Following on from my posts about the PRINCE2 qualification, I wanted to share some advice about becoming Agile certified. I completed my AgilePM Foundation and Practitioner exams in November.
I am not in a project management role myself (I work in marketing for a start-up), but I run projects as part of my role, and thought it would be a good idea to have experience running agile projects as well as the more traditional waterfall approach offered by PRINCE2.
What’s the content?
The AgilePM qualification focuses on the DSDM approach, which is an Agile framework. As somebody who’s always worked in startups, I found the AgilePM approach far more familiar to how I’m used to working than PRINCE2, and most of the information seemed common sense. There was however, a big difference in the difficulty between Foundation and Practitioner, compared with PRINCE2, where I found the two exams were more or less the same difficulty. The exam structure is essentially the same as PRINCE2, so I won’t go into detail around that.
The AgilePM Foundation exam is a 1 hour, multiple choice, closed book test. It’s fairly quick and easy to pass, assuming you’re comfortable with the basic principles of Agile development. It’s 50% pass mark with 60 questions in total. The Practitioner exam is a 2.5 hour multiple choice exam, open book, with 80 questions. The exam focuses on 4 key areas of DSDM: Lifecycle and Products, People and Roles, Techniques, and Control. Ensure you split revision time equally between them. Both can be bought as Exam Only and taken at home via a Proctor or in a centre, according to your preference. Costs are £160 for Foundation, £250 for Practitioner.
What materials do you need?
- The AgilePM Official Handbook, available on Amazon. (Read it cover to cover. You need only read the first half for Foundation, but for Practitioner you should focus on the latter half which gives deeper insights into application of the Agile methodology).
- It’s suggested you also buy the official syllabus.. But if you google for it for a little while you can find it free online.
- Some past papers. I really struggled to find ones online for AgilePM. I’d strongly suggest you get access to an online portal. If you buy and sign up for your exams via CUPE (which is the cheapest I’ve found anyway), they give you 14 days’ access free to their online learning portal, including a video course for each exam and crucially a past paper with answers and rationale. I would not have passed Practitioner without doing a past paper first.
How to pass
There is nothing inherently difficult about the content of these exams, but you have to be quite clear headed and assume a common sense approach. For the first 10 or so questions of the paper I wasn’t 100% sure of a single answer, which was quite nerve wracking. Looking at my score though, I got the vast majority of those ‘not sure’ answers right, so I’d say approach each question with logic, and be able to justify your answer, but do let common sense and gut feel guide you as well (common sense is after all a foundation of the Agile approach!).
Read the book through, but make sure you return to key sections. In particular look at roles and responsibilities, and control (timeboxing etc – but don’t just know the stage names, actually thinking about practically what sorts of things would happen in each stage is key as lots of those types of questions come up).
Practice papers are key! I actually find tons of value in reading through the entire rationale guide, not just for the ones you got wrong, but for all of them. This shows you the logic behind answers and you can often pick up lessons which will help you pass future questions. In the practice I often had the correct answer but not for the right reasons!
Good luck and drop me a line if you want to chat about anything I’ve mentioned above.