PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips
To pass your PRINCE2 Foundation exam with flying colours and prove your fabulous knowledge of the PRINCE2 methodology, your revision and exam preparation must be approached in the right way.
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Exam pass rates
In the UK, the national average PRINCE2 Foundation exam pass rate is 97%. You don’t want to be one of the unlucky 3%. In addition, candidates who score highly on the Foundation exam are also likely to do better on the harder Practitioner exam.
PRINCE2 Foundation exam tip - aim for the highest mark you can on your PRINCE2 Foundation exam by using this guide to help you.
Topics to know
The PRINCE2 Foundation exam assesses whether your knowledge and understanding of the method is sufficient to be able to work effectively with, or as a member of, a project management team working within an environment supporting PRINCE2.
The exam addresses each of the following areas:
- Overview of PRINCE2
- Benefits of PRINCE2
- Project management team roles
- Management products
If you want a detailed understanding of the Foundation syllabus you can download a copy from AXELOS.
The syllabus says that successful candidates should understand:
- the key concepts relating to projects and PRINCE2;
- how the PRINCE2 principles underpin the PRINCE2 method;
- the PRINCE2 themes and how they are applied throughout the project;
- the PRINCE2 processes and how they are carried out throughout the project.
PRINCE2 Foundation exam tip - learn all about the PRINCE2 by reading our free PRINCE2 foundation study guides which can be downloaded as free e-books: PRINCE2 principles, PRINCE2 themes and PRINCE2 processes.
The exam is made up of 60 multiple-choice questions, which you must complete in 1 hour. All the questions are contained within a question booklet.
The pass mark is 55% so you need to score at least 33 correct answers to pass. The exam is closed book, which means that you cannot take the manual or any other printed or electronic materials with you into the examination room.
The exam contains 3 types of question style: ‘classic’, ‘list’ and ‘missing word’. The questions are always in multiple-choice format, so you simply need to pick one answer out of the four options given. There are no trick questions on the exam paper and each question only has one correct answer.
‘Classic’ style questions
This is the style of question which you will have answered many times before. For example:
Q. In which of the following processes does the project board choose a suitable risk response?
a) Controlling a stage
b) Managing a stage boundary
c) Directing a project
d) Starting up a project
If you remember that the project board only performs one of the seven processes then the answer is straightforward – it’s directing a project, option c.
‘List’ style questions
Q. Which of the following tasks form part of the product-based planning method?
i. Writing the product descriptions
ii. Creating a product flow diagram
iii. Designing the plan
iv. Creating the product breakdown structure
a. (i), (ii) and (iii)
b. (ii), (iii) and (iv)
c. (i), (ii) and (iv)
d. (i), (iii) and (iv)
For the above question, read the statements i-iv, and then decide which three form part of the product-based planning method. I suggest that you read each of the 4 options and tick the ones you are sure form part of the technique. If there are only 2 options you are sure about, at least you have reduced your last decision to a choice between the 2 remaining options, so pick one of them and then mark your answer paper accordingly.
‘Missing word’ style questions
Identify the missing word in the following sentence.
A purpose of the [ ? ] theme is to control any unacceptable deviations from the project's objectives.
The answer is the progress theme. Even if you couldn’t remember the purpose of the progress theme, you might have been able to get the answer by a process of elimination by asking yourself what the other themes are about (controlling changes and issues, planning what is to be done, controlling uncertainty).
As you can see, it really does help to be able to quickly recall your PRINCE2 knowledge quickly.
PRINCE2 Foundation exam tip - with limited time and no manual allowed, revision must be top of your Foundation exam preparation plan.
The most common revision method is to practice those exam questions! As the questions are compiled from a limited question bank, the more practice questions you attempt, the more prepared you will be. The PRINCE2 exam board provides 2 sample Foundation exam papers to PRINCE2 Accredited Training Organizations, so if you have studied using an accredited training course, these should be provided to you.
PRINCE2 Foundation exam tip - practicing sample exam papers helps refine your exam technique. To try a sample Foundation exam, click the button below.
There will be a considerable number of questions which ask you the purpose of a management product, a theme or a process. Since there’s 26 products, and 7 themes and processes, that’s 40 purposes you need to remember. That can be too many things. You need some trusted methods to help you remember so try paraphrasing.
Go to Appendix A in the PRINCE2 manual and one by one, read the purpose of each of the 26 management products. To be clear – that’s subsection A1.1, A2.1, A3.1 etc. If you don’t understand it, read it again. Then write down in your own words the meaning of the product. Try to write it in less than 10 words.
PRINCE2 Foundation exam tip - paraphrasing forces your brain to engage with the subject matter which helps with longer-lasting memory retention, and deeper learning.
Try paraphrasing the purposes of the 7 themes and 7 processes too.
Visual revision tools, such as mind-maps or flow charts can also help. Creating these for yourself will aid your understanding of PRINCE2, and ultimately improve your chances of exam success. Try to create one mind-map for each theme and one for each process.
After you’ve created your own mind-maps you can compare them against the ones we produced inside our themes and processes ebooks.
PRINCE2 Foundation exam tip - drawing mind-maps is a great way to aid your understanding of PRINCE2.
There are three things to keep in mind during the Foundation exam – timing, question complexity and making sure to answer every question.
Timing is the most important aspect to keep in mind. The exam consists of 60 questions, and there are 60 minutes to answer them. This only allows 1 minute per question. When faced with this small time-frame, it’s best to have a good strategy during the exam which maximizes your chances of scoring highly. The strategy we recommend is the three-pass approach.
The three-pass approach
Go through the entire question paper from start to finish and answer those questions which you feel confident about which only take a few seconds to answer. Mark your answer on the answer sheet and mark your question paper so show you have answered the question. Leave any questions you are unsure about. Often at the end of this first pass, you might only have spent 15-20 minutes and possibly answered 30-40% of the questions.
Go through the unanswered questions, this time spending 10-15 seconds reading each one. If you don’t understand what it is asking you, read it one more time. If you think you know the answer, mark the answer sheet with your answers and your question paper to show you have answered the question.
If you don’t know the answer, skip it and move to the next question. At the end of this pass you will only be left with those questions which take a long time to answer, or you are still not sure about.
Re-read the remaining questions – the ones you haven’t yet answered. When answering a question, by a process of elimination, discount those options which you think are definitely wrong. Cross them out on the question booklet. If you do this, you can often eliminate 2 options straightaway which will leave you with 2 options left to choose from. Read the question and the 2 remaining options one more time and if you really cannot decide guess.
Whatever you do, make sure that one option has been selected on your answer sheet for all 60 questions in the question booklet.
- Apply the three-pass approach to maximize your chances of passing.
- Do NOT spend too long on complex questions - skip them and answer them last.
- Don’t over-analyze questions.
- Think carefully before changing answers. Your initial response is often correct.
- Only select one option for each question and ensure you have filled in your answers correctly.
Preparing well, knowing what to expect and thoroughly understanding the PRINCE2 methodology, will all greatly improve your chances of success. Also, statistics show that high-scorers in the Foundation exam will have a better chance at getting a high score in Practitioner, which is certainly something to keep in mind.
On the day of the exam, you must bring:
- Photo ID (such as a passport or driving license) otherwise you cannot sit the exam.
- Pencil and eraser – for answering those questions!
- Water – ensure you have water to drink during the exam. Studies show that students who drink water during exams, on average score 4.8% higher marks than students who don’t drink water. 
PRINCE2 Foundation exam tip – your brain needs watering so don’t forget to bring water into the exam room!
Just prior to the examination starting, the exam invigilator will read out the instructions and rules for the exam.
If you registered successfully with PEOPLECERT before the exam, the invigilator will provide you with a unique 3-digit candidate number. You must write this number onto the answer sheet. The invigilator will check your photo-ID.
The answer sheet
PRINCE2 Foundation exam tip – ensure you write EVERYTHING using an HB pencil, otherwise your answer sheet might not be scanned properly and you could fail!
When the exam starts, write your answers on this sheet.
There is only one correct way to complete your answer sheet: by completely filling in the blank circles. Any other way and you run the risk that the machine which scans your paper may not read it properly and so you could fail. See the example below.
The question booklet
After filling in your candidate number on the answer sheet, the exam is ready to start. At this point the invigilator will give you the question booklet. This will contain all 60 questions. This booklet may not leave the room, so if you go to the toilet during the exam, you must leave this booklet in the examination room. It must also be handed back to the invigilator at the end of the exam along with your answer sheet.
During the exam
If English is not your first language you will automatically get 25% extra time – 75 minutes instead of 60!
Similarly, you may find completing the exam difficult if you have dyslexia or another medical condition. To get the extra time, you must contact us before the exam with a report from your doctor or other medical professional proving your condition. This will then get approved by PEOPLECERT and you will be awarded extra time.
Tell the invigilator if the exam environment is bothering you (such as noise or sunlight) or you feel unwell. Do this preferably before the exam begins.
If you need to change an answer, you should rub out the wrong answer as thoroughly as you can in order to avoid ambiguity when the answer sheet is marked.
All mobile phones and electronic devices must be switched off for the duration of the exam.
If you fail the exam, you can re-take it at a later date, although you will need to pay the exam fee again.
At the end of the exam, the invigilator will mark your answers and give you a provisional result after about 15 minutes. The exam board will provide an official result 2-3 business days later.
If you have passed, you should expect to receive the certificate at the same time as receiving your official result.
We hope you have found this guide to passing the PRINCE2 Foundation exam useful. Thorough knowledge of how PRINCE2 works and a great exam technique should help you to pass your exam.
Study, effective revision and practicing sample exams will all boost your chances of passing the exam, and achieving a qualification recognized in industries throughout the world.
 Pawson, C. (2004, April). Bring water into exams to improve your grade. http://www.uel.ac.uk/news/press-releases/2012/04/waterexams.htm
Simon Buehring is the Founder and Managing Director of Knowledge Train.