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A call to all PRINCE2 Practitioners
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Hi all,

In exactly one month, I will start a 5-day training course that will lead to me taking the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam. To those of you who already hold the certification, I could use a few pointers in my preparation, specifically:

- The official site states the exam is "in the "Objective Testing" format, a style of complex multiple-choice examination": I have no idea what that means, could anyone provide some kind of example?
- Does anyone know of a decent exam simulator or website with sample questions where I could train?
- Any other kind of tips, or stories about your own experience in taking the exam, would be much appreciated.

Thanks!
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Congrats Julien. Hope you find good use for the new 'hard-earned' title plate.
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Just a little update: as you can gather from the two shiny new gantthead badges-- sorry! I meant PM.com badges, my ATO contacted me with the results of the PRINCE2 exams. With scores of 63 for Foundation, and 85 for Practitioner, I feel pretty good about myself right now :)

I guess the remaining question is "what's next?" A job that started as an interesting challenge about two years ago now makes me feel like Sisyphus, and to quote Albert Camus in his essay regarding this particular myth, "there is no punishment more unbearable than work both useless and hopeless." So, what do certified P2Ps do to make the most of their hard-earned credentials?
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Julien,

I couldn't agree more. Practitioner paper is a rush for me too and I only managed to complete 7 out of 9 domains that is equivalent to around 84 out of 108 questions answered. I am not sure what you feel, but to me, it is more of a test on grammar and logic (AND, OR, MUST, CAN etc.) than on PRINCE2 theory. Even if you know the theory well, you need to have a very clear mind to interpret the questions before you can pick the answer correctly. As you have said, they are kind of tricky too.
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So I had my training and exams last week, and in proper PRINCE2 tradition, I thought I'd transfer my Lessons Learned to anyone who might be interested.

First, let my start with my conclusions: in a nutshell, the Foundation exam is too easy, and the Practitioner too difficult.

Why? In the Foundation exam, you are given 60 minutes to answer 75 questions in a straightforward, multiple choice format. That's a little less than 50 seconds per question, which is more than enough since the questions are all about knowledge of the PRINCE2 manual, which will be readily available in your immediate memory thanks to the 35 hours of training you need to take before the exam, plus reading the book and taking sample tests beforehand. As a point of reference, I walked out of the exam room with 20 minutes to spare, and scored 63 points.

Now, the Practitioner exam. You have 2 and a half hours to tackle 9 domains of 12 questions each, based on a case study given to you along with the exam paper. That is *short* - 108 questions in 150 minutes, that's about 43 seconds per question NOT counting the time needed to read the case study. And since this exam is targeted at evaluating your understanding of the philosophy of PRINCE2, you cannot rely on your memory alone. You actually have to think about and reach a correct conclusion for each and every question. Granted, some are more obvious than others, but some are downright twisted. I just barely managed to answer all the questions and finish on time (with 0 seconds to spare on the counter), but I spent the whole exam in such a rush that I honestly can't remember what the questions were nor what I answered. Herein lies the difficulty, and in my opinion the paradox: if the goal is to test the examinee's understanding of the concepts and applications of PRINCE2, why not give more time so it's not such a race against the clock, but raise the passing grade (which stands at a low 55%) to something that actually reflects proficiency with the methodology and cannot be achieved by a mix of basic knowledge and good old fashioned luck?

Difficulty notwithstanding, it was an incredibly intense and fun week, and a good occasion to share with other project managers from different horizons, who nevertheless were experiencing the same problems and frustrations in their job - it helps to know you're not alone :)

Anyway, I am now waiting for the results from the APMG, which I hope to get before Christmas. I am given to understand that there are a limited number of exam papers, which is why the APMG is so keen on keeping a lid on sample exams. If it rings a bell to anyone, my test was on the Travelways case study.
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Julien,

it would be good to ask your trainer to share with you some sample test papers so that you can have a feel of what the structure of the questions will be like. Do note that some questions can't be skipped as they are related or grouped together.
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Thank you all very much for your comments and advice. I received this morning the training material, and I can anticipate two major difficulties:

- like many of you have pointed out, the relatively short time to complete the exam will be troublesome. I'm going to go with Susanne's tip and set myself a time limit for each question, to make sure I don't waste precious minutes stuck on one problem;
- I really should have seen this coming sooner, but the training and exam will be in French, whereas I have so far been preparing with English books and resources... Looks like I will need to look up the official translations of all keywords, principles, themes, and process names, and write them down in the book in order to connect the dots.
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Hi Julian,

I agree that reading and preparing as much as you can before the course will help you to get the most out of the course and increase your chances of passing the exams.

I recently re-certified as my original certification had expired (it only lasts for 5 years). Even as a seasoned PM who's done the exam before and written a PM book, I was struggling. Not with the theory or the content, but with the time (or lack of) to complete all questions.

Our trainer gave us a very good piece of advice regarding the practitioner exam: Move on the next question very 15 minutes as that will increase your chances of passing the exam and scoring the easier points without running out of time. Don't allow yourself to get stuck on one question or using the book too much. There will be no time for that. So stay focused and move on every 15 minutes. That's what I did and it worked!

You'll be fine!

Susanne


http://www.susannemadsen.com
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The Practioner paper tests you mainly on the application of the concepts. So, even if you know the concepts by hard, it does not guarantee you will do well in the paper. You still need to know how to handle those scenario-based questions in the paper which, in my opinion, are structured in a very tricky way. Read the questions carefully and spot for those words like 'may' and must', 'and', 'or', 'not' in the sentence. The answer would be totally different with a change from 'must' to 'may'.

Good luck Julien...
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Wow, you are getting the materials before the course? Ours arrived when we first sat in the room with the instructor.

My experience was that as I had been a practicing PM for a number of years before taking the P2 course I was aware of many of the concepts - those on the course who were entirely new to the scenario were struggling.

If you aren't confident of memorising everything, make sure that you know the structure of the course book, don't put too many stickies in as these will be confusing under stress. Allow some level of gut instinct.

I think my biggest bonus was the fact that to get to the course venue I had a relaxing 35 minute train ride followed by a 7km cycle - plenty of time, easy to read, and no stress and some excercise to get the blood and brain working well.

The exam was 3 hours, which is a long time to sit unless you are used to it.

I acheived the highest grade the training center had seen.

Good luck
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Julien,

The advices from Liz are very good. When I took the paper, my main issue was the time given to complete the test was too short (can't remember the duration now). Although the Practitioners paper is open book, you basically don't have much time to refer back to the book. in other words, you need to know the material very well. When you get the material from the training provider, read through it before the class as that will help to reinforce the understanding when you attend the actual class. Perpare lots of those 3M sticky flags where you can paste in the pages containing key concepts so that you do not have to flip back and forth the material during the test to search for it. That will save you a lot of time. There are 9 key questions and each comes with 12 sub-questions. I only managed to complete 7 out of the 9 key questions. You need to manage your time well.
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