you need another book to sit alongside your manual, and you are taking the Practitioner exam, this is the one to get.
How to choose PRINCE2® books
The most important consideration, whatever PRINCE2® book (or books) you end up buying, is to make sure they are aligned to the latest version of the manual. There are still old versions of several books floating around out there, so double check that you aren’t getting the 2017 or 2009 version by mistake.
Next, think about what other materials you are going to get as part of your training course. If you are self-studying, it’s more important to have the right reading material. However, too many books to read just gives you more to do, and I think that time is probably better spent doing practice exam questions.
Good luck with your test!
If you are looking for some other suggestions for project management books to read, you can check these out:
- Books by Elizabeth Harrin (that’s me!)
- Best books on project collaboration
- Best leadership books for project managers
- 8 must read books on stakeholder management
- 10 best books on change management