PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
The PMI-ACP® exam
If you are planning to apply for the PMI-ACP®, the first thing you should do is read the PMI-ACP®
Handbook from the PMI® site. The link is: http://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/certifications/agile-certified-practitioner-handbook.pdf
You will see a lot of details in there, but here are some of the highlights.
The below figure shows the different stages on the way to become PMI-ACP® certified.
PMI® membership is not mandatory for PMI-ACP® certification seekers. However, it is recommended considering membership as it comes with several benefits like a discount on the PMI-ACP® exam fee and access to a lot of learning resources for professional development. It also helps you to earn Professional development units (PDU’s) that are required to maintain your certification. Presently, the annual PMI® membership comes to about 129$, plus a 10$ membership fee. Check pmi.org to see if you can avail other forms of membership at discounted rates.
The next step is to determine the eligibility criteria set by PMI®. There are 4 aspects, all of which you would
need to satisfy.
Once the eligibility is determined, your next formal step in the pursuit of the PMI-ACP® certification is to submit a formal application form, preferably through the online portal pmi.org.
The PMI-ACP® application form consists of 4 sections:
- Personal section – for your name (as you would like to be printed on the certificate), communicable address, email address, contact numbers.
- Educational qualification – that meets the eligibility criteria.
- Professional experience – detailing general project and agile experience (in nonoverlapping hours) that meets the eligibility criteria. You would need to mention the name and contact details of a supervisor or a colleague of yours who can bear testimony to your working experience.
- Education course – demonstrating attendance of 21 hours of formal Agile training, through one or more means as listed in the course handbook.
Payment of exam fees
Once the application form is reviewed one needs to make the payment. The preferred mode to opt for is the Computer based testing (CBT) at a registered local Prometric test center. The exam fees are $435 for a PMI-member and a $495 for a non-member (you are getting a 60$ discount for PMI® membership here).
Some applications might be picked up for a random audit to verify the correctness and genuineness of the information filled on the application form. In almost all cases, the audited applicant is asked to submit supporting documentation to PMI® to meet the conditions on the audit. If all documents are in order and furnished timely, the outcome of the audit is a success and the applicant is approved to proceed for the exam. If not picked up for audit, the applicant receives an approval email from PMI® right away.
Booking the PMI-ACP® Exam
Based on the approval email from PMI®, application can book for the computerized exam at the relevant Prometric test center. It is generally recommended that the applicant should book the exam once he is almost fully prepared and a week or two in advance. Rescheduling and cancellation of exam booking is possible, but might come with a cost.
For other forms of test taking (like paper-based testing) and other special accommodations, please refer to the PMI-ACP® course handbook.
Taking the PMI-ACP® Exam
The final step is taking the examination at the scheduled date. The test center asks for the exam appointment letter (that also has the proof of payment) and valid identification of the test taker. The exam is a closed-book format. All forms of materials like books, bags, calculators, food materials, or cellphones etc. are prohibited from the exam room. Smaller articles like a car key or a wallet could be stashed away in a locker if the facility is provided at the test center. Be mentally prepared for an ‘airport-like’ frisking. The Test center administrator will provide the test taker with erasable / laminated sheets of scratch paper and marker pens for use during the exam which needs to be returned after the exam. The whole test taking session will be monitored by a video camera. There are no scheduled breaks during the exam, but the test taker is allowed to take unscheduled breaks with permission from the Test center administrator.
From our experience, we observed that the test was rendered on a secure software running on a Windows® PC with a mouse and a keyboard. The test is complete when the test taker chooses to end the exam or the 3 hour time limit expires. Once the exam is finished (and the optional survey form is filled), the results are available on the screen immediately. The Test center administrator will also give you a printed copy of your score sheet that you can take home with you. You may leave the exam room and the premises of the Prometric test center immediately after that (don’t forget to pick up your belongings).
If the outcome of the exam is a fail, the applicant can opt for retaking the exam up to three times in a calendar year. Each reattempt comes with a separate examination fee.
There are two universal unknowns with the PMI-ACP® exam.
- No one knows what the passing score is. Test takers simply get to know whether they passed or failed. But it is sometimes rumored that the passing score is somewhere around 70%.
- No one gets to know their absolute score of the exam they just undertook.
Apart from the pass / fail notification on the score sheet printed out by the Test Center Administrator, the test taker will see their attained proficiency levels in each of the domains that were tested during the examination. The proficiency levels are: Proficient, Moderately Proficient and Below Proficient.
After Passing PMI-ACP® Exam
If the applicant passed, they can call themselves PMI-ACP® certified from then and there. You would expect to receive a congratulatory letter and a certification package with the formal certificate from PMI®. The soft copy of the certificate will also be available for download from the PMI® site. The name of the certified professional is also entered into an online certification registry: https://certification.pmi.org/ registry.aspx
Maintaining the PMI-ACP® Credential
The PMI-ACP® certification is valid for 3 years. To renew your certification, you will need to follow the requisites of the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program, details of which are available at: https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/certifications/ccr-certification-requirements-handbook.pdf
To be eligible for a renewal, you will have to earn 30 PDU’s (professional development units) in Agile topics during the last 3 years and pay a renewal fee. No other form of exams are required anymore. If you do not choose to renew, then your certification is temporarily suspended for a year before it expires.
Format of the PMI-ACP® Exam
The duration of the PMI-ACP® exam is 3-hours. Before the exam there is a tutorial and at the end there is a survey, both of which are optional and usually take 5-10 minutes to complete.
There are 120 multiple-choice questions. Out of 120 questions, 20 are unscored (pretest) questions which do not affect the score and are used by PMI® to test validity of future questions. These 20 questions are spread randomly throughout the exam and the test taker will not be aware of the same.
The rest 100 questions carry 1 mark each. For each question, only 1 out of 4 choices are correct. There is no negative marking, so never leave any question unanswered. Each question is presented sequentially on the screen one at a time, with an option to go to the previous or next question. If you are unsure of the response for a particular question, you can ‘mark’ it and proceed to the next question. Marked questions can be reviewed after the last question is attempted. Each screen also has a button to pull-up an on-screen calculator, irrespective of whether the question is a numerical one or not.
Every exam taker in the world is almost guaranteed to be presented with a random and unique set of questions. The set of questions are statically allocated to you at the beginning of the exam. This means that correctness or incorrectness of an answer to a question does not determine the difficulty level of the next question.
Syllabus of the PMI-ACP® exam
The whole syllabus of the exam is divided into 7 domains, which is also how this course is aligned.
|Domain||Domain Name||Percentage of Items on Test|
|Domain I.||Agile Principles and Mindset||16%|
|Domain II.||Value-driven Delivery||20%|
|Domain III.||Stakeholder Engagement||17%|
|Domain IV.||Team Performance||16%|
|Domain V.||Adaptive Planning||12%|
|Domain VI.||Problem Detection and Resolution||10%|
|Domain VII.||Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)||9%|
Note that the percentage column is just for indicative purpose showing the distribution of emphasis on each domain. In reality the questions on the exam might cover topics that need knowledge from multiple domains at the same time. Under each domain a set of tasks are listed and described in the PMI-ACP® course outline.
Apart from the 7 domains, all certification seekers will be tested (with a few questions) and have to adhere to PMI®’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. This is available at: http://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/governance/code-of-ethics-and-professional-conduct.pdf?la=en
For more information about the PMI-ACP® certification check the PMI-ACP page https://www.pmi.org/certifications/types/agile-acp/exam-prep
PMI, PMP, and PMBOK are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.