Learn How to Study for the PMI-ACP® Exam based on your experience level in 2 easy steps!
Step 1 – Choose the Right Products Based on Your Experience Level
Your study path will depend on your starting point. If you are new to agile approaches, for instance, using them for only one year at one company, then you will need to study more than if you have five years experience at multiple organizations.
Around One Year Agile Experience
The experience requirement to qualify for the exam is 1,500 hours working on agile project teams or with agile methodologies. Assuming a 40-hour week, that’s a minimum of nine months of agile team experience. This is really not much time to be exposed to all the aspects and elements in the PMI-ACP® Exam Content Outline.
For people at this lower end of the experience spectrum, I would recommend reading my PMI-ACP® Exam Prep book and supplementing it with products like FASTrack to get experience answering situational questions. I would also recommend PMI-ACP® Hot Topics to study key concepts in your free time.
For a full “belt-and-braces” approach, you might also benefit from the PMI-ACP® Workbook, which tackles the key topics from a different perspective. The Workbook is great for visual or kinesthetic learners. It has less background text to read and more exercises and is arranged alphabetically, making it easier to find topics and create you own study plan.
One to Two Years Agile Experience
If you have one to two years of agile experience, I recommend starting with my PMI-ACP® Exam Prep book. Read it and try the end of chapter review questions. Go online to the accompanying RMC website and try the practice quiz. If you score well on these questions, you may be ready to take the exam.
For more practice on situational exam questions, consider supplementing the book with FASTrack and/or the PMI-ACP® Workbook, which also contains many sample exam questions.
Two to Five Years Agile Experience
If you have two to five years of agile experience and/or already have a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) or similar agile designation, I recommend the PMI-ACP® Workbook. With this experience, you should already know the agile manifesto and values and probably just need to supplement your knowledge with some lean and leadership topics.
The PMI-ACP® Workbook is perfect here. It allows you to create your own customized study plan focusing on just the necessary topics to supplement your experience. It even includes a study Kanban board to track your progress.
Once you have worked through the workbook exercises and sample situational questions, you should be ready to take the exam. If you want additional practice with exam questions, consider the FASTrack exam simulator.
The only time I recommend people with this level of experience to use my PMI-ACP® Exam Prep book rather than the Workbook is if they want the linking narrative between the topics. If you are a book reader or appreciate background information, you might prefer the textbook style of the PMI-ACP® Exam Prep book. My PMI-ACP® Workbook is very granular, just the facts and a collection of exercises and questions.
More than Five Years Agile Experience
If you have more than five years of experience working with agile teams, I recommend the PMI-ACP® Workbook. You can use it as an assessment tool to test for gaps in your knowledge relative to the exam content outline. You will likely find just a handful of topics you need to study. You can also use the situational quiz questions to get yourself familiar with the exam format.
Step 2 – Use the Products Effectively
Both my PMI-ACP® Exam Prep Book and PMI-ACP® Workbook contain detailed study plans in their introductions. I recommend reading them carefully and following the suggested learning paths. While you may know plenty about agile approaches, adult learning theory is new to most people. Read and follow the instructions—they will make you more effective as a learner, and you will be ready for the exam sooner.
The PMI-ACP® Exam Prep book describes three learning plans. The first learning plan is using the entire system, the book, FASTrack, and Hot Topics. The second plan uses the book on its own, and the third uses the book in a study group setting.
The PMI-ACP® Workbook provides exam taking tips for CSMs and includes a useful mind map of key topics. It also describes how to use the Workbook and the quizzes to test if you are ready for the exam. Finally, it outlines how to design and build your own study plan in ten guided steps while using the provided Kanban board to track your progress.
Your study plan should be tailored to your experience levels and comfort with the material. Even if you are very familiar with agile concepts, you may not be practiced in answering the situational exam questions, so invest in the appropriate study materials, read and follow the study plans, and maximize your likelihood of success. Good luck, and be sure to join my PMI-ACP LinkedIn Study Group to share your experiences and questions with your peers along the way.