What Exactly is the PMI-ACP Exam Syllabus?

PMI-ACP Exam Syllabus

[NEW! For the 2015 July PMI®-ACP Exam syllabus] For PMI-ACP® exam aspirants, the PMI-ACP® Exam syllabus seems to be a mystery. Yes, PMI does spell out the details of what would be tested on the PMI-ACP® exam in the PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline (REVISED DECEMBER 2014), however it is written in PMI jargons that render the meaning not readily understood if you have not previously attempted a PMI exam. This post attempts to explain the PMI-ACP® exam content in plain language so that every Agile practitioners will be able to fully understand what the revised PMI-ACP® Exam syllabus is about.

Article Highlights

PMI-ACP® Exam Format

  • There are 120 questions for the PMI-ACP® Exam (20 random questions (called as pre-test) from the 120 questions are not to be counted towards the final score)
  • All questions are multiple-choice questions with 1 correct answer from 4 choices
  • The PMI-ACP® Exam lasts for 3 hours
  • The PMI-ACP® Exam is computer-based in most cases (i.e. to be answered on a computer in a selected exam centre)

PMI-ACP® Exam Syllabus

PMI-ACP® Exam Syllabus Re-organized

  • Mike Griffiths, in the book PMI-ACP® Exam Prep, tries to create a more structured for the PMI-ACP® Exam syllabus by grouping Agile Tools and Techniques / Agile Knowledge and Skills into the Domains (which can be thought of as different aspects of Agile project management).
  • Inspired by Mike’s effort, I have created the following PMI-ACP® Exam Syllabus matrix (for the new PMI-ACP® syllabus) to give PMI-ACP® aspirants a more concrete grasp of what would be tested on the PMI-ACP® Exam.
  • This table can also serve as a last minute revision notes for PMI-ACP® Exam takers to test whether they have understood all the concepts as included below.
DomainTools and TechniquesKnowledge and Skills
Agile Principles and Mindset 
  • Agile Manifesto Values and Principles
  • Agile Framework and Terminology
  • Agile Methods and Approaches
Value-Driven Delivery / Project Initialization
  • Chartering
  • Relative Prioritization
  • Customer-Valued Prioritization
  • Risk-Adjusted Backlog
  • Agile EVM
  • Task / Kanban Boards + WIP Limits
  • Cumulative Flow Diagrams
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Requirement Reviews
  • KANO Analysis + MoSCoW
  • Prioritization
  • Value-Based Decomposition and Prioritization
  • Incremental Delivery
  • Value-Based Analysis
  • Business Case Development
  • Agile Project Accounting Principles
  • Agile Contracting
  • Agile Project Accounting Principles
Stakeholder Engagement / Communication
  • Personas
  • User Stories / Backlogs + Story Maps
  • Wireframes
  • Information Radiators
  • Burn Down / Up Charts
  • Agile Modeling
  • Conflict Resolution + Negotiation
  • Workshops
  • Two-way Communications
  • Social Media-based Communication
  • Accessing and Incorporating Community and Stakeholder Values
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Communication Management
  • Facilitation Methods
  • Knowledge Sharing/Written Communication
Team Performance / Human Resources Management
  • Servant Leadership + Adaptive Leadership
  • Co-located Teams / Distributed Teams
  • Team Space
  • Agile Tooling + Daily Stand-ups
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Learning Cycle
  • Productivity
  • Leadership
  • Building Agile Teams
  • Team Motivation
  • Physical and Virtual Co-location
  • Global, Cultural and Team Diversity
  • Training, Coaching and Team Diversity
  • Participator Decision Models
Adaptive Planning / Executing
  • Product Roadmap
  • Minimally Marketable Feature (MMF) / Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
  • Iteration and Release Planning + Progressive Elaboration
  • Wide Band Delphi and Planning Poker + Affinity Estimating + Relative Sizing / Story Points
  • Timeboxing
  • Process Tailoring
  • Velocity + Ideal Time + Throughput
  • Backlog Grooming / Refinement
  • Definition of Done
  • Principles of Systems Thinking
  • Prioritization
  • Incremental Delivery
  • Agile Discovery
  • Agile Sizing and Estimation
  • Value Based Analysis and Decomposition
  • Agile Project Chartering
Problem Detection and Resolution
  • Continuous Integration + Frequent Verification and Validation
  • Variance and Trend Analysis
  • Test-Driven Development / Test First Development
  • Acceptance Test-Driven Development
  • Risk-Based Spike
  • Risk Adjusted Backlog
  • Architectural Spikes
  • Risk Burn Down Graphs
  • Cycle Time
  • Escaped Defects
  • Approved Iterations
  • The Five WHYs
  • Control Limits
  • Pre-mortem (rule setting, failure analysis)
  • Fishbone Diagram Analysis
  • Testing (including exploratory and usability)
  • Problem Solving
  • Process Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Managing with Agile KPIs
Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)
  • Retrospectives + Intraspectives
  • Product-Feedback Loop
  • Process Tailoring/Hybrid Models
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Continuous Integration
  • Kaizen
  • Developmental Mastery Models
  • Self-assessment Tools and Techniques
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Agile Hybrid Models
  • PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

Summary: PMI-ACP® Exam Syllabus

This post elaborates on the PMI-ACP® Examination Content Outline published by the PMI. The PMI-ACP® Exam Syllabus was originally written in a somewhat formal but vague language, this post aims to explain the exam syllabus in a more easy-to-understand language for PMI-ACP® aspirants.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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6 Responses

  1. Manish says:

    Hi Edward,

    thanks for sharing these notes, they are very helpful. I am preparing for the certification and have gone through following materials:
    – PMI-ACP workbook by Mike Griffiths
    – PMI-ACP Exam Prep for PMBOK 6 by Joseph Phillips from Udemy to gain 21 PDUs
    – Agile Practice guide from PMI
    – PMI-ACP® Exam Syllabus from your above reference links

    Now, I am trying different free mock up tests.

    Can you advice if I need to read “PMI-ACP® Exam Prep” by Mike or any other reference book?

    thank you,

    • Hi Manish,

      I did read the PMI-ACP Exam Prep by Mike for my exam. But if you have got great results from mock exams, you may just go ahead with the actual exam. Sorry that I am not in the position to give the advice. Anyway, wish you PMI-ACP success!


  2. Joanne says:

    Thanks for taking the time to do this Edward! I used your advice for the PMP exam and it was very helpful :). Do you have a printable version of the PMI-ACP study notes?

  3. Shebba says:

    This has been great to read thru. I am thinking of taking the exam to prepare a direct project manager role I hope to get in a few years.