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Tips to Pass the APM Project Professional Qualification (PPQ)

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 23rd October 2023


If you’re preparing for the APM Project Professional Qualification (PPQ) 2nd edition assessment, this blog post aims to offer a streamlined guide that includes essential tips, insights, and a simplified process for analysing the case studies. This guide should be read alongside the Professional Qualification 2nd edition Candidate notes available from the APM.

Important Note: Closed-Book Assessment

The APM PPQ assessment is a closed-book exam. While you may bring lightly annotated copies of the case studies, you won’t have access to external materials. Therefore, your in-depth understanding of the case studies is crucial for success.

Understand the Case Studies

Company and Project Case Studies

  • Company Case Study: Available on the APM website, offering an overview of a fictional company and its associated programme.
  • Project Case Study: Provided four weeks before your assessment, detailing a specific project within the programme.

Your Role and Preparation

You will assume the role of Project Manager for the specific project in the case study. Given the closed-book nature of the exam, a rigorous analysis of the case studies is essential.

A Simplified Guide to Analysing the Case Study

Step 1: Initial Reading and Identification of Key Elements

  • Objective: Familiarise yourself with the overall context and identify essential components like risks, issues, and problems.
  • Action: Read through the case study once, highlighting or underlining key elements for future reference.

Step 2: Apply the STAR Method

  • Objective: Assess key elements against each assessment criterion using the STAR method.
  • Action: For each key element:
  • Situation: What is the context or problem?
  • Task/Theory: What relevant task or theory is applicable?
  • Action: What actions could be taken?
  • Recommendation: Which action would you recommend and why?

Step 3: Ensure Realism and Relevance

  • Objective: Make sure your analysis and proposed actions are realistic and relevant to the case study.
  • Action: Cross-reference your proposed actions with the case study to ensure they are both practical and pertinent.

Example Learning Outcome

Consider the learning outcome: “Critically evaluate ways to capture, record, and review proposed options for change to determine the impact on a project’s scope and objectives.”

Answer questions like:

  • How are options for change currently captured?
  • What process could be implemented for capturing and recording these options?
  • Who should be involved in the review process?
  • How can governance processes be adhered to?

These questions align with the APM competence framework and help you tailor your response effectively.

Command Verbs

  • Critically Evaluate: Provide a well-backed judgement and offer a contextual recommendation.
  • Critically Analyse: Dissect the details, highlighting pros and cons within the case study context.
  • Demonstrate: Showcase your practical skills and knowledge.

Exam Techniques

Before the Exam

  • Practice with sample papers available on the APM website.
  • Ensure you’re comfortable with the operational and technical aspects of the exam.

Tip: Save system emails with assessment links and login details for easy access on the exam day.

During the Exam

  • Listen carefully to fully understand each question.
  • Align your answers with the case study and established project management theories.
  • Use your prior experience but keep the focus on the case study and appropriate terminology.

Tip: Utilise the 15-minute reading time at the start of the written assignment to fully comprehend the question and formulate your approach.

By adhering to this streamlined guide, you’ll be well-prepared to succeed in the APM Project Professional Qualification assessment. Good luck!

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