This is quite a common comment from exam stressed students
Got my exam tomorrow and feeling unprepared despite doing revision constantly for the last two weeks. I’m finding it hard to retain the detail in my head. Has anyone else suffered from this exam stress? Any coping techniques?
Six ways to cope with APM PMQ exam stress
1) first thing to remember that the APM PMQ is not a very advanced exam. Many of the questions are 95% common sense.
- Describe the barriers to communication?
- Attributes of an effective project leader?
- The strengths and weakness of a matrix organisation?
I find many people can answer these quite well at the start of the course but they get stressed about trying the learn the textbook answers. This lead on to my second point.
2) The second thing to remember is that there are many right answers to many of the questions. So there are dozens of attributes of a good leader, not just the ones that we list in the study guide. So don’t leave your experince at the exam room door. We have all worked for good leaders (I hope) and know what makes them great.
3) The third point is to get used to writing detailed paragraphs. Not just a paragraph of one or two sentences. You need to tell the story. This about who is involved, why it’s important when in the lifecycle the point is relevant, what do we have to do as a result of this new knowledge. So for example
The ability to motivate is a key attribute of any project leader. This motivation is especially important when a project is going through difficulties. This is because the team may not see a light at the end of the project. At this point, the PM needs to be able to describe how the project can be organised to deliver the objectives. This requiers planning, clarity and a lack of a balme culture.
I just made this up, but it would do (I think) as part of an answer. I describe the problem, why motivation is important, who is involved and what the PM should do about it.
4) The fourth point is to keep practising. I learn by reading and writing. Sample answers are a great way of learning and practising. Reading the same stuff again and again won’t help. Try the podcasts or e-learning. maybe explaining it a different way might work.
5) The fifth way is to ignore the topic. It critical path or investment appraisal is not going in, then skip it. Clearly, you can only do this for a few topics because you have to do 10 out of 16 questions. But if you skip 3-4 topics then the chances of all 4 comings up are slim.
6) Six and final, remember it’s not that important. Many great project managers don’t have the APM PMQ. It is good if you can get it but a 3 hour written exam is not the ultimate test of a project manager. It really about applying what you have learned and delivering great projects. Remember the saying
You’re only as good as your last project.
Which is why we’re with you all the way.