PMI-ACP Exam Lessons Learned - Do NOT Underestimate it!

20 minute read    Updated:    Harwinder Singh

PMI-ACP Certification lessons learned

PMI-ACP Lessons Learned: I’m pleased to inform you that I PASSED the PMI-ACP exam yesterday (Oct 28, 2013), couple weeks earlier than my original estimate. Passing any exam is a matter of satisfaction and relief, but more so when you have invested big dollars and time into it. I’m relieved that it’s done and over with, and I can reclaim my life now.

I had some real nerve-wracking moments during the exam yesterday. Five minutes into it, I had 6 out of the first 10 questions marked. I had to almost look up at the exam title just to confirm that I wasn’t taking the wrong exam. At that point, my mind had already started developing excuses for failing the exam, and thinking about the next attempt. Negative thoughts were making things even more difficult.

Though I had spent a reasonable number of hours in preparation for the exam, I went into it with a wrong mindset. Most PMI-ACP lessons learned post that I had read gave me an impression that this exam was not that hard, at least not when compared to the PMP exam. That message instilled a sense of complacency and overconfidence in me. I thought that having an IT background, and both PMP and Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certifications under my belt, I should be able to sail through this thing without breaking a sweat. Obviously, I got a reality check early in the exam. I felt somewhat under-prepared primarily because of ‘fast-tracking’ the schedule by 2 weeks. I was particularly short on practice with sample questions.

How it started

It feels weird to say that I wasn’t particularly keen on getting PMI-ACP certification. It just happened to me by chance. I took Certified Scrum Master (CSM) class in April 2012 and got my certification right after the class. Since then, I have been using Agile practices on my projects. Therefore, I fulfilled the 1 year experience requirement for PMI-ACP. My CSM class also provided me 19.5 PDUs, which was just 1.5 PDUs short of the 21 PDU requirement for PMI-ACP. Nevertheless, the PMI-ACP wasn’t on my hit-list until much later.

In June this year (2013), I came to know that Cornelius Fichtner had developed a new Agile Prepcast program for the PMI-ACP certification. I was interested in reviewing that program for this blog and requested him for a free copy. I received my free copy the very next day. However, due to my busy schedule, I didn’t get around to looking at it until September. When I started to look at the program I thought “Hey, while I’m reviewing the program, why don’t I use the opportunity to go for the PMI-ACP certification?” Wouldn’t it be like killing one bird with two stones or rather the other way around :-), I thought. I considered this certification to be a low-hanging fruit (another example of under-estimation and over confidence). So, I decided to go for it and hence my journey began …

Exam Preparation

I started my preparation with the Agile Prepcast in the first week of September. I thought that the Agile Prepcast would be sufficient to pass the exam. But to be honest, I found the material dry compared to my Scrum Master class, which was absolutely top-notch (in fact, the best training I had ever attended). There’s simply no way for a distant learning program to better that classroom experience. I’m strongly of the opinion that a real classroom based training by an experienced instructor is the best way to “learn” Agile. So I don’t really blame Prepcast on that aspect. However, my main concern was with the overall length of the Prepcast program. The exam required 21 PDUs, but the Agile Prepcast had more than 40 hours of podcasts, and offered 37 PDUs. It’s focus was way too broad. You can read the full review of The Agile Prepcast here.

A week later, I realized that while the Prepcast medium was good to get a general understanding of the concepts, I had to complement it with a proper study guide to assimilate the material. After a brief research, I ordered a copy of Mike Griffith’s PMI-ACP Exam Prep Guide through Amazon. For those who don’t know, Mike Griffith is one of the Steering Committee members for the PMI-ACP certification.

For the entire month of September, I only watched the Agile Prepcast videos. I spent about 1-2 hours on it in every sitting. I somehow managed to watch most of the podcasts by September-end. On Oct 1, 2013, I took the 25 question final exam for Agile Prepcast and got a score of 23. That was good enough for me to get my 37 PDUs certificate.

On the same day, immediately after getting my PDUs certificate, I went to the PMI website and submitted my PMI-ACP exam application. While my application was being processed by PMI, I received my PMI-ACP Exam Prep study guide from Amazon. It turned out (somewhat surprisingly) to be a fantastic book - well-written, nicely organized, and concise. I read it cover to cover in just 4 (extended) sittings over 2 consecutive weekends. You can read Book Review - PMI-ACP Exam Prep by Mike Griffiths for my full review of the book.

After finishing the study guide, I started to feel confident about my preparation (perhaps a tad over confident). About the same time (Oct 12) my exam application also got approved. Immediately, without any hesitation, I paid for the exam (though I didn’t book the exam slot). My application was not selected for an audit, though I wanted it to be (so that I could experience the audit process first hand).

In the next couple days, I read some lessons learned posts of successful PMI-ACPs candidates. Through those posts, I came across a wonderful resource - @ScrumDan’s PMI-ACP Study Guide. This guide is basically a collection of 200-odd important topics for the exam with reference links for each topic. I followed most of those links and read through all the material thoroughly. I spent about a week on this.

In the last week before the exam, I found that PMI Books24x7 (discontinued) provides free access to 1000+ PMI-ACP Practice Questions with Detailed Solutions. Since I had not attempted many practice questions until then, I decided to give it a try. I spent about 10-12 hours attempting about 750 (out of 1000+) questions. Again, I’ll post my review of this book separately. I also did the second pass of Mike Griffith’s book in the same week.

I booked the exam on Oct 27, just one day in advance. That day I went through a few free PMI-ACP mock exams online. I did a 3rd pass of important topics from Mike Griffith’s book, and reviewed all the study notes that I had prepared in the past 8 weeks.

Finally, I took the exam on Oct 28 and passed!

Exam Experience

PMI-ACP exam is mainly focused on Scrum, XP, Lean and Kanban. None of the other methodologies/frameworks found a mention on my exam. About 50% of the questions had Scrum or XP mentioned on them. About 10% were on Lean or Kanban. The exam also gives emphasis on Agile values and principles (about 5% questions). I also remember seeing lots of questions on Estimation. I saw a few questions on Agile Earned Value Management, a topic that was not covered well in most study material that I used. Overall, I felt under-prepared on important topics and over-prepared on topics, which were not even touched in my exam.

The 3 hours of allotted time is more than sufficient. Anybody who has taken the exam would tell you the same thing. I could have finished the exam in 90 minutes and saved the remaining 90 minutes to blog about it, but I chose to utilize it all by reading, re-reading and re-re-reading the tricky questions. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I had some really tricky questions in the beginning of the exam that put me into a defensive frame of mind early. I read the questions very thoroughly (almost memorizing them) and answering them very carefully in the first pass.

I completed the first pass in about 1 hour and 50 minutes and had 38 questions marked. That’s a lot of marked questions for a 120-question exam - almost 1/3rd of the entire exam. Still I was relatively confident to pass the exam. I took a restroom break for about 5 mins (mainly because the rest room was on a different floor of the building and I had to walk a considerable distance), came back and went through all the marked questions, which took me another 35 minutes. I could have ended the exam at that point, but I decided to go over all the 120 questions again in the final 30 minutes (about 15 secs per question). To my surprise, I changed about 4-5 answers in the final pass.

Exam Result

At the end, I was confident of scoring Proficient in both the domains - Tools and Techniques (T&T), and Knowledge and Skills (K&S). Finally, I pressed the End Exam button just about 1 minute before the end of allotted time, performed the other rituals (exam survey and my secret prayer), and got the result on the screen. It does take a good 30-60 seconds for the result to appear. That’s enough to make your pulse rate shoot above 100. Though I didn’t set any record books on fire with my score, I was relieved that I passed comfortably. I got Proficient in T&T, and Moderately Proficient in K&S.

Exam Difficulty Level

I felt that the exam questions were very intelligently designed and required thorough understanding of the subject to answer correctly. Most questions were just one-liners, but the answer choices were superbly well-crafted (and super tricky). My breakup of the questions based on their difficulty level was:

  • 20 questions - straight forward questions, which anybody with reasonable preparation could bag easily.
  • 20 questions - could be answered by eliminating 3 wrong answer choices.
  • 60 questions - 2 correct answer choices and required some reasoning or logic to determine the better of the 2 choices.
  • 10 questions - tough questions with 3 very close answer choices.
  • 10 questions - I was not familiar with the topic.

PMI-ACP exam has 20 pre-test questions. I could only hope that most of those last 20 were in the pre-test category. I also saw about 2-3 questions that I thought were poorly worded or had incongruent question and answer choices.

Overall, the exam is of moderate difficulty. I know that the PMPs out there must be itching to know the relative difficulty compared to the PMP exam. So, let me just say it straight. PMI-ACP exam is not as hard as the PMP exam mainly because there are no dumb ITTOs (618 of ‘em) to learn or memorize. Having said that - do NOT underestimate PMI-ACP!

Prometric Test Center Experience

My overall experience with Prometric examination center was good. The staff was professional, the lockers and other facilities were adequate, and everything was processed efficiently (pretty much expected in Singapore). They even had free tea/coffee in the cafeteria. The examination hall was relatively quite with no more than 2 other test takers at any point. It was however somewhat cold. I’m not the one who usually wears a jacket around the office, so I did fine. But those who are more sensitive might want to take along a sweater or jacket.

Another small, and perhaps irrelevant niggle - I was shocked to see that the test center had those old ball-type mice. Mine was somewhat old and made a cranky sound, loud enough to distract the neighbors, each time I used the scroll wheel on the mouse. For a moment, I wondered whether it was 2013 or 2003. I put that feedback in the survey.

Study material used

The difficult part about this exam is that the content is very broad and there’s no reference standard like the PMBOK® Guide for the PMP exam. The exam is based on 12 books (it used to be 11 when I took the exam), but there are not many good study guides in the market that distill those 12 guides keeping the focus required for the exam. There is a lot of good and free material available online on Agile, but not a whole lot for PMI-ACP. So finding the right study material is somewhat of a challenge.

I did not read any of those 12 books simply because I was on a fast-track schedule. I made up by reading lot of free content online. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I took a 3-day Scrum Master class last year (and got my CSM certification) that helped me immensely in understanding the Agile values, principles and concepts, and of course he Scrum framework. I used the following study material for my preparation:

Please refer to PMI-ACP Exam Study Material for a comprehensive list of study resources that I compiled during my preparation.

Things I would do differently

If I had to prepare again, I would have done a few things differently such as:

  • Spend less time (no more than 21 hours) on the Agile Prepcast and focus more on the important topics (see the next section).
  • Purchase How To Pass On Your First Try - by Andy Crowe as my second study guide. This book includes 2 sample exams at the end, and also provides free 1-week online access to another sample exam on Velociteach. I would use this just for the sample questions.
  • Skip 1000+ Questions by Chris Scordo. This turned out to be a colossal waste of time. I've posted my review of this book separately. But in short, the questions in this book are off-track and do not resemble the real PMI-ACP questions. There is way too much repetition and those 1000 questions are more like 250 questions for all practical purposes. But to get those 250 questions, you need to actually go through a pile of 1000 questions. I literally spent 12 hours on this book and the return was only worth about 2 hours.

Important topics

Based on my own experience and that of others who have taken the exam, I recommend that your learn and understand the following topics very thoroughly:

  • Agile values (in the Agile manifesto) and principles
  • Scrum, its Roles, artifacts, ceremonies and particularly all the scenarios around Daily Scrums
  • XP practices and roles
  • Lean principles
  • Basic concepts of Kanban
  • User stories (understand them in and out)
  • Agile estimation
  • Conflict resolution

Study Tips

I have the following tips for those who are preparing for this exam:

  • Take a good Scrum Master (or similar) classroom training to learn Agile, and get the 21 PDUs. Note, I said Scrum Master class, not a PMI-ACP class. I believe that Agile is something to be learned by doing, not by reading. For PMP, self-paced online courses are fine, but for Agile, real classroom based setting is the way to go.
  • Don't spend too much time on methodologies/frameworks such as Crystal, DSDM, ASD, and AUP. Focus more on Scrum, XP, Lean and Kanban instead. The only important concept from Crystal is Osmotic Communication.
  • If you are a PMP, then be extremely cautious about some situational questions. The right answer on a PMP exam question, can be a wrong answer on a PMI-ACP exam question for a similar situation. PMI-ACP requires a different mindset (servant leadership as opposed to command-and-control).
  • Know the role of a Scrum Master very well and how he/she should act in different situations.
  • When faced with 2 seemingly correct answer choices, look at them through the filter of Agile values and principles. It may help you eliminate the less correct answer.
  • The PMI-ACP exam had lots of situational questions. Invest in some good sample questions to learn about different types of situations that can be arise in an Agile project environment.
  • Read the @ScrumDan's PMI-ACP Study Guide thoroughly. You can get at least 5 more questions correct if you just read this guide even without following any of the links mentioned in the guide.
  • I would not purchase PMI membership if it's only to save on the exam fee. Membership costs $139 and saves only $60 on the exam fee. Moreover, I didn't find any useful book on Agile in their members-only eReads and Reference section except for Chris Scordo's 1000+ PMI-ACP sample questions book, which I didn't find useful anyway. Refer to 10 Benefits of PMI Membership to learn about other benefits.

Final thoughts

Personally for someone with an IT background, I found this certification very useful. I feel that I learned a lot of things during the course of my preparation that I can actually apply on the job. Compared to PMP, PMI-ACP is more relevant to my job. Had this certification been around 6 years ago, I would have skipped PMP in favor of PMI-ACP. Currently, there are only about 4000 PMI-ACPs in the world, but I’m confident that this certification will grow in popularity rapidly. If you are on the borderline and considering this certification, I would say “Go for it!”

This is probably the longest post ever on this blog. I apologize for it. I considered splitting it into multiple posts, but in the end decided against it. I think keeping it together makes it easier for the readers. I sincerely hope it is helpful to folks aspiring to achieve PMI-ACP. Please post your comments and feedback below and let me know your thoughts. If you have any question, I’ll be happy to answer them.

Thanks for reading and your support.

Image credit: Flickr / Mark Fischer

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Congrats Harwinder! Thanks for such detailed information on your experience. I also had this feeling that PMI-ACP would be easy and not really challenging. As ACP is really supposed test on basic level understanding on agile concepts unlike PMP which is more management oriented. The difficulty must be with respect to questions being analytical reasoning and twisting kinds that PMI usually have in every exams. I even was wondering whether is it even worth going for this ceritifcation. And may be PMI may bring in some advanced certification on agile? Looking forward to your updates and tips. I hope to take this exam in Jan. Your comments are very valuable. Thank you.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Thanks, Ramesh.

I have just updated the other sections of the post. The exam questions were actually one-liners, but the answer choices were very tricky (twisting kinds like you said). Almost every other question seemed to have 2 correct answers. About 10 questions had even 3 very close answer choices. Still I think this exam is better designed than the PMP, which is heavily based on ITTOs, though both have a fair share of situational questions.

Good luck for your exam.

Missing Avatar

Thanks Harwinder. I have re-read your post :) I will be checking regularly for your useful posts. Great work! I would suggest everyone to read Mike Cohn "Agile estimation and planning", "User stores applied"" and Lyssa Adkins - Coaching agile teams. These are wonderful books, not just for preparing for ACP but to learn a lot of useful stuff. Servant leader is covered by her. Its more important i think, to keep the 12 principles of agile in mind all the time. Yes, there is a good chance of applying pmp mindset here fr the questions. But as you said this is nothing to do with management at all, so it should be applied. Even the accountability is by the entire team, self-organized one. My only worry is in finding really good mock exams. Thanks again

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Thanks for your insightful comments, Ramesh. I'm sure your comments will add value to anyone reading this post. I have Mike Cohn's book that I received during my Scrum Master class. I didn't really read the book, but I have been following his blog. He shares really good information on his blog.

If you come across good quality mock exams (or even other resources) during the course of your preparation, do let me know and I'll share them with the readers.


Missing Avatar

I have one question on ACP exam for application ie, is it similar to PMP application? since for people who hold pmp credential, can they skip providing those details for work hours? how is this done? sorry, if this is silly question.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hi Ramesh,

The PMI-ACP application process is really simple. You just need to mention the Project Names (which used Agile methods) and the number of hours spent on those projects. Since I worked on just one large project for the past 15 months, I just mentioned that one project. That's it.

Even PMP application process has been simplified a lot of late, but PMI-ACP application process is simpler.

Hope that helps.

Missing Avatar

Congratulations on your success! I have to agree that underestimating PMI-ACP in comparison to PMP can be a disaster. Both have their strengths and weaknesses - while one has 600+ ITTO's, the other gives you 11 reference books to prepare! Not only that, unless you use carefully prepared question banks, your investment of time in practicing will be just worthless. We understand that pain (we created some of the best PMI-ACP question banks at ); it is time intensive and requires great commitment to bring it up to mark.

Also, as you rightly said, practicing 1000s of questions is no guarantee for learning, it is in the quality. So, I suggest PMI-ACP aspirants to look around before investing time and money. Good luck to all!

Vedananda Venkata

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Kindly check the last line under Exam difficulty level section. This is not to critize but i think i meant something and by mistake typed something entirely different. "Do not understand PMI-ACP" is certainly not the intent, i read it as " Do not underestimate PMI-ACP" i believe. If that is so, correction may be necessary so that others dont take it as such. Absolutely dont mean to offend.


Missing Avatar

Hi Harwinder,

There is new site offering free ACP training among others. If its possible, kindly do review the content for quality and share your valuable feedback. And its absolute free content for now.


Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hi Ramesh,

I'm aware of it but haven't had a chance to review it yet. Recently I had some discussion with their team and tried to understand if there's any catch. It seems that at least for now they are offering the course for free. I'll take a look and share my comments. Thanks for bringing it up.

Best regards,

Missing Avatar

Hi Harwinder,

Congratulations ! I am scheduled to take ACP exam in two more days. I have been reading only one book 'PMI-ACP Exam prep by Mike Griffiths'. I know its too late to ask, but do you think this book covers all the content for the exam. I have been assuming that there will be no questions out of context of this book. Please advise.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hi Madhuri,

There were a few topics outside of Mike's book on the exam, but I can't tell whether those were counted or not (pretest). The exam seemed very heavily focused on Scrum and XP. So focus more on those in the last 2 days. Attempt as many sample questions online as possible. Understand the Agile Values and Principles were very. You'll need to apply them on many questions on the exam.

Let me know how your exam goes.

Good luck.

Missing Avatar

Finally its over, I passed the exam. Focusing more on Scrum and XP on the last two days before the exam helped alot. Thank you for suggesting ScrumDan's document, i got atleast 10 questions correct just because i read it. I got 'Moderately proficient' in both Techniques and K&S.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Congratulations, Madhuri!

I'm glad to hear that some of the tips helped you. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the good news. If you have other tips, please feel free to add them.

Good luck for future.

Best regards.

Missing Avatar

Congrats Madhuri. Considering youe study plan, i think i may have overdone it. I have been through nearly 9 of 11 reference books mentioned by PMI.
Other than that i read Lean agile software development - an agile toolkit by Mary and Tom Poppendieck (it was very good)
For XP - art of agile development
For Scrum - APM with scrum by ken schwaber
I hope this should be sufficient. Yet to book exam date.
I have done some exams as mentioned by Harwinder.
Unable to find that good mock exams.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Ramesh,

I kind of agree with you on the point of mock exams. There are not many good mock exams available for PMI-ACP, at least not the free ones. You may want to look at Velociteach (by Andy Crowe). Though I have not tried them personally, I heard some good comments.

If you find other good sources, do let me know.

Good luck.

Missing Avatar

Hi Madhuri,
Any other tips for me, apart from reading Mike Griffiths and ScrunDans ? From where did you read SCRUM & XP in the last two days ? Which exams did you buy ? My exam is in less than a month, so I am a bit hyper. Thank You.

Missing Avatar

Hi Ramesh,

I strongly do NOT recommend . I have purchased the PMI-ACP course there just to get their add-ons like flash cards and question bank. I have gone through some of their video modules, all flash cards, and some of their questions. I was mightliy disappointed with the content. I don't think that those who prepared and delivered the content have anything to do with agile or PMI-ACP certified. They did not undertand the agile very well. Interacting with question bank is a nightmare. They are just images with 2-3 questions and their choices in a page. There's no exam that you can click and score online. Also the questions are of more PMP exam oriented. Must have been prepared by someone with PMP background but no agile background. Flash cards are real stupid and of very poor quality. For e.g. the below comparison is very much wrongly presented.

Agile : iterative Traditional : waterfall
1. Envision Initiate
2. Speculate Plan
3. Explore Define
4. Adapt Design
5. Close Build
6. Repeat 3-5 as necessary Test

I pity those folks who are taking this course and chosen to go in a wrong direction unknowingly.

By the way, I have passed PMI-ACP yesterday (28-Nov-2013) with T&T Moderately Proficient and K&S Proficient

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Chandra,

Congratulations on passing the exam.

I appreciate your feedback about apnacourse. Your first hand experience with the course "as a student" is more useful than any review.

I did look at the course today but could not bear it for more than 10 minutes. The audio quality was extremely poor and straining to listen to. I could hardly understand the instructor even on full volume. The lectures were extremely monotonous and boring.

I could not figure out the layout or order of the course sessions. They seemed to be randomly laid out. The questions seemed to be poorly worded and off-track.

On the positive side, the interface itself isn't too bad. It has a way to track your course progress and show the progress on each lecture which I think is nice feature.

Overall, I don't think you can really learn Agile from this course. Moreover, they are not issuing the course completion certificate just yet. So, what's the point!

I do NOT recommend it either.

A better alternative is Agile Prepcast, but that's a mixed bag too. I'll post a detailed review of that program in near future.


Missing Avatar

@ Chandra,

ApnaCourse Congratulates you on passing the exam.

Thank you for the valuable feedback. But related to the Content, it was prepared by the subject expert who has 22 years of experience in handling various projects and has gained several certifications related to project management. Your statement "Comparison is very much wrongly presented", is a well-known concept in Agile Project Management.

Project Life Cycle

Agile: Iterative Traditional: Waterfall
1. Envision 1. Initiate
2. Speculate 2. Plan
3. Explore 3. Define
4. Adapt 4. Design
5. Close 5. Build
6. Repeat 3-5 as 6. Test

Trust this would answer your comment. On the Question Banks and Flash Cards, they are designed to act as supplements to a hard bound question bank set and ready reckon-er cards. Hence the look and feel of an e-book format. The free sample of the add-on before purchase would also depict this clearly. These are not meant to be simulator exams. On the other hand, practice tests for every session act as notable simulators wherein participants can answer questions online and get the answers with details immediately. We understand that you have attempted these tests.

We have launched the Course Completion Certificate of late whereby the participants get access to a 120 set online mock exam with detailed solutions on completion. Only when they complete all the 30 hours of lectures, 4 practice tests and the mock exam, will they be entitled to the 30 PDU certificate.

We appreciate your comments and will strive to improve upon them.

Harwinder Singh Avatar


Thanks for the update on the course completion certificate. I also appreciate that you took the comments positively.

My main feedback is that the course delivery needs to be improved considerably for it to become really usable. Even if your content is good, it won't really be effective unless the course organization and delivery are good as well (COD - Content, Organization and Delivery).

BTW, what Chandra was referring to (Envision -> Initiate, Speculate -> Plan, etc.) is better known as "APM Delivery Framework".

Best regards.

Missing Avatar

@Harwinder: We have taken stock of your inputs and truly appreciate your efforts in pinning them down. We are reworking the Organization and Delivery and would bring out an effective content very soon. You may expect a marked change in this as early as end of this month itself.

Missing Avatar

Thanks. I saw the price for non-PR and it was quite expensive. I'm looking for some good but cheaper alternative. Maybe when I go to Syndey for holiday next year i could find a CSM training there, could be much cheaper

Harwinder Singh Avatar

You can check on Good Agile's website for other locations where they conduct their training programs. I know that the same training in India is substantially cheaper.

There are several other companies in Singapore conducting similar courses, but I've no personal experience with them. The good ones usually are quite expensive.

Missing Avatar

Harwinder - Thanks for all your excellent posts as they were immensely helpful for me to start the preparation. Right now I have started my second round of Mike Griffiths and also going through the scrumdan notes. I have the following questions for you:
- Apart from scrumdan and mike griffith, what else should I read ?
- Is there any notes for XP, apart from MG and scrumdan ?
- Should I memorize the practice/tool/K&S mappings from MG book ? (similar to ITTO)
- Among StarPMO, Simplilearn which one should I buy ?

Initially I took the exam very lightly, but right now I am getting the feeling that this will become more difficult than PMP. The main reason because the scarcity of good quality books and exams :( ...Planning to take the exam in a month... Looking forward for your advice. Thanks.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hi Sugata,

I'm glad that you found the posts useful. I have listed all the material that I used on the PMI-ACP Study Resources post. You may want to read up more on XP and Lean online. I had some questions on these topics that I was not very confident about.

You do not need to memorize anything except for maybe the Agile values and principles.

StarPMO guys are big time spammers and I would not recommend them. I have not reviewed Simplilearn's PMI-ACP material, but based on my experience with their PMP exam content, I'm neutral on them. Whatever source you try, please share your feedback on it. It will help
other folks.

Good luck.

Missing Avatar

Thanks Harwinder, I will definitely share my experience....Can you please also advise me on the following ?
- What kind of calculation problems should I practice(EVM, Cost etc) for the exam ? Is there any particular website for that ?
- How many questions can I expect from PMI code of ethics ?
- Is there any 'download sheet' that I can prepare in the first 15 mins? (e.g. the formulas and processes for PMP)

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hi Sugata,

- I didn't get any question requiring calculation.
- Questions on ethics would not be explicit. They will be blended in other questions. So, it's hard to say how many such questions were there.
- I didn't prepare any download sheet. But if you want, you can write the values and principles and then refer to them in the exam. But in my case, I received a thick-tipped marker pen and an A4 size erasable board. How much could I have written on it? So, I didn't bother.

Good luck.

Missing Avatar

Which one is best? Learning online or at classroom. I had planned to do a an online course as I don't have the classroom in my city. So what would you say. Thought of taking the course pmi-acp in Please share your thoughts.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

It's a personal preference. Some people learn better in a classroom setting, and some do better with self-study. I'm not familiar with the course that you mentioned, but I hope others can chime in.

Thanks for your comments.

Missing Avatar

Reading your experience some 2+ years later 3 days before taking my own exam. I come from a similar background, am a CSM and an PMP and hoping to pass my ACP exam, however am a little nervous now that I read your post :& I am wondering if I should reschedule with 1 day remaining for such decision Oooouch

Missing Avatar

Hi Harwinder:
Thanks again for mentioning my study guide in your article. Just to let everyone know, I have updated it based upon the new exam content outlined launched July 15, 2015.

Also, I would love to hear feedback from anyone that has taken the new exam.

Missing Avatar

hi .. is it needed to practice the rita mulachy practice exams available for 200 USD ?

i already practiced 1200 questions from a reputed local acp trainer in india and also completed andy crowe 2 practice exams ..

i just want to see if spending additional 200 USD on rita mulach is worth it ?

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Snehamayee,

Apologies for the late response. I've already addressed some of these questions in the post above under the heading "Exam Difficulty Level". There's a mix of direct and situational questions. Most questions were concise.

Hope that helps.

Missing Avatar

Nick has joined the chat
Thank you for contacting Simplilearn!
Hi Anamika.
How may I assist you?
I want information about PMI ACP course
I will certainly help you with that.
What are the changes in the Exam?
May I know whether you are looking for self-paced online training or instructor led online classroom training?
and how do I make sure that I am eligible for taking the exam?
I will help you with that.
Exam fee will cost you $445 for non members.
Once you go through and complete our content you will be able to clear the exam. Our pass rate is 98.6%.
Also you will get 1 Industry Case studies and 61 Real life examples and 102 End-of-Chapter Quizzes & 4 Simulation Exams which will help you clear the exam.
is all this included in this course? Also, is this material available if I dont have access to internet?
Yes, it is included with the course, you need to have interned to access course.
I am not convinced with this course. So if I am travelling in flight and I want to study, do I have any way to keep doing it?
I am sorry, you can only access the course if you have internet.
no material is downloadable?
Unfortunately with this course there is no downloadable material.
the problem I see is I have to pay around 7-8k for the course + Internet Bills everytime I have learn it.. So, its not worth to spend 15-20k on it and then again spend another 30-35k for the exam.
I am sorry on website there is no E-book.
I would rather prefer other vendors. Thankyou
As I check I I have information that downloadable E-book is available with this course.
You will get downloadable e book with this course.
I dont trust you, you saidd in your last statement that "Nick: Unfortunately with this course there is no downloadable material."
"Nick: I am sorry on website there is no E-book."
I am sorry I double check that information and have update that we do provide downloadable E-book.
If you guys put cost to something make sure it is economical for the end user.
I cannot trust in the course material and I dont find ease in enhancing my learning experience in this. Thankyou for providing me with your support

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Thanks for your comment. Compared to PMP, PMI-ACP is relatively in its infancy. I see jobs asking for Agile / Scrum experience but I don't see PMI-ACP mentioned particularly. I could be wrong because I'm not an active job seeker in the market. But Agile practices are influencing traditional project management especially in IT. I see value in having this certification, but certification alone (without experience) won't get you a job.

Missing Avatar

Hi All,
I applied for the PMP my application has been approved. I mentioned my 4500 hours from March 2013 to may 2016. I haven't scheduled my PMP exam as of yet.

Now, I want to apply for PMI-ACP exam. Can I use the 8 months from the above 3 years for 1500 hours of Agile methodology. I am still working on Agile and PROJECT management simultaneously.

Please help.



Harwinder Singh Avatar

Thanks, Liz. I don't think PMI discloses the pass rate for any of their exams. There may be some guesstimates available online but I don't have any specific numbers. All I can say is that it should be higher than that of PMP.

Missing Avatar

Hello Harwinder,

I am SAP consultant and now looking for entry into project management.I don't have any PM experience but Agile has been introduced in my current project after some online Training on Agile Methodology.

I am Team Leader and doing daily Stand Up in the team.

Do you have any suggestion for me to enter into Project Management...

Shall I do PMI-CAPM ?

or CSM or something else to start with.

Thanks in advance...


Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Pankaj,

If you are using Scrum methodology, then I would suggest going for CSM first. I found my CSM training to be very useful in understanding and appreciating Agile principles, and applying them in projects. PMI-ACP certifies that you are proficient in Agile principles and methodologies, but it doesn't do much in helping you get better at the practical side of things.

CSM training is far more fun and useful than PMI-ACP or PMP training, provided you select the right coach / training provider. See my posts on Scrum for more details.

Hope that answers your question.

Missing Avatar

Thank you, Harwinder! I came across your blog and this webpage while researching for my study material and found it very useful. I used Ande Crowe's book as my primary study guide. Passed the exam this morning, with Proficient in Agile Principles and Moderately Proficient in almost everything else. Just dropping a note to say thank you for putting this webpage together.

Missing Avatar

Wohoo!! PMI-ACP exam prep and study tips in this detail....! I am amazed! Thank you for writing this blog. I was in complete fix ; IS PMI-ACP worth taking the shot? You solved all my doubts in one go through this blog. Thanks again. Now I am giving myself 2 months to prepare and pass this exam (Apr'17).

Missing Avatar

I stumbled across this article and followed the tips. I took my exam and passed, the first time around. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I didn't even believe in myself going in, but thanks to your guidance I did it. It might seem light, but the Internet is so full of useless info it is humbling to see people like you going out of their way to helping out strangers, continue doing what you do.

Missing Avatar

I am happy to share the news that I cleared my PMI ACP on April 4. I did read this blog with focus and got answers for my search , which was looking for topic to be focused on. Thank you for that. Guess the study strategy differs from person to person and you should adopt to your strategy with these points as guidelines. Trust me there was not even one single straigh forward question or anything to test on the definition. All the questions were focused on how a situation would be handled as an agile lead. Will not be able to answer such questions unless the concepts are really understood and how to apply them. Raed the question until you understand and do the same with the choices before answering. Good luck ��

Missing Avatar

I have cleared exam with Above Proficiency for 5 domains and Proficiency for 2 domains.
Be aware that in the exam you will read very long questions which describes an awkward situation and ask you what you should do next as a agile leader or team member. Keep in mind that real exam don't ask what is Kano analysis or forms of team.
Try to find resources which includes situational based questions and think about them. I highly suggest Head First Agile book prepared for PMI-ACP exam which has lots of situational questions and prepares you well. ( I used PMI-ACP Mike Griffiths and first and Head First Agile First Release book as my second resource.)

Harwinder Singh Avatar


I've not reviewed their PMI-ACP Exam Simulator, but I've reviewed many of their other products including the PMP Exam Simulator. They are generally of good quality and you can't go too wrong with them. Moreover, they have a money-back guarantee, so you are well covered. BTW, you can use the coupon 'Jul17' to save $20 if you plan to purchase the Agile Prepcast this month (I know it's almost end of July now).

Good luck!

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Corey,

Yes I did - handwritten notes and screenshots of the slides - for reference later. I generally do that even when going through webinars for PDUs (or otherwise) when the slide deck is not available. Let me know if you have more questions.

Missing Avatar

Thanks, Harwinder. Another question regarding the Agile Prepcast, since you mention there was no sign of DSDM, Crystal, and ASD questions on the exam, would you still recommending watching those videos and taking notes?

Harwinder Singh Avatar

It's hard to say for sure because your exam may be different from mine and I took it nearly 4 years ago. But I would suggest skipping the videos and getting some other material online that gives an overview of those topics. In other words, spend your energy on more important topics.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Cor T,

I think I may have listened to some of them. They are really optional / supplementary material. You can listen to them while commuting to work, but I won’t spend my productive time on them.

Hope that helps.

Jim Avatar

Hi Harwinder,

I’m looking through the PMI-ACP_Study_Guide and noticed you mentioned you went through all the links in this PDF. I’m looking at the first link in the document for ‘Agile Contracting’ which points to:

This page has a bunch of reference links:

10 Contracts for your next Agile Software Projet by Peter Steven

YouTube: Agile Contract Negotiation

Agile contracts primer by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde

Alistair Cockburn on Agile Contracts

Martin Fowler on Scope Limbering and contracts

Mary Poppendieck on Righteous Contracts

Jeff Sutherland’s Money For Nothing, Change For Free

Kent Beck’s Optional Scope Contracts

Did you go through all of these as reading material? If not, how did you balance what you should study from these sort of reference links versus those that felt like overkill? I feel like going through this guide + reading all the reference material/watching videos will take a century!


Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Jim,

I did go through many of the links at that time. But may not have followed the all the “nested” links i.e. links on external sites linked from the guide. But it has been 4 years now. @ScrumDan has been keeping the guide updated and may have updated many of the links since the last time I referred to it. Don’t get too carried away. Follow the material and guidance on the 2 blog posts that I have on PMI-ACP and you should be fine.

Good luck!

Katrina Poliakoff Avatar


I just passed the PMI-ACP. I read this post when I applied to take the exam 5 weeks ago. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your experience. I referred back to your post multiple times to help guide me.

If you are reading this, and prepping for your exam, I strongly urge you to purchase a scenario based exam simulator. Mike Griffith’s book did an excellent job of preparing me for the type of information on the exam, and the mindset I should think with, but neither his book or the Cape ProjectManagement course prepared me for the type of questions that appeared on the exam. The test was entirely scenario based. All of my preparation taught me about very specific agile roles and methodologies. There were some questions that asked what someone in a specific role would do, but most questions referred to an agile practitioner, project manager or team. Some questions didn’t specify a role at all, but were still phrased as “what would you do?” It made it difficult to chose a correct answer when you didn’t know which specific role or methodology to apply.

It really is about thinking with an agile mindset. Thank you again Harwinder!!

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Katrina,

Congratulations for passing the exam. I’m glad to be of help to you. I want to thank you as well for sharing some really good insight here and enriching my post.

All the best to you!

ArtScot Avatar

I took and successfully passed the PMI-ACP exam this week and wanted to share some lessons learned to help others. I think the headline of your article sums it up - don’t underestimate this exam! As a current PMP with 20 years experience in the industry, many of which were spent taking exams, this was the most challenging exam I have taken. I was convinced I had failed it due to the amount of time I spent analysing questions, many of which appeared to have up to three correct possible answers. I also used nearly 2 hours of available time which is not something I normally do on these exams.

The vast majority of questions I got on the exam (90%+) were situational. They’re not long questions, but I had to read them very carefully and used the mark feature to highlight the important words in the question. I didn’t think any of them were worded to try and catch you out, but I found that only a handful I could answer straight away. All of the rest I had to analyse exactly what was being asked by who and what one of the potentially correct answers was the right one.

Be careful about making assumptions - you must read the questions correctly. You may need to fill in some of the blanks from your real world project experience to understand a better context about the question to help you select the best answer. The practice exams I completed in the latter part of my study really helped me with this element. These are all about how you would correctly apply the agile methodologies, manifesto and principles to select the best answer. I marked a lot of questions to come back to and also changed my answer a number of times on many of them.

I found the strikethrough option very helpful to focus me away from those answers which were clearly incorrect or did not demonstrate agile principles.

You do need to know the different tools and practices employed by Lean, Kanban and XP. There’s a very wide reading list recommended by the PMI for this exam and on one hand I think its good because you get a wide variety of takes on Agile, but I did start to get a bit confused by some different applications from different authors who sometimes used terminologies. Especially when it came to practice exam questions.

Oh, and one thing to definitely be aware of is that not all practice exam answers are correct! People do make mistakes, so if you’re not sure of a particular answer, do more research until you’re happy with the explanation given.

I think Mike Griffiths book is the best single source of info for the exam.

Andy Crowe’s book is also very good - I used that a lot in my last week to focus on the key points - the Glossary and practice exams are very good resources.

ScrumDan’s study guide is a free resource which is also good for final prep.

The official Scrum guide is free and summarises all you need to know about the scrum ceremonies, artefacts, guidelines etc.

I also found the questions from PM Prepcast site very useful and well worth the money. The majority of those are situational and worded in a good way to make sure you read the questions correctly, don’t get caught out.

Good luck everyone! This definitely isn’t an exam to rush in to, but I found I learned an awful lot by doing the studying.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Congratulations, ArtScot!

This is an extremely well written lessons learned post. I found it very insightful. I’m sure it will be helpful to a lot of folks preparing for PMI-ACP.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience.