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11 Point Plan for Passing your PRINCE2 Exams!

Passing exams is never simple but we can take the pain out of the experience so that you gain the qualifications you need to progress your career

1. The Background. Basics first: the PRINCE2 Qualification Scheme is developed by the APM Group with the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and The Stationery Office (TSO).

2. Foundation Exam Figures. The bottom line is that in 60 minutes you must get 35 out of 70 to make the 50% pass grade. There are 75 multiple-choice questions per paper including 5 trial ones for which the scores don’t count. More details can be found on training provider exam pages and from the APMG.

3. Foundation Exam Facts. The Foundation exam is aimed at establishing if you will be able to act as an informed member of a project management team using PRINCE2 in an environment that supports it. To pass you’ll need to show that you understand the principles and terminology of the method. So you must show you’ve grasped the purpose and major content of roles, the eight components, eight processes and sub-processes and the techniques. You must state which management products are input to, and output from, the eight processes, the main purpose and key contents of the main management products and you must state the relationships between processes, deliverables, roles and the management dimensions of a project.

4. Practitioner Exam Math. This is definitely no picnic: there are 9 questions per paper and 12 marks per question. You need to get 59 out of 108 to reach the 55% pass mark in 2 ½ hours in an objective testing format exam using only the annotated PRINCE2 manual.

5. Practitioner Exam Task. Once you’re training it’s easy to zone in on the detail of course and out of what the examiners want. They want to see that you know and can comment on explanations of processes, themes and techniques plus examples of PRINCE2 management products with regard to specific circumstances in a given scenario. You must show that you know how processes, themes, techniques and PRINCE2 management products interact and that you can apply that knowledge. They want evidence that you’ve grasped the reasons behind the processes, themes and techniques and can tailor PRINCE2 to different project environments.

6. Set your Schedule. Every project needs a schedule and this one’s no exception. Exam day will loom before you know it; we know! Set up and make sure you stick your own course, revision and exam schedule and deadlines; obviously you’ll have built in risk factors. If organisation isn’t your thing then find an accredited training organisation (ATO) that’ll do most of the thinking for you. ILX’s Connect will guide organisations through implementing a training programme and its Support and other services will guide individuals flying solo.

7. Bone up on the Pre-course Books. OK, pre-reading yourself into a course is no fun but trust us, it’ll give you that over-used but accurate thing - an edge! This is your chance to mark out topics for tutor help and to make summary notes for ongoing review and revision. Good ATOs include essential books in the price. The best ones give free, public access to a wealth of downloads.

8. Master the PRINCE2 Manual for Practitioner Level. No need to revise like crazy, there’s time to find the answers in the manual during the exam. Right? Wrong! You have 2 ½ hours to get 108 marks that’s 0.72 marks every 60 seconds. What’s more you need to aim to get 100% of the 108 marks if you want a fighting chance of getting enough questions right to reach or even exceed that 55% pass mark to give you an edge in this tough promotion and job market. Time to eat, drink and sleep that PRINCE2 manual so you can turn to what you need, when you need in the exam.

9. Practise Exam Questions. The in-tray’s full and the out-tray’s empty so you try only one exam simulation or skip it altogether. Big mistake. Huge! This is a challenging exam that’s eminently passable if you do it right. Learn the layout and question types, shoot for 100% when you sit exam simulations and sit them early and regularly to gauge progress; if you keep making the grade, the real thing should be a cinch; if you don’t you can fix your weak areas.

10. Think Outside Course Box. When you’ve got your exam head on it’s difficult to think beyond the immediate course. The best way, however, to pass PRINCE2 is through interacting with professionals, with fellow students and through finding opportunities to put learning into action both at work and through technology. How do you do all that? Well, ask your tutor questions in class, by phone or by email, follow blogs, Twitter, go on Facebook, try games and get yourself on forums.

11. Don’t Panic in the Exam. The exam starts and you hit the ground running. Steady! First read through everything cover to cover. Then read each question, underline key words and finally answer the question asked. Do the simple questions first and review your answers at the end. Watch the clock, time can ebb away very quickly. And if you fail, don’t worry you can always re-take, just remember to keep calm and carry on!

Good luck!

Useful PRINCE2 Exam Links:

  • The APMG provides a wealth of information about the PRINCE2 Foundation examination and PRINCE2 Practitioner examination, about the accreditation process and accredited training organisations.
  • The Office of Government Commerce’s website on PRINCE2 has an excellent overview of PRINCE2 and its background and information on the qualification scheme.
  • If you want to find out how you can acquire PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner quickly but effectively then PRINCE2 Practitioner Plus is just the thing.
  • For PRINCE2 insights to help you understand the approach and its applications try the PRINCE2 Downloads page.
  • Social networking is the key to extending your learning and experience beyond your training. ILX has a raft of options: a forum where you can chew over all things PRINCE2; the blog where we aim to put out information on anything that might help your project management career; our Twitter feed and Facebook pages where we aim to keep you up to date with events and activities that could have an impact on the PRINCE2 world.
  • We all want choice nowadays and there’s a learning option to suit you. If you’re the type who revels in training when it suits you then e-learning and m-learning are worth a look; if you like the idea of a classroom course but haven’t got the time for the traditional learning experience then the live virtual classroom learning would be a good compromise. Don’t forget ILX Connect the service that gives you that extra bit of help in implementing PRINCE2 training in your company and our Support service that guides and supports individuals.

    Finally, here’s some general information about PRINCE2 exams. They can be taken as part of an accredited training course through your PRINCE2 training provider or at a public PRINCE2 examination centre. Whichever option you choose, the exams will be the same in terms of style and structure. When booking your course, check that your examination costs are included in the price of the course and that your invigilator has been approved by the examination board (APMG). If you want to sit the PRINCE2 exams at a public centre contact the APMG themselves. They regularly run the Foundation and Practitioner exams. Check the costs of the exams with the APMG and your training provider.