How Difficult Is The PRINCE2 Practitioner Exam?

How Hard is the PRINCE2 Practitioner Exam?On average, 73% of students will pass their PRINCE2 Practitioner exam. This is the national average pass rates for all students across the UK. Since 2012 however, students studying on Knowledge Train’s 4.5 day PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner course, managed to achieve a pass rate of 83%.

Careful preparation for the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is vital to maximize your chances of passing and this article will help answer some of your questions.

What’s the exam PRINCE2 like?

Since this article is all about the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam, if you want information about the PRINCE2 Foundation exam then go here.

PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is 2.5 hours long, has 8 topics each containing 10 questions. Total marks are 80 and a pass mark of 44 (55%). 6 of these topics are about the PRINCE2 themes and the other 2 are about the PRINCE2 processes.

There’s a lot of reading on the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam

It could be argued that the amount of material presented in the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam poses a challenge to candidates. This is especially true for those who struggle with spelling and grammar or for whom English is not their first language.

When advising students on Knowledge Train’s PRINCE2 courses about approaches to mock exam questions, I am sometimes reminded of the English comprehension exercises of my schooldays! Paying very careful attention to the meaning of each sentence is crucial and it’s far too easy to read the question too quickly and therefore misunderstanding its meaning.

Despite the volume of material, you need to remember that the two-and-a-half hours allotted for completion of the exam paper does not include a period of reading time. Whereas you might be tempted to read the Scenario Booklet (containing the case study on which the questions are based) at length, carefully highlighting its key words and phrases, you must not allow yourself to be side tracked - a neatly annotated case study is not a substitute for a completed answer sheet.

Should candidates be concerned about their language skills?

Mindful of the demands that the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam can make upon candidates’ language skills, the trainers at Knowledge Train make every effort to ensure that everyone feels well prepared to sit the paper, and we are proud of our students’ achievements.

If you’re hoping to become a Registered PRINCE2 Practitioners you can be reassured that, since essay-based questions were replaced by various multiple-choice formats in 2007, the Practitioner exam no longer requires candidates to write at length.

It should also be remembered that AXELOS, the PRINCE2 accreditation body permits candidates who are not native-speakers of the language in which their exam is written to use a bilingual dictionary. Only a paper dictionary is allowed however so you won’t be able to bring in your electronic one. Having a dictionary at hand should help international students to remove any ambiguity associated with the meaning of questions or terminology.

Good preparation is key when preparing for the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam

Preparation is the key to doing well in your PRINCE2 Practitioner exam. At Knowledge Train our exclusive pre-course reading material has been carefully written to introduce you to the key concepts of PRINCE2 before you even set foot in our classroom. This is available online, via our pre-course study platform and you are given access to this as soon as you have registered for a course. It only takes 3-4 hours to complete and the materials can be downloaded as PDF’s.

Written in easy-to-understand language, and divided into short sections, our PRINCE2 preparation introduces the method’s essential ideas and terminology. By completing the pre-course reading, students can grasp some of the fundamental aspects of PRINCE2 before their classroom-based training begins; this approach should be particularly helpful for anyone who has not been exposed to PRINCE2 (or project management in general) before.

Given that Knowledge Train delivers PRINCE2 training in the heart of London – a wonderfully diverse city – our students, like our employees, are drawn from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, a significant proportion of the individuals attending our PRINCE2 training courses are non-native English speakers. With these factors in mind, the trainers at Knowledge Train ensure that the interpretation of sample Practitioner questions from the mock exam papers forms an important part of our training programme.

If some of the exam questions are rather wordy, working out the best way to negotiate them can prove invaluable, boosting students’ confidence in relation to the exam itself. We keep our class sizes small, helping to ensure that each person who attends has sufficient opportunity to interact with both the trainer and fellow students. Approachable and friendly, Knowledge Train’s trainers are happy to help and enjoy developing a rapport with students.

How can I maximize my chance of passing my PRINCE2 Practitioner exam?

Careful preparation and good exam technique are both key to passing the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam; approaching the paper with a strategy in mind will help to ensure that vital minutes are not wasted. By the time students have completed their PRINCE2 Practitioner training at Knowledge Train, they will have worked through two sample Practitioner exam papers in detail, with the opportunity to ask questions and receive advice about any tricky subjects.

Comparing the number of marks you receive for each of the eight topics covered in the sample papers should give you a good idea of your strongest areas of understanding in relation to PRINCE2, as well as those requiring improvement.

In my experience, students from a corporate background often find that they excel at questions focusing on the Business Case or Organisation topics, for example, while those possessing technical skills may prefer the Change or Quality themes. Once you have identified the topics that you find most – and least – challenging, you can formulate an approach to the exam.

One strategy is to tackle the questions based on the three topics you find easiest at the beginning of the exam. If you can work quickly through these, you will boost your confidence and perhaps leave yourself with slightly more time to answer the kind of questions you find more difficult. Consider your three least favourite topics last, rather than risk agonising over questions you find challenging at the expense of gaining easier marks on your stronger topics.

Another, perhaps better approach is developed from the observation that each section of the PRINCE2 exam has a particular style of questioning – some of the questions tend to be accompanied by rather more text than others. By first answering the questions that require relatively little reading, you may be able to gain a number of marks in a relatively short period of time, especially if these questions relate to the topics about which you feel most confident. The time remaining can then be spent unpicking the wordier questions.

Can I download sample PRINCE2 Practitioner exam papers?

No there are not, or at least there aren’t any official ones. The PRINCE2 accreditation body (AXELOS) makes 2 sample PRINCE2 Practitioner exam papers available to accredited training organizations (ATO’s) such as Knowledge Train. These are copyrighted materials and only ATO’s have a license to distribute them to their students. No other individuals or organizations have such a license and so if you find a sample PRINCE2 exam available for download, then the owner of that web site is breaking the law, and by downloading it you are committing theft.

The other problem with downloading sample or mock PRINCE2 Practitioner exams is that you cannot be sure that they are up to date. Because these downloads are only made available by individuals or organizations which don’t respect copyright, nothing is guaranteed about their authenticity or whether they are up to date. Your best bet therefore is not to download any sample or mock PRINCE2 exams and to only rely upon accredited training from reputable and licensed training companies. So, stay away from PRINCE2 torrents and people trying to sell you sample exams or test papers.

What styles of question are there on the PRINCE2 exams?

The Foundation exam is a multiple choice test and should be relatively straightforward, if you have a thorough understanding of how PRINCE2 works.

The Practitioner exam is a more complex style of multiple choice test and includes much more reading material than the Foundation exam. To pass the Practitioner exam, you need to understand how PRINCE2 works and also be able to apply it to projects.

Non-native English speakers may be given extra time to complete the PRINCE2 exams, in order to help them alleviate their language difficulties.

What do you recommend when preparing for my PRINCE2 Practitioner exam?

We’ve written a whole e-book on this subject and it’s available as a free download. The guide gives you tips for the exam, time strategies and details of each of the 5 different styles of PRINCE2 Practitioner exam questions. You can download it here.

Your feedback

Have you taken the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam and if so, what strategies worked for you? Did you feel that your language skills affected your performance and if so, how did you overcome this?

We'd love to hear about your experience. Please leave your comments and suggestions below to help direct future candidates!

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