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How to Prepare for the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner Exam

Josipa
Josipa
Product Owner

When you work in a very agile environment, you know it's all about efficiency and flexibility. There are no three hierarchies of approval, no big piles of documentation, and most importantly – developers can get to work straight away.

But what's happening behind the curtains? As the agile method is quite flexible and often relies on improvisation, it's not that uncommon to lack control during certain work processes. This is where PRINCE2 comes in handy. So, if you're interested in agile practices but have never heard of the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner exam, or you’re just not sure if you should take it – you're in the right place.

What is Prince2 Agile?

For those unfamiliar with this certification, let's start with the basics. How do the PRINCE2 method and agile work together? While PRINCE2 consists of principles, themes, and processes designed to ensure project viability through its life cycle, agile is all about producing value fast and with constant team improvements. And what do you get when you blend these two? Well, you get a pretty powerful combination of control and flexibility, or in other words, the PRINCE2 Agile.

This method will mostly benefit:

  • organizations using PRINCE2 that want to become more agile
  • agile teams that are lacking process and are looking for better project directions

But first – the prerequisites

You like the idea of getting the PRINCE2 Agile Certification and you want to apply for the Practitioner exam? Great! But, before you do that, make sure you have at least one of the following certifications:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation or any other PRINCE2 certification
  • Project Management Professional® (PMP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management® (CAPM)
  • IMPA Levels A, B, C, and D® (Certified Projects Director)

For more information about the above-mentioned certificates, please visit this page at the official AXELOS site. 

Financial aspect and validity

The Practitioner level certification costs around 500 dollars – this covers a training course and an exam voucher. If you’re not able to pay for it yourself, think about asking your employer to help you out. Introduce him to all the benefits this certificate will bring to both you and the company. Take it from me; even though I originally planned to pay for the certification myself, COBE jumped in to cover the expenses for me.

Anyway, once you pass the exam (and I'm sure you will), your certificate will last up to 3 years, but you can extend it through the CPD system.

Examination - what to expect?

The practitioner-level test examines the implementation of the PRINCE2 method in an agile environment. The exam is an “open book” type, which means you're allowed to bring the official PRINCE2 Agile Handbook to the exam. During the exam, you'll get reading material that describes a project scenario with multi-products, planned across several stages, via a given timeline.

You can expect 50 questions, and the passing mark is 60% – meaning you need to get 30 out of 50 questions correct. While the first six questions are general theory questions, everything else is scenario-based.

For a multi-choice test, the pass mark is pretty high, however, don't let that fool you. It's not as easy as you might think, so yes, you'll have to study to pass. 

The correct answer will never be obvious – all given options can lead you astray, especially if you have knowledge gaps or trouble concentrating. Even though I studied a lot, some questions were very confusing as all the given answers could be the right ones. So be careful and make sure to understand the questions. 

Regarding the exam duration, you can count on 150 minutes, and if you want – you can schedule it through the PeopleCert platform.

How to prepare?

Buy the book

As I mentioned previously, you can only bring AXELOS official literature to the exam – The PRINCE2 Agile Handbook. The other book they have, Managing successful projects, is not allowed. But, it wouldn’t help you much anyway, as the Agile version has a different syllabus.

I found mine for 125£ here, but you can also look it up on Amazon. I know it’s not the cheapest, but it's absolutely worth it. If you don't want to waste your time trying to memorize all the little details, I would advise having it.

When you start with learning, focus on understanding the PRINCE2 method in-depth, and think about how you can apply it to projects in your organization too. Tab corresponding pages in the book so you can quickly look them up when needed.

Repetition is the mother of knowledge

The biggest part of the questions is scenario-based. You won't be able to apply techniques correctly if you don't understand the rationales behind every Focus area, PRINCE2 theme, Constraint control, Process tailoring, etc. 

So, again  – you need to know the basics. If you have access to the PRINCE2 Agile Foundation level course, it would be wise to repeat it. Otherwise, stick to the Handbook.

Practice exams

AXELOS provides sample exam papers with a scenario, questions, and answers with an explanation. This will prepare you for the exam like nothing else, believe me. I suggest going through the sample, question by question, and checking them once you’re done. Also, it's crucial to understand the WHY behind each answer, no matter if you're right or wrong.

A bonus

If you have the opportunity to check tutorials at AXELOS "Content hub", I would suggest looking up the series "Passing your PRINCE2 Agile examination" from Keith Richards, the lead author, and the Chief Examiner. 

As those are restricted resources, I can't share any specifics, but let me mention a few general tips:

  • Read questions carefully. What are they really asking you about?
  • Go through all answers before choosing one.
  • Understand the scenario.
  • Always be aware of the big picture. Think about the timeline, team maturity, stakeholders, and anything that might influence the situation and affect the result.
  • Reality is never black or white, so don't be surprised if a scenario is in a grey zone as well.

In the end, was it worth it?

Definitely yes! PRINCE2 is one of the most popular certifications in the PM world, which is why I proudly wear the Practitioner badge. It will introduce a little order in your agile environment, but it won't restrain you with a bunch of rules; it will help you with something that you already know by heart. For example, that you:

  • Always need to assess the business justification
  • Should expect change as something inevitable, and carefully control it
  • Need a good risk management
  • Should choose an approach depending on the complexity of the situation
  • Need proactive management to improve team communication 

To me, the most important part is that I could take the learned practices and apply them to our projects right away. I noticed it really makes a difference as it:

  • Helps to increase transparency
  • Boosts improvement
  • Detects issues at an early stage and enables a fast reaction
  • Helps with prioritization and proper MVP definition
  • Controls all project aspects as it meets all objectives

To wrap it up, this method boosts productivity by introducing control but leaving enough flexibility for team organization. As a result, you'll get happy clients, a happy team, and a happy revenue.

I hope you find this walkthrough helpful in choosing the right certification for you  –  no matter if you follow my steps or choose a different career path. In any case, I encourage you to keep learning and working on constantly improving yourself. I wish you the best of luck.

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About the author

Josipa is a Product Owner at COBE, working with both the development team and COBE partners, to ensure good strategy, which results in great products that customers love. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her kid. She also loves books, cakes, and music. Oh, and beer, she loves beer.

Josipa

Product Owner

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