March 5, 2009

Passing PRINCE2

Filed under: Tips — Tags: , — Webopius @ 10:05 pm

A few colleagues and myself have taken the PRINCE2 project management certification exams (Foundation and Practitioner) by taking the 1 week courses that include the exams. I thought it might be useful for those of you who are considering taking the PRINCE2 exams to share some practical tips that should certainly help you improve your chances of passing.

PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries

I’m sure I’ll revisit this article as I get more feedback from other successful PRINCE2 attendees, but here are my personal tips:

It’s an intensive course, clear your schedule!

The 5 day course including the Foundation and Practitioner exams involve a lot of work. Certainly the Monday to Wednesday are very busy covering the 8 PRINCE2 processes, 8 PRINCE2 components and 3 techniques.

You should free up your time during the week of the course and be prepared to work full days followed by up to 2 hours revision and additional work in the evenings. By Wednesday when you’ll probably take the foundation exam, you will be a PRINCE2 ‘Robot’ reciting the terminology without thinking.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Quite a few people receive the PRINCE2 manual and preparation information for the course some weeks ahead. They then put this away until the weekend before the course and find they have over 400 pages of the PRINCE2 manual to read often supplemented by the training provider with 300 sample questions and additional material.

The course won’t have time to go through every word of the manual, so you need to read it beforehand.

You should open the PRINCE2 manual and start reading it a good two weeks before the course. Take your time; work through the sections and begin to get a general idea of how the processes and components fit together.

Don’t panic when you first start reading the material – there’s a LOT of information. Just get a feel for the concepts. After about 1 week, select a process at random and spend more time reading it. Importantly, understand the Context, Process Description, Role Responsibilities and the management components that are inputs and outputs to the processes.

Do the example foundation questions

Many of the PRINCE2 course providers supply a CD with about 300 sample foundation questions on. Spend as much time as possible running this before your course. The first time, if you are like me, you’ll get about 35% and worry! Don’t. As you read more of the material, it’ll all start to make sense and you should start to comfortably improve your scores prior to the course.

Open book, multiple choice, easy eh? Wrong.

There’s been a fair bit of chat online that the new PRINCE2 exam with open book and multiple choice answers is too easy. FAR from it. The questions are actually designed very well with various techniques used to ensure you are fully stretched. It’s a tough exam.

You should definitely listen to the advice from your course tutor about how to approach answering specific question types. This will definitely make a positive difference to the quality of your answers.

Draw a process diagram in your manual

You can take your PRINCE2 manual into the practitioner exam but you cannot take anything else. What you CAN do though is write notes in your own handwriting in the manual. At the back, there are conveniently a few blanks pages. On one of these a big tip is to draw a flowchart of all the PRINCE2 processes and their relationships.

Your course provider should be able to supply you with this diagram which you’ll need to copy. Some people prefer a timeline based diagram – just use whatever helps you best.

Note down Key Learning points at the back of your manual

As you work your way through the processes and components you’ll pick up useful ‘one liners’ – for example; Business Cases – Always two; one for Customer, one for Supplier. I found it useful to have a ‘Business Case’ section (along with other components) at the back of my manual under which I’d note these Key Learning Points.

Highlight phrases in your manual

During the exam, you’ll find you have relatively little time to actually look at the manual. When you do, you’ll want your eye to pick up important areas quickly.

Highlight key phrases or rules within the manual so that during the exam you don’t have to spend too much time reading through all the material to get to the point you need.

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