The PRINCE2 Foundation Exam is the first of three levels of certification offered for the PRINCE2 Methodology, but is the first of two sequential exams. The most recent certification introduced is the PRINCE2 Professional, which is the highest level of accreditation offered, and requires a 2.5 day residential assessment. This certification was introduced in 2012, and to my knowledge, is currently only available in the United Kingdom. The PRINCE2 Foundation Exam is a 75 Question test, with a one hour time limit. Only 70 questions are counted towards the passing score of 50%, which means you must correctly answer 35 questions from those which are counted. The general rule of thumb is you want to consistently score over 75% on mock exams to pass both the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Level Exams, more on that later.
As far as strategy goes, the best place to start is by reading the official PRINCE2 manual (released in 2009). The Foundation Level Exam is straightforward, as it is a multiple choice test. There is only one correct answer per question. The only subjects covered in the exam are from the official manual, however it is not the easiest of reads. It is advisable to obtain additional study materials from an Accredited Training Organization to be used in conjunction with the reading of the manual, this is quite helpful. One interesting challenge associated with PRINCE2 is that it was developed by the UK Government, which means the language is in very proper English. If you do go on to study for this certification, be advised the spelling and grammar structure may be slightly different than American English. However, this should not deter you from pursuing this certification.
After thoroughly examining the PRINCE2 manual to get a basic understanding of the methodology, I would then begin with a 3rd party training course. I looked through various online resources and found much less in terms of high quality free content, when compared to the PMP exam. So I used a training course provided by the ILX Group Limited, which I would highly recommend. This was a self-paced, distance learning course which was divided into two basic modules. The first was for the PRINCE2 Foundation Level Exam, the other for the Practitioner Level Exam. The first module went over the entire methodology, and explained it in very understandable terms. Once you have a good grasp of the material, it is advisable to begin doing mock exams. In general, the mock exams from the ILX Group were very similar in format and level of difficulty to the real exam. Once you begin scoring at or above 75% on a consistent basis, you should begin the process of scheduling your exam. My exam was proctored online via webcam, which meant I was able to sit for the exam from the comfort of my home. This method also gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility in terms of the exact date and time to take your exam.
Once you have scheduled your exam and are reasonably confident that you will pass, the last sample exam I would take is from APMG. APMG International is the official accrediting body and administers the PRINCE2 exam. The mock exam they provide is extremely valuable not only in terms of content, but provides a great feel for the actual exam. I took this sample test the night before the real exam, and scored well. For me, this translated into a passing score. Overall, the PRINCE2 Foundation Level Certification exam was relatively straightforward in terms of difficulty. If you understand the methodology in good detail and are scoring well on your practice tests, you will likely do well come exam time. The main reason you want to be scoring above 75% on the sample tests is for the Practitioner Level Exam, which is in an entirely different ballpark in terms of complexity and level of difficulty. We will discuss this in much more detail in my next blog post.