written by
Sean Thomas

The Beginner’s Guide to the ACP Exam in 2020

ACP Exam Prep 4 min read

The Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) is a project management certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The program enables project managers to specialize in management practices of the agile development methodology in the IT sector. In this article, we will delve into the basics of the ACP certification and offer our readers a comprehensive guide to ACP in 2020.

Why Do Project Managers Need ACP?

Professionals around the world pursue various degrees, programs, and certifications to set themselves to accelerate career growth and gain access to a wider range of opportunities. However, for project managers, no certification is as prestigious as the PMP certification offered by the PMI.

PMP is a standard program for project managers across all industries. It validates the experience of project managers and qualifies them for management roles in the global market. With that said, the continuous drive for specialized roles has lead PMI to create a separate certification for project managers in software development environments.

The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner tests project managers for their knowledge of agile principles and evaluates their skills in implementing agile techniques. It helps organizations see first-hand how firmly a project manager understands the agile methodology.

By pursuing the ACP certification, professionals can master various approaches to agile software development such as extreme programming (XP), Kanban, Scrum, test-driven development (TDD), and Lean.

As a result, certified project managers have better foundational knowledge than other candidates who seek management roles in software development. PMI ACP makes project managers more versatile and makes them stand apart from other project managers.

Besides that, highly agile management that is responsive to changing market dynamics is more capable of completing projects successfully. According to the 2015 Pulse of the Profession report, agile organizations are 20% more likely to execute projects successfully compared to slow-moving counterparts.

Nowadays, the global market changes at a fast pace and customers always desire to see results immediately. No other methodology has the capacity to address these needs other than Agile. Consequently, organizations across different industries can benefit from following agile principles.

Who Can Pursue ACP?

Photographer: bruce mars | Source: Unsplash

Professionals often attribute to agile practices to software, which is justifiable since it originated in the software industry. However, nowadays, it is possible to apply agile principles beyond software development.

As long as your company follows a value driven approach, adaptive planning, and continuous improvement combined with interactive engagement with stakeholders, your organization can benefit from agile concepts. So, the PMI ACP certification is ideal for professionals such as project managers, associate or assistant managers, and project engineers and executives.

Eligibility for PMI ACP

The criteria for the PMI ACP exam are strict and only professionals with the relevant qualifications can take the exam. In terms of project management experience, the candidate needs to spend a minimum of 2000 hours managing projects and serve as a project manager for 12 continuous months. The project management experience also needs to be less than five years ago from the date of application submission.

At the same time, the manager needs to have an experience of 1500 hours in managing agile projects. You must be performing the role for 8 months straight and cannot be more than three years old from the date of submission.

Lastly, the candidate has to pass a minimum of 21 contact hours of formal training in the foundations of Agile. This means that you need to master the principles, project philosophies, methodologies and practices of Agile.

There is no restriction on the timeframe for this training, but you have to pursue it only if education providers qualify one of these categories:

· PMI® Registered Education Providers(R.E.P.s)

· PMI® component organizations

· Employer/company-sponsored programs

· Training companies or consultants (e.g., training schools)

· Distance-learning companies, including an end-of-course assessment

· University/college academic and continuing education programs

With that said, self-directed learning acquired by watching instructional videos, reading books, or attending sessions with mentors is not recognized by the PMI.

Cost of PMI ACP Certification Exam

Like the PMP exam, the cost of PMI ACP certification is considerably high. However, if you are a member of the PMI, you can avail discount. The fee for non-PMI members is $495, whereas members only have to pay $435 to appear in the exam.

However, the fee distribution mentioned above is for the computer-based test. The paper-based test costs $50 less with member fee being $385 and the non-member fee $445.

If you fail to pass the examination in the first attempt, you can give a retest for the examination. The fee for the re-examination would be $395 for non-members and $335 for members of the PMI.

The PMI ACP Exam

The PMI ACP exam is straightforward and consists of 120 questions in total. The time given to solve the exam will be 3 hours maximum. However, not all of these questions are related to the exam. As strange as it seems, one-sixth (20 questions) of the total exam are retest questions that you will not get points for. To complicate things further, there is no way of knowing which of these 20 questions are re-test questions.

With that said, you can still find out which topics the exam will comprise of. According to the PMI ACP study guide, the questions in the exam are distributed according to the following categories:

· Value driven delivery (20%)

· Stakeholder engagement (17%)

· Agile principles and mindset (16%)

· Team performance (16%)

· Adaptive planning (12%)

· Problem detection and resolution (10%)

· Continuous improvement (9%)

Since the agile methodology focuses on value-driven approach and constant collaboration with stakeholders, questions related to these topics comprise more than one-third of the entire exam.

Once you pass the PMI ACP examination, you can remain Agile Certified Practitioner as long as you can maintain 30 PDUs in three years.

The PMI ACP certification has strict criteria for eligibility and requires considerable time, effort and investment to achieve it. With that said, the benefits of PMI ACP are numerous and it can set you up for growth on the global stage.