Microsoft Senior Project Managers journey to the Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) Exam

Here we are again certification Padwaans. This time we will delve into the ways of certifying for the Project Manager Institutes Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) exam. This blog entry is not for the younglings. You will benefit most if you have the PMP certification, are studying for the PMP certification, and are employed as a Project Manager. That said, if you have industry experience > 5 years on or with a team, you will benefit from this blog. However, I will focus this blog to showing those at the apprentice level how I obtain the PMI-ACP Certification.

Anakin, training to be a Jedi isn’t an easy challenge. And even if you succeed, it’s a hard life.“―Qui-Gon Jinn, to Anakin Skywalker

I think you’re noticing a theme here. Let’s begin!

AZ-900 Certification

I have not gained the PMI-ACP certification so we will be taking this journey together as we did with the entry where we gained the Azure Technical Certification AZ-900

Here are the list of materials we will use:

  • This Blog
  • PMI-ACP Exam Prep, Premier Edition, Mike Griffiths PI-ACP PMP, CSM
  • Microsoft PMI-ACP Padwaans will have access to a study group lead and facilitated by Microsoft Project Managers. It is an 11 part series with a module delivered each week. Here is the cadence of that series:
Deck NumberTitle
2Domain I – Agile Principle and Mindset
3Domain II – Value Driven Delivery
4Domain III – Stakeholder Engagement
5Domain IV – Team Performance
6Domain V – Part 1 – Adaptive Planning
7Domain V – Part 2 – Adaptive Planning
8Domain VI – Problem Detection and Resolution
9Domain VII – Continuous Improvement
10Tips and Practice Questions
11PMI-ACP Practice Test *
*You can still utilize everything else on this blog to pass the exam without having this Study Group Series above

This list of materials will be all that I use to take and pass the Exam.

Lets review the schedule and Cadence

Milestones: Pre-Journey, Journey, prep to test, sit to test

Pre-Journey Checklist:

  • Purchase all materials
  • Create study schedule
  • Create/Develop, “Test taking mode”.

Purchases: I want you to purchase and read the PMI-ACP Exam Prep book cover to cover prior to beginning this journey. Answer all practice questions at the end of the chapters. Not all chapters have practice questions at the end and I dont want you to concentrate on getting the answers correct. It’s more important to do an initial pass of the chapter, answer the practice exams, keep a log of what you got wrong and right, and complete the book. Since it is not a large book we’ll plan 1 week to read it completely and and answer the practice questions. If you want to do the examples that is OK but, it would be OK to not do them.

Paperback: $64.88 at the time of this entry.
Top reviews from the United States

Andrew M.

5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn’t of asked for a better resource when studying for the PMI-ACP and I would …
Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2017
I couldn’t of asked for a better resource when studying for the PMI-ACP and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the same situation. I’m an experienced Scrum Master but I learned so much when reading this book which has truly helped me within my job and day to day responsibilities. Mike Griffith really drills it into you that you need to adopt the “Agile Mindset” which is probably the most important part of taking the exam.
This is how I went about exam prep:
1) Read the PMI-ACP Exam Prep book cover to cover (highlighted important points and topics as I read)
2) Read through all highlighted material and any sections I was having trouble with
3) Took Velociteach PMI-ACP Practice Test A the first time (I bought the week long trial) (Scored 77%)
4) Read through all highlighted material and any entire sections I was still having trouble with
5) Took Velociteach PMI-ACP Practice Test A the second time (Scored 82%)
6) Read through all highlighted material and any entire sections I was still having trouble with
7) Took all the quizzes at the end of each section
8) Read through all highlighted material for the final time
8) Took the test and passed it!
53 people found this helpful

Trenton Bennett

4.0 out of 5 stars Necessary Overkill
Reviewed in the United States on January 10, 2016
Passing the PMI-ACP exam is different from other certification exams that I’ve taken. The biggest difference was that I never had any questions that had me fill in a blank, pick a term from a list, or do a formula calculation. Instead, almost everything I was asked was along the lines of “This is the situation–what do you do?” and the right answer required me to be able to THINK in Agile.

I used the book on the PMBOK for my PMP certification, so for the ACP, I came back to it again to see what it could offer. The truth is, this book is overkill. It covers way more material than you need to know to pass the exam, and it even says so in several places. But that’s because, as I mention above, this exam is about needing to know a lot of things in order to rewire your thinking for some pretty tough questions.

There are a couple of times I think the author does a poor job of making examples through metaphor–the analogies don’t quite fit, but you can get the general idea. There are also times the book goes a bit chart-happy and we have graphics that I don’t feel are necessary to make a point. For example, I don’t need a pair of overlapping curves on an X-Y diagram with pictures of CD-ROMs and books to understand that face-to-face communication has the highest value.

That said, I still do recommend this book. And I also STRONGLY recommend you use the latest edition of this book because the PMI-ACP exam changed in October of 2015. As luck would have it, I had to switch to this edition just as I was close to taking the exam–so I can tell you that yes, the new edition has been substantially modified in certain places. It’s much thicker. The exam changed to be more about thinking in Agile, and some of the dialogue, particularly in the second half of the book, has been updated to reflect this.

Either way, I didn’t have access to the exam simulation software that is also sold. So I can tell you that using the practice exams and sample exercises in each chapter is a great way to get what you need firmly in your head for the exam. I do recommend this book. It requires a lot of study and has a lot of potentially irrelevant pieces, but in that way it also makes for a very complete reference for the PMI-ACP exam.

Read more
72 people found this helpful

Navy Guy

4.0 out of 5 stars No better endorsement… I passed. (Here’s how)
Reviewed in the United States on September 7, 2018
I found reading the whole book first time with a highlighter and taking notes, then going thru again and rewriting my notes along the way (from scratch), using old notes and book this time. I followed his direction in the foreword of the book.
During the second rewrite, I was working hard at assimilating my notes into my brain. I made flashcards of areas I didn’t remember and carried them with me.
I waited to near the end to do practice exams, and in hindsight, I should have done them staggered, such as being on Chapter 2 or 3 and starting practice test on chapter 1, would be a good way to cement this knowledge.

His spiral bound workbook was also helpful, but not essential. I really liked it though, as I want to really understand the concepts, not just pass some test.

I also “became agile” – My study was arranged into sprint planning, iterations, retrospectives, etc. Helped make this stuff tangible. I even started doing this everywhere else in my life that I could. Kind of like going to France to learn the language… I immersed myself.

If I had to pick the MVP to get thru the exam: it would be:
Memorize the manifesto/principles.
The book/note taking and practice exams described above.
“Be agile”.

Exam was hard, but I passed “above domain” in all but one.

Book criticisms:
I would strongly have preferred he arrange in chronological sequence of events. While his arrangement aligns to the exam, going into SCRUM upfront then back later left it a bit fragmented in my understanding. Some of the other criticisms, about analogies are warranted. However nothing was a deal breaker. I just googled what I didn’t understand. I did not mind he went past the exam requirements, of course, I wanted to pass, but I wanted to understand more.

Purchases: Procure the subscription to The PMI-ACP Exam Simulator,, Cost: $99

Assumptions: You have computer, a notepad for end of chapter practice exams (keep notes outside of the book so that you can re-sell book), and note taking utensils.

Study Schedule: The schedule will include all of the milestones, Pre-Journey, Journey, Prep to Test, and Sit for Test. I decomposed the Milestones into the following descriptions and Durations:

  • Pre-Journey: This is what you will do to get ready for the Certification. Purchase your equipment, establish your study space, establish your timeline, set your start date. – 1 week
  • Journey: Read the book, do the practice exams, record your test results – 2 weeks
  • Prep to Test: This Milestone is two parts – 2 weeks:
    • Part I: Take practice exam end to end i.e. complete the full exam as if sitting for the real exam. Notice areas where you are scoring low. Take the full exam again. In each iteration of taking the full test, examine your weak areas, and retake the exam in full. You should be getting stronger in those weak areas and it should be taking you a shorter time to take the full exam.
    • Part II: Repeat Part I until you are scoring a passing grade on the exam in one sitting
  • Sit for the Exam: This Milestone is 3 parts:
    • When you are getting a passing grade on the Exam and completing it within the required time you are ready to sit
    • Schedule the Exam
    • Pass the Exam