Episode 393: How to Pass the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam
Are you currently studying or thinking about studying for your PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam? Wonderful. That’s what we are going to be talking about.
In this interview you are going to meet Stas Podoxin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/staspodoxin). Stas is not only one of my students but also one of my coworkers. And one of the interesting differences in how he prepared for the PMI-ACP exam is the fact that he took an Agile course at a university that helped him get a better understanding of the Agile mindset. And so by the time he got around to using our own online training course he was already quite far ahead on the curve.
As you know, the rules of all Project Management Institute (PMI)® exams are such that we are not allowed to discuss specific questions from the exam. But we can discuss Stas's overall experience, how he did his PMI-ACP Exam Prep, his general thoughts on the process and his recommendations to you. So you can look forward to an experience and tip filled interview on how to prepare for and pass your PMI-ACP Exam.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #393. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. Thank you very much for joining us today. Are you currently studying or maybe thinking about studying for your PMI Agile Certified Practitioner Exam? That’s the PMI ACP Exam—well, wonderful because that’s what we are going to be talking about, which brings me to this little announcement. If you are a Project Manager who wants to become PMI ACP certified, then the easiest way to do so is with our sister podcast, The Agile PrepCast and get your certification training for the exam by watching the in-depth Exam Prep video training from www.AgilePrepCast.com. In this interview, you are going to meet Stas Podoxin. Stas is not only one of my students but also one of my co-workers and one of the interesting differences in how he prepared for his PMI ACP Exam is the fact that he took an Agile course at a university that helped him get a better understanding of the Agile mindset. And so, by the time he got around to using actually our own training course, he was already quite ahead of the curve. As you know, the rules of all PMI exams are such that we are not allowed to discuss specific questions from the exam but we can discuss his overall experience, general thoughts on the process and his recommendations to you so you can look forward to an experience and tip-filled interview and how to prepare for and pass your PMI ACP Exam. And now, let’s timebox this for 45 minutes. Enjoy the interview.
Female Voice: Project Management Podcast Feature Interview. Today with Stas Podoxin, senior Project Manager for OSP International.
Cornelius: Hello, Stas. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Stas Podoxin: Hello Cornelius, thank you for having me.
Cornelius: Absolutely! And of course, congratulations to you on passing your PMI ACP Exam.
Stas: Thank you very much.
Cornelius: Yeah. When exactly did you pass? How long ago was that from today?
Stas: From today it was about – just over half a year ago in October.
Cornelius: OK. At this point I think it is also important that you and I mentioned that we are colleagues. We work for the same company. We both work for OSP International and we are a training company—we train people to prepare for their PMP CAPM and also the PMI ACP Exam and as part of this, you have used both our training products, right? You’ve used The Agile PrepCast and our ACP Exam Simulator, right?
Stas: Yes, that’s right.
Cornelius: OK. Good. We just want to make absolutely clear that we put this disclaimer upfront here so that everybody is aware of our situation. My usual question when we start one of these Lessons Learned Interviews, what’s your most important lessons learned here for our listeners?
Stas: I think when you prepare for your PMI ACP Exam, you need to take it seriously because sometimes I heard when I started to prepare for the PMI ACP Exam, it’s easier than PMP and then you can pass it quite quickly without too much effort but at least for me, it was not true and it was a really serious preparation. You should dedicate your time, you should make your family ready for this because you are going to be missing for a couple of months so take it seriously and probably the most important thing, don’t try to memorize anything. Just try to get into what’s called an Agile mindset when you’re preparing especially when you take your exam so that you will select the correct answer.
Cornelius: Let me also ask you this: When you took the PMP and then the PMI ACP, how much time was there between those two exams?
Stas: I think it was about a year and a half.
Cornelius: Yeah, I think you did it relatively quickly following each other. Why did you choose to become PMI ACP certified on top of the PMP?
Stas: Well, the PMP was sort of very important for me to set up my professional career and to formalize the knowledge and the experience that I had. PMI ACP on the other hand, because most of my professional career I was in the IT industry and we extensively used Agile but we never called it Agile. Looking back, I see that we have been using Agile process, and tools and techniques but we never called it --oh we are using Agile here and we’re using traditional Project Management methods here. I just wanted, first of all, to organize my knowledge in a methodical way and the IT industry is also a very competitive industry so I wanted to have a competitive advantage.
Cornelius: Talking about competitive advantage, did you look at any other certifications in terms of Agile or did you just say, “I’m PMP, I’m going to go for the ACP” or did you look at any other organizations that offer Agile certifications?
Stas: No, actually I just went right away to the PMI.
Cornelius: OK. What you have said here is actually my experience as well. In my previous job, we did use Agile practices—shorter durations, a lot of customer involvement, all that was there but we never called that Agile, it’s just something that we did and I have to admit that ten years ago I was unaware at the time of Agile principles and all that so it never occurred to me that we were doing Agile at all. What value do you see in having the certification now?
Stas: The value for me and I believe for my colleagues is that now when we’re all certified, we can use the same terminology while managing our projects, we can approach our planning and execution of our projects more intelligently and this provides a value for us and the organization so that we perform better.
Cornelius: Let me get back to something that you said early on. You said you have to take this seriously, this exam. It’s not just something that you can do on the side. You also mentioned a duration of about two months. So, you took the PMP Exam and you said it took you about one and a half years later, the ACP exam, when did you start to look at this and then seriously began to study?
Stas: It’s an interesting point because like I said, I felt for some reason I was under the impression that PMI ACP Certification is much easier and you can just apply and take your exam and pass very quickly. When I actually started to fill my application in the PMI website, I realized that it has a lot of requirements like the PMP. You need to have your experience, you need to have your contact hours, you actually have to be prepared properly in terms of the application together with old information from your managers, stakeholders who can prove your experience and at that time I was also working full-time job on a previous employer and we had pretty much of a workload so, I didn’t realize that I had to dedicate my time and I should have done more research on what this PMI ACP certification is about. This is why I believe that in the beginning, I didn’t start to prepare for this exam—a hundred percent dedication.
Cornelius: So in terms of duration, how long did you study?
Stas: From the moment I realized that I need to be prepared properly, it took me about three months.
Cornelius: Three months. And how much did you study every day?
Stas: I would say, on the average, between one to two hours maybe. Of course, more on the weekends less in the weekdays.
Cornelius: You mentioned the applications—let’s talk about that a little bit. Many people often say for the PMP Exam, the application is a little mini project in itself because they want to know so much. Was it the same for you for the ACP Exam then?
Stas: Yeah. I would say both applications and most processes for PMP and PMI ACP are pretty similar. The only difference is just that your project description and the terminology that you are using for the PMI ACP should be in Agile terms rather than in traditional terms but the rest is pretty much the same.
Cornelius: Were you eligible to take the exam right away or was there anything that was missing? You mentioned the experience, you mentioned the contact hours…
Stas: Yeah, I was – I had everything that I needed for the eligibility but again I just started it too early and I didn’t collect all the information that I needed so it took me –the interesting thing is that my first application expired. I didn’t have enough time to complete it and then after 90 days, from the moment I applied…
Cornelius: Oh, really?
Cornelius: Let’s talk about this a little bit. So, PMI gives you 90 days. If you start today with any PMI application, you have 90 days to complete it and submit it and you passed that deadline. So, did PMI basically delete your application and you had to start from fresh and put everything in again?
Cornelius: Oh, wow! [laughs] That’s harsh.
Stas: Yeah and I was a little bit afraid. I thought, “Oh they rejected my application so I cannot apply again”. But then I realized it’s just its duration.
Cornelius: OK. That’s very interesting and once you’ve submitted your second application, how long did it take for PMI to process it, go through it and then give you the green light?
Stas: That was pretty quick, I think. In less than a week they sent me approval and eligibility for the exam.
Cornelius: And you did not have to go through an audit like our colleague Jonathan had, right?
Stas: Yeah. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.
Cornelius: Alright. Once you got the approval from PMI, did you go ahead and schedule your exam right away or how long did you wait for that?
Stas: Yeah. I scheduled it right away because the second time when I started to fill my application I was already in the full gust over the preparations so I scheduled it right away.
Cornelius: Ok. Well, let’s talk about right then. Since you were in full study mode then how did you study for the exam exactly? What study tools did you use? What books did you read? Did you read any of the recommended books that PMI has?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.