Intro to PRINCE2 Foundation Certification Exam (2017 update)

PRINCE2 Foundation Certification Examination

Important: The new PRINCE2® Foundation and Practitioner exams (PRINCE2® 2017) are available from 10 July 2017 (details of the changes here). Don’t worry, the changes are quite minor indeed as all the 7 principles, themes and processes remain the same. From now on until the end of 2017, candidates can take either the existing or updated English versions of the PRINCE2® exam. All PRINCE2® Foundation and Practitioner exams will be based on PRINCE2® 2017 from 1 January 2018. You can still seize the time to get certified based on the current version! Once you get PRINCE2® certified, your certification is still valid under PRINCE2® 2017 and onwards!

This article has been updated to reflect the latest changes of the PRINCE2® 2017.

Introduction: The PRINCE2® Foundation Certification is the entry level certification of the PRINCE2® Certification scheme. It aims at certifying that the holder has obtained knowledge of the terminology and principles of the PRINCE2® methodology and can function as an informed member of the project management team using the PRINCE2® method in a project environment/company using PRINCE2®. Holder of the PRINCE2® Foundation Certificate are eligible to sit for the more advanced PRINCE2® Practitioner Exam.

Article Highlights

What is PRINCE2®?

The latest PRINCE2® version is PRINCE2® 2017.

PRINCE2® stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It is the most popular process-based method for project management used in the UK and countries of European Union. PRINCE2® offers non-proprietorial best practice guidance on project management as the knowledge is in the public domain. PRINCE2® focuses on business justification and value realization by employing a product-based planning approach. It is flexible enough to be adapted to small or very complex projects with process and role tailoring.

PRINCE was first launched in 1989 by the UK Government and the updated “PRINCE2®” was published in 1996 after refinement with the lessons learned through the 7 years of practicing around European organizations and companies. In 2009, the “PRINCE2®” was updated as “PRINCE2®:2009 Refresh” (not “PRINCE3”) as it is still largely based on the original PRINCE2® principles as AXELOS’s response to the changing business environment: i.e. the latest version of PRINCE2® is the 2009 version.

PRINCE2® was updated in 2017 which has a stronger emphasis on tailoring, scalability and flexibility. The 2017 PRINCE2® update allows PRINCE2® to be tailored to different projects more readily:

  • Emphasis on tailoring PRINCE2® to the needs of organizations and project environments
  • The themes are restructured to contain more examples on tailoring projects
  • Describes in more details how PRINCE2® principles and themes are linked
  • More examples, hints and tips on applying PRINCE2® have been included

Why getting PRINCE2® Foundation Certification?

  • You are working in a company practicing PRINCE2® with a view to understanding the basic methodology and terminology of PRINCE2® — holder of the PRINCE2® Foundation Certification will be an informed member of the project management team using the PRINCE2® method in a project environment/company using PRINCE2®.
  • You want to apply for jobs to companies practicing PRINCE2® / increase your career marketability
  • You want to build up confidence from customers/bosses with a widely recognized certification achievement to show your professional growth
  • You want to have an understanding of RPINCE2
  • [For PMP holders] You want to understand other best practices in project management than the PMBOK® Guide and at the same time earn PDUs for your PMP Certification renewal

About PRINCE2® Foundation Examination

Important: PRINCE2® Foundation candidates can choose between answering the exam paper based on the original PRINCE2® or the new PRINCE2® 2017 version in 2017.

Original PRINCE2® Foundation Examination

  • No training or work experience required – anyone wishing to get the PRINCE2® Foundation certification can sit the exam without prior education or working experiences. Many candidate may attend online PRINCE2® Foundation Certification courses and self-study for the exam.
  • Passing the PRINCE2® Foundation Exam is a must for professionals intending to get PRINCE2® Practitioner Certification except you are currently holders of the following qualifications:
    • Project Management Professional (PMP)
    • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®)
    • IPMA Level A (Certified Projects Director)
    • IPMA Level B (Certified Senior Project Manager)
    • IPMA Level C (Certified Project Manager)
    • IPMA Level D (Certified Project Management Associate)
  • It is s a close book examination
  • The Foundation Exam can be taken online (in a proctored environment), on paper or on a computer in Exam centres around the world
  • Candidates are required to answer 75 multiple choice questions (only 1 correct answer) within 60 minutes  – according to most PRINCE2® foundation exam takers, an hour is rather enough for answering the PRINCE2® Foundation exam paper
  • 5 questions out of the 75 questions on the foundation paper are “trial questions” that would not be counted towards the final score of the candidate
  • The passing mark is 50% (i.e. 35 correct answers out of 70 marked questions).

Changes to PRINCE2® 2017 Foundation Examination

The PRINCE2® 2017 Foundation exam has been enhanced to be more efficient and focus more clearly on the core of PRINCE2®. There are some major changes:

  • Removed:
    • Elements that are not part of the core (e.g. configuration management)
  • Added:
    • Knowledge on PRINCE2® tailoring (such as what must be applied from each theme in order to be adopting PRINCE2® in a project environment) would be assessed
  • Changed:
    • The emphasis of the exam different knowledge areas has been readjusted (e.g. the 7
      principles are emphasised, equal weighting among the 7 themes)
    • Exam question format has been redesigned (e.g. removing negative questions,
      reducing the number of missing word and list questions)
    • Exam format:
      • Candidates are now required to answer 60 multiple choice questions (only 1 correct answer) within 60 minutes
      • No trial questions
      • Passing mark increased to 55% (i.e. at least 33 correct answers out of 60)

Will PRINCE2® Foundation Certification Expire?

For the PRINCE2® Foundation Certification, there is no expiry date for the certificate (i.e. once a PRINCE2® Aspirant has passed the PRINCE2® Foundation Exam, the PRINCE2® Foundation Certification certificate will remain valid for life). No PDU nor re-recertification is necessary.

Once a candidate gets certified for the PRINCE2® Foundation exam, they are still certified under the new PRINCE2® 2017 exam version.

However for the PRINCE2® Practitioner Certification, it remains valid for 5 years. Holders of the Practitioner Certification will need to take the “re-certification exam” after 3 years of passing the initial PRINCE2® Practitioner Certification Exam in order to extend the validity period for another 5 years.

If you are certified under the original PRINCE2® Practitioner Exam, the certification will remain valid until the end of its five-year period.

PRINCE2® Foundation Examination Syllabus

A PRINCE2® Foundation Exam candidate must has sufficient knowledge and understanding of the PRINCE2® method to be able to work effectively with, or as a member of, a project management team working within an environment supporting PRINCE2®. There are 7 principles, 7 themes and 7 processes in the PRINCE2® methodology:

7 PRINCE2® Principles

  1. Continued business justification
  2. Learn from experience
  3. Defined roles and responsibilities
  4. Manage by stages
  5. Manage by exception
  6. Focus on products
  7. Tailor to suit the project environment

7 PRINCE2® Themes

  1. Business Case theme
  2. Organisation theme
  3. Quality theme
  4. Plans theme
  5. Risk theme
  6. Change theme
  7. Progress theme

7 PRINCE2® Processes

  1. Starting Up a Project (SU)
  2. Directing a Project (DP)
  3. Initiating a Project (IP)
  4. Controlling a Stage CS)
  5. Managing Product Delivery (MP)
  6. Managing a Stage Boundary (SB)
  7. Closing a Project (CP)

PRINCE2® Foundation Examination Sample Paper

Axelos has published a sample PRINCE2® Foundation Exam on its website. More sample papers might be found online by other training institutes or are included in the PRINCE2® Foundation training courses/online courses.

Applying for and Taking the PRINCE2® Foundation Examination

The PRINCE2® Foundation Certification Exam can be taken through PRINCE2® Examination administrators around the world either through an online proctored environment in the registered exam centres.

Cost of PRINCE2® Foundation Examination

Unlike most other popular certification examination, there is no official cost for the PRINCE2® Foundation examination as this varies depending on where the exam is being taken. Most of the PRINCE2® Foundation Training courses / online courses include the exam fee / exam voucher as part of the course fee.


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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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