Posted by Elizabeth Harrin
Last week I gave you five tips for taking the PRINCE2 exam. Here are five more tips to exam success.
1. Check the language of the question
There are very few absolutes in PRINCE2, so questions with ‘must’ or ‘all’ in the text need special attention. It is rare that something ‘must’ be done, so don’t get carried away. Equally, questions that refer to making decisions or providing commitment normally relate to the Project Board as it is this group that are the main decision-making body on the project. Answer each question in isolation, so if a question asks for the ‘most suitable’ person to carry out a particular role (for example), think about the answers provided and select the ‘most suitable’ one. In the next question, select the same person again if they are ‘most suitable’ for the next role. It doesn’t matter that you have already pegged them as carrying out the first role – the answers are not linked in any way.
2. Understand product breakdown structures
The product breakdown structure (PBS) is a key component of PRINCE2 and not something used in other methodologies. It is really important to understand how it works and what the symbols mean. Spend some time working out how to interpret the diagrams: do you know how an intermediate product is represented? What about a grouping? Or an external product? On top of understanding the schematic, you need to know what comes off the PBS and onto the product flow diagram – and in which order. If you understand PBS you won’t find the questions on this topic difficult, and it could be a place to pick up some easy marks.
3. Do your pre-course preparation
In all honesty, the PRINCE2 manual is a dull read. It is hard to get motivated to work your way through it, but it is essential to make sure you have covered the whole text. If you are doing PRINCE2 for the first time, you will find the 5 day course very intensive, so you’ll have a head start if you at least comprehend some of the material before it is presented for the first time.
If you have chosen to take the course by self-study you really need to be motivated. Put together a revision timetable. If your training provider has sent you online materials or a CD, work through it. You’ll get most benefit – whatever type of training you are doing – from past papers and sample exam questions. The APM Group has released some questions into the public domain for training purposes, so ask your training provider what they can let you have.
4. Forget your common sense
Answer the questions based on the scenario. Forget the fact that if it was your project in real life you’d be doing things differently, or have appointed a more effective Project Board, or factored in better tolerances. In real life your users might not be capable of setting Acceptance Criteria, but the manual says that it’s their responsibility to do so. It’s not your project (and it’s not real life) and you are stuck with answering regarding the scenario you are given.
Put common sense aside and make sure that your answers relate to the scenario. You may find that you don’t need to use the detail of the scenario for most of the questions (doing some sample papers will give you an indication of how much of the scenario is pulled into the questions). Even so, reading it will give you the context for the questions, so read through the scenario booklet and underline or highlight anything that you consider important.
5. Turn up on time with the right stuff!
The exam might be in a different room to where you have taken your course, especially as it will need to be laid out differently – exam style, surprisingly enough. The course might have been informal and fun but the exam will have a different atmosphere. Remember your photographic identification: without it the invigilator won’t let you take the exam. If you have changed your name since you took the Foundation paper, or the Practitioner paper and you are now re-sitting, check in advance if you need to bring a copy of your marriage certificate (or other name-change paperwork) to the exam. If you are taking the Practitioner paper you will be allowed to take in your manual, so don’t leave it at home.
Tags: course, exam, PRINCE2, project management, success, training