I am an ACP today. No, not Assistant Commissioner of Police, .. that’s for another time! For now, I am an Agile Certified Practitioner.
If you have ever taken an exam (which I am sure is the case) and if you’re like me (which I am not as sure), you know how it feels like on the D Day – Butterflies in stomach, a wish that you had managed more preparation time, what would others think if you BOMBED, sadistic thoughts to postpone the date – Kim Jong Un drops the nuclear bomb at the PMI Headquarters, a Tsunami strikes the Gurgaon Exam center, or ISIS takes the PMI’s CEO and it’s employees hostage – None of which will come true or even should. I haven’t grown much in this aspect from the lad I was in school. Back then, I would wish the worst things to happen to the teacher just to skip the test.
Finally, it dawns on you that nothing else will work and you have to face the exam. When that did for me, here’s what worked for me, and may be it’ll work for you too:
- Sleep in time: Given how smart I am, I chose 8 AM on Monday as the exam time – so I could get the weekend to revise and could join office in case I was refused a leave. Neither of these things happened though. I mean I didn’t revise as much as I should have and my leave didn’t get refused. I was tempted to study all night like back in college days but I am glad that better sense prevailed and I slept at 10 PM. You should too.
- Start in time: GoogleMaps suggested it’d take an hour to reach the Exam Center. I started an extra half an hour earlier. I listened to the Audio CD of Slumdog Millionaire on the way to the exam center – something different to relax and energize me. I am glad I didn’t listen to any more of the Cornilius Fischner’s Agile PrepCast audios along the way. I had had enough of that in the last several preparation months.
- Mugging up won’t help: They didn’t have any question that expected me to remember the terms. Each question was a thought-provoking and interesting one. If you have worked on Agile projects and more importantly, if you have an Agile mindset, you don’t have much to worry.
- What to carry to Exam center: Just a Govt ID Proof with your photo on it. The lazy bum I am, I had not printed the Appointment confirmation email. I couldn’t expect any Xerox shops to be open around 8 AM (the time of my test). Thankfully, my wife reminded me that this was Digital age, and that I shouldn’t worry about the print out. I didn’t and neither should you.
- What they’ll let you in with: They’ll not let you take anything inside, well, except the bare essentials – You know what I mean – no jackets, not even handkerchiefs, pencils.. nothing! There’s heavy frisking including a metal detector scan, so be mentally prepared. They asked me to pull up the jeans and lower the socks in front of the camera. I was wondering if I’d be arrested should they find something during the search operation. They examined my glasses thoroughly to check if it was a Google glass or some E-equivalent. All they let you in with is a) Your Locker Key and b)Your ID proof (they didn’t let me carry the ID Proof holder also, so you know how serious this is!). Besides, expect them to give you a) 2 sharpened pencils b) Enough sheets of paper for rough work and you can ask for more (although I didn’t use even half of it. You are not allowed to write on the rough sheets until Test Start button is pressed. No room for vomiting what you mugged before the test starts!) c) A calculator d) Voice cancellation headset.
- During the Test, tools: Finally, I was in. I went through the instructions carefully. Three key things I loved and you should note to make use of: a) MARK questions for REVIEW b) STRIKE THROUGH answer choices to eliminate seemingly wrong answers and to focus on the seemingly correct ones c) HIGHLIGHTER to emphasize the important sections especially in longish questions (even answer choices. any text on the screen.) Best part is that all these three features are sticky which means they’ll remain selected as you move forward to other questions.
- Managing time during the test: I completed all 120 questions in 2 hours and 10 minutes. That’s about a minute per question. That left me 50 minutes to revisit the questions MARKED FOR REVIEW. I think I had close to 40 questions marked which took me 47 minutes. I changed quite a few responses when I revisited the MARKED questions. I used the remaining few minutes to recheck few more questions. You must answer all the questions in the first pass though. There isn’t any negative marking and so leaving any answer blank is foolish.
When I submitted the test, it had few questions asking for a feedback of the examination and test content. After that, I pressed the ‘submit for evaluation‘ button, … It took a few seconds to process the results (which seemed much longer). I used this time to write HARI OM on the rough sheet that was given to me. It always does the trick! Soon after, I saw the following appear on the computer screen:
CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PASSED THE PMI ACP EXAM!
I couldn’t stop smiling and raised my hand to grab the attention of the Center staff (who constantly monitor the exam takers on CCTV cameras) to help me get out.
Please do share your thoughts and any questions you may have regarding the ACP Examination. I’ll respond as soon as I am back from celebrating this little win. Until next time, Adios!