PMI-ACP certification is gaining popularity as more and more organizations across the world continue to adopt agile principles, practices, tools and techniques. Project management education providers are also stepping up and developing training programs to cater to the demand. One such self-paced online training program is The Agile Prepcast. I used this program for my own PMI-ACP preparation and passed the exam in the first attempt. This post is a review of the Agile Prepcast and aims to help PMI-ACP aspirants make an informed decision about purchasing this product.
The Agile Prepcast - Product Facts
- The Agile PrepCast is a podcast-based audio-video program for PMI-ACP exam preparation.
- It has over 90 lessons with a total duration of over 40 hours.
- The video material is in the form of Powerpoint-style presentations (you see the slides, not the presenter).
- You can use it on your computer, smartphone, tablet or any modern multimedia player.
- Total file size of all episodes is about 5.5 GB. The material gets downloaded to your computer automatically, by simply pointing your iTunes (or other similar player) to a web URL.
- Using this workshop, you can earn 37 Contact Hours, 21 of which are a pre-requisite for the PMI-ACP Exam, at your own pace and anywhere.
- You need to pass a 25 question final exam to receive your 37 Contact Hours Certificate. You must answer 17 out of 25 questions correctly in order to pass the exam. You can take the exam anytime and as many times as you want, after 2 weeks of purchasing the program.
- It is accompanied by a 100+ page student workbook, which includes a 50-question sample exam.
- It comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee.
- It is based on 11 PMI-ACP books recommended by PMI.
- Principal Instructor: Mr. Cornelius Fichtner, PMP
- Publisher: OSP International LLC, a PMI-Registered Education Provider (REP)
- Price: $179.99
What I liked about the program
- The material is very comprehensive and provides complete coverage of all the domains listed in the PMI-ACP Exam Content Outline including all the major agile methodologies and frameworks such as Scrum, XP, DSDM, Lean, Kanban, FDD, Crystal, and ASD.
- It not only covers the exam content, but also provides detailed explanation of the entire process of PMI-ACP certification including:
- Exam overview
- Eligibility criteria
- Application process
- Audit process
- Exam preparation approach, tips and techniques
- Recommended study material
- Passing score and interpretations of score report
- Re-certification process (earning PDUs)
- and much more ...
- It includes several interviews with Agile Experts on applied concepts such as Agile and Project Portfolio Management, Scaling Agile to the Enterprise, and more.
- It also includes three interviews with successful PMI-ACP exam candidates. All the interviews are generous in length. The candidates talk about their reasons to go for certification, test preparation approach, study material used, lessons learned and best practices from their experience on the PMI-ACP exam.
- The accompanying student workbook (PDF) is an extremely useful resource. It provides a 50-question sample exam, an outline of all the lessons, exercises, tips, mnemonics, a topic index, links to tons of videos and external resources, and much more. The quality of questions on the exam is quite good and answers are clear and crisp.
- You also get access to an online forum where Cornelius personally answers your questions. This can come extremely handy in clarifying doubts.
- I have written at length about Cornelius' presentation style in my review of the PM Prepcast. So, I'm not going to repeat that here. He's a great speaker and presenter, and I really enjoy listening to his podcasts. Having said that, I have a few suggestions for improvement in the next section.
Issues, Suggestions and Areas for Improvement
- The content is too long and broad-focused. PMI-ACP exam requires 21 contact hours of training whereas this program provides 37 contact hours (with over 40 hours of content). I prefer to have a more focused program with no more than 21 hours of content that helps me learn Agile concepts and pass the exam.
- I know that there's no body of knowledge (similar to PMBOK) for Agile, but my complaint is about the lack of focus on important topics. It's common knowledge that the PMI-ACP exam focuses very heavily on Scrum and XP, and to some extent on Lean and Kanban. However, the Agile Prepcast does not distinguish the important topics from the not-so-important ones. For example, it has 12 lessons totaling over 8 hours on DSDM, Crystal, and ASD - the topics which found no mention on my exam. As a student of the Agile Prepcast, I wanted to focus on the important topics. During the exam, I felt under-prepared on important topics and over-prepared in less important ones.
- The Agile Prepcast mostly tells you 'what' and not 'how' of Agile. It helped me pass the exam, but did not really help me learn a whole lot about applying Agile in the real world.
- Anyone who has taken the PMP exam knows that the PMP exam content is dry and boring, and there's only so much that an instructor can do to make it lively. IMHO, for PMP, whether you take a classroom course or a web-based course it doesn't make much of a difference. But Agile is a much more lively and interesting topic. My classroom-based Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) training was so much more effective in helping me learn the Agile concepts, compared to the Agile Prepcast. To be specific:
- I liked the 3 episodes on Kanban with Josh Nankivel (actually those were the best lessons among all the content). A few more similar lessons could have made the program more interesting and bring in different perspectives.
- There could have been more real life stories and examples instead of just going over the slides.
- Having different presenters could have added variety. This is not to say that Cornelius is not good presenter. In fact he's a great presenter, but listening to the same voice for over 40 hours can become monotonous.
- There were too many stock images that could have been replaced with images relevant to the topic. After a while, I got bored with the stock images, and found them to be distracting. I remember that in my CSM class they showed so many real images of Kanban boards, Agile artifacts and what not.
- The content organization could be improved. There's lot of repetition of the same concepts across various lessons and that increases study time.
- The Powerpoint SmartArt looked fine in 2009 when PM Prepcast was launched. But it looks a bit dated now in 2013-14. Different slide design could have helped. It's just a personal preference though because I see Powerpoints every day at work.
- At the end of each lesson, a couple of practice questions could have been added to reinforce the concepts.
ConclusionDespite the shortcomings, the Agile Prepcast is an extremely polished, professional and top quality program. It's extremely affordable compared to classroom-based programs, which can cost several thousand dollars. Overall, it's still one of the best self-paced online programs for PMI-ACP exam preparation. Complement this program with Mike Griffith's PMI-ACP Exam Prep guide and a few good quality sample questions, and you should have a good chance of passing the PMI-ACP exam.
I hope you found this review useful. Thanks for reading. Your comments and feedback are welcome.
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