Acing through PMI ACP

After working in the software industry for more than a decade and after earning certifications in technical areas like Sun Certified Enterprise Architect, i wanted to earn Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification. But when i aspired to become a CSM after using SCRUM for quite sometime, I looked further and wanted to get a bigger picture of agile methodologies. So, I wish to go for ACP course and certification which would give me wider knowledge and recognition.

As my company had business account with Udemy, I had ample list of resources to prepare and earn the prerequisites.

Preparation

The exam preparation can come from two sources. One is the 21 PDU requirement and another is self-preparation of going through books meant for the exam. For earning 21 PDUs, i took the Udemy course by Joseph Philip here. The course gave lots of understanding about Agile methodologies and practices. I went through the course two times attending the end of the course quizzes, games and final exam.

For the exam preparation, I used PMI-ACP Exam Prep, Updated Second Edition . I read this book 3 times. The second and third time gave me a deep understanding of different agile methodologies and able to complete at a faster rate. This book contains the gist of everything needed for the exam. Besides, i referred Head First Agile: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Agile Principles, Ideas, and Real-World Practices and 
Ace the PMI-ACP® exam: A Quick Reference Guide for the Busy Professional . I referred these two books in very high level and practiced the mock exams available in these books. The mock exams are very good in the view of situational type questions.

Mock Exams

There are lots of mock exams available online but many of them are bit old and seems to test the concepts directly but the exam is full of situational questions. Attending these mock exams will help to reinforce the concepts but to get a feel of exam context, it is better to search and attend situational question. Below are the list of mock exams available for PMI-ACP which i practiced. Some are free and some has to be bought.

Exam simulator from PM Exam Simulator - Need to register and got good situational questions. Free set of questions available.

Sample questions from the author of PMI-ACP Exam Preparation book - Free

Whizlabs free test - Got lots of situational questions and the questions are very verbose. This will give an idea of your ability to digest situational question and how to manage time in exam.

PMI-ACP Practice Exams - PMBOK 6 - There are two exams and both are very good. This is a paid practice exam from author of PMI-ACP prepartion book.

If you buy this book - PMI-ACP Exam Prep, Updated Second Edition , there are additional practice exams available in their website and more information can be found in the book.

Free questions from management yogi 

In all, always look for and practise situational questions and read articles from agile methodology related websites.

Application

The application process has been given in detail in PMI website and other sites. The process is a breeze. I paid for the exam and didn't schedule the exam until the time I felt like I am ready for the exam. The reason is that in the last moment if the exam needs to be rescheduled, there is a rescheduling fee of $70 it is within 30 days of original schedule date. If you are living in a metro, there should be multiple centers available and slots should be available in near future in one or other center. So, scheduling the exam close to the point when you are absolutely ready for exam is very important.

Exam

The exam consists of 120 questions and 3 hours to complete. Most of the questions are situation questions. It takes time to read and digest question and answers. While keep attending the questions, keep an eye on the timer. In my case, initially i felt like i am lagging behind and won't be able to complete all questions on time. So, i had to expedite a bit and if some questions are straightforward i didn't waste time and move to next question quickly. Just to map the timing as 40 questions per hour though some questions may take time, in average try to complete as 40 questions per hour. Having said this and as there is no official break, try not to take any break as every minute will be value in the exam.

If someone is working in Agile practices, it will be easy to digest the questions and answers and try to find what the question is looking for. The first answering approaches should be "Elimination". In many cases, this will be very helpful to narrow down the answers. One of the pointer for elimination will be goofed up terms like iteration vision etc where there is no such thing or answers not related to the context of the question. You should be well versed with key words and terms. Always pick more specific answer than generic ones. Pick the answer which closely matches the question where some choices may be an option after the action for the correction option has happened.

For many of the situational questions, you should be able to answer if you were in the industry and worked as scrum master or coach and should have encountered many of the issues. Before answering any question, check the role in the situational question and
as well as the point in time the incident took or taking place and answer the question accordingly. This is where the prerequisite of project and agile experience will be really helpful. 

After reading the answers, read the question one more time to link the context of the question and answers. This is further to get the question right in case the question is asking for "NOT" or "Except" type of questions.

At the end of 3 hour exam, there is a survey about the exam and finally you will be able to see the result of your hard work.

I got certified on 24th June 2020.

Thanks to Edward Chung for valuable pointers and links to resources in his site here

Hope this blog helps in your journey to PMI ACP certification.