I’ve been marking APMP mock papers for most of this week and I thought it would be useful to share some reflections on what makes a good answer in the APMP examination.
Answer the question as asked
The first things that I have noticed it that candidates have a tendency to reach straight through the theory when answering questions are not really look at what the examination questions asking them. So for example a question asked people to describe how project managers manage conflict, immediately results in a detailed explanation of Thomas Coman’s conflict resolution model, when in fact the questions asking us about ways in which we manage conflict such as avoiding conflict for another day when the dust settled and people will be more willing to discuss the situation in a considered way.
Thinking part this is because we all study the textbook in detail and sometimes forget that the APMP qualification is about practical project management and how to put the theory into practice.
Confusion between Governance and a Method
the second trend I see is confusion between governance and the method. Governance of the ways in which the Board of Directors an organisation has oversight of the projects are being managed in the organisation. It means things I setting the direction of the portfolio, appointing effective sponsorship, making sure that projects have business cases which align with the corporate objectives, and ensuring that we have competent and capable people managing the projects. And at their level of competency matches the challenge within each project.
On the other hand standard method of the tools, templates, processes and roles the organisation issues to guide project managers in the execution of projects. It supports the governors the organisation is not really what the Board of Directors in a large project management organisation get involved in, it’s really for the guidance of the project managers.
Partly I think this confusion comes about because the two topics covered in the same chapter as part of the APMP and no doubt more project managers have exposure to standardised methods. Therefore attend to latch onto this is being governance. Aspect could see the method as being governance for the project and governance as being the governance of project management. Two different perspectives on the same thing.
Lack of examples and application
The marking guide clearly says that half the marks are demonstrating further understanding through application and examples associated with the point being made. However need to the moment lots of candidates forget to add these vitally important elements. And really without this additional information is very hard for the marker to give candidates credit for the second part of the marking criteria. Time and time again we see feedback from examiners saying that the answers are weak and lack sufficient detail to get decent mark. This is probably the most common reason people fail the APMP. It may be to do with the fact that candidates have to rely on their own understanding and knowledge in order to generate these examples.
One tip that I use quite often within experienced project managers is to think through two or three scenarios and then use these as a source for examples in the course. Programmes on TV like Grand Designs give us lots of examples of where bespoke building projects can go wrong, if you watch television programmes based on upgrading the tube in London this is another good source of examples and then has been plenty of exposure for projects like London 2012 in the press. Even your new project manager can use these scenarios to illustrate the point they’re making in their answers.
So hope you found this blog post useful and please do post any comments below. Learn more in our How to Pass the APMP Podcast