My PMI-ACP journey!

I wanted to share my experience in becoming the PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner. Believe me…if I can, then you can for sure!

I wasn’t too keen on PMI-ACP certification initially as I had concern on my mind about PMI that is known for  certification on traditional/waterfall method can do justice to Agile certification. I explored bit (PMI/FB/LinkedIn groups) and found it to be worth taking it further. More than certification, my primary objective is to learn methodologies other than just Scrum. Scrum may not work in every situation and we need to explore XP, Kanban, TDD and Lean wherever applicable.  ACP was covering pretty much all methodologies including Scrum. I went through the process involved in becoming ACP and it was fairly straightforward.

Next logical step was to find the right institute that offer the classroom training and I have to thank my buddies Liaqath & Seraj for introducing Learnovative to me. The classes were conducted over weekend (26th & 27th October, 2nd November) so there was no impact to the work. Of course it was challenging to compromise the weekends 🙂 All logistics were well taken care of and absolutely no hiccups on all three days. Very interactive sessions and wonderful batch-mates, and we had one of the best trainer Mr Vijay Bandaru. Since he has hands-on experience with coaching, the practical examples he gave us was pretty useful in addition to the classroom exercise. What I liked the most in the sessions is that the focus wasn’t limited to passing exam but to gain the knowledge on agile values, practices & methodologies.

Generally the support ends once the training is over since most of the institutes are bothered only up to that point. However Mr Vijay has been very supportive with his guidance towards the next step. After the training, I submitted the form for PMI’s review and approval to the next step (payment & exam scheduling). While I was waiting for the form, I started with my preparation:

  • The preparation starts from being attentive in the class (inclusive of post lunch sessions :)). From the questions I received during exam, I felt that at least 60% – 65% can be easily achieved if we just go with the training flow
  • Apart from the training course material, I went through PMI-ACP Exam Prep (by Mike Griffiths). Though the book is written for exam preparation, since it is extract from 11 agile books, I felt it as a great summary of important agile aspects – planning, stakeholder management, boosting team performance. My suggestion is that keep the exam point of view out of your mind and read it as if you are exploring agile
  • While reading the PMI-ACP Exam prep, I was inspired by some of the concepts (especially the high performance team) from Lyssa Adkins and I ended up reading the book completely.
  • I allocated two hours per day (morning an hour & evening an hour) and 4 hours during the weekend and this is more than sufficient for 2-3 weeks to get comfortable
  • If you are already practicing agile like me, shift your focus from ‘doing agile’ to ‘being agile’. Believe me once we become agile, the exam is piece of cake since most of the questions are situational based.
  • I just can’t memorize and I am poor with names. Good thing with ACP is that you just need to understand the concept behind values, that’s it, no need to memorize anything (except the names who invented the methodologies). So it is important to read out the Agile manifesto and the 12 principles and more than reading, it is also about believing in it.
  • Since I am an adjunct faculty for the agile scrum team foundation, it was easy for me to go through scrum concepts. However I had to explore other methodologies such as XP, Kanban & Lean. While reading it is important to compare the attributes with each others. For example while all methodologies are based on the agile manifesto, there are certain differences (such as iterations in XP & sprints in Scrum, Product Backlog Item in Scrum & user stories in XP, etc.,)
  • Once I finished the course material & PMI-ACP Exam Prep, I took up the sample tests from the Learnovative site and it was of great help to identify the improvement areas. My suggestion is that you can go for 5-6 sets of 50 questions. You can take up more as well, but you will start seeing the repeated questions.

In nutshell, before the exam, allocate 2-3 hours every day for 2 weeks, read the course material, PMI-ACP Exam Prep book, take up the sample tests (and understand why the questions are wrong or right).

I got my form approved from PMI on 14th and I registered for the exam on 15th Nov.

Tips during the exam:

  • It was 3 hours exam, but during the sample test I realized that we will have plenty of time for each question. Hence I didn’t hurry up much, but still I finished the exam in 45 minutes!
  • Please read the question carefully though the length of some of the questions may test your patience.
  • There will be some answers which can be easily identified as wrong and ignore them and choose the suitable answer (please ensure to identify the key words from the question)
  • Take some time to review the questions that are in doubt.

As long as we believe in agile values, understand the fundamentals behind each of the methodologies, it is fairly simple to pass the exam, implement some of the practices by yourself (for example, I have started using the risk burn down and visual sign-cards)

Remember… it is about being agile. Wishing you good luck!


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