If you want to make a career for yourself in project management, it is important to get the necessary accreditation. There are many different courses available for aspiring project managers today, and one of the best is the APM PMQ exam – previously known as the APMP . If this is the route you have decided to go down, read on to find out everything you need to know about passing the exam.
To find out more about our training courses for this professional qualification visit our APM PMQ page.
An introduction to the APMP qualification (now APM PMQ)
APMP was designed to give candidates a broad level of project management skills and knowledge. This ensures that all aspiring and existing project management professionals have all of the information they require so that they can manage all types of projects, both small and large. By taking the course, you will understand important project management techniques, tools, and terminology. This extends to provide a deeper perspective, as candidates learn about the different reasons for using the techniques and the advantages of doing so.
There are many different ways for individuals to study for the APM PMQ qualification, but do be aware that it is still often referred to as the APMP, and the topics you will study are still the same – it is just a name change.
You could study online, you could attend a classroom-based course, or you could opt for a solution that combines both. No matter what route you go down, in order to pass, you will need to take the exam. There are two exam options. Most people will take the three hour paper, whereby they are required to answer ten of 16 questions. However, if you are already a PRINCE2 Registered Practitioner, you can take a two hour paper that has been designed to recognise your prior learning. This features ten questions, and you will need to answer six of them.
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Choosing a good training provider
One thing you definitely need to do to give yourself the best chance of passing the APMP exam (now APM PMQ) is choose a training provider with care. Don’t simply go for the cheapest company you can find. After all, you are simply going to be throwing your money down the drain if you choose a poor-quality training provider. Instead, invest your money in a company that has a great track record. Remember, you will soon make a return on your investment once you progress your career.
So, what sort of things should you look out for when choosing a training provider?
- Choose a provider that offers learning that is suited to you. Some people prefer classroom courses, others don’t. It is all about finding what works for you. Virtual training or distance learning is ideal for anyone that does not have the ability to visit a training centre.
- Make sure the provider has a good reputation in the industry. Take time to read reviews that have been left by past customers to see what they have had to say about their experience. Were they happy with the course? Did they pass the exam?
- Make sure that all of the training professionals boast the necessary experience.
- You should also consider looking for a course with interactivity. People tend to work better when lessons are interactive, fun, and engaging.
- It is also vital to make sure there is a personal touch. The training company should be willing to adapt their lessons based on your needs and learning style.
What do you need to do to pass the three hour exam?
- You need to know the APM BOK from the study guide
- You need to complete 10 of the 16 questions
- You need to score an average of 55 per cent across the question
- You need 275 marks in total, as each question has 50 marks
You are going to have three hours to answer ten questions. Because of this, it is advisable to give yourself 15 minutes to read and plan, 15 minutes per each question, and then 15 minutes to check through the paper and add any last minute extra pieces of information.
Choosing your questions wisely
Three hours seems like a long time, but it goes very, very quickly when you are in the exam room. If you run out of time, your chances of passing are going to diminish significantly. One of the keys to ensuring that you remain within the time limit is choosing your questions wisely. When you open the exam paper, it is vital that you are able to identify the ten questions quickly that you are going to answer. This is something you should prepare for before you even enter the exam room. It is wise to make a list of the topics you hope you will come up and will definitely answer, the topics that you need to be prepared for and will answer once your best topics have been used, and the topics that you will not attempt. By doing this, you will be able to make a quick decision about what you are going to do when you open the test paper.
General information about answering APMP questions
This may seem obvious, but it is important to state: you need to answer exactly what the question is asking. A lot of people make the mistake of answering what they want the question to be, rather than what it is. There is no need to overthink things either. The exam is a simple transaction. The examiner wants to know if you understand a specific part of a subject, and you then need to provide the evidence that you do understand it. You need to remember this whenever you are answering a question. By doing so, you will ensure you supply sufficient evidence to get the marks you require.
You also need to ensure that you avoid acronyms and jargon. Do not assume that the APM PMQ exam marker knows all of the language you know. You can also obscure the plain point you are attempting to make if you use words like ‘strategy’ or ‘management.’ What, for instance, does managing time mean? It’s too general. If, for instance, what you are trying to say is that project management needs to compare the actual progress against the planned progress and then take action if needed, say this.
Make sure you structure your answers
It is also vital to structure your answers before you go ahead and write the words. If you dive right in, you could easily make a mistake or lose your focus. Make sure the structure you choose matches the question’s structure exactly. So, if the question states that you need to explain five responsibilities of a project manager, you should write down the numbers one to five, leaving enough space for each answer. Once you have done this, you can then fill in the list. By structuring your questions, you ensure that you are focused and that the question completely matches up with what is being asked of you.
Perfecting your APMP exam technique:
- Use real life examples
- Avoid using too much workplace jargon
- Leave space between every point
- Show your working out
- Make sure your writing is legible
- Start each question on a new page
- Plan your answer on the question paper provided
- Read the question twice
Understanding the different types of questions
One of the most important things you need to do is understand exactly what is being asked of you. One of the biggest mistakes people make is answering in the incorrect manner. For example, they write a descriptive answer instead of an explanatory one. Below, we take a look at the different types of questions you will find in the APMP exam:
A question that asks you to explain requires you to make the relevance and meaning of a concept or idea clear. Each point requires a paragraph that features at least two sentences. You may also need to use diagrams or examples to clarify your explanation. But, do note, if there are specific marks for diagrams or examples, this will be stated in the question.
A question that requires you to describe something means that you need to provide a clear description of what a phrase or term means. You will need to provide a short paragraph for each point that is made up of at least one sentence.
This demands a single, coherent sentence that summarises what something means or is.
A question that asks for you to list something means you need to provide a simple list of phrases or terms. You do not need to give a structured sentence, nor do you need to give an explanation or description of what each phrase or term is or means.
List and describe:
You may be asked to list AND describe. If this is the case, you should list the points, as per the above type of question. However, you then need to use clearly defined sub-headings to explain each point or describe them in a separate paragraph.
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Some final tips for acing your APMP exam:
Refine your answers.
It can be very tempting to write down everything you know about the subject in question. However, this will take up too much time, and it is not what the examiner is looking for. Instead, you need to be specific and stick to the related subject.
Show your workings.
Some questions will incorporate calculations, for example, earned value questions. For these questions, it is important to show your working out so that the examiner can see your thought process and what you have done. Even if you get the answer wrong because you have simply miscalculated, you may still get some marks if the examiner can see that the working out was correct.
Don’t let one question throw you off.
If you don’t know the answer to a question or you make a mistake, simply cross it out and keep going. Don’t panic or feel that you need to start the entire question again.
Stick to your time plan.
It is important to stick to the timings that have been mentioned above. Don’t get bogged down with one question. You can always go back to it at the end.
Questions on plans.
Any questions related to the use of a plan need to be answered carefully. You need to remember what a plan does. The purpose of one is to state: what needs to be done, how it will be done, i.e. what techniques and processes will be used, when different tasks will be carried out, and who is responsible for carrying them out.
Don’t mention your job.
Of course, it is important to draw upon your project management experience when you are answering questions. However, if possible, you should not mention a specific job or industry. The person marking the exam is not going to know about the sector you work in or the technology you use. Don’t make the question a specialised one. Instead, try to keep the answers specific to project management.
Keep the project lifecycle in mind.
When doing the APMP exam, the project lifecycle can often be used as a guide, irrespective of the type of question you are being asked. For instance, if one of the questions is about project budgeting, you should think about the numerous stages in the lifecycle of a project and identify the different parts that incorporate money.
All in all, hopefully, you will feel prepared and confident heading into your APMP exam. You may still have some nerves, although if you’re a little nervous, this can actually enhance your performance. It can seem like a lot to take into account, but if you give yourself enough time to study, you should be able to do all of the revision required. In addition to all this, don’t forget to practice your exam techniques so that you can achieve top marks for everything you write. The last thing you want to do is miss out on marks because of a silly mistake or because you have misread the question.