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TOPIC: Passed exam on first try - April 4, 2016

Passed exam on first try - April 4, 2016 8 years 1 week ago #7217

  • Sangho Byun
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My Agile Background
I went into this experience with a couple of years of light Scrum background - primarily as a stakeholder and not as a developer. So, I didn't attend daily stand-ups but was at the planning and retrospective meetings. I was able to leverage this casual background to help to fill in some gaps during the test, and I think that anyone with even less experience than me would have a difficult time passing the test using nothing but book learning.

My 10-Week PMI-ACP Journey
Signed up for the Agile PrepCast on Jan 27. Over the next 6 weeks, listened to the podcasts at 1.5x speed, usually while jogging. Passed the online test on March 6 and immediately signed up for the official exam. After I submitted my application, it took 8 calendar days to receive approval. (I thought I was going to get audited which is why it took so long, but I never did.) I strongly recommend the Agile PrepCast.

For the month of March, I read Mike Griffiths's book cover-to-cover, and scored >85% on all of the end-of-chapter quizzes. I thought the book was a great companion to the Agile PrepCast, because it solidified (and made visual) all of the content that I'd been listening to primarily with audio only. I strongly recommend Mike Griffith's book, PMI-ACP Exam Prep

For the final 2 weeks, I took about 12 short (40 question) practice tests from the book "PMI-ACP Exam Prep: Questions, Answers & Explanations" by Tim Bagnall and Christopher Scordo. I was breezing through this tests, averaging 30 seconds per question, and averaging in the mid-80s. I felt like I was going to ace the exam. Whenever I got a sample question wrong, I wrote down some notes, and this past weekend, I consolidated all of my notes into 3 typed pages as my final study guide / cheat sheet. I DO NOT RECOMMEND Bagnall's PMI-ACP Exam Prep: Questions, Answers & Explanations book. The questions are way too simplistic and will not adequately quiz you.

Prometric Test Center
I took the test in Fair Oaks, California (Sacramento). The facility had tight security; I had to put everything in a locker, couldn't even bring a bottle of water into the test room. All you have is your ID, locker key, scratch paper, 2 pencils, and a calculator.

I had a 9am appointment and got a call telling me to arrive at 8am but no later than 8:30. I arrived at 8:15, checked in, and started the test early because there was an available desk. The testing center was totally full and people were taking all sorts of different tests in each cubicle. It was very quiet in the test room, and there were earmuffs available at every desk. (I didn't feel a need to use them.)

The Test Itself
I was shocked that the test contained ABSOLUTELY NO CALCULATIONS. Not even any qualitative questions about formulas. Nothing about: CV, CPI, SV, SPI, ROI, Cycle Time, Local Safety.

There was also basically nothing where you would have benefitted from memorizing acronyms or lists. Nothing involving: WIDETOM, INVEST, SMART, 3 Cs, Shuhari, TDD, ATDD.

There were several questions showing Burndown Charts and asking about their application. There were also lots of questions about Information Radiators and the best way to handle communications with executives.

So rather than testing about things that could be memorized, my test instead focused on different hypothetical project scenarios, and how you as the Agile Practitioner would handle them. I strongly recommend knowing every specific detail about planning and review meetings, including the participants in each one as well as the roles. For example, make sure you know when the Product Owner is involved, and when he isn't involved. What meetings does he attend, what does he not attend, what is his relationship to the executive sponsor, etc...

Testing Experience
The actual exam questions were much harder than the ones in the Bagnall/Scordo practice book. There were only ~10% of the questions where I could immediately pick out an answer. So on average it took me twice as long to answer the exam questions. The first pass through all 120 questions took 90 minutes, and my second pass (I did a complete second pass) took 40 minutes. So 2:10 total.

During the first pass through the questions - because they were considerably harder than the practice tests I had taken - I felt nervous that I wasn't adequately prepared. I was used to knocking out 2 questions a minutes, and now it was taking me twice that, plus I wasn't feeling 100% confident on many of the answers I eventually chose. But I ground through it, and by the final 40 questions I had settled into a better groove. On the second pass through the questions, I felt much more confident in my test performance.

I recommend making use of the right-click mouse button, which allows you to strikethrough any obviously wrong answers. If I were to take the test again, here's what I would do:
  1. Start at the first question, read it carefully, then begin reviewing the 4 answers
  2. Strikethrough all answers that you are positive are incorrect
  3. Before leaving the question, pick your best answer
  4. After you've completed the first pass through all 120 questions, then go back through all of them again
  5. During your second pass, if you see 3 answers that have strikethroughs, then you know you can go straight to the next one
  6. Any questions with more than 1 remaining answer, you can re-read and make your final choice (I changed about 10 of my answers during the second pass, including answers that I thought were right the first time around)

The Results
After my first pass through all 120 questions, I had about 30 questions that I had marked as unclear. During the second pass, I changed about 10 of those 30 answers, but still had about 30 where I wasn't positive that I had chosen the correct answer.

I clicked the button to end the test, and I was taken to the Survey screen. I think it's an optional survey because there is an Exit button in the corner, but I was too paranoid to click Exit so I just answered the quick survey which only took a couple of minutes. After about 10 seconds of calculating, I got the Congratulations screen.

On the following screen, I got my lackluster detailed results: Proficient in Agile Principles and Mindset, and Moderately Proficient in the other 6 categories. I wasn't anywhere close to acing the exam, but a Pass is a Pass!

On the way out of the test room, they printed out a copy of my exam report, signed it, and notarized it. Now I'm off to update my resume and LinkedIn!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Wayne Reno

Passed exam on first try - April 4, 2016 7 years 11 months ago #7370

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Thanks for sharing!!! congratulations!!!

Passed exam on first try - April 4, 2016 7 years 10 months ago #7611

  • Yasir Mehmood
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Congrats and welcome to the club!
Yasir Mehmood, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM, CSP, CLP (LeSS), CSPO
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