As there seems to be a fair amount of interest in the PRINCE2 accreditation, just thought I'd share my experience of studying and passing the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam. Just to make this clear, I am giving advice on how to learn to apply PRINCE2, not on how to become a PM. Given the fact passing Foundation is a prerequisite for this exam, you will be assumed to have already a broad knowledge of PRINCE2. I can wholeheartedly agree with others that classroom training is by far the best way to prepare yourself for this exam. However, do not rely on classroom training alone. Your preparation should start on average three months before you undertake the course. This with a target average of 5-7 hours per week study. As my experience proved when observing others, turning up to the course having not prepared for Practitioner properly, or even worse, having lapsed Foundation knowledge is likely to result in disappointment.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Easy to say, even easier to prove correct. We've all been there, have we not?
I've said it before many times but buy a good study guide. Chances are you will have one from your Foundation level training. Most, I believe include Practitioner level material too. A good study guide will include sample practitioner questions and most importantly include ALL the different formats of practitioner question. You do not want to be turning up to classroom having never seen an assertion/reason question!!! Seriously guys and girls, some of the delegates on my course were totally disorientated and almost disheartened when they saw these for the first time, so sharpen up and get used to them :) At least 30% of the marks in your exam will be assertion/reason. Take the practice questions seriously, mark down your answers on a separate piece of paper, mark them and then take notes. Cracking little tip...be able to explain why the answers you have not chosen are wrong in reasonable detail. Another handy little technique is to use some of the PRINCE2 management products and tools at your place of work. Get used to what goes where. If your present job doesn't include any form of projects or changes, then be creative, come up with your little fictional project. Build a fictional hotel is a classic example. Figures and detail are irrelevant. Just make sure the right info goes to the right place.
With a month or so to go, buy the Official PRINCE2 manual. Do not introduce yourself to this vital component on the first day of your classroom training, even if it's provided as part of the course fee. Remember, you can always sell what will become your 2nd copy on eBay afterwards. You don't have to read the book word for word, but ensure you know the structure of the book and then tabulate. Plenty of advice on how to do this on the www. There are two excellent sample PRINCE2 exams online, google 'APMG Sample PRINCE2 Practitioner exam' and this should present you with a link to these exams. They are timed and structured just like the real thing. Give yourself two and a half hours and make sure you get used to using the manual during the exam when required. Take these seriously. They are your ultimate preparation. Whatever marks you are getting, hopefully, you will be close to or above the 55% mark(!) you will now be in the right mindset to maximise your 2/3 days of training in the classroom. Even if you feel you are short of the standard required, your mind should now be full of questions, and you will hit that first day of training like a Paratrooper thirsty for war. When you get to the point of taking the exam, you should be in a better place than when you started the training. More refined, confident, and most importantly having ironed out any obvious weak points.
The above is purely from my experience. It may not work for everyone. However, what was clear was that at least half of the delegates had not prepared anywhere near sufficiently enough. Most were honest enough to admit they had lapsed Foundation knowledge of over a year and had done little or no study since. The issue here is that the instructor will often get requests for basic foundation level tuition but quite rightly will only give a very brief explanation before moving back to the actual level of training that the delegates have paid for.
If you aspire to be a Prince2 Practitioner you can get off to a positive start by at least planning your training correctly.
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