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PRINCE2 2017 coursesIf you want to boost your project management career by gaining the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification, it is essential to feel well prepared for the examination that candidates are required to pass. You may know that the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is a multiple choice paper; but were you also aware that several different kinds of question are used? Each demands a different approach.

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Knowledge Train provides accredited PRINCE2 courses on a weekly basis in central London, so we have considerable experience of training people how to pass the Practitioner exam. Thorough training methods and advice about exam technique help our delegates to achieve some fantastic PRINCE2 exam results; on the basis of this year’s statistics, more than 85% of people pass the Practitioner exam after attending our 4.5 day training course.

We recognise that a clear understanding of the different question styles on the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is crucial to your chance of passing the Practitioner exam. In this article, we explain in detail the different styles of questions which you will face on the Practitioner exam and how to answer them.

The article has also been made available as an e-book which is downloadable as a PDF file. Packed with helpful hints and sample questions, Knowledge Train’s guide to the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is designed to improve your confidence levels as you aim to become a Registered PRINCE2 Practitioner.

The purpose of the Practitioner exam

The purpose of the exam is to assess whether the candidate can demonstrate sufficient ability to apply and tailor PRINCE2 to be awarded the PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification. A successful candidate should, with suitable direction, be able to start applying the method to a real project, but may not be sufficiently skilled to do this appropriately in all situations. Their individual project management expertise, complexity of the project and the support provided for the use of PRINCE2 in their work environment will all be factors that impact what the Practitioner can achieve.

Assessment criteria

The PRINCE2 Practitioner exam assess candidates by testing whether a candidate is:

  • able to apply the PRINCE2 principles in context and be able to apply and tailor relevant aspects of PRINCE2 themes and processes in context
  • able to assess whether an approach to applying the themes or processes is effective and fit for purpose, taking into consideration: the context, the PRINCE2 principles, and the purpose and requirements of the theme or process
  • able to apply the PRINCE2 requirements for a theme, demonstrating an understanding of the management products and recommended roles and responsibilities of the theme
  • able to carry out the activities of the processes and their recommended actions, demonstrate an understanding of the recommended roles and responsibilities, and how the themes may be applied within the processes

Syllabus areas examined

  • The 7 principles
  • The 7 themes (Business Case, Organization, Quality, Plans, Risk, Change, Progress)
  • The 7 processes (starting up a project, directing a project, initiating a project, controlling a stage, managing product delivery, managing a stage boundary, closing a project)

What does the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam consist of?

    • The PRINCE2 Practitioner exam takes 2.5 hours to complete, and you may take an annotated copy of the manual into the exam room with you.

PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips

    • You will be examined on the 4 integrated elements of PRINCE2: the principles, the themes, the processes and tailoring

PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips

    • The total number of marks is 68 (8 marks for principles questions, 35 marks for theme questions, 25 marks for process questions)

PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips

  • The pass mark is 55% which means you must score 38 marks or more to pass
  • You will be given a scenario booklet, question booklet and an answer sheet. The scenario booklet contains information about a fictional project. The question booklet contains the questions

PRINCE2 Practitioner exam scenario booklet

Scenario booklet

This contains a fictional project scenario which describes an organization investing in a project and is normally about 1 page of A4 text. It is this scenario upon which all the questions are based.

Be aware that there might be some additional information in the booklet. You must only read the additional information when told to do so in the question which will always be indicated by the words Use the ‘Additional Information’ in the scenario booklet.

PRINCE2 Practitioner exam tips

Question booklet

This contains all 68 questions, divided into the 17 topics. Each topic will be clearly labelled e.g. PRINCIPLES, ORGANIZATION, or DIRECTING A PROJECT.

Answer sheet

You fill in your answers in a grid in pencil. The grid is clearly marked to show which question the grid refers to.

PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips

Question styles

Practice papers are the best way to prepare for the types of questions used during the exam. Even when the training day is over, you should practice at home to fully ensure you get to grips with the type of questions used.

Here are the two styles of objective test questions (OTQs) you’ll have to answer during the Practitioner exam:

  • ‘Standard classic’ OTQs – select one answer from a range of options
  • ‘Matching’ OTQs – link each item in one list to the correct item in a second list

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‘Standard classic’ OTQs

This question style is where you must choose one from a range of 4 options, like this:

[preamble (giving the context, where appropriate)]

[questions]

a) [option]
b) [option]
c) [option]
d) [option]

As an example, take a look at this:

PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips

Tip: for a question such as this where you have 2 ‘Yes’ and 2 ‘No’ answers to choose from, first decide whether it is yes or no. Then from the 2 options remaining, choose which one sounds the most appropriate.

‘Matching’ OTQs

This question style is where you must link items in one list to items in a second list. There is only one correct response to each question item, but options from the second list may be used once, more than once (in most cases), or not at all. Take a look at this:

[preamble (giving the context, where appropriate)]

[question (which option relates to each item of information]

[instruction (to choose one answer from the options on the right)]

As an example, take a look at this:

PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips

PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips

How to prepare

During this exam, you’ll be evaluating, analyzing and actually applying the PRINCE2 method to a given project scenario, so it really does test your knowledge and analytical abilities.

Timing yourself whilst completing practice papers is crucial, so that you become used to working at a speed required to pass all questions.

You therefore need a solid, thorough understanding of the PRINCE2 methodology, and the best way to achieve this is by attending a course, making sure you know how to apply PRINCE2 to projects, and understanding the key terms.

Tabbing and highlighting

Inserting tabs into the PRINCE2 manual will help you find important sections of the book during the exam. Don’t have too many though, because having too many will make it harder to find important pages. The key sections I recommend to students to tab are: the contents page, the 7 theme chapters (chapters 6-12), the 7 process chapters (chapters 14-20), appendix A, appendix C and the glossary.

Highlighting key parts of the manual will help you as well. Too much highlighting will hinder you, however, so make intelligent decisions when deciding which parts to bring to your attention.

You must be confident in your PRINCE2 knowledge, as although you may take the manual into the exam, it is pointless flicking through it for each question, when you could be using it only for the tricky parts.

PRINCE2 Foundation exam tips

Time management during the exam

The exam lasts for 2.5 hours. When the exam starts, spend 5 minutes reading the scenario booklet. Underline or highlight things which appear significant. For example, if it tells you the reason why the project is happening, write “reason” next to the sentence. This will help you when answering the questions later.

You will have then have 145 minutes left. There are 2 time management strategies you can consider.

Strategy 1: equal time per question

Allocate 2 minutes for each of the 68 questions. Mark your answer in the question booklet clearly. After answering a question, move to the next one. This will take 136 minutes which, if you spend 5 minutes reading the scenario will leave you 9 minutes for filling in your answer paper. Ensure you answer all 68 questions.

Strategy 2: two pass approach

In this strategy, you will go through the entire exam paper twice. The first time through you will answer the easy questions and you will fill in your answer sheet with these answers. “Easy” questions might be the ones which take little time to answer, or the ones which you are confident that you know the answer for.

Skip any questions which you think are too difficult or take a lot of time to read.

During the second pass through, you will attempt the questions which you skipped in the first pass. The risk with this approach is that it is more difficult to keep track of time and you might end up not completing all questions.

Lastly, remember to answer every question. As marks are not deducted for wrong answers, you might just be right, and trusting your instincts will usually serve you well.

AWhat to bring with you

You must remember to bring:

  • Photo ID (such as a passport or driving licence) otherwise you cannot sit the exam
  • Note: you will be provided with a pencil and eraser

You might also like to bring:

  • Water, to keep your concentration levels high
  • Highlighter to highlight important details in the scenario booklet

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Simon Buehring

Simon Buehring is the Founder and Managing Director of Knowledge Train.

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