If 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.
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 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.
Syllabus areas examined
According to the PRINCE2 Practitioner syllabus, candidates should:
- Understand the relationships between the roles, management products, principles, themes, techniques and processes
- Be able to apply the principles, themes and processes to a project
- Be able to create and assess the 26 PRINCE2 management products
Syllabus areas examined
- Business Case theme
- Organization theme
- Quality theme
- Plans theme
- Risk theme
- Change theme
- Progress theme
- Starting Up a Project and Initiating a Project processes
- Controlling a Stage and Managing Product Delivery processes
- Managing a Stage Boundary, Closing a Project and Directing a Project processes
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 with you.
- You will be examined on 8 of the 10 syllabus area. There will be 6 ‘theme’ questions and 2 ‘process’ questions.
- For each of the 8 syllabus area there are 10 individual sub-questions, each carrying one mark, making a total of 80 marks.
- The pass mark is 55% which means you must score 44 marks or more to pass
- You will be given a Scenario Booklet, Question Booklet and an answer sheet. The Scenario Booklet contains all of the information about a particular project, which you must answer 8 multiple-choice questions in the Question Booklet about this project.
The 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 each syllabus area might have some additional information which is described in this booklet. You must only read the additional information when told to do so in the question which will always be indicated by the words “based upon the additional information contained within the scenario booklet”.
Whenever you read these words you must read the appropriate additional information. Not all syllabus areas have additional information and the additional information will clearly state which question it is for. For example, “Question 2: Business Case theme - Additional Information”.
This contains all the 80 sub-question, divided into the 8 syllabus areas. Each syllabus area will be divided into 2 or 3 parts, clearly marked Part A, B or C and the number of marks allocated for each. All question lines for a question will be in the same style – see the later sections which describe the question styles.
You fill in your answers in a grid in pencil. The grid is clearly marked to show which question (and part) the grid refers to. In the example below it can be seen that there are 3 parts to question 4. Part A has 3 question lines, part B has 2 question lines and part C has 5 question lines. Make sure you fill in the correct answer!
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 five question styles you’ll have to answer during the Practitioner exam:
- Classic multiple choice – select one answer from a range of options.
- Multiple response – select the two correct answers from the list.
- Matching – link each item in one list to the correct item in a second list.
- Sequencing – put events in the correct sequence.
- Assertion/Reason – decide if an assertion statement and a reason statement are each true or false. If both are true, decide whether the reason explains the assertion.
Classic multiple choice questions
This question style is where you must choose one from a range of 3 or 4 options.
Tip: read each option, putting a cross if you know it’s wrong or a tick if you are sure it’s right. Put a ? if you are not sure. If you didn’t write down a tick, then re-read the options with a ? and decide the best option. Then fill in your answer sheet.
Multiple response questions
This style asks you to select two correct options from a list of 5 options. This is the only style of question where you must select more than one option to get a mark.
Tip: read each option, putting a cross if you know it’s wrong or a tick if you are sure it’s right. Put a ? if you are not sure. If you have 2 ticks and no ?’s then fill in your answer sheet. If will now have eliminated one or two options. Now re-read the options with a tick and a ? and take a decision. Then fill in your answer sheet.
This type is where you link items in one list to items in a second list. Options from the second list may be used one, more than once, or not at all.
Tip: Notice the words “true statements”. These can appear in any question. It means the 4 statements above are all facts, so take this into consideration when answering.
This is where you position events in a sequence.
Tip: read each option in column one and decide if it is a decision which is made in the Starting Up a Project process or not. If it isn’t then write ‘A’ next to the option. Now re-read the options without an ‘A’ and jot down 1, 2, 3 etc next to each decision in column 1, to indicate the sequence. In the above example, for question 1 you would mark your answer paper B, for question 2 mark it A, for question 3 mark it D and for question 4 mark it C.
Due to the number of steps, you must beware the difficulty of the Assertion/Reason questions. Here is what to do:
- Each question consists of two statements, one which is referred to as an ‘Assertion’, the other as a ‘Reason’.
- You must determine whether or not each statement is correct, so evaluate each as either true or false.
- If both are true, you must decide whether the reason is an accurate explanation for the assertion.
- You then select one option (from A to E) as shown below
Tip: In the above example, if you had evaluated both the assertion and reason as true, you should then re-read across the whole line with the word “because” in the middle. If the reason explains the assertion, which in the example it does, then mark your paper A, otherwise mark it B. Also in the example, if you had evaluated question 2 as false-true, then you should mark your answer paper D.
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 you complete 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 4-10), the 7 process chapters (chapters 12-18), 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.
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 17 minutes per syllabus area and then move on to the next syllabus area. Ensure you answer all 10 questions in each syllabus area. This will mean you will answer all 80 question and you will have a further 9 minutes left at the end to check that your answer sheet has been filled in correctly without mistakes.
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 sheets 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
- Pencil and eraser
- Pen for filling in the candidate details form
You might like to bring:
- Water, to keep your concentration levels high
- Highlighter to highlight important details in the scenario booklet