Tips to PMI-ACP Exam Study and Preparation

PMI-ACP Exam top tips

The PMI-ACP® Exam is often considered an easier certification than the PMP exam. However, as the PMBOK® Guide equivalent does not exist for the PMI-ACP® Exam, it is more difficult to plan your study approach for this certification. Here you will find the top 10 tips to help you get started with your exam preparation.

  1. In order to qualify for the exam, you will need to have:
    • 21 contact hours of project management training or education in Agile methodologies
    • secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, etc.) or above + 2,000 hours (gained in at least 12 months) of general project experience and 1,500 hours (gained in at least 8 months within the last 3 years) of Agile project experience
  2. The 21 contact hours must be about Agile methodologies (e.g. general Agile project management or specific Agile methodologies like Scrum). and can be obtained through classroom learning or distance learning. It is recommended to select courses delivered by PMI Authorized Training Partner (registered education providers), e.g. the Agile PrepCast™ which I used to prepare for my PMI-ACP® exam, which can help you to earn the 21 contact hours and prepare for PMI-ACP® exam at the same time. The Agile PrepCast™ is the only downloadable online course on the market so that you can download all the courses to your smart phones and take them whenever you go. You are not tied to the computer or internet network for your study any more.
  3. Unlike the Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam which has the majority of knowledge laid out in the PMBOK® Guide, the PMI-ACP® Exam does not center around a primary publication for exam preparation. Instead, PMI provides a list of 11 “helpful” reference materials for the PMI-ACP® exam at: [updated] These recommended books together have more than 4000 pages. Luckily, experiences from fellow PMI-ACP® holders as shared in lessons learned suggest that it is not necessary nor recommended to read all these eleven books for the PMI-ACP® exam. The PMI-ACP® exam prep course mentioned above should largely help you understand and learn what are required for the exam.
  4. It is also recommended to purchase at least one PMI-ACP® exam prep book (or called the PMI-ACP® study guide) for your study. The following two are highly recommended by successful PMI-ACP® exam takers:
    1. The PMI-ACP® Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try by Andy Crowe
      The author, Andy Crowe, is the same author of the most popular PMP exam prep book. He has taken the same approach to present only materials that are required for the PMI-ACP® Exam and nothing more. The book has only 260 pages yet it includes two PMI-ACP® practice exams. This book is ideal for candidates with limited amount of time to study. You can click here to preview the book and learn more.
    2. PMI-ACP® Exam Prep, Premier Edition: A Course in a Book for Passing the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®) Exam by Mike Griffiths
      Mike Griffiths is one of the original member of the PMI-ACP® Steering Committee which formulated the PMI-ACP® Exam. He has taken the hard work out by summarizing all the 11 reference books in the PMI-ACP® booklist. This book has 320 pages of distilled contents. There are also many exclusive tips and over 100 practice questions included. You can click here to preview the book and learn more.
  5. According to the experiences of successful exam takers, it requires a minimum of 10-12 weeks of study to fully prepare for the exam while you are working full-time. It is advisable to chose a time when your job responsibilities and commitments are low so that you can devote the necessary time to study.
  6. Normally, exam takers will begin by obtaining the required 21 contact hours either through classroom or online PMI-ACP® exam prep courses. The instructors will guide you through the introduction to the PMI-ACP® exam, knowledge required, exam syllabus and the PMI-ACP® exam application process. This has the added benefit of helping you understand the exam requirements and focus so that you can devote more time to what are important for the exam later on.
  7. It is advisable to write you own study notes while you are preparing for the exam. Write down things you often get confused, you are not familiar with or things you want to revise in the last minute. Revisit your notes often and bring them to your exam venue as the last minute revision notes.
  8. Take as many practice / mock exams as possible. These practice exams will help you to identify your weak areas and knowledge gaps so that you know where to focus on during the later part of your exam preparation. However, do try any practice exams you can find but just try those that are of the highest qualities. Free but low quality practice exams may do you more harm than good as the answers and explanations may be confusing and even totally wrong.
  9. Try at least one full practice exams (i.e. completing 120 questions in three hours without any interruptions). In this way, you will get a feeling of how long you can remain focused, how fast you answer the questions and when you will need to take a break.  These will act as a final preparation for the real PMI-ACP® exam. In the real exam, though you are allowed to take as many breaks as you like, the clock is still ticking while you are away. Having at least one full practice exam will help you plan you breaks. Most PMI-ACP® exam study guides will provide at least one full-length mock exam at the end of the book (please refer to point 4 above for suggested exam study guides). After each practice exam, remember to check the explanations for the questions you have got wrong. Write down your errors or areas of misunderstanding in your notebook. It is often advised that you can get at least 80% correct in the full practice exam for your first attempt before you attempt the real PMI-ACP® exam. In case if you cannot obtain such levels, you may seriously consider postpone your exam date in order to allow you more time to brush up your knowledge.
  10. Since Agile methodologies allows process tailoring (i.e. there is no “correct” answer for how to carry out a project), when you are in doubt about what is the best answer for a particular question, always try to think about what the “basic process model” is (i.e. what the Agile methodologies recommend, e.g. Scrum, Lean, XP) instead of trying to figuring out what is the “best” process with the limited available information.

Read also these tips on how to answer the exam questions correctly. Relax on the exam date. Go early to the exam venue. Practice breathing to relax your brain. You have worked hard during your exam study and it is time to show off. Good luck and wish you PMI-ACP® success!

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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. maria says:

    Hi Edward,
    I am planning to take PMI-ACP exam next month. I have completed 21 pdu course and also have 4 years’ experience. Do you think taking the MP training mock up helps me to pass the exam? Any advice will be helpful

  2. Carlos Rivera says:

    Hi Edward,

    Thanks for this! Just decided to get this certification, your tips make great sense.

  3. Sudhir Jindal says:

    Hi Edward,

    I am planning to prepare for PMI-ACP certification. Currently, I am working as System Analyst with 8 Years of experience in Software Development. I do not have any Agile experience yet. Can I plan for this certification. How do I fulfill the requirement to give this certification ?


    • Hi Sudhir,

      Thanks for your comment. If I were you, I would try to talk with my supervisor to introduce “some” Agile project management techniques into the current projects. You need not introduce fully-fledged Agile frameworks like Scrum or XP but as long as the projects are run using Agile principles, the experience gained will be valid for application to the PMI-ACP certification.

      Wish you PMI-ACP success!