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.
The Foundation exam is 'traditional' multiple choice. You'll normally do that on the Wednesday of a 5 day course. Then Thursday is all about exam practice, and Friday is the Practitioner exam. So you will get lots of test questions as part of your course, I'm sure that whoever you are doing the training course with will give you lots of sample papers.
Objective Testing is multiple choice, but difficult! A typical question would be: here's a scenario. Read this page of stuff about a project. Now answer these questions: For one point, answer a simple, traditional multiple choice question. For more points, answer a complicated one.
It's hard to explain, but it's things like: here is a list of assertions and a list of reasons. You have to say if the assertion is true AND the reason explains the assertion, if the assertion is true AND the reason does not explain the assertion, or if any bit of it is false, based on the scenario, not what you would actually do in real life.
There are tricks to passing reason/assertion questions: your tutor will go over these with you, they see it all the time.
Another type of question is matching up items from one column against another column, like which item would be found in which document.
The ones I didn't like are the 'which is MOST LIKELY' questions, because frankly you could argue the case for any of the answers, you just have to work out your best guess based on the scenario.
As far as I know there are no exam simulators. The Cabinet Office is pretty careful to keep exam questions hidden.
I'd recommend lots of practice at any recent practitioner exam papers you can obtain. This exam not only tests the subject matter, but also your ability to work though a question logically, stretching your levels of comprehension. Learning how to pass this exam is a skill itself!
Perhaps it's also possible that you contact the course provider and ask them to forward on any pre-course reading material, in - advance (like now!) in which they can include a sample exam paper or two.
Also, ask them to send you a copy of the manual, once you have it, I recommend that you familiarise yourself with the Product Descriptions, normally in the appendices section. I've found that for the practitioners, these are very useful (I have taken the practitioners twice - once for the initial certificate then to recently re-register and found the Product Descriptions really useful).
Thank you Elizabeth, Peter, and Imran. Good advice and good links. The more I read about the exam, the more I feel like my own choice of preparation before the training (which mostly consists of taking the PRINCE2 guide and summarizing it to a quarter of its length) might not be enough -_-'
My training provider is supposed to send me material 20 days before the course, which makes it next week. I hope it will complement what I've been doing up to now. Saving Changes...
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. Saving Changes...
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.
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'.
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!
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. Saving Changes...
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. Saving Changes...
"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."