I just passed the PMI ACP exam today and it gives me a great joy by just sharing my tips and techniques which i used for the exam. This blog would help you to follow simple techniques which you can use at the exam time and study material i used for the exam. I want to help others who sometimes miss the minor things on the exam and end up on the wrong side in-spite of a heavy preparation.
1. Tips on the examtime
My exam was at 10 am and i went to the test center at 9:30 and i had some time to get settled on the exam.
a. Familiarize with the software than jumping to the test.
Now once the exam software runs, Instead of just taking the exam, i did the practice test which told me how to mark questions for review, use calculator like percentage calculations which i am still not comfortable with a calculator!! and how to review questions at the end.
b. Plan your time.
I was given 3 hours ( 150 minutes) to answer 120 questions. My plan was to complete the exam in 2 hours and use 1 hour for reviewing. This is important because it gave me time to fix a lot of mistakes later which i had accidentally clicked by mistake or excitement.
c. Mark questions for review which you are not sure.
Most of the questions had 2 answers which are way off and 2 answers very close to choose. So these questions i just marked them for review so that i can use my review hour time to fix them. It was a bit scary when i found i had a lot of questions like 35 questions on this range but i did not let myself down for it.
d. Eliminate the bad answers instead of looking for the right answer..
One of the questions was e what should be the good qualities for an user story? . We know the answer is an acronym INVEST and we know the acronym and what it stands for. There was 2 answers which was way off and so my job for each question was to eliminate the bad ones first and then decide the best answer. If i was sure about the answer, i will answer or otherwise i marked it for review.
e. Use questions at the end to answer the questions at the beginning .
This was a great tip provided by my fellow team mates and i also saw it on Griffith book. So there was a question on if you are a BA and identified a risk , what would you do?
The options were call for a meeting, report to the project manger to document it on the risk register and discuss on the next day daily scrum meeting or discuss the issue after the daily scrum meeting. I was a bit unsure on this even though i thought reporting to project manger made sense and that is how i handle it. So i marked it for review.
But at the end like 90th question, there was a question which said what is the primary purpose of daily scrum meeting?.
One of the options was to discuss risks and handle impediments . When I answered the option which said discuss risks to handle impediments , I immediately went to the previous question on identifying the risk and answered the choice as report to the project manager and discuss it on next day scrum.
So this is an example of a question where i was not sure first but my answer at the end helped to solve it.
f. Fix your errors in your review time.
I was able to get the exam complete in 2 hours and then i realized i had approximately an hour to review.
1. I made sure that i first clicked on review questions and went through each question, eliminated bad questions and answered the right ones. Now in that process, i still had some questions which i was not sure and i left it for my third review.
2. Once the review questions were done, i did one full round of review of each question to make sure that the ones i felt were easy were really answered it in the right way. Whoa!! I found some dumb errors i did and i went and fixed them. Agile principle of verify and validate each step always helps!!
3. My last bit of review was the real hard ones where i started looking for possible keywords in the answer to eliminate and i really found some ones.
There was a question on what were the outcomes of a release plan? some choices had iteration plans, release plan, product backlog and only one choice had a release goal which is also one of the items which we identify on the release planning. So i was able to eliminate the 3 choices and narrow down to the best answer. So look for one key word to eliminate an answer!!
e. Take a walk to the bathroom
Now this might feel dumb but i did ask for a bathroom break which helped me to re energize myself. I used it to focus my brain and read deeply the questions and help me focus.
2. Topics mostly asked.
I am not able to discuss each question as i have a bad memory myself!!. So most of the questions were on the following topics
a. Use of retrospectives
b. how would you manage effective communication on distributed teams
c. XP principles questions
d. Lean management questions which was surprising. One odd question was the business purpose of lean.
e. No calculations on NPV, PV etc but questions on velocity calculation and forecasting iterations based on velocity was there.
f. Scrum related questions on planning, management style, situation based questions like what would you do if 2 team members disrupt the scrum daily standup, what would you do if there is a discussion on solving a problem in a daily scrum standup etc were really good questions.
g. Some questions on EVM was there but not much detail on them.
h. If you are a business analyst or non technical, you might want to brush up on continous integration, spike and TDD which was asked.
i. For fact based questions, you might want to memorize agile values, principles as there was questions on just to confirm them!!
3. My preparation.
1. I relied mostly on Mike Griffith book for the exam.
2. I did good reading on Mike Cohn, Lyssa Adkins, James Shore books.
3. Now this is important. I spent 1 week on online tests which really helped to prepare for tough questions.
a. I did velociteach online question which was good. http://insite.velociteach.com/
b. I did www.agileexams.com site for a month which had really tough questions.
c. I did scordio tests which if you are a pmi member , you get it free.
The way to access it is by logging in to pmi.org site, click on ereads and reference and you should see scordio 1000 questions which has 20 exercises. This is a real good one but very exhaustive.
So always do take some online tests and it is worth paying for it which gives you a good grasp.
So this was my story on passing the exam. I know the journey does not end as I am determined to carry on with XP practices and servant leadership which would really make you successful in Agile projects in general. So to summarize , here should be your take away.
1. Plan the exam time wisely and try to follow my tips.
2. Do online tests as much as possible
3. Read Jameshore, Cohn and Bridge to agility apart from Mike Griffith book which is a real gem for the exam!! Feel free to post your comments and i would love to hear your success stories!! Good Luck!! Please click like if you like my post and feel free to share it to others!!