How to Get PMI-ACP Certification?

Tips to Pass the PMI-ACP exam in your first attempt

The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® formally recognizes your knowledge of agile principles and your skill with agile techniques. It will help you adopt agile practices while working among your colleagues and stakeholders.

The agile approach is widely being used around the world. Benefits of agile like a high-quality product, faster ROI, higher customer satisfaction, increased project control, and reduced risks are attracting organizations to move towards agile project management.

The PMI-ACP covers multiple agile approaches including Scrum, Extreme programming (XP), Kanban, Lean and Test-driven development (TDD). This helps you to compare the approaches and follow a suitable one for your project.

To earn PMI-ACP, you need to follow several steps that lead you towards the successful completion of the exam.

  1. Plan
  2. Schedule Exam
  3. Prepare
  4. Give Exam

1. Plan

Planning is the most important step before starting a task. It includes setting up your goal, dividing it among several milestones, and estimating the time and effort required to achieve these milestones.

The planning to get PMI-ACP certified includes the following steps.

Why PMI-ACP?

It is correct that PMI-ACP is the fastest growing certification. However, before you rush towards it, pause for a while and think why you want to achieve this certification.

Is this your job requirement? Are you looking to move your career towards agile project management? Do you want to manage projects in more efficient ways? Or you want to enhance your expertise and resume?

Whatever is the requirement, be clear about it. You should know that getting PMI-ACP certification requires effort, time and money. If you are spending all these to achieve something bigger, then make it worth to get outstanding results among your peers and colleagues.

Go through the requirements

Since you are clear about the value of PMI-ACP certification in your career, it is time to know about the requirements.

Go to PMI.org and search for “PMI-ACP requirements”. There are three requirements to appear in the PMI-ACP exam.

  • 2,000 hours of general project experience working with teams, or a current PMP® or PgMP®.
  • 1,500 hours working on agile project teams or with agile methodologies.
  • 21 contact hours of training in agile practices.

Study well the requirements and map your experience on them. Your job experience will cover the first two requirements. However, to meet the third point, you will get 21 hours of training on agile practices.

Talk to other PMI-ACPs

It is always good to talk to your friends and colleagues who have earned PMI-ACP certification to know about their experience. They can give you useful tips and tricks for the preparation of the exam. Ask them about the challenges that they faced while doing PMI-ACP certification. This will help you to know about possible trails and the ways to overcome them during the whole process.

Get material

Since this is the planning phase, you must know about the content required to prepare the exam. A list of useful resources is given below:

Books

Online Quizzes

Mobile Apps

Linkedin Groups

Plan your preparation

You have collected the material required for exam preparation, now you can work on your study plan. Scan the content and see how you will spend your time to prepare for the exam.

The PMI-ACP exam will test your knowledge and experience around 7 domains of the Agile framework:

  1.  Agile principles and mindset
  2. Value-driven delivery
  3. Stakeholder engagement
  4. Team performance
  5. Adaptive planning
  6. Problem detection and resolution
  7. Continuous improvement

There are two ways to study for PMI-ACP.

The first way is to spend 2–3 hours daily to prepare for the exam without any gaps. This may take around 2 months to complete your preparation. The second way is to plan your leaves from the job for 7–10 days and give your full time to study PMI-ACP. Studying 8 hours daily can be exhaustive for some people, so it is better to choose a plan that suits you best.

Divide the book into parts and see how much content you can complete in a day so that it can be absorbed in your mind easily. The purpose is not to just skim the content, neither you need to memorize anything. The best way is to study with full concentration and relate the described methods with your practical experience.

Complete the requirements

The mentioned three requirements are pre-requisites for the exam.

Most of the people have already got the required project in their careers. If you don’t have the relevant project experience, the first step is to move towards it.

The next requirement is to get 21 hours of agile training. You can do online training or attend a classroom session at an agile institute. PMI provides this training in their local chapters located in different countries. Just make sure that the training you choose should cover all the domains that will be tested in the exam.

Online training can be cheaper, and you can follow the content at your own pace.

Classroom training is usually completed in 3 days and provides you a good collection of tips in a face to face conversation with experts.

2. Schedule Exam

Scheduling the exam requires you to register yourself on PMI.org, and complete your application.

Register yourself on PMI and Create the application

Go to PMI.org and register yourself. Create your application and mention your experience in an understandable form.

It is better to view some sample applications from successful candidates as it will give you an idea of how to write your experience in a way that is acceptable for PMI.

While mentioning your supervisor, write the names of colleagues who are in your contact and easier to access, so that you can get your application signed if it is selected for the audit process.

You can ask an expert to review your application before submission as he can identify the required improvements in the application. When you are satisfied, submit your application on the website.

Complete the audit process

PMI randomly selects applications for audit. The audit process requires you to submit your documents to the PMI.org office within 1 year of your application start date. For a successful audit, you are required to:

  • Get verified and signed the application form, both general and agile project experience from the mentioned supervisors.
  • Gather copies of your degrees/certificates as proof of your experience.
  • Submit all the documents to PMI.org.

PMI will take around one week to verify the submitted documents after they are delivered, and if verified, they will accept your application.

If your application is not selected from the audit, skip this step.

Schedule your exam

Once you get an acceptance email notification from PMI.org, you are ready to pay the required fees and schedule your exam.

You cannot schedule your exam until you submit the payment of certification fees. If you are a PMI member, you will pay $435 for the exam fee. If you have not taken the membership, you will pay $495.

Schedule your exam on a date of your choice. You can also schedule your exam when you have completed your preparation, but most of the people usually start their preparation only after they have scheduled the exam.

If you are an organized person who can prepare well without knowing the exam date, you can schedule your exam anytime during your preparation.

3. Prepare

When you are done with the planning phase, it is time to start the actual preparation and follow the devised plan.

Go through the book

The book mentioned above from Mike Griffiths includes excellent content to study for the exam. It mentioned a few study guidelines in the introduction chapters, following those guidelines will help you get more out of the book.

Go chapter by chapter and study well. Do not memorize things, instead well absorb the concepts. Relate the concepts to your practical experience.

Highlight important terms and concepts in the book, this will make it easier to revise the important points. Make sure you are understanding well the content you are reading.

One important thing is to follow your study plan. Do not take multiple days break in your study, otherwise, it would become difficult to relate things and you will forget the previous lessons. Don’t worry if after reading a chapter, you feel that nothing is there in your mind, it happens.

Complete the whole book as per your plan. Do all chapter exercises at the end, as it helps to check your knowledge after going through all the chapters.

Find online quizzes and solve them

After thoroughly reading the book, find out online question banks and quizzes and try to solve them. Take the simulation exam using your mobile apps and analyze your score.

You may not get a good score in the first attempt. Don’t get disappointed as quizzes are a bit different than the study material. They contain situational questions and thus provide a good practice to prepare for the exam as the exam also contains scenario-based queries.

While looking at your score, analyze the answers. Most online sites and apps contain useful descriptions along with correct answers. They give you a good understanding of the concepts, as well as help you to revise your preparation. Mark your weak areas and focus more on them while re-reading the book.

Re-read the book

Once again, open the book and start studying it. Again, with the same spirit and following the same guidelines.

Keep the questions/quizzes in mind as this will help you to understand the concepts well. Perform all exercises and quizzes again and you will see a big difference in the score as well as in your confidence level.

You are ready to go

You have studied the book twice while doing all the exercises given at the end of the chapters. You have completed multiple quizzes with a good score. You are confident about your preparation.

The exam day is not too far, so boost your confidence by reviewing tips and tricks of the exam. You can find different websites where people have shared their experiences and lessons learned. Review them to avoid any unexpected situation in the exam.

4. Give exam

The exam day has arrived. Make sure you have taken good sleep the night before the exam. It is a good tip to stop studying 12 hours before the exam.

Attempt exam

Keep yourself calm and relax. Go to the test center well before time. Start your exam with a positive mind. Manage your time wisely. You may feel that 3 hours is much more time to solve 120 MCQs, however, it is not that much easier.

Most of the questions are scenario-based. Read each question 2 or 3 times before choosing your answer. Go through all given options and choose the answer that you feel best suits the given situation.

Options can be very confusing; however, the best answer will be one. You will be able to identify two incorrect choices easily, but it would be a little difficult to choose from the remaining two. Again, always remember that the best answer is only one and you must select that one.

Don’t mark many questions for review as time may not allow you to review all of them. Take breaks if you need, otherwise, do not go for it as it can distract your mind.

Keep water with you to avoid yourself get drained.

Celebrate your success

The most beautiful moment is just at a single click of the Submit button. A congratulations screen appears in front of you and you become a PMI-ACP certified professional!

Don’t forget to celebrate your success with your friends, family, and colleagues.

Saadia Minhas

Saadia Minhas

Saadia Minhas is working as Delivery Excellence Manager at Teradata. She likes to inspire the world by sharing her experiences related to Agile projects, UX design and life lessons.

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