The Prince2 Foundation Exam

December 3, 2008
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The PRINCE2 Foundation Exam recognises knowledge of the PRINCE2 methodology. It provides an important boost to the C.V. of anybody seeking a career in project management, and is a prerequisite for PRINCE2 Practitioner status.
According to the APM Group’s statistics, 95% of test-takers pass the Foundation Exam. With a little preparation, there is no reason why, having followed the PRINCE2 Foundation course, you should not pass the exam at first attempt.
The Exam Structure
? 74 multiple choice questions ? 50% pass-mark (38/75) ? 1 hour, closed-book exam The Competencies
The official syllabus details four competencies required of Foundation-level candidates:
? Describe the purpose and major content of all roles, the eight components, the eight processes and the techniques involved in the PRINCE2 method. ? State which management products are input to, output from, and updated in the eight processes and the sub-processes of Controlling a Stage (CS) and Managing Product Delivert (MP). ? State the main purpose, and key contents, of the major management products. ? State the relationships between processes, deliverables, roles and the management dimensions of a project. In other words, the Foundation Exam tests familiarity with the terminology and principles of PRINCE2, and your understanding of how these elements interrelate.
The Questions
Typical questions include the definition of terminology, identification of the relationships between PRINCE2-specific roles, products and processes, and explanation of the benefits of a PRINCE2 technique.
For example:
Which of these items does NOT involve the Project Board?
a) Exception Assessement b) Highlight Reports c) Project Closure d) Work Package Authorisation Exception Assessment – the Project Board assesses the Exception Report prepared by the Project Manager.
Highlight Reports – a progress report prepared by the Project Manager used by the Project Board to review progress.
Project Closure – the Project Manager prepares input for the Project Board to obtain confirmation that the project may close.
Work Package Authorisation – the Project Manager authorises a Work Package to be executed by the Team Manager.
Only the Work Package Authorisation does not involve the Project Board.
Identification of the key terms and the relationships between them is essential in answering this question.
Revision Strategy
PRINCE2 Foundation Exams are compiled from a 900-strong question bank. The limited number of questions means that the more practice questions you attempt, the more familiar you become with the question style, and the greater the chances of exam success.
Diagrams, such as flow-charts and organisational models, are invaluable tools in teaching, comprehending and revising the PRINCE2 method. Reproducing these diagrams for yourself requires logical progression through each aspect of the PRINCE2 method, ensuring a sound understanding of how the methodology.
Exam Strategy
Most important is timing. There are 75 questions and sixty minutes, which allows 45 seconds per question. To achieve the minimum pass-mark allows 90 seconds per correct answer. Dealing with variations in question complexity is another important part of exam strategy. As all questions are equally weighted, you should not spend too long on one problem; however, some questions will necessarily be harder, and require more time, than others. As there is no negative marking, you should answer every question.
One strategy is to work through the paper three times:
1. Attempt all questions, circling those about which you are unsure. 2. Read the questions more carefully, checking that you have not made avoidable errors, for example: identifying the true answer when it is the false that is required. 3. Spend any remaining time considering the questions that remain ambiguous. With sensible revision and exam strategies, it is possible to score highly in the PRINCE2 Foundation Exam. While your score will not affect your Practitioner Exam grade, statistics suggest that those who do better in the first are more likely to succeed in the second. In other words, being well-prepared at Foundation level maximises your chances of passing the exam and also stands you in good stead for the Practitioner qualification.
PRINCE2 (R) is a trademark of the Office of Government Commerce
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Article by Simon Buehring

Simon Buehring is a project manager, consultant and trainer. He works for KnowledgeTrain which offers training in PRINCE2 project management and PRINCE2 trainingin the UK and overseas. Simon has extensive experience within the IT industry. Contact him via the KnowledgeTrain project management training website.

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