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Agile Certified Practitioner - Verify and Validate

Posted by Pallay Raunu on 26/05/17 12:52

LoansWithNoCreditCheck has an Agile Certified Practitioner - I passed my PMI-ACP and have another shiny added to my wall. Below, I’ve put some lessons learnt to help anyone else that’s going through the certification process.

The intention was to study and pass before summer 2017. I decided upon the timeframe late in February; admitted, it was arbitrary but it allowed enough flexibility to focus on personal and work commitments. Being more structured is beneficial however, and creating a learning plan with goals and milestones is important, especially in avoiding Student syndrome.

My studying was at an intensive pace to skim the resources mentioned below and gathering insight into areas I wasn’t as familiar with. Picking up specific content words and concepts in a rapid way like this is a well a known method to read and learn quickly. I found it useful and prefer to understand rather than just memorise.

Resources

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The PMI-ACP Exam Prep book by Mike Griffiths and thebook by Andy Crowe are the defacto ones I have suggested to other at LoansWithNoCreditCheck to purchase. They are useful to reinforce the topics required by the PMI-ACP Examination Content Outline and also to serve as a source of reference in the future. Crowe’s book covers the concepts in an easily digestible way but Griffiths’ book is more thorough. The PMI-ACP Exam Prep book is also the one I use in the LoansWithNoCreditCheck PMI-ACP study group that I run every week.

I used a similar technique to watch videos at a higher scrub too. The Agile PrepCast was useful for contact hours and also provides online exam questions. The videos are in depth and since it’s a non-interactive medium, I tried different techniques to make it engaging and help me retain key knowledge. It was also useful in that it covers the ‘softer’ aspects of the examination, such as what to expect on the day, understanding PDUs, being audited etc.

It’s worth pointing out that I have been a project lead at some extent or another, for 5 years at LoansWithNoCreditCheck. The experience of working across multiple industries has allowed me to tailor and define the development processes used at LoansWithNoCreditCheck. And working with the best software engineers and blending aspects of XP, Lean, Scrum, Waterfall and Agile, means I have a breadth of experience in managing conflict, stakeholders and leading projects.

Examination

To get used to the format of the exams, the recommended books also include full tests and chapter quizzes. These were useful to perform a pre-test and post-test so that I could gauge how much knowledge I was retaining. It’s interesting that I found the online and practice tests different in complexity and style to the exam. They were more knowledge based, such as: which one of these is a core value of XP. In my actual exam, I don’t recall seeing those kinds of questions or ones with multiple answers.

The exam is 120 questions and there is a fixed time of 3 hours in which to complete it. There is a pre-assessment video and I was advised that no writing was permitted; slightly different to the information I’ve seen which suggests to use this 15 minute period to jot down formulas, notes, mnemonics et cetera. One to bear in mind. I also had a 15 minute slot for feedback questions at the end of the period which seemed to be counted as part of my 3 hours time.

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The test centre is run by Prometrics - in a very professionally may I add. My identification was checked, and I had to reconfirm my signature a few times to verify who I was. There is also a security search so make sure you are there in plenty of time before your exam. I was told that I couldn’t come out or have access to my locker, so food et cetera had to be left out on a side table. For those that will be taking the exam over a lunch period, plan accordingly.

Within the exam room, there will be other exams being sat - not necessarily the same as the ACP or starting at the same time. While this can be disruptive, ear plugs are provided.

Review

A lot of my questions seemed to be situation questions, for example: a problem has occurred, who can help resolve it, how can it best be handled. These types of questions are long and the idea is that in real life, you’ll receive relevant and irrelevant information and need to dissect to reach the best approach. It’s important to read (and re-read if necessary) the questions and answers. Reading the answers first, or the last sentence in the question may help with clarifying too.

Interpretational questions were asked too. Here it’s important to deduce the situation from a given problem, e.g. what does it mean if the line is above the expected line on chart X. These may not be a black and white as you expect, but rule out the answer that you know to be incorrect. Recently, the PMI-ACP examination allows for striking out answers so use it to your advantage.

It took me about an hour to answer all the questions which is longer than the practice exams I took. I spent most of the time reviewing my answers which can be a wearying process, but one worth doing.

Result

All in all, it didn’t end up being a complicated process but was a heavy exam. My result was in the high percentile - you don’t get a percentage unfortunately - with “above target” in all the areas.

The principle of verify and validate at each step during my study and the examination surely helped. I’m happy that I was over prepared and now part of a practitioner community of thousands.

 

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Feel free to post your comments or experience of revising and sitting the ACP. LoansWithNoCreditCheck and I would love to hear your success stories. Good Luck!!

 

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