The PRINCE2 exam, whether you are taking it for the first time or doing the re-certification exam, is in ‘objective testing’ format, which is a type of complicated multiple choice paper. Whether you are taking the 2005 syllabus (which is being phased out as training companies update their manuals and courses) or the 2009 syllabus, these five study tips will help you revise for and pass the exam.
1. Answer the question!
It sounds simple – but read the question and make sure you are answering the right thing. If the question asks you to tick the three things that are most relevant, only choose three. Don’t tick four. If you can only work out two, take a guess at the third. The questions are not there to trick you! With the assertion questions, don’t make stupid mistakes by not selecting the right answer. There are a lot of answer options to choose from so make sure the letter you choose actually matches up with the answer you want to give. It’s very easy – in the pressure of the exam – to select the wrong box on the answer form by accident.
2. Know your way around the manual
You are allowed to take the PRINCE2 manual into the exam. It’s over 450 pages, so you can’t rely on the index when you need to get to something quickly. Put sticky tabs in the key sections, especially:
- Each process section
- The product descriptions (in Appendix A in the 2005 manual)
- Each technique section
- Each component section
This will help you flick to a section quickly. The manual is the only paperwork you’ll be allowed to take into the exam, but you can write in it. If you have your own notes or diagrams, put them in the back – there are blank pages, or use the inside covers. Use highlighters, or whatever works for you to make sure that when you flick through you can get to what you need quickly.
3. Do some past papers
It’s really important to understand the format of the exam before you sit it. Do any past papers that you can get your hands on. Work through the sample questions from your training provider. Search on the internet. Practise! It’s the kind of exam that you will get better at once you have cracked how to respond to the questions, like Sudoku.
Work through the sample Foundation questions even if you are only taking the Practitioner exam. It’s a good refresher for the basics and will help you feel more confident about taking Practitioner.
4. Learn the process model
Webopius recommends copying the process model into your manual, so you have a copy to hand. This is excellent advice – I did it the first time I took the exam and I’ll be doing it for recertification. You need to know the process model inside out, and the manual doesn’t have a complete picture. In addition, you can annotate your own drawing with inputs and outputs to the processes, what techniques are used, who is involved at the various handoffs and anything else. You can get the whole of PRINCE2 into one diagram (kind of) and the very fact of copying out the process model helps stick it in your mind.
5. Watch the time
Time goes quickly when you are trying to work through an exam paper. Don’t get caught short – you really do need to make sure that you have enough time to answer every question and give it the attention it deserves. If something is too hard, move on. Get as many of the easy points as you can before tackling the questions that you find harder. It really isn’t worth giving a stonking answer to one part only to find out that you have run out of time to answer the rest of the paper.
Equally, look out for the number of points each question is worth. It’s not sensible to spend a whole lot of time on a question worth only 3 marks, when some of the more complicated multi-part questions will help you rack up lots of marks.