Dear All, 

I recently passed PMI ACP certification exam and in this blog will talk about my journey. So, let’s get started on your path to Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI ACP®). 

First of all, your Why is more important!

Why choose PMI Agile Certified Practitioner? 

Before I answer that, let me quickly take you through my preparation journey of PMI ACP ® certification and exam experience.

What Does PMI-ACP Stand For?

PMI-ACP stands for Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner. It is the flagship Agile certification from PMI.

What is PMI-ACP Certification?

PMI-ACP certification is a way to recognize your expertise in using agile practices at work on your projects. It shows you can use a flexible approach through diverse agile tools and techniques.

PMI-ACP is considered one of the top agile certifications globally. There are others, like SAFe agile certification, but we won’t be considering all the credentials available in this article.

PMI ACP Exam Preparation Steps

I chose both online training courses and self-study. I took online training classes through Knowledge Hut. I also used PMI-ACP Mike Griffith’s book for preparation. 

I felt I could take up exam in 45 days and paid for the PMI-ACP® exam in February 2020.

Started to prepare, but…

Due to so many reasons, the PMI ACP exam preparation was more or less on and off and I could not take up exam as planned. 

**I am not going into details, but in the interim, every now and then tried my best to understand agile methodology in general and agile mindset. I regularly asked questions to my friends who had prior experience in agile work environments. Also posed questions to my work colleagues about Agile Project Management. All of it also helped to develop the agile mindset subconsciously. **

Finally, in November I decided to take the exam. This time my approach was:

Week 1: Reading the reference book for 3 continuous days.

Week 2: Second iteration of 3 days of continuous study of the book.

Week 3: Gained confidence about the flow, I scheduled the exam in a week and continued my preparation based on the time left.

I would have roughly studied the book 3 times. Honestly the 2nd and 3rd time, I skipped topics which I was comfortable about.

It’s about continuous improvement in perfecting your study plan. After all, the core of the agile practice is to be nimble and quickly adapt.

Note: In the reference book, we have chapters and at the end of each chapter you have sample questions. I tried the sample questions all three times which helped me to decide which topics I could skip.

Important Note: Sample practice questions are totally different from the actual exam questions.

The final stage of preparation was trying out the mock tests provided by Knowledge Hut. I took two mock tests and they were taken 2 and 3 days before the actual exam.

It helps in two ways:

1. To assess your time management for the exam.

2. To gain confidence about your understanding of Agile and Understand your mindset.

As I already highlighted, please do not solely depend on these tests and also do not try to memorize the answers because the actual exam questions are totally situational and it will test your understanding of Agile Methodology and Agile mindset.

Incorporate these tips for PMI ACP study plan

1. Try taking these exams around a similar time of the day compared to an actual exam.

Say you have an exam on Wednesday at 9 am, try taking the exams on the previous week any day but around the same time 9 am.

Why? I believe it helps to tune your mind

2. Avoid preparing a day before the exam and on the day of the exam.

3. Keep yourself fresh and energetic. If your mind isn’t fresh, the exam will drain you out and you won’t be able to read the questions with clarity. The language used in the exam is not only tricky but also critical to know the keywords to be able to answer them. The day before the exam I slept nicely as I know the importance of sleep.

Online Proctored Exam

1. I took an online PMI ACP exam as it was convenient for me. I would suggest others go for it as well, provided you fulfil the needed requirements.

2. I would advise as per the guidelines log in 30 minutes before the exam and make sure you have a stable internet connection.

During The PMI -ACP Certification Exam

The exam began and the clock started ticking.

My key takes (although, I knew about it) here was that – got stuck on a question and soon realized the time was ticking. I did what I should not have done. 

I almost ran out of time for the last few questions. 

Some of the questions were short and some were long, so you may need to read 2 to 3 times both – the questions and the answers.

Tips for answering the PMI – ACP Certification questions

1. Be aware that most real work environments have tailored Agile processes to suit their needs. However, in the actual exam, the focus will be on the plain-vanilla version of agile processes.

2. Self-organization is highly valued in an Agile Project.

3. For some questions, it may help you to understand the responsibilities of the people in different roles working in an agile environment.

4. While reading the questions (considering time constraints), it’s easily possible to miss out on the keywords in the exam e.g.: which of these is “NOT” related to the kind of question.

5. You must look out for the words that are against the Agile principles in the list of answers that help to eliminate options.

6. Some multiple choice questions, I was able to answer straight away, but some needed to eliminate the options in the answers. Even then some places you will left with two probable answer options. Read the question again and see for the keyword. You will then be able to find the best option.

Now to the important question, Why PMI-ACP?

My dear PMI-ACP® Aspirants, if you genuinely put in the effort to prepare for the exam, I am sure the journey for each one of you will be transformational not only career-wise but also in your personal life because of the minor mindset shift you will embrace subconsciously.

Good luck with your exams, Believe in yourself, you can do amazingly well in this Agile Certification.

Jagadeesh #Purity in thoughts and deeds.

Author: Jagadeesh Babu is a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®| Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) ®| Certified SAFe® 5 Agilist | Volunteer at PMI Sweden Chapter

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