How to pass the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam
- Processes, standards and quality
PRINCE2 is one of the most frequently implemented project management methodologies in the world. Acquiring a certificate confirming your expertise in this methodology may significantly facilitate development of your professional career, as well as become a pass to your dream job. Straight majority of recruitment adverts for Project Manager has a certificate granted by one of the three leading institutions creating project management methodologies in the „required” or „other skills” fields. By far, PRINCE2 is the most popular methodology in Poland.
Unlike the remaining methods (IPMA, PMI), in this case, candidate for the certificate isn’t obliged to have prior practical experience in project management.
The first certificate, PRINCE2 Foundation, is based on a single choice test. Each candidate has 60 minutes for replying to 75 questions, 5 of which aren’t evaluated. Hereby, the holder of the methodology tests new questions, which may be included to the set of examination questions in the future. To become a holder of the PRINCE2 Foundation certificate it is necessary to obtain 50% during the test, which means 35 correct answers. The exam is based on theoretical knowledge of a candidate. It tests knowledge and understanding of concepts included in the official manual. The Foundation certificate is granted for an indefinite period. This level is mainly dedicated to the members of project teams, support teams, supervision teams and service changes teams.
The Practitioner exam can be attended only by holders of the PRINCE2 Foundation certificate. The PRINCE2 Practitioner certificate is a confirmation of the ability to apply principles of methodology in practice, and the ability to properly adapt to the realities of a project. The Practitioner level is dedicated to Project Managers and people responsible for implementing PRINCE2 in their organisation. It isn’t necessary to posses experience in project management prior to the exam. It’s worth remembering that the exam tests our knowledge of methodology and its profound understanding. That is why, it is necessary to answer those questions according to newly acquired knowledge from the handbook, not on the basis of your own experience from development of various projects. This certificate is granted for 5 years, its validity should be prolonged between 3-5 years after the last exam. Recertification has a form of a test that lasts 1 hour and is composed of 3 blocks of questions, 10 questions each.
How to prepare to the exam?
Before taking the Practitioner exam a candidate has to pass the Foundation one. It means that we are familiar with the theoretical essentials. If we have any doubts or any of the aspects of the methodology isn’t clear for us, we should go back to it and read a given chapter in the manual one more time. In case the Foundation exam was more than a month ago, I suggest reading the entire handbook one more time to refresh your knowledge of the theoretical essentials.
The Practitioner exam has a form of an open book, it means that during the exam we can only use the official PRINCE2 handbook. It is worth spending some time and „tag” your manual appropriately. Here, you can find a few helpful places to tag:
- Appendix A, page 249 – it contains descriptions of PRINCE2 products for management. During the exam, it will be the place where you can quickly find what the assignment of Business Case is and what it should contain. In practice, we will find a lot of answers there.
- Appendix C, page 288 – it contains descriptions of all roles defined in the methodology as well as descriptions of their responsibilities. Additionally, it is a place to find information concerning e.g. what kind of reports have to be prepared by project managers and which ones by team manager.
- A structure of a project management team, page 36, which enable us to quickly analyse different organs.
- Quality diagram on page 51, which presents the entire scheme of quality management in a project.
- A picture presenting the entire process of risk management, on page 84.
- A picture presenting possible reactions to risk and opportunities in a project, on page 89.
- A picture on page 101, illustrating a procedure of issues and changes control.
- Table on page 103 presenting possible reactions of Steering Committee to given issues.
- A process model of the entire PRINCE2 methodology, on page 123.
Appropriate preparation of a manual before the exam can be crucial. The work with the handbook done earlier significantly improves work with it during the exam, find necessary information and definitions.
During the exam we will have to answer the following kinds of questions:
- The classic single choice questions – „Choose from a list of possible answers”. A correct answer should be chosen from a list of 3 or 4 possible answers,
- Multiple choice – „choose two correct answers from a list of 5 possible ones”. This question has the very same structure as the previous one but it requires more than one answer. It is the only type of questions that requires more than one answer. To obtain a point both answers have to be correct. If we provide more or less than two answers, or only one answer is correct, the point won’t be awarded.
- Matching responses – „assign elements of the first column to the elements of the second column.” There is only one correct answer for this kind of a question. However, elements from the second column can be used more than once, as well as they may not be used even once.
- Providing the right order – „set the events in the right order „. In this question we can be asked e.g. to establish the sequence of actions in one of the management processes.
- Statement/Cause – „rate two statements (the statement and cause) and determine whether either one, both or none of them is true. When both are true, you must also determine whether the cause properly explains why the statement is true, for example Statement: „Expected benefits from increasing flexibility of the employees should be included in the Business Case”, Cause: „Information about the expected benefits of the project is a part of the justification for undertaking the project.” In this case both, case and statement, are true, moreover cause explains the statement.
- In the event of seeing phrase „according to PRINCE2” in the text, remember that it means that a question is strictly theoretical and isn’t related to the scenario.
It is important to practice a lot to prepare well to the exam. The more tests you solve the better you will understand questions and specificity of the exam, as well as you will be able to plan and manage your time during the exam. Exemplary tests can be found in the Internet on the following websites:
The 90% of PRINCE2 Practitioner course consists of solving exemplary tests for two days, together with the fellow students and a coach. In contrast to the Foundation course, which is entirely dedicated to gain new knowledge. If we want to be sure of the quality of the course, we should choose one that is organised by the approved companies, the so-called ATO. Accreditation of a given company can be checked here:
The price range is from PLN 2 000 to PLN 4 000.
The exam lasts 150 minutes, during which you have to answer 80 questions. At the beginning of the exam it is worth getting familiar with a scenario and an answer sheet. Next, you can try to solve 8 fields, 15 minutes each. This kind of planning involves 25 minutes of extra time for a possible return to the questions that have been difficult and to check the answer sheet.
Answers should be marked on a specially prepared sheet. It is worth remembering that test are checked by a computer. Therefore, we have to mark at least 80% of the square next to an appropriate answer. We have to be careful not to go beyond the square, as in this case, the machine can also not include our answer.
How does the exam look like?
The exam takes place in the form of a single choice test. It is composed of 8 fields that refer to an attached scenario. To obtain positive result, the examinee must score at least 44 out of 80 possible points (55% correct answers). The very exam lasts 150 minutes and can be taken in one of a hundred possible languages, including Polish or English.
During the exam we get 3 kinds of documents, such as scenario describing case study, a list of questions and an answer sheet.
The scenario presents an organisation, which realizes a given project, business case of this project, the main and additional objectives, as well as expected results of the project. A scenario folder also comprises additional information for one or more questions. Additional information are used only in case of questions where it is clearly indicated – in bold, in a given question. Questions that don’t have a clear instruction to use the additional information can be formed in such a way that the use of the notes will result in providing a wrong answer.
A folder with questions contains 8 questions of different fields of the methodology. Each block of questions includes 10 more specific ones, as well as information that indicates a given area of knowledge. A correct answer for each question results in 1 point. A maximal number of points to get is 80, whereas the minimal value enabling you to pass the exam equals 55% of correct answers i.e. 44 points.
An answer sheet is the only place where you can mark your answers for each question. It is necessary to mark one answer for each question unless the instruction indicates otherwise. In case we mark more than one correct answer, and instruction in a question doesn’t explicitly state that we should choose more answers, question won’t be validated.
Answer on an answer sheet – remember to mark you answers on a dedicated sheet of paper. Answers marked on a question sheet won’t be validated.
Use appendix to appropriate questions – use additional information only with reference to the questions with appropriate instruction.
Practice, practice, practice – perform as many sample tests as possible.
Remember about time management – less than 2 minutes for each question. Questions such as Statement/Cause may be really time consuming.
Mark answers correctly – remember to mark at least 80% of the square surface next to the answer and don’t go beyond edges of the square.
Get some quality sleep – the exam is very demanding, you will need rested mind and good concentration.