Wednesday, January 23, 2013

PMI-ACP Study Notes

If you're studying to become a Project Management Institute Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP®), or intend to take my 3-day public prep class in March, the next few blog entries are for you. Every single question on the ACP exam must be a direct quote from one of the following books:

Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby & Diana Larsen
Agile Software Development: The Cooperative Game – 2nd Edition by Alistair Cockburn
The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility by Michele Sliger, Stacia Broderick
Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins
Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products – 2nd Edition by Jim Highsmith
Becoming Agile... in an imperfect world by Greg Smith, Ahmed Sidky
Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn
The Art of Agile Development by James Shore
User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development by MikeCohn
Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber
Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility by Alan Shalloway, Guy Beaver, James R. Trott

Why would you study to become a PMI-ACP®?

It's a process and framework-agnostic program that touches everything agile, from people & interactions to processes and tools, such as Scrum, XP, Crystal, Lean thinking, and Kanban. Preparation for this exam will help you learn to apply modern product development thinking (as Highsmith puts it, innovation lies at the edge of chaos). It will also help you understand what parts of your job will change, and what will remain the same.

Preparing for the Exam

The PMI has set a high bar before you're permitted to take the 3-hour multiple choice test: 2,000 hours of project management experience, 1,500 (overlapping) hours of agile project experience, and 21 Category A PDUs of Agile Training, as well as other requirements. It's a significant investment as well--PMI fees, classes, and exam fees. Read on at the PMI site.

In my opinion, the greatest way to cram for the exam is by going to in study mode. They'll help you learn to think like the test authors, and to review tons of content. If you don't have the background to answer the questions, though, you'll need to do some more work. You can read the 11 books, take an online prep course, or a face-to-face course, or you can study an exam prep guide (I recommend Mike Griffith's guide).

If you're looking for more than a certification, though, I want to work with you. I'm running this prep course because I want to help agile practitioners (this is NOT an introductory course) get to the next level in their agile adoption. This 3-day course is designed to help you learn how to apply these concepts at work AND pass the test on day 4, if you're so inclined. About half of my clients have taken the test immediately afterwards; others waited a couple months. In any case, it looks to me like half the people that pass the exam study a couple hours a week for 3 months. I have had experienced practitioners come through my class with no prior preparation and pass immediately afterwards--but if Agile is new to you, or you've been solely in the Scrum world--it will take more time for you to study.

About the Study Notes

This series will highlight key concepts in each of the 11 books--concepts that are likely to show up on the ACP exam. If you've got a copy of the book handy, whenever possible I'll give page numbers so you can read the full context.... so stay tuned!
Here's what's published so far:


usman talib said...

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ScrumDan said...

I have a very popular free study guide at and I just added a 300 question, high-quality, practice exam to compliment the study guide including some free sample PMI-ACP practice questions.