Top Tips for Passing the PRINCE2 Practitioner Exam

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We often get students who are studying for their PRINCE2 Practitioner exam asking for extra exam hints and tips. We have created this article to pull together some of the general advice we provide into one place.
This might sound pretty obvious, but as with the foundation exam, make sure you know what you need to know for the exam! I would advise anyone taking any exam (not just PRINCE2) to look at the syllabus. For PRINCE2 the syllabus can be found in our course resource centre (links just below media player within the course when you are logged on). You can then be totally clear on what you need to know for Practitioner level. There is no point in repeating the entire syllabus here, but we will highlight and summarise some of the key differences from the Foundation level, as of course you must have passed that before the Exam Institute will allow you to sit a Practitioner exam.

Foundation Knowledge

The first thing to think about is how ‘fresh’ your foundation knowledge is because Practitioner courses and the Practitioner exam do assume a certain level of prior knowledge. If it’s been a while since you took your Foundation exam and you haven’t been using or implementing your knowledge recently you probably should have a look at that first. Maybe have a quick run through the Foundation course if you still have access, review any notes you made, or revision cards if you made/bought some.

Exam Focus

The breadth of topics isn’t hugely different from Foundation level as there are are only a few new topics introduced at Practitioner level. The focus is on ‘going deeper’ and examining that you would be able to appropriately apply the method (Blooms taxonomy level’s 3 – Applying & 4 – Analysing). There are going to be questions that do things like ask you to analyse whether a suggested approach is fit-for-purpose according to the method and select from the multiple-choice answers provided.

Some of the key areas examined at Practitioner which are not covered at Foundation are:

  • Quality Review Technique – not examined at all at Foundation level
  • Detail of interaction between CS (Project Manager) and MP (Team Manager) which often draws on what does into a Work Package and probes what a Team Manager is/isn’t allowed to do (remember they cannot amend a Work Package themselves as they are created by the PM, and when there is a Work package exception they raise it as an issue – only PM’s write Exception Reports as they go to the Board (or even higher)
  • Product Breakdown Structure – what goes into it – remember no activities!
  • Product Flow Diagram – which shows the order of PRODUCT creation – not the planned activities to create them
  • Questions on the CP process can prove quite surprisingly tricky so don’t over-look studying that process.

Open Book!
Students are strongly advised to make the fullest use of the practice papers provided.  By this, we mean that you need to unpick and understand every single question provided.  Read the question feedback/rationale provided within the course.  If necessary, go back and re-watch associated course units and read the right part of the official manual of any questions you don’t quite understand. If a question still doesn’t make sense, then message the tutor for a deeper explanation.  Balance Global are one of the few ATO’s that provide full tutor support for students.

As we have said already this exam is open book, so you are not expected to remember every fine detail within the official manual.  Therefore, it is going to be hugely important that you know what is in the manual, and your way around it – before the exam.  Of course, you won’t have time to read the manual during the exam so make sure you have had a look through it, and ideally read it all!

You are allowed to ‘mark-up’ your manual.  What this means is that you can highlight text, add your own hand-written text/diagrams and tab the manual with mini-post-its for easy navigation.  What you cannot do is to glue in pages of additional information or have large post-its stuck in with lots of additional information on.

Regarding using the manual during the exam – you are unlikely to have time to look up every single answer, you will have to trust your instincts on questions you feel confident with.   Practice using/navigating the manual when taking the mocks to figure out which bits are actually most useful for you.  Areas where we think the manual is particularly useful during the exam are:

  • For Organisation questions on Project Assurance – head straight to Appendix C
  • Table 12.1 in Progress theme chapter is useful for knowing where different tolerances are documented
  • Appendix A is of course useful for questions on detail regarding management product contents. Remember that there isn’t a separate template for Project Plan, Stage Plan and Team Plan – the template is simply ‘Plan’
  • At the start of each process model chapter, the activity diagrams are a great quick reminder of the activities in that process
  • Ref quality – Fig 8.1 for the quality audit trail & 8.4 for the Quality Review Technique

Practice Questions
Students are strongly advised to make the fullest use of the practice papers provided. By this, we mean that you need to un-pick and understand every single question provided. Read the question feedback/rationale provided within the course. If necessary, go back and re-do the associated course unit right part of the official manual. If a question still doesn’t make sense, then message the tutor for a deeper explanation. Balance Global are one of the few ATO’s that provide this sort of help to registered eLearning students.
We do not recommend searching the internet for additional practice papers / questions – have a read of this separate article: Caution-with-exam-practice-questions
We have revision cards that students might find helpful i.e. to have something locally in printed format in addition to the course. They are delivered as pdf documents so students can get them immediately. If students do print them off at home, they can add their own notes on the back. Here’s a link: https://balance-global.com/product-category/project-management-templates/revision-cards/ . There are some extra topic specific hints and tips on the revision cards.
With regards to exam questions, we often use the mnemonic – ‘RTFQ‘, which stands for – Read The Flipping Question. Not just the question, but all of the potential answers too, very carefully. If you miss or miss-read a single word it can lead you to select the wrong answer.

We hope this helps your studies & let us know if there are any other specific PRINCE2 topics you’d like us to cover in the comments below 🙂

15/10/2021

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