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PRINCE2 Training Myths & Misconceptions

~ By Steve Twine

PRINCE2 logo

As more and more people undertake PRINCE2 training so the myths and misconceptions around it seem to grow. This article looks at five aspects of PRINCE2 to give you the clear, concise information you need if you're considering investing in this valuable training.

Myth 1: PRINCE Is an Acronym for Projects in Non-Commercial Environments

PRINCE2 began life in the public sector and, as a result, many people perceive PRINCE as not being relevant to the private sector; or at best only to organisations providing services.

In fact, PRINCE stands for "Projects In Controlled Environments." Crucially, its purpose is to provide a structured project management method which can be applied to any project situation. This can then be scaled to suit projects ranging from office relocation to the building of a nuclear power plant.

Myth 2: Only Project Managers Looking for a Job Study PRINCE2

Because an increasing number of job advertisements specify the need for candidates to have successfully completed PRINCE2 training, a culture of cynicism has been directed towards the scheme.

My own experience is that the primary driver for people to embark on PRINCE2 training is their existing employer. Very often they have concluded that delivery of project benefits is inadequate so training is provided to enable employees to learn a more rigorous, and beneficial, approach to project management.

As PRINCE is taken up by more organisations, a secondary result is that employers find it more efficient and convenient to recruit managers who are already PRINCE trained.

Myth 3: PRINCE2 Training Marks You Out as a Competent Project Manager

  • The PRINCE2 Foundation qualification marks you out as someone who has invested time in understanding the structure and terminology of a PRINCE2 project. You will be able to act as an informed member of a PRINCE2 project team.
  • The PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification marks you out as someone able to apply the principles of PRINCE2 to practical real life scenarios.

Training for these qualifications alone does not make you a competent project manager.

In theory, the PRINCE2 training could be successfully completed by a student with zero project experience. However, it's the combination of theoretical understanding and years of practical experience across a range of projects that truly signifies a competent project manager.

Myth 4: PRINCE2 Training Involves a Three Day Foundation Course and a Two Day Practitioner Course

The majority of people studying PRINCE2 undergo training in this format but it is not the only way.

The PRINCE2 Foundation exam is normally taken on the final day of a three day instructor led training course. The PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is normally taken after a further two or three days training. In many cases, the training takes place over five consecutive days with the Foundation exam on the Wednesday, and the Practitioner exam on the Friday.

A number of accredited training organisations now offer instructor led training in alternative formats to suit differing learning styles and diary commitments. These include:

Four Plus One

  • Foundation training for three days
  • An initial Practitioner training day
  • Final Practitioner training day and exam held one week later giving time for additional self study


  • Foundation training of three days from Friday to Sunday
  • Practitioner training and exam undertaken over the following weekend (Saturday and Sunday)

It is also possible to take the exams at independent examination centres following self study of the PRINCE2 manuals, or having studied an accredited distance based learning pack.

Myth 5: The New Multiple Choice Exam Is Dumbing Down the Value of PRINCE2 Training

In September 2007, a new format for the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam was introduced to replace the former essay based exam.

Although the new exam follows a multiple choice format, it is undeniably thorough in its range of questions. It still lasts three hours, and still tests a student's understanding of how to apply PRINCE2 principles to real life scenarios. However, it is no longer possible to refer to any material other than the PRINCE2 manual during the exam.


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