April 28, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Are you ready to take your PMI Agile Certified Practitioner Exam?

This article is about identifying your eligibility to take your PMI-ACP exam.

Do you work in an environment where you use one or more Agile methodologies regularly? Do you have both general project experience as well as Agile project specific experience? If either of these scenarios apply to you and you are interested in earning your Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification, then use these steps to discover if you are eligible to take the PMI-ACP® Exam.

Many people/companies see holding the PMI-ACP® certification as a demonstration of professionalism in one or more Agile methodologies. To determine whether you are eligible to take the PMI-ACP® Exam, just follow the simple 4-step approach outlined below.

Step 1: Read the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Handbook

Click here to download the PMI-ACP® Handbook produced by Project Management Institute (PMI)®.

Pay close attention to sections that cover eligibility requirements and the application process. It is in the eligibility requirements section that you will find information regarding the exam requirements as they pertain to educational background, general project experience, Agile project experience, and Agile specific training requirements in order to take the PMI-ACP® Exam.

In the section covering the application process you will find out how your experience is counted when applying to take the PMI-ACP® Exam. The thing to remember about experience is you must account for Agile project experience and general project experience separately. You cannot record the same project under both Agile and general project experience, and you cannot count hours associated with general project experience towards your Agile project experience hours.

Step 2: Read the PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline

Click here to download the PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline produced by the Project Management Institute (PMI)®.

As you review the Tools & Techniques, Knowledge & Skills, and Domains & Tasks sections you should recognize many of them as those you use or have relied upon as part of your own activities when working on Agile projects. Half of the PMI-ACP® Exam covers Agile Tools & Techniques and the other half covers Agile Knowledge & Skills. Domains & Tasks are not specifically covered as part of the PMI-ACP® Exam; however, this section can provide you with insight as to how Agile project management is understood across different industries.

You may not have utilized all of the tools and techniques, or even have all of the knowledge and skills discussed within the outline; but you should have experience with or utilized the majority of the tools, techniques, knowledge, and skills listed in order to meet the eligibility requirements to sit for the PMI-ACP® Exam.

Step 3: Compare Your Agile Education and Experience with Your Resume

After working through steps 1 and 2 to gain a clear understanding of the education, experience, and Agile specific training requirements required to sit for the PMI-ACP® Exam, grab a copy of your resume and look for areas of overlap. If you are like many people who don’t typically update their resume at the completion of each project, take some time to create an experience list to document all of your project experience since your last resume update. Remember, you cannot overlap your general project and Agile project experience; so you may want to make to separate lists.

If you have copies of project charters or similar documents from the projects you have worked on and they have a clearly defined responsibilities section they can be very helpful when trying to recall and accurately document your experience. Plus you will need all of this information to complete the application for the PMI-ACP® Exam. Next, based on your resume and/or experience lists you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I have the required experience hours on both general projects and Agile projects?
  • Do my resume or experience lists reflect experience with the majority of the tools, techniques, knowledge, and skills in the outline?
  • Do I honestly meet the criteria?

If your answer to all three is “Yes”, then you are most likely eligible.

Step 4: Contact PMI Customer Care

If you have any doubts concerning your eligibility, contact the Customer Care department at PMI. They have knowledgeable and helpful staff who will be happy to answer your questions.

Following the simple 4-step approach outlined here will allow you to determine for yourself if you are eligible to sit for the PMI-ACP® Exam. In addition, all of the information you have gathered such as education, general project experience hours, Agile project experience hours, and Agile specific training hours will all be very valuable when you start the application process.

Agile Project Management Certification

The purpose of this article is to look into what PMI-ACP means and to provide you with information outlining the exam requirements, the exam content, and what you need to do to maintain your PMI-ACP certificate once you pass the exam.

What does PMI-ACP stand for?

PMI-ACP-ExamPMI-ACP is the PMI® certification that “recognizes an individual’s expertise in using agile practices in their projects, while demonstrating their increased professional versatility through agile tools and techniques”. (Project Management Institute).

In other words, once you pass the PMI-ACP, you are then considered a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner.  Passing the PMI-ACP Exam indicates to employers and others both inside and outside the Agile Community that you have demonstrated  experience working on Agile projects, and knowledge of Agile practices, principles, tools, and techniques.

Secondly, how can you be sure if taking the PMI-ACP Exam is the right step for you? First you need to have the desire to become a PMI-ACP. Next you need to verify that you meet the PMI-ACP certification requirements in four areas:

  • educational background,
  • general project experience,
  • Agile project experience,
  • training in Agile practices.

Certification Requirements

For educational background you need to have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent).

In the area of general project experience you need at least 2,000 hours (12 months) of general project experience within the past five years. In the area of Agile project experience you need to have at least 1,500 hours (8 months) of experience working on project teams that specifically used Agile methodologies within the past three years. Keep in mind that you cannot count the same hours or projects towards general project experience that you do for Agile project experience.

Finally, in the area of training in Agile practices you need to have at least 21 Contact Hours. A Contact Hour is considered one hour of formal education, in this case formal education in Agile practices.

Once you have all of your general project and Agile project hours documented, and you have obtained your 21 contact hours, you are then ready to start your application to sit for the PMI-ACP Exam. You can complete the application online at www.pmi.org, or download a PDF copy of the application, fill it out and then submit it by mail. If you select to apply online you will have 90 days to complete the application. If you have already earned your PMP® or PgMP® credential then PMI has already verified you have fulfilled the 2000 hours of general project experience requirements to take the PMI-ACP® Exam, and this requirement will be waived.

PMI-ACP Exam

Now that you know what PMI-ACP stands for and what the requirements are to take the exam, what should you expect when it comes to the exam? The PMI-ACP Exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions that need to be answered within three hours. There are two areas of questions on the PMI-ACP® Exam. Half of the exam questions cover Agile tools and techniques, and the other half cover Agile knowledge and skills. Additional information on what is specifically covered on the PMI-ACP Exam can be found in the most current copy of PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline. An excellent resource for studying toward the PMI-ACP Exam is the Agile Prepcast.

Once you take and pass the PMI-ACP Exam, you will need to focus on maintaining your certification. This is accomplished by obtaining at least 30 professional development units (PDUs) during your certification cycle, which is three years and starts the day you pass the PMI-ACP Exam.

A PDU is earned for each hour spent conducting activities in one of two divisions; education or giving back to the profession. You can earn all 30 PDUs with educational activities, but are limited to 20 PDUs per cycle for the giving back to the profession category. All activities in either category must be within the specialized area of Agile project activities in order to be counted towards maintaining your PMI-ACP certification. If you are already a certified PMP® or PgMP® you can claim Agile project activity PDUs toward maintaining your PMP or PgMP credential. So you still only need to earn 60 PDUs in total in three years, not 90. And remember that all PDU hours you earn towards your PMI-ACP certification must be in the area of Agile project activities.

Obtaining your PMI-ACP certificate demonstrates to others your knowledge of Agile practices, tools, and techniques. Make sure you understand PMI’s most current requirements to qualify to sit for the exam prior to starting the exam application process.

Agile Practitioners – 7 Tips to pass the PMI-ACP Exam

AgileYou have been using the Agile methodology on projects for one year or longer and you would like to become Agile certified. Here you will find 7 tips to ensure you are prepared to meet the exam head-on and achieve optimal results both on exam day and in your future career.

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) has developed a set of criteria and credentials for recognizing project management professionals who use Agile methodologies in their project, the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification. Your credentials need to include: 2,000 hours or twelve months of general project management work experience, 1,500 hours or eight months of Agile specific project experience, and 21 hours of training in Agile specific practices.

The amount of material that is covered by the PMI-ACP Exam is extensive and can seem overwhelming, but the following tips will help you be successful.

#1 PMI-ACP Handbook

The PMI-ACP Handbook gives you all the details of the PMI-ACP Exam process including exam policies and procedures. The first two sections are a must read for anyone considering PMI-ACP certification. These sections cover the must know basics such as exam eligibility requirements, how to complete the online application, the payment policy, and the PMI-ACP Exam blueprint. The PMI-ACP Handbook is available for free online at: www.agileprepcast.com/acphb

#2 Time

The material covered by the PMI-ACP Exam is extensive, detailed, and spread throughout many sources of reference material. This is not an examination you can “cram” for in a couple of weekends or simply rely upon your experience and pass. Plan to take the exam after spending 10-12 solid weeks of studying for an hour or two just about every day. Of course you will need to develop a schedule that is flexible enough to fit in with the rest of your responsibilities and commitments.

#3 Study Plan and Schedule

Use your valuable planning and scheduling skills to create a study schedule for a 10-12 week period that fits well with the rest of your responsibilities. Depending on your job and household commitments, you may need to schedule more or less time. Take a practice exam to identify the areas that you need to spend more time focusing on during this 10-12 week period. Make sure your schedule is realistic and set weekly goals to track your progress. Also include time in your schedule to take breaks and participate in activities you enjoy.

#4 Study Materials

The PMI-ACP Exam, unlike the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam, does not have a primary publication for examinees to study. Instead, PMI provides a list of reference materials. You can download this list for free at: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/~/media/Files/PDF/Agile/PMI000-GainInsightsAIGLE418.ashx

A second source is the PMI-ACP Examination Content Outline. This document covers information about the Agile tools and techniques as well as the Agile knowledge and skills that will be covered in the PMI-ACP Exam. I recommend that you ensure that any PMI-ACP courses or books you purchase cover all the items listed in here. Download it at: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/~/media/Files/PDF/Agile/PMI_Agile_Certification_Content_Outline.ashx

#5 Self Study Course

With the great number of material covered by the PMI-ACP Exam another option is to enroll in a self-study course. The latest generation of self-study comes to you in the form of Agile Podcasts / Videocasts. These can be downloaded to your smartphone, laptop, tablet, computer, or other portable media device. This makes your PMI-ACP Exam training portable, allowing you to listen or view whenever you have some free time.

Self-study Agile Podcasts cover agile frameworks, tools and techniques, knowledge and skills, and methods required for the exam in everyday English. As an added bonus, taking your lessons in this way can count toward the required 21 contact hours of Agile specific training.

#6 PMI-ACP Exam Prep Book

There are a wide variety of PMI-ACP Exam prep books available, which are also sometimes called “study guides”. They explain the concepts covered in the PMI-ACP Exam and can be a great addition to the reference materials suggested by PMI. Go to your local bookstore and select one that fits with your style of learning and covers a variety of high- and low-yield topics.

#7 Questions, Questions, Questions

A large number of free PMI-ACP Exam sample questions are available from a variety of resources on the internet. Free questions are a good place to start, but will only go so far for you. You will also want to subscribe to an online PMI-ACP Exam Simulator in order to access the highest quality of sample questions.

Your study plan must include answering as many practice questions as possible and taking several complete 120-question practice exams. This type of preparation will allow you to evaluate your study progress and prepare you for the format of the real thing. You will be nervous on exam day, but being familiar with types and formats of questions will help reduce anxiety and prepare you for success.

In conclusion: preparing to pass the PMI-ACP Exam can be a stressful process, but with these seven items you will reduce anxiety and exam day stress. Study hard and good luck!

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