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How to Apply for Your PMI-ACP® Exam

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
Project Management Professional (PMP)®

In this third article on the PMI-ACP® credential, we examine how to apply for the exam. Project Management Institute published a comprehensive PMI-ACP® Credential Handbook available on their website, which covers the application process and much more. The intent of this post is to highlight key information in one short article.The first step is to check you meet the eligibility criteria. To qualify for the PMI-ACP® credential, you need to meet four educational and professional experience components.

Eligibility Criteria

The first step is to check you meet the eligibility criteria. To qualify for the PMI-ACP® credential, you need to meet four educational and professional experience components.

The first step is to check you meet the eligibility criteria. To qualify for the PMI-ACP® credential, you need to meet four educational and professional experience components.

  • Educational Background – A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate degree, or global equivalent).
  • General Practice Experience – 2,000 hours of general project experience working on teams. A current PMP® or PgMP® credential will satisfy this requirement but is not required to apply for the PMI-ACP exam.
  • Agile Project Experience – 1,500 hours working on agile project teams or with agile methodologies. This requirement is in addition to the 2,000 hours of general project experience.
  • Training in Agile Practices – 21 contact hours of training in agile practices.

Fortunately, PMI recognizes that many companies use hybrid agile or only some elements of agile as they progress toward more agility. So, for the purposes of qualifying to take the PMI-ACP® exam, as long as you have been doing some of the agile practices and applying an agile mindset, you can count that experience toward the requirement of 1,500 agile project hours.

Complete the Online Application

Once you meet the eligibility criteria, the next step is to sign up online. The process is straightforward and allows you to save and come back to it if you need more time. The system also acts as a portal to view your submitted application, check your eligibility status, and download forms and reports. Once your online application has been completed and processed, PMI will send you an electronic notification requesting payment.

Once you receive this notification, you can go back into the system and onto the next step which is agreeing to the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. You must agree to the code of ethics and the certification renewal process up front. Like death and taxes, you cannot avoid paying for the exam. The fee is $425 for PMI members and $495 for non-members.

It might seem unfair having to pay for the exam before you select a date to take it. However, it should have a motivating effect on studying and booking your exam. You are now committed (financially) to the exam, so you might as well buckle down and follow through.

You Might Get Audited

Do not be concerned if you are selected for audit. Like airport security lines, a percentage of people are randomly selected for audit. I know people who were audited on both their PMP® and PMI-ACP® applications.

If selected for audit, you will be asked to submit supporting documentation, such as copies of your diploma/global equivalent or signatures from your supervisors or managers from the projects recorded in the experience section of your application. You might also be asked for copies of certificates from the training institutes for your agile training, etc.

Be prepared to answer any follow-up questions or requests for information. The process usually takes a couple of weeks, then the application progresses as normal.

Study


How to study for the PMI-ACP® will be the subject of the next article in this series. However, for now, the amount you need to study will depend on your current level of agile experience and knowledge. Generally, people who have taken both the PMP® and the PMI-ACP® exam agree that the latter is much easier. There are less formulas to remember and no what-comes-next-in-the-process type questions.

The PMI-ACP® exam (three hours) is also shorter than the PMP® exam (four hours) and has 120 questions rather than the 200 questions on the PMP® exam. So, do not worry too much about the exam.

Schedule Your Exam

The exam is administered through Prometric, and you can use their website to locate a test center and schedule your test. Starting in July 2017, PMI introduced paper-based testing for people who live more than 150 miles (240 km) from a Prometric site. Paper-based testing may also be an option if you do not have a Prometric site in your country and traveling across borders is prohibited/unduly burdensome.  

It is possible to reschedule your test if needed. If your exam date is more than 30 days away, it is free to reschedule. If you need to reschedule within 30 days of your exam date, there is usually a $70 charge. Medical emergencies and other extenuating circumstances may be eligible for refunds but only after first paying the $70 and providing evidence of the extenuating circumstances to PMI.

 

Take the Exam

The PMI-ACP® exam asks 120 questions developed and independently validated by groups of agile project professionals. Questions are based on topics outlined in the PMI-ACP® Exam Content Outline and a few select agile texts.

Now a quick warning about sample tests. It is natural to want to test your knowledge before taking your exam. However, make sure you use quality exam simulators from a reputable source. Exam simulators that test the wrong subjects (for instance, topics from the agile reference books that are not in the exam content outline) will just create anxiety. Likewise, questions that are poorly written and based on recalling information will not prepare you for the types of questions you will see on the exam.

Most of the PMI-ACP® exam questions are “situational.” They describe a situation and ask you to choose the response that best fits the application and knowledge of agile approaches. These differ considerably from recall-based questions. An example of a recall type question would be:

The agile approach most concerned with team knowledge capture is:

  1. Sprint Planning
  2. Sprint Demo
  3. Retrospective
  4. Release Planning

This is a poor question because it tests recall of knowledge only. You will not see questions like this on the PMI-ACP® exam. Unfortunately, you will find many questions like this in low quality exam simulators because they are easy to generate. Instead, test yourself with situational questions like you will find on the exam, like this one:

Your team planned to complete six stories in the current sprint. But as you reach the end of the sprint, only four of them are done. What should you do?

  1. Return the remaining stories to the backlog for re-planning.
  2. Ask the product owner to extend the sprint.
  3. Work on the remaining stories when you can fit them in.
  4. Schedule the remaining stories at the start of the next sprint.

In this situational question, we must first interpret the scenario by analyzing the situation then choose the best response. It tests beyond the recall of information stage of learning into the application of knowledge stage.

Conclusion

Applying for the PMI-ACP® credential is not complicated. The PMI and Prometric websites guide you through the steps and make the process easy to complete. The education and experience requirements are not onerous, and the PMI-ACP® Credential Handbook has more details if needed.

“Project Management Professional (PMP)®” “PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®” and “PMI®” are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Mike Griffiths

Mike is an award-winning project manager with a proven track record of delivering exceptional results. In addition to executing projects, Mike is a successful author who excels at training project managers. He contributed to the last four versions of the PMBOK® Guide, cowrote the PMBOK® software extension, and led the writing team for the new PMI Agile Practice Guide. He also helped create the PMI-ACP® certification and wrote RMC’s PMI-ACP® Exam Prep book.

2 Comments

  1. Richard Gonzalez Olmeda Reply

    Do you plan to release the ACP prepaid book in Spanish?

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