Friday, April 4, 2014

Exam tips for PMI ACP Certification from PMI Agile Certified Practitioner

Recently I have passed PMI-ACP exam :-) with highest band and yes I am now an PMI-ACP Certified Practitioner. This post is about my experience, preparation strategy and also I am trying to cover exam's prerequisites and requirements.  
I have noticed I found many follow forums or professional networking sites LinkedIn to find out if they want to be certified or not and it is always a hotly debated topic. With valid arguments on both sides, my personal decision was Yes, I wanted to get certified. Looking back, I have to say that I didn’t regret it. Not only it opened but some interesting ones too. In-fact I learned a lot (and started to actively use my knowledge) just by studying for the test and going through cases. 

According to PMI, The PMI-ACP recognizes knowledge of agile principles, practices and tools and techniques across agile methodologies. In order to be certified, you need to demonstrate the following and pass 3 hours exam by answering 120 questions.

My preparation strategy

First of all, the below reflects my personal experience only. Everybody’s story is different. You may already be an agile guru by experience or may be fairly new and need extra effort to prepare.
My first advise would be to join one of the PMI-ACP study groups on LinkedIn. In my case, I have been an Agile Coach for past 6 years but still the information I got from these groups was instrumental in my preparation. 
In order to satisfy the 21 educational PDU requirements, I opted for classroom training at simplilearn and also had access to there online course materials and exams. I wouldn't recommend just sticking to these notes of any tutorials rather read the main preparation book and it was Mike Griffin’s Exam Prep Book. I loved it! Really great summary at the right level of details. Overall for the exam I spent 4 weekends (i.e. 4x2=8 days) of studying because apart from weekends I was busy with my work with Red Hat. But this may vary from person to person and probably in my case since I have implemented agile practices across teams it was not extremely difficult to pass the exam. However, keep one thing in mind you need to cover the entire book and I recommend you to not skip any material. 

Take Mock tests for real exam

For final exam I have taken mock tests from quite a few sites. But mainly I have subscribed to for $49 which comes with 30 days membership and taken multiple short exams(25 questions in each exam) and two full exams (120 questions in exam). Fun with  you can take as many as exams you like and remember to review answers understanding why something is incorrect or even for that matter correct is very important because in real PMI-ACP exam you will be tested based on your understanding. Apart from that you may also take exams from following:

  1. Free Full test 120 Q @
  2. Sample 20 Questions @
  3. Free 30 Questions / exam simulator @

Exam experience

I took the exam at the Prometric center which was about 9kms from my home.
Overall my experience wasn’t very much different from what I have learned by reading other task takers comments. I had a balanced set of questions with most of them related to Scrum,XP, Lean,few risk management & Kanban questions, a good portion of situation questions, some questions on the manifesto / agile values, and some tricky ones on agile portfolio management, EVM, and costs.
I wouldn't call the test very difficult but it was challenging enough to keep me thinking very very carefully about my answers. It was more focused on testing the understanding and practical applications of the core agile values rather then on simply testing how well you remember the definitions. In other words, I encountered more “why”, “how”, and “when” then simple “what is ..” questions. Usually out of 4 answers 2 were obviously wrong but I had to choose carefully between the remaining 2. I managed to finish all 120 questions in 2 hours (120 minutes) and spent another hour reviewing my answers. The results are known immediately once you finish the test and you get a temporary certificate on the spot. Also you will be able to down the certificate from the PMI website. Few weeks later you’ll get the proper certificate by mail and waiting to receive it.


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  2. PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) ® credential is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. Recently I went for a PMP prep course by the training provider mentioned above, the instructor was too good and I passed with relative ease. Looking forwards to apply what I learned in PMP class in my company.

  3. Certifications will definitely increase the salary significantly. For project management professionals, I would suggest them to attend any genuine agile scrum certification courses (eg. Scrum Master Certification). If not anything, at least it will give a boost to your career and salary.

    1. Andrew I agree with attending genuine courses for agile, scrum. In my personal opinion one needs to pick the right certification for herself. In my case I am CSM certified from scrum alliance also I have cleared PMI-ACP from PMI and that's where I came across some differences. PMI-ACP covers broader area of Agile which includes Scrum, Kanban, Lean, TDD, BDD, Crystal, XP, Agile Practices & Methodologies and also it covers complete agile product development life cycle which includes project management as well as agile software development practices. On the contrary, in CSM certification it just talks about Scrum and limited to process one needs to adopt for scrum way of doing development. In between these two certification I got largely benefited from PMI-ACP Certification. Now in my case, I have been mentoring teams in agile adoption and product development for past 8 years and PMI-ACP is a credential which helps in recognizance but in terms of career boosting and salary increment I don't think one should rely on these certifications. Rather use these tools to learn and be more confident when appear for interviews and at work. I believe that will make the difference.

  4. I would say that a PMP Certification is highly respected within both IT & non-IT communities where strong project management skills are required. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the PMP trainingproviders like You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.The PMP Certification

    1. Hi Andrew I am preparing for PMP Certification and planning to take the exam very soon. Was wondering if you can suggest me few books apart from PMBOK V Edition ?

  5. Once completed the online test, only result will be given or result and marks / percentage will also be there? Pleat clarify

  6. I admit that my initial interest in this certification was motivated by a potential salary bump. There are a lot of good books that I've seen recommended online, and I've also been impressed by the quality of advice dished out when it comes to pmi agile certified practitioner training on posts like this one.
    Great job and thank you for sharing.

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