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TOPIC: PMI-ACP Exam Passed - Lessons Learned

PMI-ACP Exam Passed - Lessons Learned 2 years 4 months ago #4655

  • Karen Jenkin
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Thank you to Cornelius Fichtner’s fantastic Agile PrepCast for providing a great foundation for passing the PMI-ACP exam. Although I had attended a classroom course about 6 months prior to buying the Agile PrepCast, I found the classroom course was not well run and my retention of new information was very little a short time later. So enter the Agile PrepCast ... which provided a good structure and pace for learning, exercises and suggestions along the way.

I put together a reasonably ambitious study schedule of 1-3 hours each day, except for Fridays to relax. However, I had to adjust the schedule and change my exam a couple of times - remember that sometimes 'life happens' and you need to adapt.

In terms of extra reading, I highly recommend Mike Cohn's book on Agile Estimating & Planning and Jim Highsmith's Agile Project Management. Supplementing the these resources was John Stenbeck's PMI-ACP and Scrum CSP Exam Prep book - I bought the Kindle version so I could read it on my iPad wherever I may be. I cannot compare it to other exam prep books but believe the matching exercises and questions at the end of each chapter were good for remembering key points. I didn't bother with their grid exercise but it was worth keeping a copy of it for review every now and to track my comfort levels on all the knowledge and skill areas.

I started exam simulations as early as possible, using some free ones initially to get a sense of the types of questions that would come up. I bought access to TrainAgile exams, which has a good interface and reporting. However, the questions are quite simple, repetitive and (as I found out later) seem pretty much the same as the questions in Tim Bagnall's PMI-ACP Practice Questions with Detailed Solutions eBook - you have free access to this if you're a PMI member. I bought access to the Velociteach Practice A exam as well - well worthwhile and probably the closest to the types of questions you’ll get on the actual exam. Then to round it out was AgileExams, which was OK but has a terrible web interface and no persistent reporting.

As suggested by a few sources, I created a Brain Dump of key things to remember; borrowing from the AgilePrepCast’s example version and ScrumDan’s Study Guide. I came across someone's mnemonic for the Agile manifesto values that worked for me on the day: CWF CMF WCC SSR
Customer satisfaction
Welcome changes
Frequent delivery
Collaboration daily / collocation
Motivated Individuals
Face-to-face communication
Working software
Constant pace
Continuous attention
Self-organised teams
Regular reflection

Make sure when you schedule the exam that you leave room for contingency. On the morning of my Saturday exam I received an SMS saying the centre's servers had failed and they had no tech support over the weekend. I was slightly perturbed because I was heading off on holiday the next Friday. After a nervous wait for the Tuesday (due to a public holiday on the Monday), I managed to speak to Prometric and re-schedule to a new centre on the Thursday - lucky!

During the exam, I found the most helpful advice was to refer to the Agile manifesto values when deciding between close answers. I paced myself and completed the first run through of questions in just under an hour. Then I took a short 10-minute break for a snack and water. Once I returned to the exam, I did a couple more runs through the marked questions to finish. I passed with Proficient for both domains.
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